Thursday, 29 December 2011

For my first article as assistant editor at IdeasTap I interviewed Tina Remiz, a 22-year-old documentary photographer with a ton of talent... 

"I joined IdeasTap on the very first day I came to London.

"It was July 2010 and I was representing my university, the University of the West of England, at a creative careers event called futurerising. I picked up an IdeasTap flyer and by the evening I was a member. I chose to join because it was about opportunities, meeting new people and community – just what I needed when I moved to London because I didn’t know anyone.

"In August I won the first Editor’s Brief I entered. The brief was Getaway and my image was of a man walking into a forest, getting back to nature. Around that time I was selected to be a photographer for National Youth Theatre’s Digi S’Warm. Working for an entire week, submitting work daily and having a mentor helped me to understand how you work as a photographer. And it was great fun."

Read the rest of the interview on 

Check out Tina's website 


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Keeping an audience mesmerised for an hour takes one seriously talented storyteller. Brummie performance poet Polarbear's third full-length show combines directness, affable humour and rhythmic vim, as he considers how the 'me' he once was became the man he is today.

'Old Me' leaps back and forth through episodes from Polarbear's life, some small, some significant, all relayed with remarkable immediacy. He acts out a fight between his father and uncle; recalls the time he and his best mate Andy devised a 'kung fu dance' to impress an older girl; gets wasted in Vegas; argues with the bank manager; decides to move to London; becomes a dad.

Daniel Marcus Clark's gentle score adds just enough to enhance Polarbear's words. Much of the material comes from everyday experience. Reflecting this, the language Polarbear uses is straightforward, yet the way he uses it is anything but. His agile mastery of tempo and mood give certain moments, such as the paternal lesson in following your gut, a vividness that stays with you long after 'Old Me' is over.

Old Me runs until 3 December at Roundhouse.


This review originally appeared in Time Out.


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Love Refraction by Patrick Thomas 

Good news - this Saturday the peeps at Outline Editions are launching a special Xmas collection of affordable prints, clothes and accessories by top graphic art talent. The new show, which includes work by Patrick Thomas, Anthony Burrill and Noma Bar, takes place at the Outline Editions gallery on 94 Berwick Street, SohoThe Kate Moross sweater I bagged there last year was a massive hit with my super cool 17 year old bro. Can't wait to see what goodies they have in store this time around... 



George Condo excels at doing the one thing that your art teacher always warned you not to: he paints from his imagination. And it’s the grotesquely comic, brightly coloured portraits for which he is best known which cover much of the wall space at this major retrospective of the American artist’s work, which opened in October.

Whoever is being depicted, the same gurning face stares out at you, covered in oddly shaped swellings, with big flappy ears and teeth where they shouldn’t be. The woman in pearls in Alone and Together (2000) has it, as does the man who seems to be growing out of her head, the Screaming Priest (2004) and the trouserless Stockbroker (2002). Even Jesus (2002) has it. Like Picasso before him, Condo is less interested in his subjects’ differing outer appearance than their shared inner turmoil.

Get up close and you’ll see that, for all its cartoonish aspect, this is the work of a masterful painter, easily as skilled as the canonical artists whose work is alluded to in Homeless Harlequins (2004), Seated Nude (2005) and others. If Mental States is anything to go by, it’s clear that Condo’s imagination is a strange and wonderful place to be. Go see for yourself.

George Condo: Mental States runs until 8 January 2012 at the Hayward Gallery. 

This review originally appeared on The Cultural Exposé


Sunday, 20 November 2011

64-68 Tooley Street. Image: The Victorian Society

It has been compared to New York's Flatiron Building thanks to its striking triangular shape. But while its US counterpart has been designated a National Historic Landmark, the former offices of South Eastern Railway on Tooley Street may be in danger. 

Dating back to 1897 and designed by Charles Barry Jr, it recently featured in the Victorian Society's list of the UK's 'top ten most endangered buildings'. It is now facing demolition as part of London Bridge Station's redevelopment. 

A spokesperson from Network Rail commented: 'We have to find the balance between preserving Britain's railway history and providing a railway fit for the twenty-first century. Retaining this building is simply not compatible with the improvements that passengers and businesses so desperately need.'

