1. New Post: Somewhere you should go… Found Footage Festival


    Somewhere you should go… Found Footage Festival

    As the years roll on and modern technology whizzes past at the speed of too many mega bites a second, many of our favourite media storage devices are falling by the wayside – just look how much dust is on that CD collection (if you even have one anymore?!); is that a mini disc you’re using as a coaster? Yes, new technologies become old almost instantly nowadays – take the VHS tape for instance. Many a good time have I enjoyed a film or two on the beloved tape, complete with snow effect and terrible – yet endearing – sound quality. But alas, it has ended up on the scrapheap as well.


    Thankfully, Nick and Joe from the Found Footage Festival have been big VHS fans since 1991. That year they started scouring garage sales and thrift stores over the vast landscape of the US to pick up those rare and telling VHS tapes others had spent so long creating. In 2004 they decided it was time to make some use out of these magical moments the VHS had so loyally remembered (but others had absentmindedly forgotten). Cue some side splitting homemade films, exercise tapes and public broadcasting videos.

    The Festival is a barrel of laughs – think You’ve been Framed but actually funny. It has been touring the world for some time now, and comes to London on March 27-30th.  Expect classic tapes with titles such as  How to Seduce a Women Through Hypnosis (I’m pretty sure there’s a criminal conviction in there somewhere), Dancing with Frank Pacholski (bottom slapping dance to an OAP crowd!)  Being Berry Safe with Blueberry the Clown (yeah right, about as safe as with that hypnosis guy) and Carnival in Rio with Arnold Schwarzenegger (no words).


    There are all sorts of weird and wonderful characters and this event makes for a comical look at what your average Joe can do with a camera, so  FFF is a great celebration of times and ideas gone by.  Who says VHS is redundant!? (Words: Laura Thornley)

    For more info visit: www.foundfootagefest.com


  2. New Post: Somewhere you should eat… Morena Bakery


    Somewhere you should eat… Morena Bakery

    A Paraguayan Bakery may not be the most standard of faire on the streets of London, but that can only mean that this new café is something of a revelation. If you rurn off Brick Lane and head down Cheshire Street, you can’t miss Morena (the brunette girl or dark brown sugar – which ever translation you fancy) and not least because of its bright yellow exterior. The owner Marianna is herself a Paraguayan morena and is a fountain of knowledge about the cuisine and culture. Her café serves up sweet treats often laced with the outrageously good dulce de leche, a caramelised sugar that is a staple of many South American desserts.


    All her cakes are baked on site by her team – who are not all from Paraguay, but considering there are only 300 Paraguayans in the UK, that’s understandable. Nevertheless, authentic sweets such as alfajores, rogel (a kind of millefeuille with a dulce de leche filling) a dulce de leche cheesecake and carrot cake (with yes, you guessed it dulce de leche) can be found.  It’s all utterly delicious; this is the ultimate sweet tooth heaven. To wash down the treats there is a range of coffees and fruit juices and the very authentic drink Yerba mate. The herb drink is strong and smokey and designed to be shared as a group. Marianna also serves her drinks in traditional cups. The one we share is a polished bulls horn decorated with silver engraving. The dried herb soaks up the first lot of water she adds to the cup – “the first is for Saint Anthony” she tells me, as the liquid disappears. We drink the hot liquor through a cleverly designed silver straw. It’s an unusual and fun addition to the visit but it certainly isn’t for the faint hearted!


