postcards from the future by francesco romoli

Images: © Francesco Romoli, courtesy of the artist.


studiolav at designjunction in london

Designjunction is, in its own words, ‘a contemporary design show’ which is actually the prize part of the London Design Festival. This is its third year. Last year it attracted over 17,000 visitors and serves to platform the very best in international design ranging from lighting through to furniture.

This is where StudioLav finds itself from 18-22 September at the centrally located 1960’s Postal Sorting Office in London as one of the best international design companies. Not surprising as they were shortlisted for the Young Designer of the Year category for the Elle Decoration International Design Awards 2013.

The youthful energy of this young company carries within its products and design, wisdom as well as making use of modern materials and production techniques. This is enhanced through their newest collection, which will be showcasing at designjunction called OMBRO.

One might be reminded of the romance of old film reel in the patterning of these tables, even though the tops can be cleverly changed for differing colours to suit one’s own interior tastes. Perhaps, that’s why these two bright sparks Loukas and Vasso (who are StudioLav) named this collection OMBRO. A word which describes a cinematic technique to produce moving image through illusion of space, line and alternating form. Of course, it’s clear to see and indeed even feel the magic of the layered geometry combined with the most precise of angles in the production of the finished products.

Talking to Loukas in London as he prepares for this spectacular event, and enquiring as to his and Vasso’s inspiration, it’s the railings, the gates, the shadows and the sun. It’s how light strikes and creates and overlaps. These tables come alive and one feels as if they could be growing in the garden let alone, decorating the inside of the house.

Why tables and why not anything else? I’m asking, considering that StudioLav is already known for their detailed crockery, their luxurious chairs, quirky food stamps and their very funky pencils. The table, Loukas gently says, his voice like a 3B pencil sketching a shadow, the table is in view at all times. We sit on chairs and although we use them, we stop seeing them. The table is intrinsic to the house.

Curious to know where StudioLav’s priority lies, the questions keep coming and Loukas obliges, both excitedly and calmly to stress that although the central idea is exceptionally important, there must always be a balance between concept and functionality at all times.

Two and half years of working together but apart, Vasso working from Athens and Loukas based in London, the distance between, although sacrificing the immediacy of creation, is working well for them as they become more and more successful to now international acclaim and recognition.

How marvelous then, that it is possible to view this newest collection OMBRO and imagine letting the sun fall through the window and the light patterns travel over the floor or wall as it hits the table in your living room or bedroom. StudioLav’s ideas are always fresh, exciting and new. This collection excites and pleases in the same way. Make a point of getting to designjunction in London between 18-22 September at The Sorting Office, 
21-31 New Oxford Street,
London, WC1A 1BA to see StudioLav’s stunning designs at Stand F16A.

Text: © JL Nash, 2013
Images: © Predrag Pajdic, 2013


alexandra eldridge: meetings with my daemons

The world renowned Alexandra Eldridge’s paintings are being exhibited again. What absolute joy to have the chance for exploration of the space between the temporal outer world and the latent internal world that she creates. Alexandra’s use of collage, paint and Venetian plaster is just the tip of the iceberg of her creativity and sublime imagery, reaching from the depths of her subconscious out into that of the viewer, leaving traces within, of her mysterious and message laden works that might be earthy and transcendent to some but to others, lift into the realm of power and ultimate forces of nature which drive the universe we all inhabit.

In this solo exhibition, Meetings with My Daemons, Alexandra’s paintings once again take the viewer on a journey, original to both parties. It is a witness or indeed a recounting of profundity, the strike of revelation based on her experience in the deeply magical and spiritual Kauai, where she tells of the getting of a vision of her soul image. These mythical encounters, streamed from her subconscious, spilled into her paintings as animals and symbols and now stands testament not only to her brilliance but offering a modicum of insight into the elusive shadows of beauty that exist within her mind.