Not everyone agrees. Bermondsey Village Action Group has launched a campaign to save both this and another historic structure, the Grade II-listed railway arches on nearby St Thomas Street, which are also under threat. BVAG has put forward an alternative vision to keep the building that involves creating an entrance to the station from the street. Network Rail has rejected their proposal. 

'Everyone accepts the need to rebuild the station, but Network Rail has failed to make a convincing case that the loss of 64-68 Tooley Street is necessary to achieve this,' said Chris Costelloe, conservation advisor for the Victorian Society.

'The Victorian Society wants Network Rail to do a proper feasibility study into the retention of the building. It would make a magnificent entrance to the redeveloped station.' Southwark Council make a decision on December 20. 


This article originally appeared in Time Out. 


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

© Simon Kane

This is 'Yerma' - but not quite as you know it. We begin on Juan and Yerma's wedding night. To the sound of cicadas, on a red sandy set, giggly Yerma (Ty Glaser) tries awkwardly to flirt with her new husband but Juan (Hasan Dixon), tetchy and distant, is not playing.

Years pass and the couple remain childless. Juan is more interested in tending to his flock of lambs than his young wife. Solace comes in a friendship with bawdy, warm-hearted Maria (played by an exceptionally funny Alison O'Donnell) and entertainment in occasional encounters with butcher Victor (Ross Anderson), a burly counterpoint to Dixon's pallid Juan. But Yerma's emptiness is all-encompassing. Increasingly desperate, she seeks help from local wise woman Dolores (Sharon Duncan-Brewster), discovering some difficult truths in the process.

Natalie Abrahami's production, her last as joint artistic director of the Gate, is atmospheric, sharp and at times affecting. But Lorca's 'tragic poem' is almost unrecognisable in Anthony Weigh's new version of the play, so much has been chopped, changed, merged or reworked. In vastly reducing the cast - and with it a sense of the stifling society in which the action unfurls - and in providing a clear answer to the central question of Yerma's inability to conceive, Weigh's script sacrifices the texture and ambiguity that make Lorca's original so powerful.

Yerma runs until 17 December. Visit

This review originally appeared in Time Out.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

Image: © Owain Shaw

Garish pink-frocked dolls for the girls, wham bam action figures for the boys. You need only look in a kid's toybox for proof that gender stereotypes persist. Or so' Tomboy Blues' would have us believe.

Combining high-octane, snappy physical theatre and dance with anecdotes, performance duo Rachel Mars and Nat Tarrab explore the experience of not quite fitting the category prescribed.

Tales of battling parents to wear culottes instead of a dress and of yearning for a pair of Spiderman trainers will resonate with tomboys former and current. As will the wider themes of hope, disappointment and the possibility of love, pondered via a vast array of costumes and props, including a clothesline, some killer red heels and a huge elastic band.

But, while visually inventive, the material often feels predictable or simplistic. The lack of decent words to describe female genitalia and the ambiguous attitude girls have to their Barbies have been commented on endlessly. And surely most people in the audience would already consider these gender binaries to be dated. A fresher and more nuanced approach would better match such a complex subject.

This review originally appeared in Time Out.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

 Image: © Kate Moross

'Lagan' takes us channel-hopping through life in contemporary Belfast where, 13 years on from the Good Friday Agreement, much and little has changed.

Ian is heading home at the request of his cake-baking, brass band-conducting mother, Anne. He doesn't yet know it but his teenage sister Aoife is pregnant. When Ian jumps in a cab, attention jumps to its belligerent driver, who has concerns of his own. And so it goes: characters meet, stories overlap then diverge, issues move in and out of focus, the spectre of the Troubles hovers in the background.

Tracey scampers around playing childish games; a jittery Joan (Pauline Hutton, pictured) encounters the ghost of her dead son; Fiona and Emmet meet, flirt, fall in love. The set is sparse, with a few choice objects making it niftily adaptable - it's a boat, a car, someone's front room, a shopping centre - while a cast of four, in identical blue boiler suits, switch between ten roles with panache.

All the performances are witty and engaging, but Kathy Kiera Clarke is particularly good as Anne, syrupy on the surface and steely below. Blurring dialogue and monologue, Stacey Gregg's lyrical, punchy script is a delight. Sombre one moment, laugh out loud funny the next, her writing lends 'Lagan' its urgency and verve.