    When Mariana is not serving from Cheshire Street she can be found at Brick Lane’s weekend markets, selling her goods from a stall. But, her beautifully designed café is something to behold. Decorated with handmade brightly coloured handmade lace, made by women from Paraguay and patterned leather stools, this is a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of East London. (Words: Laura Thornley)

    Morena Bakery is located at 40 Cheshire Street, E2 6EH.For more info, visit: www.facebook.com/pages/Morena-Bakery/342434109167888


  3. New Post: What we’ve been up to… Speed Listening by The Note Well


    What we’ve been up to… Speed Listening by The Note Well

    ‘This is not speed dating!’ yells the excitement-inducing message on Facebook. ‘This is about friendship!’
    ‘OK then!’ I yell back at my computer screen, convinced I’m on my way to meeting my next BFF at this unusual music event.  For the last couple of years, the self-described “music friendship project” has encouraged musical exchanges between Londoners as an quirky way to socialise in the city. Intrigued, I arrive at The White House Pub in Shoreditch a few days later, and immediately start to overheat  (I’m wearing too many layers including my thickest T-shirt and my cosiest hoody. It’s a blinkin cold night).


    I am greeted at the door downstairs by a man who offers me splendid homemade Guinness-and-chocolate cake. I comment on its moistness which, as an old friend once said to me, is the highest compliment you can give a cake. So how does this all work then? I ask. H tells me you plug your headphones into each others’ players, listen… and maybe make friends. I’mmarked with a blue cross and told I will be in the inside of the circle. part of the group doing the moving. Alice, la femme in charge, introduces herself, we share a bourbon, then we’re off.

    There are about twenty-five, thirty people – it’s certainly a cosy event, and it all goes off rather nicely in the bijou surrounds and considerate lighting. As for the way it works, each time you form a new pairing you have seven minutes to ascertain your partner’s taste and play something you equally recommend,  like aural sommeliers. As you might expect, each musical tryst varies in its intrigue and compatibility. Sometimes you feel as though you’ve got to endure your partner’s playlist, other times you’re  just getting into it before it’s time to abruptly rotate.


    I turn up with the first iPod ever made,  telling people I like repetitive Kraut-inflected psychedelia – cue a few blank looks. During one of my rounds,  the chap I’m talking to, a composer, takes his ears out. ‘This is awful’, he says.  My next mini-epoch is with a young woman who has no power in her player, so she’s forced to listens to my recommendations. When I speak, she removes her earpiece, yells ‘what was that?’ ‘Never mind’ I say. She seems to like it.

    What I take from the evening is that I should listen to old Fleetwood Mac, most people like music with beats, The Death Grips and Scorn are a bands I now like and I doubt I have converted anyone to my msucial tastes. But I’ve certainly discovered some new music to investigate further, which makes this a fine little foray for a Thursday evening. (Words: Ed Spencer)

    Speed Listening takes place every third Thursday until June.  The next event is on March 21st, but for more info visit: www.thenotewell.com


  4. New Post: Somewhere you should go… Mama Shelter, Paris


    Somewhere you should go… Mama Shelter, Paris

    ‘A hipsters playground’ is probably among the many fitting taglines that have been bestowed upon the remarkable Mama Shelter, located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Since 2008, the boutique hotel has earned a rep for being the edgy digs in arty quarters that effortlessly pulls in a likeminded, international crowd – models hang out here for Fashion Week, yuppies come for the pizzeria and cocktails and everyone else hits the bar to nod along to a DJ who knows a thing or two about 90s hip-hop: I loved every bit of it.


    Pic: Francis Amiand


    Pic: Francis Amiand

    A fortnight ago, I popped over to Paris to run their half marathon and stayed in the Shelter for the weekend, quickly discovering why it’s become so popular. Designed by Philippe Starck – whose knack for the unconventional made infamous pitstops in Miami (The Delano) and New York (The Paramount) – the native Frenchman’s hotel combines contemporary styling with heavy doses of graffiti and eclectic finishes that could borders on the kitsch were it not so creative. The first thing I noticed in my cosy single room was the Toy Story Woody mask lit up by a side lamp – quirky – while the Apple Macs offer the in-room entertainment (which is also the source of the free wifi and even more impressively, free films). The room lighting was too dim mind you, and the bathroom a bit small (shower only), but this was made up by the fact it was stocked with Kiehl products, which was just another reminder of the hotel’s quality factor.


