Holy Shit! Visions of the Walworth Jumpers

Friday, 29 January 2010

Amelia's Anthology of Illustration Party Photos

All photographs courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

Before Christmas, I attended the Amelia's Anthology of Illustration party and took some photos of the party preparations and the night itself.

I will post on this blog next the videos and montage I made of it all with an interview of Amelia.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Pecha Kucha: Death by Powerpoint?

All photographs and Illustrations courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

Imagine never having done any presentation to more than 30 people in your lifetime and that did not really matter because they were your schoolmates; if you were to fall flat on your face in front of them, you knew you were all in the same bath water (so to speak) assessed by Mean Lady Big Goggled Eye! But what happens when it is your own lifework compiled over many years of blood, sweat and tears you are showing to complete strangers and there happens to be upwards of 400 of them there. Am I being overdramatic? Maybe…

I’ve always been fascinated by Pecha Kucha. The first time I heard it mentioned was a few years ago when it sent shock waves throughout Europe as the latest craze among designer types. Pecha Kucha is a presentation format hailing from Japan. It’s usually pronounced in three syllables like "pe-chak cha" (ペチャクチャ?), although most people don’t bother trying to be authentic with the original pronunciation and I admit I have been just as lazy! The name Pecha Kucha is a Japanese term that stands for the sound of conversation ("chit-chat"). More than 170 cities now host such events.

Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham in 2003 of Tokyo's Klein-Dytham Architecture (KDa) are the instigators of this worldwide phenomenon; Klein and Dytham sought to give young designers a venue to meet, network, and show their work and to attract people to their experimental event space in Roppongi. They devised a format that kept presentations very concise in order to encourage audience attention and increase the number of presenters within the course of one night.

Did I know what I was getting myself into? A little bit. I was told I needed to show 20 images for 20 seconds a piece, for a total time of 6 minutes, 40 seconds. Apparently, the secret of a good presentation is thorough preparation, so I selected my 20 slides and stood in front of my computer with a fake mike all week-end, well…faking. Why put myself through it? I wanted to shine a spotlight on my upcoming graphic novel, a collection of illustrations and extracts from the bible titled “Written by Men, Blame it on God” that I am currently developing. The publisher is selected (New Humanist and the Rationalist Association) and all that is left to do is finish the book in the upcoming months. I intend to exhibit the original artwork along with the launch of the book this year.

At the helm of this new brand of Pecha Kucha are Sian-Kate and Paul. Sian-Kate’s passion for Pecha Kucha Redux is infectious; she tells me the format previously lost its way in the UK when it ended up being open exclusively to high-profile and well established figures from the design, architecture, photography, art and creative fields. They wanted to go back to its roots as a platform for up and coming professionals and I was in good company on the night. Among the diverse and distinct line-up were a conceptual artist exploring desire and the female gaze(Nerys Mathias), a kick-ass rockstar who tore down the house (Bruno Wizard), a printmaker and sculptor and mountaineer (Martin Barrett) and the aptly named Minxy McNaughty!

Photographs courtesy of Pecha Kucha

I was terrified when I took to the stage. But the reception was overwhelmingly positive and the interaction with the public was very intoxicating; I heard laughter, cheers and received positive feedback from many women who encouraged me to complete the book! Afterward, I slumped over the bar; good thing the event was held at The Arches as it made for a pretty chilled-out atmosphere! “Alcohol free January? Pas pour moi!”All in all it was a great night and I now can say: “I fell into the deep end and I survived Pecha” Kucha!”

Monday, 25 January 2010

If You Could Collaborate at The Rochelle School

I must admit I had no expectations good or bad when I headed for the fourth annual If You Could exhibition. All I knew was that it was about creatives working to an open brief in paires and I had glanced at the press release. Apparently, the project aimed to "provide a platform for the finest creatives from all over the world to question their conventional working methods and outcomes.(...)There is no brief to answer, or format to honour – the only limit being the enterprise and imagination of the artists involved."

Keeping that in my mind, Amelia Gregory and I roam leisurely about the place when we are faced with an interactive booth. This must be exhibit number one…and I enter this photography cubicle, the creation of With Associates and product designer Anthony Dickens. But is it art? I must admit I was underwhelemed by the interactive timepiece. It was sold as “Intriguing”, I found it “boring”.