Lagan runs until 12 November at the Ovalhouse Theatre. Tickets are £14, concessions £7.

This review originally appeared in Time Out


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

There's this stretch of wall on Great Eastern Street, you'd know it if you saw it, a spot long favoured by East End street artists looking for a place to paint. With its large, frame-like, indentations, it seems built for that very purposeNow the guys who run Village Underground have a plan. They want to turn this wall into 'The Wall', a public exhibition space for artists to show their work to the world for free. Sturdy metal and glass panels will ensure art displayed there is protected from decay, theft and vandalism. A betrayal of street art's ephemeral and illicit roots? The jury's out. All I can say is far better this than yet more insipid billboards advertising a load of crap you really don't need. 

Click here to find out how you can help fund the project. 


Saturday, 15 October 2011

While at Frieze, I took a break from the rampant cash splashing to grab a cup of tea and a chat with artist Vanessa Hodgkinson as she was gearing up for her new show, Economies of Language, launching tonight at The Hardy Tree Gallery...

The Spectacle of Threat, 2011

So how’s all the preparation going?

Overall I feel good about it.Things have started to fuse together. There are three main elements to the show: the écriture, the fake writing, the QR codes and then the collage work, which is mostly based on images of women.

In what way do you see this show as a continuation of what you were doing before?

 It's a continuation of mark making using my hands, which I’ve been doing for a couple of years now, where I use my fingers to paint words. Having done so much work with paintbrushes and reed pens and really delicate implements, it’s been nice to use my body much more which i think is part of moving into a more performative approach.

Untitled Pair, 2011

That very raw, material engagement seems to contrast with the work you've done using QR codes

That’s what interests me. How we can bring something emotional into something so mediated? The QR codes are essentially pieces of work where there’s an unknown message.You know there’s something locked into the image because the code leads somewhere but it depends whether or not it can be accessed.

The Origin of the World, 2011

Of course it still 'works' if you’re not accessing it with your iPhone

It works visually but there’s this itch that you need to scratch. There’s something behind it, something else that the artist has considered, but it’s whether or not the artist chooses to give the key away. QR codes also have an aesthetic kinship to squared Kufic calligraphy, a form of Arabic writing. And there’s a really interesting relationship between new media art and Islamic art to do with algorhithms and digitization, the idea of patterns that underlie everything.

Tell me a bit about the écriture. It looks like writing but isn't, right? 

I studied Arabic language at Kuwait University a few years ago. I never advanced passed the toddler stage but can read the letters. I enjoyed the experience of being on the outside of language. The language we use everyday is so intrinsic to us we don’t think about it. When you learn a language you strain to get into it. These texts are forms that don’t actually say anything. If you were to go to a mosque and read the script on a monumental frieze, you could appreciate it from a purely aesthetic standpoint without knowing what it said.  

The Answer Is On My Teeth, 2011

It's kind of like a child's finger painting

Exactly. Very naive. But I can’t pretend to be at another stage of knowledge than I am. I’m not a calligrapher and don’t ever want to be seen as someone who is trying to emulate something.

Are there many experimental calligraphers or is it always about following tradition?

The word in Islam is the word of God so calligraphy is the most important form of visual art in the Islamic world. People who do do calligraphy tend to stick to the traditional forms because you don’t fuck with what’s sacred. One of the pieces I’ve made is called ‘the more incomprehensible the text the more scared it seems’. When I used to write about sacred art I often misspelt the word sacred as scared. I love the idea that if something is incomprehensible, if you’re stopping something from coming through, it’s something you’re uncomfortable with.

No God Present, 2011

How did your interest in Islamic art arise? 

My first experience of the middle east was the Gulf. I was in Saudi when I was about 8, seeing family, and I’ve been going back every two years since. Then I lived in Kuwait  but prior to that I had studied Ottoman art and architecture at Cambridge, where I became interested in Orientalism and the politics of imagery between the Islamic world and Europe.