Alexandra Eldridge is an artist of international standing and repute and has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally in over forty solo and group exhibitions. She has also conducted numerous workshops and had residencies in France, Italy, Spain and throughout the United States. Her physical body currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico but her spirit lives within each painting at each location it finds itself.

Until 22 September 2013
Nüart Gallery
670 Canyon Road
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

Images: © Alexandra Eldridge, 2013, courtesy of the artist.


it’s time to make a stand

Did you know that only 10% of the world’s population lives in countries where same sex marriage has been legalised? Homosexual behaviour is still criminalised in more than 38 countries around the world. Tolerance and acceptance is not the norm. However in countries which are lacking in education and resources it is almost possible to understand how this might be the case. It is easier to look at a third world states and understand how ignorance can flourish. It is then all the more shocking when a country of resources, education and international standing begins to change its laws to walk down the dark path of criminalisation of homosexuality in any form.

Although male homosexuality was actually decriminalised in 1993 in the Federation of Russia, there is a distinct absence of legislation, which protects against all discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Russia. Notably same-sex marriages and civil unions are not recognised. However, it is the most recent of the Russian Federation’s legislation, which has the international community protesting. Many states within the Federation have had their own legislation for some time prohibiting information dissemination with reference to homosexuality. This year, a federal bill was passed which banned the distribution of ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’ to minors. One could be tempted to see it as one of the biggest smoke-screens for some time and wonder what other legislation or political manoeuverings are taking place in or by the Russian Federation. Human Rights, after all, provide a perfect eclipse as any audience is forced into an emotional knee jerk reaction to such laws. What else is happening in Russia?

But whether this is an incredible elaborate smokescreen or not, the issue remains, that an educated country is closing the door on basic human rights. There is no complicated argument which needs investigation here. It is a simple case of repression and oppression; some have been quoted as saying that the Russian Federation is taking a step back into the Middle Ages. It matters not what century one is looking at, we all live in the present and cannot ignore today.

What is next? With international governments making very little difference to the Federation’s legislative bent, can it be expected that Tchaikovsky’s vast legacy will be published and performed under a different name in case minors are affected by the history of one Russia’s (up until now) favourite sons? Are Maria Feodorova’s literary works to be burned or banned? Will Lenin’s own decriminalisation of homosexuality or even Yeltsin’s 1993 decriminalisation be removed from the history books in schools and universities? Perhaps the Ballets Russes will be disbanded considering it was founded by Sergei Diaghilev and will all traces of Nijinsky and Nureyev be scratched from view? Pushkin might not have been gay but openly wrote about the bonus of male bedfellows when communicating with his gay friend Philip Vigel. Perhaps all of his prose and poetry needs to be removed from the bookshelves instantly too?

Let’s not forget Nikolai Gogol’s plays and stories or even Tolstoy’s musings on his own homosexual attractions in his autobiographical writing of his childhood. The list of gay/bisexual Russians who are prominent in the arts is extensive. Poets Mikhail Kuzmin (1972-1936), Vyacheslav Ivanovich Ivanov (1866-1946), Nikolai Klyuev (1887-1937), Sergei Yesenin (1895-1925) and Ryurik Ivnev (189-1981). Let’s not forget the painter Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov (1806-1858), composer Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881), publisher Anna Yevreinova (1844-1919), and filmmaker Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein (1989-1948) to name but a few who are part of not only Russia’s cultural history but more notably the cultural history of the species homo sapiens on this planet.

Today’s gay and bisexual artists, writers and composers not only need acknowledgement but also protection and nurturing. It is safe to mention Slava Mogutin (1974 -) Siberian born artist, sculptor and author who is currently based in New York. Thanks to the United States and the work of Amnesty International and PEN American Center, he has been granted political asylum. How many other incredible creatives such as Slava are left struggling in the Russian Federation?

Perhaps we should also begin to wonder whether gay engineers or architects who have built prominent buildings, bridges or icons will now be forgotten as their creations are destroyed or their own histories re-written? Do not be sidetracked. This issue is not just about the arts; it’s about the situation we should all enjoy not as a luxury or privilege but as a basic human right.

