Taryn Simon

This weekend I’ve been reading about American artist Taryn Simon’s latest photography work – Contraband.

The series of 1000 photographs documents contraband seized by US Customs officers at JFK airport, from both travelling passengers and recorded mail between November 16th and November 20th 2009.

In order to complete the work, Simon was granted access in to the ‘no mans land’ that lies between American and foreign soil, where goods are seized and inspected, and spent five days and nights photographing items as they arrived.

The objects found vary – from the scary to the surreal. My personal favourites are a plastic water bottle full of congealed fat, (animal origin unknown). To a bag of hundreds of duck tongues - probably to be used in alternative medicine.

Simon’s work can be viewed as a study of early 21st century global experience, and simultaneously a critique on Western society’s greed for goods. I love the clinical starkness the grey backdrop, it makes every object seem more bizarre. Also the sheer audacity of passengers attempting to carry such bizarre items.

Bird corpse
Stroides, testosterone & Sustanon
Oxalis Tuberosa
Counterfeit BMW car emblems
Guinea Pigs
Counterfiet Louis Vuitton hand bags



Last week I was part of a focus group in preparation for the forthcoming International Woman’s Day, to be held on March 8th 2011.

International Women's Day is one day devoted to highlighting the economic, political and social achievements of women internationally. It is celebrated as a national holiday in countries including China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, but in the UK it is still to realise its epic potential and importance.

The evening was spent brainstorming manifestos, marketing and priorities for the UK audience. It was interesting for me to consider my own priorities and interests for the IWD manifesto, but even more interesting was hearing those of the women around me. They were all so different, and the evening made me aware of what it is to be a woman, what feminism is (or could be) today, and how important it is that we reflect and celebrate what we are.

The Germaine Greer days have passed, and statutorily woman – in the UK at least, now have equal rights; but there’s still a place for feminism. It’s just a redefined and rebranded version, and I really hope that next years IWD will help to disclose what this new brand is.  

Below are a few women that have inspired me

Jane Birkin

Aung San Suu Kyi

Annie Leibovitz

My boss, Anna Laub

Neneh Cherry

Marina Abramovic

 My Mumma, Moira


Magnetic Man

I'm really looking forward to hearing Magnetic Man's new album in full, but for now....A bit o' bass and a whole lot of melody.


Frieze art week

Wow, that a week. It started with a birthday and finished with a birthday, with a whole lot of art in between. Frieze art week is always a fun time in London town, and this year was no exception.  Frieze is fun, but it's the fringe events that make it for me. Giving you a little lowdown on what I’ve been up to – things that are worth a visit, and noteworthy events that have passed.

Monday saw Lazarides Gallery launch of Hell’s Half Acre, an exhibition held in the spooky setting of the recently discovered tunnels under Waterloo train station , where artists including Polly Morgan, Zak Ové and Paul Insect all present their own interpretations of hell. Works varied from the horrific to the hilarious, and Zak Ové’s video of voodoo ceremonies seen through a mirrored lens, set to a dancehall sound track looked more like my idea of heaven than hell!  It’s just a shame that it wasn’t on for longer, and if anyone knows who created the stunning smoke film (below) which reflected into the still water then please will you let me know? Oh yeah, and it was also my birthday!

On Tuesday morning I attended a discussion at the Le Medidian hotel which explored the theme of travel and art, and whether in this digital age, it is still necessary to travel for art. The discussion was hosted by Louisa Buck, and included a panel of Jerome Sans, Mark Bell and Shezad Dawood. It bought about talk of re-exploring local art scenes, and recognising local talent; but ultimately the conclusion seemed to be - that in order to really engage with an art work you need to be around it, see it, feel it–to really react to it. I concur.

That afternoon we headed over to Kate Spade’s new pop-up shop in Covent Garden. The shop is designed like an apartment, full of bright colour blocking and antique wallpapered wardrobes.
Then on to the launch of the Marina Abramović retrospective at the Lisson Gallery. I’d never really seen her work en masse before, and it’s absolutely incredible. There was a mixture of old and new pieces, both videos and photography. Watching the video of her staring in to the eyes of a (very bored looking) donkey for 14 minutes with no dialogue or apparent action was as oddly captivating as her earlier, more shocking work. Although at times I had to laugh – though none of the art crowd in attendance seemed to approve! 