In Sophia al-Maria’s essay in the booklet which accompanies your show, she says this is something you've struggled with

I think so but this show is probably the most comfortable I’ve felt with my work. It’s also the most humorous. It’s very tongue in cheek. I think Sophia puts it well when she says it’s ‘bawdy’. I can’t imagine doing a show five years ago where the word bawdy would be used to describe it because all my work then was be very, very conservative and to do with serious Islamic art. If you choose to use a religious art as a visual formal language, you get caught up in the implications of that and that was a real struggle but this show I really own. 

Allowed East, 2011

What changed?

A lot of the collage pieces are based on the odalisque and look at the position of the female within the Orientalist painting tradition. I realised I was never going to be a Muslim although I struggled with it for a bit. Doing more performance work meant I was relating more to the model. The odalisque is actually a white woman dressed as an Arab and, having done a lot of life modelling, I had a link to that. Another influential thing was seeing PJ Harvey on Valentine’s Day in Paris. I saw her do what I’ve been trying to do for years - being not of the subaltern voice but able to make statements about it, to show a concern and an interest and a desire to engage.

You've started to work more with video but there’s no video in this show

I’ve been working through film ideas in collage. If you look, there’s a close relationship between those two images (below). In a way, I consider the work in this show to be studies towards film. I want it to be my last show of work on paper before I make a real departure into film. 

Major Harem Break, 2011

This is not a Sales Pitch, 2011

Economies of Language runs until 30 October at The Hardy Tree Gallery, 119 Pancras Road, London NW1 1UN. 



Thursday, 13 October 2011

Douglas White, New Skin for an Old Ceremony, 2011

While travelling in East Africa ten years ago, artist Douglas White chanced upon the rotting remains of a dead elephant. "The image of that scene has always stayed with me," he writes. "It was a visceral encounter. Here was a body become landscape, a body both present and absent in which the distinction between the inner and outer had evaporated in the heat and decay." Check out White's uncanny and wonderfully skin-like clay sculptures, inspired by this experience

Douglas White, Song of the Pachyderms II, Clay and steel table, 2011

Douglas White, New Skin for an Old Ceremony runs until 12 November 2011 at Paradise Row, 74 Newman Street, London W1T 3DB. 

Visit and


I have a confession to make. I've never been to the Frieze Art Fair. Or rather, I hadn't until yesterday. Now I'm under no illusions about The Way The World Works but nothing could quite prepare me for this. Art everywhere. Champagne popping. Stack 'em high, sell 'em higher. Eager gallerists, over 170 of them, peddling their wares to swarms of frighteningly glossy, international moneyed sorts. There was even a bloody great yacht in the middle of the space. 

Christian Jankowski, The Finest Art on Water, 2011. Photo by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/ Frieze

Okay so said yacht was in fact a specially commissioned  artwork by German artist Christian Jankowski but there was still something a tad distasteful about the whole thing. At a time when 12 million people are at risk of starvation in East Africa, when here in the UK we are seeing a massive rise in poverty set to continue for at least the next two years, the surreal world of the super wealthy collector drifts along regardless. There is plenty of beautiful and fascinating work on show this year at Frieze, well worth checking out, but for true spectacle, just take a look at the sheer commercialism of it - remarkable, if slightly nauseating, to behold. 

 Frieze Art Fair runs from 13 - 16 October in Regent's Park. 



Sunday, 2 October 2011

If your tresses could do with a trim then get down to Toynbee Street in Whitechapel, where arts collective The Hair Cut Before the Party are currently running a pop up hair salon with a twist.

The Hair Cut Before the Party

Instead of chatting about where you went on holiday this summer, THCBTP is encouraging people to share their thoughts on social and political questions, while getting their hair cut for free. A different theme is explored each month and the resulting conversations will be mapped out visually online and published as a series of books. 

The Hair Cut Before the Party

For more info, visit The Hair Cut Before the Party salon is at 26-28 Toynbee Street, Whitechapel, open Thursday to Saturday, 12-6 pm until December. To book a hair cut, call the salon phone on 07928072825


Thursday, 22 September 2011

“Weird for the sake of weird.” While it may have been written for comic effect, this flippant definition of Postmodernism, given by Moe Syzlak  aka the bartender in The Simpsons, pretty much sums up the general public’s take on an often misunderstood cultural movement.