It is time for the Pandorian to take a stand, smokescreen or not. Let none sit idly by, loving the arts, whether music, dance or literature to the detriment of not only our mutual history but also the present day cultivation of what humans have to offer which separates us from animals, which is the sophistication and demonstration of beauty in all its forms and those who create it and perform it, regardless of their gender preference or sexual orientation.

Text: © JL Nash, 2013
: © Slava Mogutin


leaving hollywood behind for £15000

Considering that the average production budget of a major studio film in 2007 was $106 million [source: MPAA] (approximately £65 million) and although we know that Edward Burns managed to produce his Newlyweds for $120K (just under £74K) including editing and post production costs, how is it possible to create a film for only £15000?

Well, that’s just what The Minister of Chance team is doing right now in Cheshire, UK. Already with a cult following on the internet, Radio Static is the brave independent firm which is taking podcast to film. The Minister of Chance podcast first series received nominations from the BBC and USA Parsec Awards and hails an internationally acclaimed cast including Jenny Agutter OBE, Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, Tamsin Greig, Jed Brophy and Philip Glenister to name but a few.

Reviews of the original series were glowing:

“ …startling… a joy to listen to… world-class… magic… superb… haunting… intricate… sucks you in and holds you… so poetic that you’re happy to go along with every twist… fascinating… a gorgeous audio experience.”
Greg Jameson, Entertainment Focus

“…fabulous… truly wonderful… the cast is absolutely phenomenal… the writing excellent… outstanding.”
Seattle Star

“…excellent… gripping.”
The Guardian

“…transports you to another world… eclipses nearly every audio adventure I’ve listened to… flawless… this future classic.”
Paul Gee, Who News Extra

“… superb… full of depth and flavour… sublime.”
Sam Fleming, Singularity

The Writer and Director Dan Freeman, together with the Executive Producer Clare Eden, have, through the podcasts, taken the listeners back into the realm of imagination, where weekly story telling on the wireless was an essential part of life. Except that now the wireless is the internet and not a radio, but the realm of the imagination still reigns supreme in human beings and largely due to the success of the crowd-funded podcast project, a film is currently underway in the UK. A film which is working to a budget of £15000. OK. Perhaps it’s time to ‘fess-up’ and say it’s not quite a full feature film – more like a very short film of the prologue of the series which has been rewritten to accommodate a more cinematic and visually powerful style. But it’s still a film; just not quite of blockbuster proportions one might have originally hoped.

Austerity measures might be in place when compared to Hollywood’s funds but there is no skimping on talent. Top quality writing attracts top quality talent which, in turn, gives award winning performances. What is really refreshing is to hear from the Executive Producer how the ‘talent’ are hardworking, fun and professional. Tim McInnery, for instance, once a favourite as Lord Percy or Captain Darling in the Black Adder Series, a well established actor of stage, screen and radio, was described as “everything we hoped he’d be – fantastic in the role of the King, and a total gent to work with.” Mark Lewis played the king in the original series and was going to be in the film, but an offer from Ridley Scott meant he wasn’t available. Tim McInnery however, has stepped into the part with impressive results.

A quick peek at the whole cast list is evidence enough of several combined lifetimes of excellence from both young and seasoned actors alike. This short film, also featuring the Cheshire landscape as well as promoting and using local talent, for a country coming out of recession, is an example of ingenuity, entrepreneurship and a refusal to wait for the ‘big boys’ to make something beautiful.

More and more independent production companies are taking it upon themselves to create and develop art, music and literature. Crowd-funding platforms are commonplace and all one needs to do it seems – is believe. This £15000 has been raised through crowd-funding and is a perfect example of how the process of creation has changed. Interestingly they are making the film and still continuing with their campaign until 10th November, when their limited edition purchases will no longer be available.