    Pic: Francis Amiand


    Pic: Francis Amiand

    As for the restaurant, its fun interiors sees portraits of “mothers” adorn armchairs, children’s swimming rings hang off ceiling lights and chalk drawings decorate the blackboard ceiling – but none of this could take away from their delicious breakfast buffet, which at 15euros, is worth every cent. Dinner’s a tad pricer and the restaurant can get extremely busy in the evenings, so it’s wise to make a reservation, even if you’re a guest. Like most places in Paris, it’s also good to know a tiny bit of French – staff are friendly and know their English, but you’d be surprised how the odd “avez-vous” can go a long way.


    Pic: Francis Amiand


    MS’s only real shortcoming is that it’s quite a walk away from the nearest Metros (roughly a 10 minute walk from Gambetta, Alexandre Dumais or Porte de Bagnolet) – yet it’s a small price to pay for a reasonably-priced hotel that ticks so many boxes, and doing an excellent job thinking outside of them too.

    For more info, visit www.mamashelter.fr


  5. New Post: Something you should see… George Bellows: Modern American Life at the Royal Academy


    Something you should see… George Bellows: Modern American Life at the Royal Academy

    When George Bellows died at the age of 42 from a ruptured appendix, he was acclaimed as one of America’s greatest realist artists. Now British audiences have the chance to see what all the fuss was about this month at the Royal Academy. The exhibition, which is the first UK retrospective of his career, explores the principal themes in Bellows’ work and includes both drawings and paintings, as well as lithographs.


    New York’s urban landscape – its people and places provided the setting for Bellows unflinching portrayal of early 20th century America. From the lawless violence of the boxing ring to gritty scenes of tenement life, to cityscapes and social scenes – he painted them all. Visitors to the Royal Academy can view life in New York and its diversity of inhabitants, as it emerged into the 20th century – from the 71 works on show. Bellows is best known for his boxing paintings and the exhibition includes his most famous work Stag at Sharkey’s (1909). The painting depicts a brutal underground bout at one of New York’s ‘private’ clubs on Broadway. The frenzied energy and raw aggression captured by Bellows in his early fight scenes helped to establish his reputation as a ‘formidable’ painter in New York art circles.


    Thought of as the ‘all-American painter’, the variety of subject matter suggest Bellows was a more complex artist who was attuned to the social and political issues of the day. Lithographs Bellows produced for leftwing publications and paintings showing German atrocities during the First World War – both included in the show, attest to the social conscience for which he is known. Those looking for some light relief from the depressing studies of daily city life should seek out Bellows’ scenic paintings of Manhattan under snow and portraits of summer fetes in Central Park.

    George Bellows left an extensive body of work for what was a short career, so here’s a great opportunity to see some of those works and find out why this American painter was so highly praised. (Words: Eri Otite)

    George Bellows (1882-1925): Modern American Life is on at the Royal Academy from 16 March – 9 June. For more info, visit www.royalacademy.org.uk


  6. New Post: Something you should see… Yinka Shonibare: POP! at the Stephen Friedman Gallery


    Something you should see… Yinka Shonibare: POP! at the Stephen Friedman Gallery

    Yinka Shonibare is having a bit of a moment. Fresh on the heels of a major retrospective at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Stephen Friedman Gallery is hosting a show of new works by the British-Nigerian artist. Inspired by the financial crisis, the exhibition explores the subjects of corruption, excess and debauchery. With his characteristic humour, Shonibare critiques society’s obsession with luxury goods and the behaviour of the banking industry.

    Shonibare’s lavish re-working of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper,  described as his ‘largest and most complex sculptural tableaux’,  is one of the main pieces of the exhibition. In Shonibare’s fantasy, Christ is replaced by Dionysus – the mythological God of fertility and wine – surrounded by twelve over-indulged disciples in various states of sexual abandonment. The celebration of mindless excess continues in Banker (2013), which depicts a sharply dressed mannequin simulating a lewd act with a champagne bottle.