“If this is what gallery viewers are greeted with, I wonder what the rest is going to be like...more arty farty stuff?” I reflect while I join Amelia, who has disappeared in one of the adjoining rooms. Praline has teamed up with The Model Shop of architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to create a new Font, all pop colours and neon sign as well as and physical scale models interpreting its shapes. Attractive-looking but I am still to be stirred and I am not.

I leave Amelia in there but not before being given some background about the organisers, who incidently happen to guide a bunch of industry insiders about the exhibition space. Designers Alex bec and Will hudson of popular blog It’s Nice That notoriety are apparently acquaintances of Amelia, but there is no sign of them even nodding “hello” at her. Strange. It must be because of the VIPs…

The work in the main room happens to be of much higher calibre and I can’t help but start enjoying myself…until I have the misfortune of stepping on a giant flag flung about the floor. And the young ambitious designer shoots me one of those looks that says “ this pricey artwork is worth more than your life, you know”. And I think “Ooops, why put that in the middle of the walkway if you don’t want any accidents to happen!”

But I am enchanted by the illustrators collaborations. A set of numerals attract my attention; they remind me of a project I made for my Foundation at the City Lit. It was great fun then and it looks like George Hardie, graphic designer Leonardo Sonnoli & children illustrator Sara Fanelli had a blast playing their game of consequences! Mario Hugo & Micah Lidberg’s illustrated mural was enchanting. Oliver Jeffers & Aaron Ruff 4D glasses wooden case was a well-crafted art piece. Other well crafted works on display worthy of mentioning were Hvass&Hannibal & Anne Werner’s Op-Art medieval-like tapestry made from cotton fabric.

Designer Sandy Suffield and fellow-image maker Fiona Woodcock have stitched and hand painted reactions to tabloid headlines. These fragile ephemerals were among my favourites because of their inventiveness and originality of content. And they did look striking on that wall! There were a couple of curiousities such as the 12 minute rock-opera, a big piss-take that made me smile.All designers are fustrated musicians as we all know! The Best in show price would have to be handed to two distinct pairings.

The organisers left the best for last as the movie room, situated at the very back, was outstanding. I espescially liked photographer John Hooper and Michael Moloney’s poetic time-lapse film set 2500ft up a big hill in the Great Langdale area of The Lake District. The continuous 360° rotating camera shot is strewn with delicate light flashes and the result is utterly mesmerising! This and the graphically embellished space divider made me almost forget about all the other average displays. Such as the oversized flag I couldn’t help but inadvertently wipe my feet with. Sorry…

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Pecha Kucha Slides Online Now!

Autechre Image courtesy of Valerie Pezeron. Copyright 2009. Do not reproduce without permission.

My presentation is now up on the Pecha Kucha website! The website describes me as "a London-based illustrator, motion-graphics designer, storyboard artist and Art Editor of Amelia's
. This is stunning presentation of her work, sweet and bland - it is not. A reaction to politics, social issues, dreams, fantasies and sex - it is!" Oh bless them!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Valerie Loves the Homosexuals!

Cover art courtesy of the Homosexuals

This band is crazy and their brand of alternative rock music is really infectious! I especially like "Don't touch my hair" and "In search of the perfect baby". They will be presenting at Pecha Kucha on the smae night that I do my presentation. Great company, then!

Pecha Kucha presentation

Photograph courtesy of Pecha Kucha

I will be doing a presentation of my work at Pecha Kucha this Monday evening at the Arches, London. I'm really excited by the opportunity. I will have 20 slides and 20 seconds per slides to tell you all about my illustration and animation work as ValocheDesigns.
It will be interesting to take a look at the other people presenting on the night and their presentation style. I am quite nervous as it's been a while since I have performed in front of a public! I used to be a modern dancer and I have also on several occasions presented live entertainment shows about 13 years ago (I studied theater and taught theater classes at that time). So yes, it's quite a while ago but I think it's like a bike, you can get back into it pretty soon with practice. Wish me good luck at the Pecha Kucha night!