What is the Ministry of Chance about? Well, without offering any kind of spoiler the prologue called The Pointed Hand gives this description as a starter to the series…

“A strange new world… Ambassador Durian of Sezuan (Paul McGann) is dispatched to the primitive island nation of Tanto. However, his offers of friendship to the belligerent King (Mark Lewis) fall on deaf ears, and things take a turn for the very, very sinister.”

For me, the presence of the smoother-than-chocolate Paul McGann is enough to stimulate interest (of course, for his sublime acting talents), but essentially, The Minister of Chance is a science fiction fantasy-adventure series which will amuse, beguile and titillate the eardrums, stimulate that grey matter of yours and I warn you, can be quite, quite addictive. The film promises to feed the eyes as well as a sense of adventure. There will even be some special effects and I understand that Paul McGann’s rocket ship landed in Chester’s Roman amphitheatre for the film!

It’s fun and the podcast series definitely harked back and offered a nod to old style radio dramas but the excitement in this new film production is many layered. Firstly that it is crowd-funded; public opinion does count, secondly that it is supported by a hugely gifted cast and crew, thirdly that is comes from the hand of the immensely talented Dan Freeman and fourthly that it is unafraid to create and present as a development from an already highly successful independent project.

The original podcast series is free to download through their website or even though ITunes. Why not get up to speed while you wait for the movie to be finished? You never know – you might even get a chance to be part of its film campaign and on a such a small budget, I suspect they might still need you!

Text: © JL Nash, 2013
Image: The Minister of Chance – Rocket ship


michael landy: saints alive

If you happen to be in London until the 24th of November 2013 don’t miss the extraordinary exhibition Saints Alive by Michael Landy at the National Gallery.

Saints are more often associated with traditional sacred art than with contemporary work, but Michael Landy, current Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist in residence at the National Gallery, has been inspired to revisit the subject for this exhibition.

Landy’s large-scale sculptures consist of fragments of National Gallery paintings cast in three dimensions and assembled with one of his artistic hallmarks – refuse. He has scoured car boot sales and flea markets accumulating old machinery, cogs and wheels to construct the works. Visitors can crank the works into life with a foot pedal mechanism.

Towering over you, the seven sculptures swivel and turn, in movements that evoke the drama of each saint’s life. Saints Apollonia, Catherine, Francis, Jerome, Thomas – and an additional sculpture that takes a number of saints as its inspiration – fill the Sunley Room alongside paper collages.

Born in London in 1963, Landy attended Goldsmiths College and is part of the generation of artists who became known as the YBAs (Young British Artists). He is best known for his 2001 installation, ‘Break Down’, where he catalogued and then destroyed all of his possessions in a former department store in London.

Images: From the Saints Alive exhibition by Michael Landy at the National Gallery London until the 24 November 2013. © Thomas Dane Gallery, London, National Gallery and the Duerckheim Collection, 2013.


ferry man calls

My father has this annoying habit
of putting on a song to listen to and then
and while my emotions are wrestled
tortured and dragged kicking and swearing
through the mire of all the world’s darkest caves
a part of me says hi,
says thanks for explaining how now and then are inextricably bound
he’s dead
And the dead give up their right to a voice the minute they pay
the ferry man
since I first saw you
I have been
aware of his existence
cheroot, cap, and torn clothes
his purse, an open box on
the floor
each step I take closer to you
he comes more clearly into view
you brought me back into the river
and some days
I’m swimming upstream
can’t work out whether you’re the riptide
that’ll pull me down
the current which will pull me along
there’s no such thing as a life jacket
to save me from these waters
when I’m swimming I turn the music up
no more sounds to drown out
just got to find a reef shelf to help my stability
to stop me drifting out
hear me shout
I’m here
Sweet baby
I’m here