    Headless figures and the use of Dutch waxed fabric are common motifs in Shonibare’s work. Throughout the exhibition, the colorful Batik print is used in the tailored costumes of the figures and the cloth also appears in the installationToy Paintings. Manufactured by the Dutch, and initially for sale in Indonesia, it was only after the textile failed to take-off that it eventually made its way to West Africa. A signature of his practice for nearly two decades, Shonibare’s use of ‘African’ material  - that is actually European in origin – plays on its rather complex colonial history. The beheaded figures are an attempt by Shonibare to discourage associations with race on the part of the viewer.

    Large-scale self-portraits based on Andy Warhol’s Camouflage series of 1986, which represent new lines of enquiry for Shonibare, also deserve a mention amidst all the decadence and depravity on show. Yinka Shonibare is of course the man behind the widely acclaimed Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, commissioned for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square – and now on permanent display at the National Maritime Museum. Shonibare’s new work should resonate with audiences, losing none of its theatre, colour and style  in its witty and damning take on contemporary life. (Words: Eri Otite)

    Yinka Shonibare: POP! is on at the Stephen Friedman Gallery, from 16 March – 20 April. For more info, visit www.stephenfriedman.com


  7. New Post: What we’ve been up to… Street Kitchen


    What we’ve been up to… Street Kitchen

    Food trucks have certainly stepped up their game in recent years –  but we imagine only a few can match the style and sophistication of Street Kitchen, a striking silver outlet which has been serving takeaway gourmet food to suits in the city for the past two years.


    For less than a tenner, you can get stuck into soft poached eggs with grilled mushrooms, hot-smoked salmon, crispy chicken or slow-braised lamb (which was our lunch choice of the day and tasted incredible!) – and with all ingredients being seasonal and organic, you know you’re only eating the good stuff.   Plus, we discovered service is super-quick too, with customers waiting less than five minutes to get their order.

    The truck currently offers a lunch service in Broadgate circle (11:30-2:30pm) Monday to Friday, but will be soon be serving burgers and cocktails in Shoreditch for lunches and dinner.  For more info, visit www.streetkitchen.co.uk



  8. New Post: Somewhere you should go… Wilfred Bagshaw’s Time Emporium


    Somewhere you should go… Wilfred Bagshaw’s Time Emporium

    If you could go back in time to any place in any era, where would you go? This age-old question will stir even the most wearisome, dragging conversations into motion: all of us seem to have strong opinions about our imagined historical hotspots. But for all of the times this question has been raised, I doubt any notable percentage of the responses was: ‘Oh, fourteenth century England … yes, without a doubt, fourteenth century England’. Rats, revolts and ravaging wars, and the Black Death sweeping the country with its horrible scythe? Not altogether appealing. But anyone who collected Horrible Histories scratch’n’sniff stickers in their childhood must surely harbour a secret desire to experience the deep dark Middle Ages. Now you can. Wilfred Bagshaw’s Time Emporium promises to transport participants back to the year 1381 as part of an immersive and interactive adventure. Reserve your tickets now to catch a trip thorough Bagshaw’s time portal which will open only briefly for two nights this month.


    The evening’s exploits are to begin at Village Underground in Shoreditch, where Wilfred Bagshaw will welcome you with open arms and details of the evening’s quest to find a mystery artefact. The night will unravel into an adventure to which you decide the outcome, set in the whirlwind of social and political turmoil of fourteenth century England. Following completion of the assignment, Bagshaw will treat his crusaders to a warehouse party with bands and DJs (joining you through the portal from the 21st century) playing until the early hours of the morning. From 11pm, revellers from today’s era can join the medievalites for the party only.