Fortunately the V&A is here to set things straight. The museum’s ambitious autumn exhibition – Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990 – promises to chart how Postmodernism, from its origins in architecture, came to dominate popular culture and design during the 1970s and 80s. Far from being gratuitous, the show insists PoMo was a deliberate rejection of the simplicity of Modernism in favour of a radical rethinking of design through humour, clashing styles, mixed references and vibrant images.

As well as high profile fine art pieces, such as Dollar Sign (1981) by Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei’s Han Dynasty Urn with Coca Cola Logo (1994), this comprehensive show includes everything from a hologram portrait of Boy George to a Mickey Mouse tea set. Video installations of Koyaanisqatsi, Godfrey Reggio’s mesmerising 1982 time-lapse film of a city at night and O Superman (1981) by performance artist Laurie Anderson should also be savoured.

Look out for graphic designer Peter Saville’s beautiful, pared down album covers, Hip-hop mix pioneer Grandmaster Flash’s trusty Technics and an extraordinary Constructivist Maternity Dress (1979), designed for Postmodernist icon Grace Jones by her then lover, Jean-Paul Goude. The latter is a necessary education for anyone who believes Lady Gaga’s outlandish style is every bit her own. 

Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990 is open daily from 24 September 2011 – 15 January 2012 at the V&A, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL. Tickets are £11.


This interview originally appeared on The Cultural Exposé


Monday, 19 September 2011

Seana Gavin, 'Taking Flight'

Super excited about Mindful Arts Festival, which kicks off this Thursday in the surreal subterranean Old Vic Tunnels in Waterloo. The main exhibition features work by contemporary art heavyweights such as Tracey Emin, the Chapman Brothers and Matt Collishaw, while the mini festival includes immersive theatre, a vintage fair, interactive design workshops and a whole host of bands, comedy acts, poets and performers. And it's all in a great cause too, with money raised going towards mental health charity Mind's creative therapies fund. 

The Old Vic Tunnels

Mindful Arts Festival runs from 22 - 26 September 2011 at the Old Vic Tunnels, Station Approach Road, London SE1 8SW.



Sunday, 18 September 2011

Noma Bar's 'Cut it Out' machine

I don't know about you, but normally when I go to an exhibition, I tend to stroll about a bit, look at some art, maybe scribble the odd note which I invariably later discover to be barely legible...  I don't expect to find myself using a huge, dog-shaped hole punch to make my own limited-edition art piece. But this is precisely what's in store at 'Cut it Out', graphic artist Noma Bar's new one-man show at Outline Editions. 

Visitors to the show feed paper and other materials into the beast's jaws to produce Noma Bar images that are signed and numbered by the artist and available to buy for £10 - £300. Not simply a fun, interactive add-on, this 'art-making machine' is directly inspired by Bar's work, renowned for its witty and intelligent use of negative space.  

On display too are a whole load of beautiful new prints, combining the minimalist, bold graphics, bright colours and playful optical illusion that have become Bar's trademark.

Noma Bar, 4AM

Noma Bar, Erotic Writing

Noma Bar, Pointed Sense

'Cut it Out' runs from 17 to 30 September at Outline Editions, 94 Berwick Street, London W1F 0QF. It will then travel to the Baltic Exchange for Contemporary Art where it will run from 14 to 18 October.

Free live drawing and create-your-own-cut-out-art workshop with Noma Bar on 24 September from 1400-1700 at Outline Editions. To reserve a free place e-mail



Saturday, 17 September 2011

Ostap Rudakevych, Aqualta_TimesSq-Night_NYC, 2009

'Imagined Cities', a new exhibition at the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, is fresh evidence that some of the most exciting creative work right now is happening on the border between fine art and design. Curated by Dainow&Dainow, the show brings together limited-edition art prints by talented architecture graduates and professionals as part of the London Design Festival 2011.

Take Ostap Rudokevych's magical 'Cloud City'. Described as "a concept for provisional post-disaster housing", it shows vast, white balloon houses floating serenely in the sky, tethered to the decaying remains of houses below. In a similar vein, 'Aqualta_TimesSq-Night_NYC' is Times Square, but not as you know it. Pedestrians have become passengers in gondolas, bedecked with red lanterns, which move on water shimmering with the reflections of neon advertising signs. Although this ecologically transformed world at first seems poetic and remote, with climate change bringing increased flooding and other natural disasters, it's an urban scenario we will surely face more and more.