Text: © JL Nash, 3013
Images: Sydney Police Vintage Mugshots [1920's-1940's]


untitled note

there is no title to this page
and you have no name to be spoken
there has been no food shared
no lips kissed
no drinks spilled in favour of
no songs no poetry no gifts
and although i am not the only one
who refuses to make comparisons
between what has not occurred
and what cannot be acknowledged
there is still no title to this page
and you have no name to be spoken
and in some other dimension
this time has already slipped
in between pages of a book
for discovery
because someone will recognise
the emptiness and in that
solace of space
there will still be no title nor name
and a thousand stars will have exploded
in galaxies unseen

and if i did decide to give this to you
then you might have to exist

Text: © JL Nash, 2013
Images: © Othon Mataragas by Predrag Pajdic, 2013


conflict / conflicto

I’d like to propose a toast…

to dreams
and to the bold
Men and Women
that dare to dream them
to the wild-eyed visionaries
that plant seeds in their
hearts with hopes
to one day see them
come to pass

for prayers
sweeter than papayas
that rise from the
deepest darkest
depths of our cellars
where my heart
is pumping out
prayers like mass

to the foresight
that illuminates our
foreshadows that
whirl in the glass
of our souls
to those robust
farm workers clad
in jeans, flannels
handkerchiefs and hats
for all the mamas and papas that
wear their skin like worn leather
who are wrinkled and red like raisins
and whose wrinkles hold stories like wine jugs and whose woes
are ten miles deeper than any winemaker’s pocket book

this one’s for them

for all of the grandmas
and grandpas that look like stucco
whose eyes look like ice wines
with frost outlining their irises
for the crows-feet perched
perfectly on their eyelids
and their white hair flowing
like broken clouds passing
through windmill slices
for century old spines like gnarly
vines in vineyards for lilac diamonds
to the god-like elders
for our aging wines and
their timeless guidance

this one’s for floral notes
sung by the brown folks
for the flower vendor
the one that puts
the rose in rosary
for a gorgeous culture
that rose from dirt so openly
for arms that open like blossoms
for womb-like palms that deliver
the grape from bondage
and carry it from
conception to fruition
and beyond the goblet
for the seed that dreams itself
larger than grapes and transcends wine, song, couplet and sonnet

to cherry pickers like
rebels with barreled chests
waging war with their wages
who hurl their dreams
like Molotov cocktails
into our amber waves of grain
whose knuckles are
gnarled and strained
for the work of a dreamer
is stainless and honest

for the protagonist, the antithesis, the subplot and most importantly the conflict

you see

I know copper-skinned
women and men
that work for pennies

I know mothers that
never feel beaten
machine-like Mothers
that clean hotels by day
sell Avon at night
and work the fields
on the weekends
so this one’s for freedom

for children with eyes like plums
whose hair looks like dark chocolate
waterfalls pouring out and catching the sun

for precious sun-flowers
with green thumbs that
have never been embarrassed
of their hardworking parents
that pick pears and pluck asparagus
this one’s for the families that get scattered for work all across the Americas

its ugly
I know a girl that was
held for ransom at birth
just beneath the border
by bad men known
as Coyotes who you
gotta pay to smuggle dreams
into this country

its beyond ugly
its heart crushing
so this one’s for the underbelly
for the juggling of children over rivers
for dodging dogs & militias
for sliding dreams past
the law writers passing
laws higher than the
barbed wire they’re casting
the people they’re pruning
and the hopes they’re smashing

to the Mighty Migrant Worker
may your hands and spine
always nurture the vine
may the cups of all your tomorrows
be filled with the fruits of your labor
and may the dreams you
dream of find freedom
in the land of your neighbor

to you

Quisiera hacer un brindis…

un brindis por los sueños
y por los valientes hombres
y las fuertes mujeres
que se atrevan a soñarlos.
Un brindis por los visionarios
cuyos ojos iluminados
siembran semillas en sus corazones
con la esperanza de verlas, algún día,
llegar a florecer.

Un brindis por los rezos
más dulces que papayas
que se levantan de la más onda
y oscura profundidad
de nuestra bodega
donde mi corazón bombea
los rezos como en la misa.
Y brindemos por la previsión
que ilumina nuestro presagio
que gira en la copa de nuestra alma.

