One of my favourite things to do in New York (aside from eating Pizza slices and happy hour) is to take a trip to the Brooklyn Museum. A stone’s throw from the peaceful Prospect Park and the Botanical garden, there is always a variety of exhibitions from Ancient Egyptian and African artefacts to the controversial and provocative contemporary art by Ai Weiwei. I was fortunate enough to witness the breathtaking art of Kehinde Wiley. (You may have seen his art on screen throughout Lucious Lyon’s home if you’re a fan of the TV show Empire). I thought it was so amazing that I had to share it with you all!
Mr Kehinde Wiley, has spent the last fourteen years transforming historical portraits, using black men. Originally these portraits, commissioned by European Old Masters depict the great status and power of the sitter; by using black subjects, Wiley draws painful attention to the lack of black figures in traditional Western art history. It’s like black people didn’t exist, this of course isn’t true but the lack of black men and women documented in art history makes us ask the question “Who was meant to narrate our cultural history?”. In this day and age of selfies, video, photos, film and art, we have more cross-cultural documentation than ever. Negative or positive. For those who went to see ‘Black Chronicles II’ at Shoreditch’s Rivington Place Gallery, Autograph ABP, which unveiled beautiful portraits of black Victorians in Britain, you will know black people most definitely existed and played a vital role too.
(If you missed out, check my previous blog post on it… there are also current exhibits that I have included at the bottom of this post for your reference).
Wiley often used subjects he met on the street in Harlem. To see these men posing in such regal positions in their T-shirts, Timberland boots, trainers and casual clothes was a refreshing sight. Men who could be your friend, brother, cousin, father or even your partner, an integral part of their community and the world; who if they had lived 200 years ago would be historically invisible. Other parts of the exhibition include bronzed bust sculptures of black men and women proudly boasting black features, one complete with afro pick. Pieces such as ‘Mugshot Study’ included a recreated ‘Wanted’ poster questioning the damaging perceptions of young black men and ‘Smile’ a multimedia video highlighting the history of black faces’ link to the minstrels of the past and the very present profiling of black boys which they must ‘grin and bear’.
Mr. Wiley was born in Los Angeles in 1977 and grew up looking at old master paintings and sculpture at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif. He earned his B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999 and his M.F.A. from Yale in 2001, followed immediately by a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem. One day, on a street near the museum, he picked up a piece of paper featuring the image of a young black man; it was a confidential police mug shot of a suspect. Looking at the image in the catalog, or the painting from 2006 based on it, you can see why the innocence and nobility of this young face became, as Eugenie Tsai writes, “a catalyst for his subsequent work.”
In his ‘World Stage’ collection Wiley also captured international subjects from urban landscapes in places such as Rio de Jeneiro, China, Senegal, Israel, India, Sri Lanka and Dakar. Using decorative patterns based on textiles from various cultures, British art and Crafts, African prints, bright, brash and usually floral designs which curl around and cross the subject’s body, teasing the viewer’s eyesight and crossing the boundaries of traditional portrait. I found them beautiful and even snapped a few close up to use (for example) as a phone background. I think they would be brilliant if used on a vision/dream board . Check out the paintings below and see if you can spot the KING OF POP!
“Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson)” The original by Peter Paul Rubens. Wiley’s 2009 reproduction is overwhelmed by the flamboyant royal armour and hovering cherubs. King Philip II is replaced by the face of the tragic pop star (who died that year) is overwhelmed by the ostentatious royal armour and hovering cherubs.
Sadly the exhibit was so full of brilliance that I didn’t reach the end long enough to document it, before everyone got chucked out, due to the museum closing. The last section looked at females and included sculptures and paintings The museum was then closed Monday and Tuesday, the last two days of my trip.
Here are some favourites from a recent shoot I did over the weekend to build up my photographer friend’s portfolio and also it didn’t hurt mine either 😉 The photos are sneak peaks, unedited but I love them so much I had to share!
What’s your favourite so far?