Or Catrina Stewart's 'London City Farmhouse' - a multi-coloured, multi-storey metropolitan development. Don't be fooled by its playful, ramshackle appearance this is an architecturally innovative response to the need for sustainable urban energy solutions, albeit one with a stinky side. The 'farmhouse' is essentially a glorified public toilet that generates power from human waste. Like Rudokevych's work, Stewart's is inspired by informal urbanism, which adapts in response to the rapidly evolving requirements of city dwellers. And as a fine art print it's really rather gorgeous. 

Catrina Stewart - The London Farmhouse Tower from Miles Langley on Vimeo.

Like cities themselves, these works and others on display here are shaped by ideas and teeming with possibility, but they are also beautiful yet affordable objets d'art in their own right. Add to this the exhibition's fabulously salubrious setting - a coffee shop and 'social hub' on Farringdon's Leather Lane, with lovely exposed brick work and even lovelier espressos - and I think it's fair to say we have something pretty special on our hands. Get down there asaps. 

'Imagined Cities' runs from 16 September - 13 October 2011 at the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, 14-16 Leather Lane, EC1N.

Visit and

Catrina L. Stewart, London City Farmhouse


Monday, 12 September 2011

Crossness Engines House, Bexley

Ever secretly fancied taking a peek inside a stranger’s home? Well now is your chance. Open House London, the free annual architecture festival that lets you explore inside some of the capital’s most unusual and extravagant properties, is back.

Some of 2011’s quirkier examples are an ‘upside down house’ in Portobello and an eco-friendly hanging bathroom in Balham. But we’re not just talking luxury pads here. More than 700 buildings, of all varieties, will be open to visitors over the weekend of September 17-18, including the BT Tower, the Royal Albert Hall and Beefeater House, London’s last remaining premium-brand gin distillery. Plus at many of the sites, architects and engineers will be on hand to give you the expert lowdown on the design process.

And with a lively programme of talks, walks, boat and bike tours around this year’s theme of ‘the liveable city’, there’ll be plenty to satisfy curious minds – whether you’re a design devotee or just downright nosy. 

Open House London takes place on  September 17 and 18 at various venues around London. Some viewings must be booked in advance. For more info, visit

This originally appeared on The Cultural Exposé


Saturday, 3 September 2011

The starting point is simple. The result anything but. An imaginary line is drawn between Lahore Central Station in Pakistan and Liverpool Street Station in London. Ten arts practitioners from each country are commissioned to make new work responding to the urban landscape they encounter along the first mile of each end of the line. Slice, an interactive video installation at Rich Mix, shows the culmination of the project so far. 


By moving an arrow along a map of each city, you select which artist's video to watch according to its location on the line. All engage with a particular urban site but, unsurprisingly since the participating artists include performers, animators, a ballet dancer, a storyteller and a grime mc, the works vary massively, giving the exhibition an exciting, sprawling, collage-like feel. 

In Lahore, Asif Kanji recreates the sensory experience of moving through the tunnels around the city's central station. At a community centre in Whitechapel, performance poet Shamim Azad runs storytelling workshops with parents, while over in E1,  TBC Artists' Collective, inspired by dance theorist Rudolf Von Laban and novelist Italo Calvino, use just their bodies and a single red line to perform Khoros, a physical mapping of Catherine Wheel Alley. 

TBC Artists Collective - Khoros (2011)

But it's the cross-cultural collaborations  - such as the street art stencil by Nida Bangash and Steve Rosenthal, linking two trees in London and Lahore, and the soundscape by Kashif Mohsin and Matthias Kispert - which resonate most. This is not video art: many of these films are documents of work in progress. Watching them you wonder how the project will develop from here and what real artistic lines of connection between these two cities will come to replace the imagined one which kicked the whole thing off.

Slice: London - Lahore runs from 1-22 September 2011, 9am-6pm each day at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA. Admission is free. 

Watch the videos online at


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Can't believe I've never been to Berlin. Working on the Guardian's new online guide to the city has made me realise what I'm missing. With so many unusual and arty places to eat, sleep, drink and rave, it's easy to see why it has a reputation for being the coolest city in Europe.

Visit Guardian Travel's Berlin city guide


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I'm a bit obsessed with maps so was intrigued to see designer Mark Noad's geographically accurate version of Harry Beck's original London tube map. It looks so odd!

