• Art

    The Travelling Art Show

    Laurence Owen


    INNOVATIVE art initiative Nuba is opening its debut pop-up exhibition tomorrow, entitled It's A Material World - an exploration of the use of different materials in art and the effect they have when used in unusual ways - from taxidermy to plasticine to felt tips. Created by the project's co-founders Robert Sheffield, VOGUE.COM contributor and model Florence Brudenell-Bruce, Caro Hodler and Nati Blaskovicova, the three-day showcase features a varied collection of contemporary work from UK-based emerging names such as Polly Morgan, Alistair Mackie, Henry Bruce and Oliver Clegg.


    Alastair Mackie


    "A lot of the art is very technically difficult, such as Alastair Mackie's chess set and Polly Morgan's witty taxidermy," Robert Sheffield told us. "Some of it is irreverent and fun and other pieces are more intellectually taxing and visually engaging. The overarching effect of the show will be an impressive and eclectic mix that promises to rouse curiosity and be a visual feast for the eyes. This is a dynamic young show exhibiting original, visually stunning and dramatic art - you may never see another display like it and you'd be mad to miss it."


    Julian Tschollar


    Nuba was born six months ago from each of the founders' desire to showcase art in a more democratic, original way. Each of the group's exhibitions will be held in a different location with the aim of bringing the work of Britain's best young artists work to different audiences.


    Polly Morgan


    "We wanted to show great and new art in an accessible place and also give people great works at realistic prices," Brudenell-Bruce told us. "We knew that it would be tricky to do what we wanted to achieve in a recession, so the pop-up idea seemed a good solution."


    Laurence Owen


    Viewers can expect to see a wide variety works from all over the country.


    "There's a really interesting contrast between the London and country-based artists - their work develops in a different way," explained Brudenell-Bruce. "Each of the artists showing is really fun, young and cool. I really think what we're doing here is quite exciting and unique. It's a good feeling when everything you're showing you want on your wall."


    It's A Material World is on display from December 2 - December 5 at the West Bank Gallery, 133-137 Westbourne Grove, London, W11 2RS




    Natasha Archdale

  • Art

    Honouring Blake

    Quentin Blake in his studio


    WORLD FAMOUS illustrator Quentin Blake was last night given the 2011 Prince Philip Designer's Prize - presented by His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. Other nominees included VOGUE.COM blogger Paul Smith and Stephen Jones.


    Blake with His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, on stage at last night's ceremony


    Established in 1954 by Prince Philip, the annually-given honour celebrates the best in UK design - from fashion and graphics to engineering and architecture. Previous recipients have included Vivienne Westwood, Habitat founder Terence Conran, architect Lord Foster of Thamesbank and inventor Sir James Dyson.


    Taken from Blake's book You're Only Young Twice


    Blake started his career at the age of 16, when his work appeared in satirical magazine Punch. He is best known for his illustrations seen in Roald Dahl books - from Matilda to The Witches - but has also provided drawings for other notable children's authors, from Michael Rosen and John Yeoman to David Walliams and Joan Aiken. 


    Blake's illustrations for Roald Dahl's BFG


    One of 20 lifesize murals drawn for the Unicorn Theatre, London



  • Music

    The Do

    Olivia Merilahti and Dan Levy of The Do photographed by Spela Kasel


    NEW music sensation The Do came into being by happy accident. Olivia Merilahti, who has been playing the piano since she was nine, and sung and played guitar in bands through her teens, met Dan Levy - a long-term saxophonist who wrote music for theatre plays - on a soundtrack project a few years ago when they were both placed on the same job. After discovering mutual love of messing around with music, they began recording their own off-the-cuff songs for fun and soon discovered they had enough for an album.


    "Our music is minimal and maximal noise pop - or at least that how I describe it today, tomorrow it might be different!" Merilahti told us.


    She explains that she is primarily the songwriter, while Dan is the man behind their unique sound - a mix of optimistic naive beats and highly complex layered sound.


    "Dan manipulates and pushes the songs to a new level," explains Merilahti. "I'm inspired by people, landscapes - even just one word is enough to start a song, whereas Dan is mostly inspired by sounds."


    Photographed by Spela Kasel


    Their eclectic sound is the upshot of a highly varied backdrop of musical influences, citing Beck, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk as well Debussy, Bartok and Stravinsky - whose music she describes as "eternal". It's true, the plinky-plonk of tinkering piano keys, the husky jazz timbre, the experimental dalliances that push an instrument to its boundaries are all there in the new single Gonna Be Sick. 


    "It's a song about the visceral reaction one can get when losing someone, or breaking up. It was inspired by a nightmare I had," says Merilahti with astounding directness.


    Photographed by Steve Gullick


    And how do they manage, working so closely continuously? "Creative differences are crucial in an artistic relationship. We have to keep that, otherwise things get boring and unchallenging. They can lead to big fights, but we both have such opposed musical backgrounds that these differences are usually beneficial, enriching and complimentary."


    Photographed by Steve Gullick


    The Do play their second live UK date on January 26 following a sell-out gig in Hoxton this month. What can we expect?


    "There are three musicians in addition to Dan and I; they play baritone saxophone or drums or guitar. We love to rearrange the songs differently for the shows - it keeps us focused and it's our way to remain creative on tour. There's no point seeing a band on stage play the songs as they are on the album. It seems like the most boring thing to do."


    Taken from the Gonna Be Sick video shoot photographed by Jesse Jenkins


    Their album Both Ways Open Jaws is out now on Village Green. The single Gonna Be Sick is released on February 6 2012. To buy the album click HERE.


     By Tilly Macalister-Smith


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