Category Archives: Art

Creatives reacting to the government telling them to ‘reskill’

“People participate in arts by going to galleries, listening to music, watching movies but refuse to recognise the extent of the importance of the arts sector. They want to consume it; however, they don’t want to fund it because they believe it’s not really needed.” Says Amy, 21, a fine arts student from London. 

Earlier this month Rishi Sunak appeared on ITV New saying “I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis”, showing no regard to UK night life and arts. A government-backed advert was trending on social media, where it was encouraging creatives to ‘rethink and reskill’ and take a new career path in cybersecurity. The ad has since been removed after the arts world was shaken with backlash by many creatives and criticism by the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, who labelled it as ‘crass’ and distanced his department from the campaign. 

The CyberFirst campaign ad which promotes cyber security jobs for young people around the ages 11 to 17. The ad illustrates a ballet dancer named ‘Fatima’ with the text reading; “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet),” Followed with the slogan “Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.” However, it instead set off a series of backlash by creatives. Many who felt ‘angry’ and ‘frustrated’ with the governments’ stance on the arts industry. 

‘#Fatima’ was trending on twitter, with people defending the arts and suggesting the government should instead support the art industry and creatives to follow their talent and dreams. 

Night time economy adviser for greater Manchester also portrayed his criticism on twitter reading; “Today, the Chancellor has said musicians and others in the arts industry should look for another job. That includes your favourite DJ… If you like to go to nightclubs/events/festivals, just remember this when we are through it. They are killing off our scene.”

Kema, 26, a youth worker from oxford, “it just shows how detached they [the government] are if they can’t recognise the importance of arts. Not only as an industry but also for people’s mental health. I work with kids and teach them rap, and I can say to them ‘hey look you’re not doing well in school but we can put you on this rap programme, with an alternative education’ because the education system doesn’t fit and work for everyone. This is a way for the kids to express themselves, be heard and earn money.”

“It’s horrible, you work so hard towards something and it’s not like it’s a hobby where you just stop playing video games.” Says Harvey, 25, a musician from Brighton. “Working in the arts and putting on events is so much more than just a livelihood, this is what you want to do, you work hard for it and being told to rethink your whole life is absurd.”

“I spelt FUDGE with my GCSE’s, I got F in English, U in another exam, D in science, G in drama and E in PE, so my parents were well proud.” He said jokingly. “But my parents were proud when I was playing on stages at festivals in Croatia. I do something I love.” 

Dowden tweeted; “I want to save jobs in the arts which is why we are investing £1.57bn” This will include theatres, museums, orchestras and music venues to help reopen. However, the UK’s music industry is worth £5.2 billion a year and the nightlife bring £66 billion for the country.  The art industry contributes to the country’s economy more than automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas industries combined. 

Freelancers and independent creatives struggled to sustain themselves even before Covid-19, and post lockdown their livelihood has not been ‘taken seriously’ by the government. Freelancers and independent creatives feel like they’ve been ‘thrown under the bus’, where in some cases, had to move out due to being unable to pay for rent. 

Matt, 34, music producer from Brighton says, “With sports nothing has happened to it, people can’t go and watch football, but it’s still carrying on and they are still playing in the premiership but no one has asked them to retrain.”

“I’ve always worked and balanced myself as an artist, and it can become extremely demanding.”  

“Artists who do commissions have a fixed hourly rate and then there are people who beg them to do it for a lower price. It’s actually humiliating to artists, no one sees the time, effort and amount of work that actually goes into what we do. It shows ignorance towards the art sector.” Says Amy.

“Other people whose jobs are in jeopardy are not being told to rethink, they can treat it as an important job as anyone else’s job, show some respect. It is mainly focused on people who are in the arts.” Says Harvey.

Poem 6: MOTHERHOOD

A wildlife full of magic, filled in her belly
Let us embrace the wonders of motherhood,
A gentle breeze blows onto your skin. Steady.
The comfort of relief, the smell of berries and oak wood.

Her features are soft and delicate,
Yet, a fierce struck of thunder in her eyes,
The voice of an angel, almost heaven-sent.
Isolation, dull flowers, nature finding life. A pale Sunrise.

A mother knows when to wrap her arms
Around her child, in a protective gesture.
Kisses away the fear with love and charms,
It may cut straight through our core, with a feather.

A poem written for the isolation of Mother’s Day. A celebration for my lovely mother and all mothers around the world, these are hard and difficult times, yet you’re holding on to life strong and keeping us safe regardless. A massive thank you to you all.

Photo credit: Prue stent

Melissa Johnson

The Dizzying Final Photos Taken by a Free Runner Who Fell to His Death

Johnny Turner fell tragically while climbing a block of flats in central London. He was 23, and leaves behind an impressive body of photography.

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ALL PHOTOS BY JOHNNY TURNER.

Johnny Turner was a talented free runner and photographer. He had a special “touch” when landing his jumps, balancing elegantly on thin rails or walls almost without making a sound. He also loved London’s architecture – from train lines to abandoned construction sites to tower blocks and housing estates – and photographed it obsessively. Johnny was able to combine these two passions in urban exploration, an activity that took him to parts of the capital most people never see.

“He was the type of person who would just ride his bike and do parkour so naturally, he came across these environments from an early age,” says Will, a friend of Johnny’s. “He grew up in Balham in south London, so he’s always been around places like Stockwell, Brixton, Clapham. I think that’s why he drew a connection with this type of architecture.”

In September 2019, Johnny fell to his death when climbing a block of flats in Waterloo. He was 23 years old.