London Tube Map by Mark Noad Design

For an interactive version of the map, visit 


Saturday, 6 August 2011

What a lovely start to Saturday. Just stumbled on this new film by artist Vanessa Hodgknison and musician Nick Cash, inspired by French film director Jacques Audiard. Check it out!

Vanessa writes: 
"I've re-watched Audiard's A Prophet recently. 
The film struck some deep chords, particularly as it is one of the first mainstream films to use Corsican dialect throughout. I have a strong connection to Corsica as my family lives there and I've been going every year for the last 30 years. 
Audiard's use of very heavy and solid sets fascinates me. The camera and the bodies have to move around his set, and are restricted by it. This informs their movement and stillness. 
In Ode to Audiard, I'm trying to interact with or 'become' part of the prehistoric monoliths that feature in the footage. These are dotted all around Corsica, making one realise there is more to this island apart from just a thuggish mafia culture. As with A Prophet, there is a reaching out to find something internal, some dark timeless place, in contrast to the bright rugged unsympathetic environment.  
I'm interested in the stability of these monoliths over tens of thousands of years, and a desire to hold onto them, or merge into them and become part of that stillness, that is at once human, man-made, and also stone, of nature." 


Friday, 5 August 2011

If there was ever an example of life imitating art, this is it. The Taqwacores started off as a zine which its author Muslim convert Michael Muhammed Knight created, photocopied and distributed himself before it was published as a novel in 2004 by Autonomedia. The book portrays an imagined American Islamic punk scene which takes its name from ‘taqwa,’ an Arabic word meaning ‘consciousness of the divine’. Not only did the book gain a cult following, it directly inspired punk bands the Kominas and Al-Thawra, spawning a real life Taqwacore movement.

Now Eyad Zahra has brought Knight’s vision to the big screen. His film, like the novel, tells the story of Yusef (Bobby Naderi), an American-Pakistani Engineering student who moves into a new house in Buffalo and in so doing inadvertently becomes part of a world unlike anything he has previously known. Covered in anarchist flags, graffiti and vomit, the house is a refuge for young Muslims who don’t quite fit in. These include Rabeya (Noureen Dewulf) a burka sporting riot grrrl who crosses out the sections of the Quran she doesn’t like with a marker pen; pink mohican-ed Jehanghir (Dominic Rains), who plays the call to prayer on his electric guitar and dreams of being Johnny Cash, and a permanently semi-nude skinhead called Amazing Ayyub (Volkan Erayaman).

With its irreverent script, stylised cinematography and banging soundtrack, the Taqwacores certainly succeeds in creating a vivid atmosphere. And it’s refreshing to see a film that deals with Muslim identity in terms of, as Jehanghir calls it, a ‘mismatching of disenfranchised subcultures’ instead of the usual tired clichés. But there’s something disappointingly flimsy about the Taqwacores. The characters lack nuance and too often the plot feels laboured and predictable. 

This isn’t the only film to have been based on Knight's novel. Omar Majeed’s 2009 documentary, Taqwacore: the Birth of Punk Islam, follows the Kominas on tour as they bring Taqwacore to the streets of Pakistan. I can't help feeling that's the film I’d rather be watching.

The Taqwacores is out on 12 August. 

This review originally appeared on Don't Panic


Saturday, 30 July 2011

I am (metaphorically) chained to my laptop until the end of the month, but if I wasn't I know where I'd be between 12 and14 August: down at the Royal Festival Hall, where the lovely peeps at Stack are running a two day magazine making session. It sounds like SO MUCH FUN. 

Here's what they had to say on their blog:
"We’re going to have writers, editors, photographers, illustrators and designers from some of London’s best independent magazines on hand to lend their expertise, but we need more! We’re going to have lots of things that need writing, photographing, drawing and designing, so if you’d like to join in just drop me a line on steve [at] and we’ll work out what you can do to help. Or of course you can just drop by on the day and say hello."

Stack, by the way, is a subscription service for the adventurous print lover. Each month they surprise you with a different independent magazine, some of which you may have heard of - Very Nearly Almost, Little White Lies, Oh Comely and Eye for example - and others you won't.  Visit

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