    What are you waiting for? Ladies, don your finest imported Italian silks and wrap up in cat and squirrel stoles; guys hike up your breeches and fasten your cloaks tight. Gather together your ha’pannies, farthings and groats for a ticket through time. (Words: Florence Ritter)

    Wilfred Bagshaw’s Time Emporium runs 22nd – 23rd March.  For more info, visit: www.time-emporium.com



  9. New Post: Something you should see… Sanchita Islam: The Rebel Within at Rich Mix


    Something you should see… Sanchita Islam: The Rebel Within at Rich Mix

    Sanchita Islam‘s enviable artistic career spans 25 years and still continues to influence and inspire her audiences today. Working as a filmmaker, artist and writer in the Borough of Tower Hamlets since 1999, Rich Mix evidently felt it time to celebrate this much-deserved practitioner; cue this multi-disciplinary exhibition presented as part of their Bangladeshi independence festival.

    Islam is all about engaging her audience and her start-up company Pigment explosion is living proof of this. The core motivation behind the organisation is to create projects that engage audiences that wouldn’t usually encounter the arts and this includes everyone from older people to women suffering from domestic violence and children who live in the slums of Bangladesh. The exhibition at the Rich Mix will feature projections of her films and artworks, poetry performances and an interactive doodle room – echoing the artist’s interest in encouraging audience engagement.


    The doodle room will start off as a blank canvas, simple white walls which will slowly be filled with anything and everything that its audience comes up with in response to the theme: imaginary landscapes and notions of home. The walls are open to all and there will be a variety of workshops and artist interventions dedicated to the space too. The doodle room will also be broadcast live on the web, making it a live performance.

    On opening night. Islam’s imposing 30-foot scrolls will be exhibited. Each scroll depicts whole landscape panoramas, with imaginary and real elements – quite an awesome sight. As part of this multi-disciplinary show, the artist will also take part in a debate discussing the lack of high profile British Asian artists. The diversity of elements to the exhibition exemplifies Sanchita Islam’s approach to her work – and for this reason, shouldn’t be missed. (Words: Laura Thornley)

    Sanchita Islam: The Rebel Within is on until April 28th.  For more info visit: http://www.richmix.org.uk/whats-on/event/sanchita-islam-the-rebel-within-mar13/


  10. New Post: Something You Should See… Nicholas Alvis Vega: Nymphae Nymphalidae at Rove Gallery


    Something You Should See… Nicholas Alvis Vega: Nymphae Nymphalidae at Rove Gallery

    Is there a more prescient subject matter at the moment than women’s rights and gender relations? Today (March 8th) is International Women’s Day and it does not require a list of recent news stories to illustrate the need for such a global coming together. Though we can be buoyed by heart-soaring moment’s of heroism (Malala, for example, the 15-year-old Afghani girl prepared to stand up to the Taliban to get an education) there are endless grim examples of the subjugation of women. Nicholas Alvis Vega is an artist who has long been concerned with the representation and treatment of women;  in Nymphae Nymphalidae he delivers a timely exhibition examining the somewhat simplistic and reductive attitudes that have categorised the portrayal of women in art over the centuries, and indeed. still inform vast swathes of male opinion to this day.

    Here, Alvis Vega has created a series of oil paintings that copy iconic works of art right through to modern advertising, before defacing them. In doing this, he seeks to question the idea of the ‘male gaze’ theory  whether male attitudes have departed very far from seeing women merely as madonnas or whores, according to Laura Mulvey. If we think of Hilary Mantel’s recent (oft-misquoted) analysis of the role of Royal Consort and elsewhere, the feverish debate about the impact of pornography, the timing of Vega’s questioning seems auspicious.
    Alvis Vega has lived all over the world and this has given him a unique experience of the treatment of women and first hand insights into the attitudes that lead to such treatment. This exhibition is a culmination of those experiences and though it seeks to inspire serious debate, also has room for a bit of fun.  The private view on March 8th promises whiskey sours, the creation of new art, a performance-based on the exhibition and some top women DJs – a worthwhile way to mark International Women’s Day. (Words: Ed Spencer) 

    Nymphae Nymphalidae runs until April 6th.  For more info, visit: www.rovetv.net