Aberdeen, what a lovely city. It welcomed me with open arms and by the time I had to leave, I didn’t want to. I had a brilliant time filming for the competition but I also had the privilege of exploring the city known for it’s oil.
One thing I found hilarious was all the renovated churches had been turned into bars, restaurants or pubs. EVEN A REVOLUTIONS!
My favourite by far was Soul, a huge modern bar with massive original, stained glass windows, outside terrace and a gothic feel to it. The best part is that it also has a Casino. (Yes in a church!). Go and visit immediately!
THE RESULTS ARE IN!
Aberdonian Artifacts with Cold slice for the 48 Hour Film Project Aberdeen was a winner!
Okay… so we didn’t win Best Film and we aren’t going to Cannes but we came 3rd place for Best Film (out of eleven), we won Best Editing and Austyn won Best Actor. I’m so proud of my team and happy our film was award-winning because we all worked so hard. WELL DONE TEAM
If you are a creative person under the age of 30 and you haven’t heard of IdeasTap, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!
I enjoyed a great seminar yesterday at the IdeasTap HQ in London Bridge today on The Basics of Starting up a Performing Arts Company run by ITC (The Independent Theatre Council). IdeasTap is an arts charity set up for creative young people. The aim of the site is to offer as much help, support, funding, jobs, advice and connections to you as they can. The events are mainly free and funded via charities and various arts organisations. There are also briefs, in the form of a group; which you join and then privately pitch yourself or your idea to the judges. The membership is also free and I urge you to sign up, even if you have been working in your field for a while. The Ideastap Spa section has to be my favourite. (What lady doesn’t like a spa?) The free workshops, talks, funding, job and network opportunities really are a goldmine. There is a job search section with a great range of vacancies all over the country.
For actors they even do free acting workshops, free head shot sessions from time to time (slots go extremely fast however) and support you in learning how to do your taxes, understand Shakespeare, write a play, the legalities of starting your own company or applying for funding. They also do workshops for writers, dancers, graphic designers, artists, photographers, animation, singers, comedians, the list is endless.
I didn’t use to use the site as much as I do now and I really do regret it, especially as next year I will be 30. I will definitely be using this site up until the day my birthday comes!
For more information: http://www.ideastap.com/
I’ve been asked to do the 48 Hour Film Project in Aberdeen! It is the first time the 48 Hour Film Project has come to Aberdeen and coincides with the first EVER Aberdeen International Film Festival. For those that don’t know what the project is, it does exactly what says on the tin! We must make a short film in two days. The 48 Hour Film Project is a worldwide competition, which has been running for 13 years. There are local prizes within each city, the films will be shown in a local cinema at a screening night and the overall winner then goes onto being judged internationally. Each City’s winning film will be screened at Filmapalooza, the Official awards weekend. There is an International grand prize of $50,000 and 10 of the best films are screened at the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner in 2015. We receive a prop (Salami sandwich), genre (Thriller/suspense), character (Lionel or Lucille Denwood- University lecturer) and line of dialogue (What are you planning to do with that?) at 7.30pm on the friday evening and have to submit the film at 7.30pm on Sunday.
The team ‘Aberdonian Artifacts’ consisted of Andy Birkett (Producer/Director), Ben Seivwright (Cameraman/Sound/Crew), Amy Melvin (Crew), Tom Simpson (Sound/Crew), Johnathan MacDonell (Actor), Ryan MacFarlane (Actor/Cameraman), Austyn Robb (Actor)
We were thrilled and started brainstorming immediately, Andy had already researched locations and so we just had to think of a storyline. We decided not to work with a script as it was more efficient. We were also required to film one landmark in Aberdeen, due to it being the first time the competition has taken place in the City. At 2am we finally had our story and locations in place for filming, with a 6am wake up call it was going to be a long day ahead.