From way out West, to the depths of East; we then travelled to The Future Can Wait exhibition at Shoreditch Town Hall. The labyrinthine tunnels of the town hall’s basement were covered in mysterious works by a range of London trained artists. There was a good mixture of installations, paintings and film, and the unusual setting and dodgy lighting made it feel all the more exciting.

First thing on Thursday morning I went to view Lily Allen’s vintage store called Lucy in Disguise. I had a tour of the shop and spotted some lovely Alaïa. There’s soon to be a nail bar, hair salon, beauty bar and Grey Goose cocktail bar there too; so you need never leave. Oh and dresses are available to hire as well as buy. 

From there I went straight to the Museum of Everything in Primrose Hill (which was my favourite exhibition last year). This year they are exhibiting Sir Peter Blake’s personal collection of circus memorabilia, and it’s three stories of the fun of the fair! Comic taxidermy, Zippo’s Circus signs and Carter’s Steam Fair all feature- and I even got to sit next to Sir Peter whilst eating my croissant and he was being interviewed!

That evening was Parisian artist Nicolas Pol’s exhibition - Mother of Pouacrus, presented by Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld. Held in a giant dairy off Russell Square, the space houses Pol’s large scale paintings in bold brights and monochromes. Pol’s style heavily references street art, and graphic imagery and collage is overlaid onto the pieces. 

Then it was straight over to Hauser & Wirth’s giant new space on Savile Row, which is showing Louise Bourgeois: The Fabric Works. There are over 70 pieces on display; from soft swirling tapestries to geometric grids with 3D appliqué – all sourced from discarded clothes and household items. Four giant sculptures also dot the space.

We popped over the road to see the b Store boys who were hosting a little soiree. I fell in love with their autumn/winter 10 footwear collection- both the men’s and women’s. Definitely worth a look.

Oh yes, and somewhere in between all that I managed to make it to Frieze too. Then finally Friday, and my birthday party! We got there eventually.

Kate Spade pop-up shop runs 12 October  – 12 November
7 Henrietta Street
Covent Garden

Marina Abramović runs 13 October – 13 November
Lisson Gallery
52-54 Bell Street

Museum of Everything runs form 13 October - Christmas
Sharples Hall Street
Camden Town
NW1 8

Louise Bourgeois: The Fabric Works runs from 15 October – 18 December
Hauser & Wirth
23 Savile Row
W15 2ET

Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld presents “Mother of Pouacrus”, an exhibition by Nicolas Pol. Runs from 15 October – 5th November
The Dairy
7 Wakefield Street

Jordan Askill

I came across Jordan Askill's fantastical jewellery designs at New Gen Men, at London Fashion Week.

In addition to creating intricately detailed designs for his namesake label, Askill also designs bespoke pieces for film costumes, and hyper real scultpures too.

I adore his horse works. You can see more about Jordan Askill here


Song for the day


Gareth Pugh spring summer 2011

Streaming live on SHOW Studio with selected preview pieces available from the SHOW Studio onlione store including a silk scarf printed in this mind warping pattern, replicating Pugh's show invitations.


Enter The Void

Last night I made my annual pilgrimage to the cinema, and pretty soon after sitting down I remembered why I only visit the cinema once in a blue moon.

Any half decent film should take you on some kind of emotive journey, and the cinema acts as a kind of host to this. Yet as soon as the film has finished you are turfed out on to the (invariably cold) street, and catapulted back in to stark reality.

When you’ve witnessed a film as emotionally harrowing as the one I saw last night, you need a little interim period (and a stiff drink) to regrgroup, and discuss what you’ve just born witness to. Perhaps cinemas should take a que from Bikram Yoga, and offer viewers a cosy and comforting seating area with candles and yogi tea?!....Or perhaps not!

Anyway, I digress. The film I went to see last night was called Enter the Void. I didn’t know anything about it, other than that the trailer looked quite cool. You can see it here.

The camerawork, pulsing rave music and strobing lights make you feel sick. The graphic subject matter shocks and the overall storyline is BLEAK, but the cinematography is visually really arresting and the acid rave colours and trippy patterns appear almost 3D.

The film is directed by French director Gaspar Noé, who also directed the equally shocking Irrevérsible, and The New York Times gives a really good review of it here.

Go see it, if you think you're tough enough...


Feeling romantic today

Simple symmetry

I've been in Paris this week, and amongst all the hustle and bustle of the shows, this simple fruit stall caught my eye. I love the super simple visual merchandising, and the graphic effect of colourful layered fruit.
Very Prada spring summer 2011…