Sunday, 27 May 2012

I'm With The Band

The band t-shirt is definitely a staple in my wardrobe, with Joy Division, Tom Williams and the Boat and The Vaccines tees being firm favourites of mine. Maybe it's the fact it's combining my love of fashion and music, or how they can lend itself to pretty much any outfit.

After seeing model Suki Waterhouse don this Je t'aime Miles Kane top, I was happy to realise it's actually being sold in the Miles Kane online store (and not just a product of a girlfriend customising her clothes). At £20 a pop, it's definitely at the top of the shopping list. 

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Song of the Day

I'm currently working on a group project, creating a 3-minute segment on the ukulele. During this time I've discovered The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. If you haven't heard of them, look them up because they do some amazing covers, including today's Song of the Day...

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain - Teenage Dirtbag (Wheatus cover)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

If You're Not Busy...

Click here to read a piece I wrote for The Flaneur about jelly shoes. If anything, the piece includes two references to Destiny's Child "Bootylicious" and for that reason alone, it is worth a read.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Hawaiian Air

I don't know whether it's the fact that summer's approaching, which is making me want to venture into prints, but I've got a thing for Hawaiian shirts. Yes, Hawaiian shirts. There's something about them: the kitsch prints or maybe the 'so right they're wrong' quality they possess. Along with jelly shoes, tie dye and dungarees, they're another piece of nostalgia available on the high street right now.

If you like the idea, but maybe not the prospect of looking like Leonardo DiCaprio, circa Romeo and Juliet, then the shirt dress is the best option. This recently purchased number from ASOS ticks all the boxes - especially with its peter pan collar. 

If you're with me, head to ASOS for a plethora of Hawaiian prints.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Joe Simpson Profile Piece: Part Two

Musician Portraits, featuring Justin Young of The Vaccines

The cinematic pieces present in Almost There aren’t all that Simpson can do. His most successful undertaking is undoubtedly the Musician Portraits series, last year. The collection of paintings were of 22 musicians – all of which Simpson was a big fan of. “I had to use some serious Google skills and write persuasive emails. It was often hard getting around management and to ask the musicians directly.”

Throughout the process of getting in touch with his subjects, Simpson came across a pleasant surprise. “I went to see Newton Faulkner at his house and hung out with him for a little bit,” he says. “His heavily pregnant girlfriend came in and I realised that I used to sit next to her at college. I haven’t spoken to her, so I had no idea there was any connection. It was quite surreal.”

Originally the exhibition was held at a pop-up gallery, in Soho. Now it’s going to be shown at the Royal Albert Hall later this year. When I ask him how this opportunity came about, he answers that he was lucky as “somebody from the Royal Albert Hall just happened to pass and had a look - they were really keen for it and they’re going to put it on.” The opening night of the exhibition is even going to include a spoken word session from musician (and one of the subjects) Scroobius Pip.

Whilst waiting for the space in Soho to be ready, Simpson wasted no time and started another project, Everything Is Electrified. He decided to use the obscure subject of pylons – an intentional choice, in order to be able to use minimal source material and no sitters. “I’ve always been interested in bold skies and clouds and started to make landscapes,” adds Simpson. “I wanted to contrast the sprawling natural shapes of the skies with straight, formal and rigid imagery – I want these grand skies, punctuated by these manmade structures. They feel quite cinematic – like they appear in a Spielberg movie.”

Everything Is Electrified

Despite the reaction to Everything Is Electrified as being “oddly positive”, Simpson’s strengths lie in people. His Tumblr website, The Mistakes We Knew We Were Making, is used as “a way of logging images that interest me in some way; to keep as an almost scrapbook.” These images are mostly of people in a melancholy state. It’s this kind of feeling that usually drives Simpson’s work. “It’s a mood that keeps the journey interesting and I think that pain kind of works well within images,” he answers. “You know, because paintings are still and there’s a long time to create it. I think it just fits with the medium. Being slow and measured and just kind of drawn out, it speaks to the process a bit more.”

By always relying on heavyhearted emotions for his art, Simpson looks for light relief in his side projects. “I’m doing little bits and bobs. I’m working on something for a Scroobius Pip t-shirt, painting a portrait of a model - Nina Kenny. I’m also working on a TV advert and making a short film, called Elliot.

With just under two months left until he leaves for America, does Simpson have any plans on a project to follow? “No, I think that [Across America] will take a considerable amount of time. When I worked on a commission for P&O, I went to New York for 3 days and took loads of photographs. Those kept me painting for at least 6/7 months,” recalls Simpson. “I think it’s good to have a bit of a break and a step back and think.”

Check out Joe's work here

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Joe Simpson Profile Piece: Part One

As part of a university assignment, I spoke to London-based artist (and Rosy Glasses favourite) Joe Simpson. Here's part one of a profile piece I wrote...

Joe Simpson

“I think there will be moments of horrible loneliness, but that might make for some interesting art along the way” says Joe Simpson. We are tucked away in the corner of the Ritzy Café in Brixton, where Simpson is based, sipping on our coffees.

Discussion starts with his new project, Across America – documenting his trip around the states through paintings, sketches and photographs. When he returns to the UK, he will develop these into larger oil paintings.

“America seemed like the best place for this project,” Simpson says. “The artists I looked at, like Edward Hopper, include a lot of movie references and are quite cinematic. It’s that kind of art that I want to create and have those American themes.”

The project is being run through crowd funding – a scheme where people buy pieces of art that Simpson will create on location. Yet how on earth does he get people to part ways with their money for something that doesn’t even exist yet? “I thought that it was a nice way to promote it and get people invested in it early. I thought it would be a novel way to do it.”

Having already surpassed the target total on its very first day, it seems that luck is on the young artist’s side. Not to mention a busy schedule. As a figurative painter, Simpson has been working solidly since graduating from Leeds University in 2007, with a degree in fine art. “After uni, I had a few lucky breaks, which meant that I could carry on. I try and treat it like a 9 to 5 job. It’s the idea of keeping on top of it, trying to keep a work ethic, it’s not always easy.”

Almost There

He insists that he prefers to work in projects as opposed to single paintings. “I always feel they speak better when they’re together.” This explains one of his previous bodies of work, entitled Almost There. The series of 12 paintings also incorporate America and the idea of the road trip, but with the added bonus of a soundtrack. Each painting was in association with a different band; a song was written specifically, which matched the scene and mood. This culminated in both the paintings and audio illustrating the subject’s journey.

The paintings were deliberately left to show uncertainty about how they are connected, allowing people to make their own story. “You’ve got this one image and you have to think of a context for it; fill in the blanks,” muses Simpson. “It’s such a limited amount of information; I think that’s what gives painting their strength.”

In all of Simpson’s pieces, ambiguity is a key factor. It’s the sense of an enigma that he’s drawn to. By highlighting the in-between moments, the times where you’re unsure what exactly is happening, it adds much more depth to the scene. Or as Simpson himself puts it, “there’s a bit of mystery to it and it means something to different people. It captures a bit of a mood. I think it’s more powerful if it’s ambiguous.”

The paintings itself are dramatic, in the sense that high-key lighting is often featured. Always using oil paints, the pieces are almost like photographs; as they could be stills taken from a feature film.

Check out part two here