8am the next day, I was running for my life, filming the chase scene around the City. My character was the lead Lucille Denwood. Filming was fun but at the same time we were constantly aware of time looming over us and had to keep it moving swiftly. Aberdeen is a fantastic city to film in, with the cobbled streets, the University of Aberdeen, a beach, brilliant architecture and of course surrounded by granite. We were spoilt for choice really. We managed to film at the University of Aberdeen, which is also famous for it’s wedding ceremonies at the weekend. It was great to be a tourist and see the sights whilst filming simultaneously. I really loved the fact that local people of all ages and passer-bys gathered and waited near the church entrance to watch the newly-wed couples walk out together as a married couple, it’s a tradition that hasn’t died here.
We also had a fantastic endorsement by Andy’s boss who conveniently owns a McLaren 650, which added a bit of excitement to filming, causing people to crowd round and pull out their phones to record it and take photos whilst he sped up and down. We finished filming outside just before sunset, around 5.30pm and then we had to film the last shot indoors before the editing began throughout the night! At 10.30pm we had managed to film practically everything, leaving Saturday night and Sunday for editing and any last minute shooting.
The editing process was hilarious at times, we found the most disturbing scene the funniest and I think delirium hit everyone at some point. We all got on so well and there were no arguments or tension, as you may find in such pressurised, tense, time-driven circumstances. I left Andy, Ben and Amy editing, to sleep at 3.30am, only to wake up 7 hours later only to find them STILL in the same positions! Lucky me eh? I think they must have cught an hour or two of sleep. Although I actually felt like I had done a serious workout from the action-packed day of filming the previous day. However after some last little bits to tidy the piece (score/credits), we completed it and handed in the film ‘Cold Slice’ on time. I don’t think Andy’s eyes have been the same since, poor guy!
Now the question is.. WHAT DO WE WIN?!
I had the pleasure of modelling for my friend’s new start up company/clothing brand Wild Room this week. The brand is a collection of contemporary pieces and reworked vintage clothes for men and women. With pieces ranging from jumpers to lots of faux leather, mesh and PVC, even gold glitter knee patches. These pieces are so daring, fun and will definitely stand out. The website however also will sell other products on behalf of different brands that compliment the style of Wild Room, my favourite at the moment being the Air Max collage cushion, which makes for an exciting and interesting concept. Wild Room is the concept of Kaysha, a dear old school friend of mine, who decided to start making her own clothes a few years ago and is self-taught. She wanted to find interesting pieces that celebrate, art, individualism and diversity.
I’m looking forward to seeing this brand grow and I’ll be supporting it all the way. I hope you can too. Support young brands and follow Wild Room on instagram @wildroom and check out the site here: http://www.wildroom.squarespace.com/
I was fortunate to attend the Impulse Love and Rock launch at Superdrug Marble Arch this week and the brilliant British band Loveable Rogues did a fantastic set. You may remember Loveable Rogues from Britain’s Got Talent, where they reached the final in 2012. Consisted of Londoners Eddie Brett, Sonny Jay Muharrem and Te Qhairo Eugene. The group were snapped up and got a record deal with by Syco, Simon Cowell’s record company after the competition ended. After a year, they teamed up with Alex Katter of Gravity MGMT after being dropped by Syco Music.
The set was a mixture of pop, rock and reggae, they also included a covers such as Avicii’s ‘Wake me up’ and the popular ‘Rude’ by Magic! as well as some of their original songs. ‘Lovesick’ went down especially well with the fans. The crowd consisted of bloggers and specially selected fans, some who had travelled from outside of London just for the occasion. Keeping the energy high, and switching between playing the guitars, singing acoustically to jumping around the stage and having a great time, the Lovable Rogues know how to put on a show. I love the way they switch between so many different genres of in their music and throw in a rap here and there; showing there are many strings to their bow. Lead singer Te’s vocals were incredible, they all have great voices but at times it felt like he took us to church! They have a real British sound, with remnants of The Streets, Ed Sheeran about them but with vocals that give them an edge.
Afterwards I met the band and had a little chat. They’re so lovely, really down to earth! Check out highlights below.