Brindemos por los robustos granjeros
con sus franelas, vaqueros, pañuelos y gorras por las mamás y los papás
que llevan su piel como cuero gastado
arrugado y rojo como uvas pasas
cuyas arrugas guardan historias como jarras de vino
cuyas congojas alcanzan diez millas más allá de la cartera
de cualquier vinicultor

Este es por ellos

por todas las Abuelas
y por todos los Abuelos
quienes se parecen al estuco
cuyos ojos son como vinos helados
con escarcha rodeada en sus iris.
Este es por las patas de gallo
perfectamente posadas
y su cabello cano volando
como nubes pasando
por las tejadas del molino.
Este es por las columnas
vertebrales, antiguas y nudosas
de las parras del viñedo
como diamantes de lilo
y viejos sabios
por nuestro vino añejo
y su guía eterna

Este es por las notas de Flora
cantada por la gente morena y
por la vendedora de rosas
que echa rosas en el rosario y
por una cultura hermosa
que salió de la tierra tan abierta
Este es por los brazos
que se abren como flores
por las palmas del vientre
que salvan a la uva
de su servidumbre
y la lleva de su concepción
al hecho y más allá de la copa
Este es por la semilla
que sueña en sí misma
más allá de las uvas
y trasciende el vino,
el canto, la copla y el soneto.
Este es por Ella.

Este es por los recogedores de cerezas
rebeldes con pecho de barril
declarando la guerra contra sus sueldos quienes lanzan sus sueños
como cócteles Molotov
hacia nuestras alas amarillas
de trigo, cuyos nudillos
nudosos y cansados
por el trabajo de un soñador inoxidable y sincero por el protagonista, el antitesis,
la trama secundaria y, más importante, el conflicto

Ya ves
Yo conozco a hombres y a mujeres
de piel de cobre que cobran centimos

Yo conozco a Madres
que nunca se sienten vencidas
Madres de máquina
que limpian hoteles de día y
que venden Avon de noche y
que labran en el campo en los findes
este por la libertad

por los Niños con ojos de ciruela
cuyo cabello es como el chocolate
como cataratas vertiendo agua
y atrapando el sol

por los girasoles preciosos
con manos de jardinero
que nunca han sentido la vergüenza
de sus padres obreros
que recogen las peras
y que arrancan el espárrago
este por las familias dispersas por toda América en busca de trabajo

Y es feo.
Yo conozco a una chica
que fue secuestrada del parto
justo en la frontera
por hombres malos
conocidos como Coyotes
y a quienes se paga
por contrabandear
sueños a este país

La fealdad del hecho
te agrieta el corazón.
Entonces este es por los invisibles
por el malabarismo de los niños por los ríos
por el escape de los perros y los paramilitares
por el tropiezo de los sueños
por el aprobado del legislado
cuyas leyes sobrepasan
el alambre de púas que pasan
por las personas que podan
y los sueños que quiebran

Al Poderoso Obrero Migrante
que tus manos y espinazo
siempre alimente a la parra,
que las copas de tu mañana
estén llenas de las frutas de tu labor
y que encuentren tus sueños
la libertad en la tierra de tu vecino.

Este es por ti.

Text: © Jordan Chaney, 2013, courtesy of the poet.
Conflict translated to Spanish by Kyle K. Black, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Spanish, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Images: Marion Post Wolcott [1910 - 1990]


louise dearman

Louise Dearman is a British musical theatre performer, who played the role of Glinda and currently plays Elphaba in the London’s West End production of Wicked. She is the first actress ever to have played both witches in the musical. She has a number of other professional stage and television credits, such as Eva Perón in Evita, and released her solo albums, You and I and Here Comes the Sun, in 2005 and 2012, respectively.

Featuring: Louise Dearman
Photography & Art Direction: © Predrag Pajdic
Styling: Elizabeth McGorian
Hair & Makeup: Nina Van Houten
Location: London, April, 2013
Commissioned for