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Urban exploration, also referred to as “urbex”, is the practice of entering or climbing a city’s uncharted buildings. It could be the top of a block of flats, an abandoned building site or in the case of Bradley L Garrett, who scaled the Shard in 2012 and brought the often nocturnal activity into the spotlight, one of its most iconic skyscrapers. Many “explorers” take photos of the views they encounter, often sharing on social media. London-based urban explorer Harry Gallagher, also known as @night.scape, has more than 240k followers on Instagram and posts shots from the sides of buildings and inside tunnels. Ally Law has earned over 3 million subscribers on Youtube with his urbex videos, and once broke into the Big Brother house. Viral videos of urban climbers like Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov, who run the YouTube channel On The Roofs, have also brought the activity to the mainstream. The hashtag “urbex” now has over 7.5 million entries on Instagram.

Like any extreme sport, urban exploration carries certain risks. Depending on the kind of building an explorer decides to climb, floors can be unsafe or even collapse, while bad weather conditions leave scaffolding wet and slippery. Abandoned buildings are littered with trip hazards that may be impossible to see in the dark, when many urban exploration missions take place. Entering a building without permission can also be considered trespassing, and in some cases punishable by law.

Roman, another of Johnny’s friends, says that he knew the risks involved with urban exploration and was respected within the community. “If you do it [urban exploring], it’s not necessarily dangerous, because with everything you do, there’s always calculated risks,” he says. “You’re not going to take a risk you know you’re not ready for.”

urban-exploration-londonTWO TOWER BLOCKS IN STOCKWELL, SOUTH WEST LONDON, NEAR WHERE JOHNNY GREW UP.

Johnny leaves behind a fascinating body of photography that shows London from a completely new perspective. One photo centres on two tower blocks in Stockwell, not far from where Johnny grew up. Another was taken on the Golden Lane housing estate, which he used to describe as the “hat” on top of the block. He also photographed the Wyndham and Comber estate in Camberwell, a popular training spot for parkour that featured in the music video for Goldie’s “Inner City Life” – his favourite song.

“Johnny found beauty in the grittiness of tower blocks,” says Will.

Johnny’s goal was to document these buildings before they disappeared. According to a study from the London Assembly, redevelopment projects between the years 2004 to 2014 led to a drop in social housing, and a huge increase in private housing. Many council estates and tower blocks that were not listed buildings were demolished. The most famous of these is the Heygate Estate, a housing estate in south London made up of more than 1,200 homes that was demolished between 2011 and 2014 as a part of a redevelopment plan for the Elephant and Castle area.

london-urban-explorerTHE “HAT” JOHNNY DESCRIBED ON THE TOP OF THE GOLDEN LANE HOUSING ESTATE.

“Johnny loved seeing the world from up there,” Roman says. “Maybe not 24/7 but 23/6, he was out there [exploring].”

It wouldn’t be unusual for Roman’s phone to ring at 2 AM and for it to be Johnny’s number. He would answer and listen to his friend enthuse about cycling to east London to “check out a new spot.” Sometimes, though, it was a struggle for Roman to keep up with Johnny. “He was the king of the blocks,” he says. Johnny’s friends hope to one day show his photos in an exhibition.

Johnny loved urban exploration despite the risks. But what is it about seeing London from often dangerous viewpoints that can be so inspiring? “For different people, it’s different reasons but the biggest one is simply that they are extremely beautiful and striking and carry a very powerful aesthetic experience,” says Barnabas Calder, an architecture historian from the University of Liverpool and author of the book Raw Concrete: The Beauty of Brutalism.

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Calder adds that London’s council housing is also interesting from a social history point of view. “Its [aim] was to improve the housing of ordinary people, and bring up the lowest standard of housing to the highest quality, in terms of technical performance and quantity of housing available.”

For Roman, urbex is about more than just a beautiful photo or even a building’s purpose. “As much as it’s about getting the view and sights it’s also a mission,” he says. “It’s a journey.”

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Pedro, another friend of Johnny’s, sums up why he thinks Johnny loved urban exploration.

“For Johnny, it wasn’t about being on a roof and doing dangerous things – despite what people may think,” he says. “It wasn’t even close to that. His passion was to document the constantly changing city.”

Originally article link: Vice Magazine

 

A personal story behind the scream painting.

Simply just another ordinary day I thought to myself, a walk with my old man. Dragging my feet across the pier, hearing my footsteps get heavier and heavier, dying of boredom was simply a very possible thing for me at that exact moment. I must say though, what I would give to relive that day. I was about four years of age back then, my fathers’ big hands absolutely wrapping mine, holding me tightly as if he was scared to lose me. Looking back now, I think he just did not want to deal with the trouble of trying to find me, if I was to wonder off. No one really knows what goes on in a curious four-year olds mind, nor do we remember what went on in our own minds when we were four. We just had so many unanswered questions and fairy-tale like adventures.

He suddenly stopped and let go of my hand at that point, I was pretty surprised by this, I looked up as far as my short neck could reach and saw his eyes lost in the distance, without looking away or even blinking he then placed both hands on either on my head – his hands were bigger than my whole face and neck combined — one hand on each side, covering my ears and squeezing my cheeks and turned my head towards the edge of the ocean and whispered “look at the sky”. I was mesmerized by what I saw. In its literal sense, simply froze on the spot. A weird trembling feeling creeped up my legs starting from the tip of my toes. It was  a tremble of fear. But it was a fear you’d embrace and not look or run away from. The sky was blood shot red, angry, I remember thinking, why Is the sky so angry. I somehow always associated the skies with god, I assumed god was angry. What did the human race do to bring anger to god to simply make the bluest of skies to be covered in spilled ink of red.