Alexander McQueen and Jonathan Glazer: First Light

Alexander McQueen presents “First Light”, a film in conjunction with English filmmaker Jonathan Glazer and Alexander McQueen’s creative director Sarah Burton. The film combines the gritty scenes from the River Thames overpass with the stripped-back clothing and accessories from the campaign. With the tagline “Back to London, coming home” and under Glazer’s directing, the film draws on the peculiar and the striking. 

Debuting Alexander McQueen’s 21’ Spring/Summer collection, each scene shows the meeting point between the sophisticated and the rugged through a culmination of panned and still shots. The musical score is intense with bass and synths that reverberate throughout. Each shot is a hodgepodge, a collision of clothing hailing from different time periods that are brought together to create something new and refined. 

The womenswear collection includes pieces like a deconstructed dress with a strapless corset and an exploded skirt in layers of blush and tea rose tulle. This corset dress is featured in the film and worn by model Celina Ralph, who is caught in a cinematic shot, falling back slowly into a bed of mud. The menswear features a black biker jacket with zip detailing, a vest in white cotton jersey and biker trousers with zip detailing, reminiscent of the biker fashion of the 60’s. 

“Shape, silhouette and volume, the beauty of the bare bones of clothing stripped back to its essence – a world charged with emotion and human connection.” – Sarah Burton. 

To discover the collection, visit AlexanderMcQueen.com 

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Art Basel Miami Beach 2020 – Pippy Houldsworth Gallery Presentation

A celebration of thought provoking and eclectic work – this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach Exhibition introduces the work of artists across different generations. Presented by Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, this all-female exhibition brings together works that explore different subject matters and as captioned on the site “initiates a dialogue between feminist icons and the younger generation, reflecting the programme as a whole”. 

Although the presentation is usually held in person, the show will include ‘viewing rooms’, where the public can wonder around in virtual rooms that showcase digitalised versions of each artist’s work. The line-up includes the likes of Mary Kelly, a staple figure in feminist art, Ming Smith’s street photography which focused its lens on African American’s in the 1970’s, and work from Jacqueline de Jong who was an editor for the experimental platform The Situationist Times. 

The talent does not stop there, with the inclusion of prolific work from the younger generation. Highlights from painters Jadé Fadojutimi and Stefanie Heinze, the vibrant portraiture of Wangari Mathenge, Zoë Buckman’s repurposed textiles and the hypnotic oil on linen pieces by Angela Heisch. These works were created specifically for the fair and offer a deep dive into each artist’s psyche – how they postulate change, their ideas on identity, and how their individual work connects to larger ideas. 

In an exclusive interview, Zoë Buckman and Wangari Mathenge sat down with Twin Magazine and revealed some of their thoughts surrounding their work, the exhibition itself, and the ways they have continued to create during this turbulent time. 

Zoë Buckman, Lilith, 2020, boxing gloves, vintage textiles and chain
Photo: Thomas Müller

Zoë Buckman:she would use that cloth to make a sling, it stings, 2020’ and ‘Eyes Closing Now, 2020’

How does it feel to be a part of an all-female art exhibition? 

I was so excited when I saw that. Also those artists, the ones Pippy has selected, I am just delighted to be in such esteemed company. I know and really admire Ming Smith, we’re kind of a part of the same community here in the art world in New York, and I have obviously been a long admirer of hers. But also for me, Mary Kelly is a big one too because I actually studied her work at school, and I have her books and she has been a massive inspiration to me as I have attempted to juggle being an artist but also a mother. I’m getting to know the other artists on Pippy’s programme and it’s exciting. 

I have noticed that you use boxing gloves quite often in your work – why did you choose this medium for this piece and this exhibition? 

I’m really interested in the space in between polarised states. And I think that conversation or that tension between the stereotypically masculine and the stereotypically feminine, has always been a really interesting terrain for me to make art from. I do box [and] for a particular time in my life it was very formative for me because it gave me a space to work through both feelings of frustration and anger about what was going on politically in the world at the time. This was in 2016 in the run-up to the general election here in the States. I just began to really feel that there was this mounting war on women against our rights, and our body, and our body autonomy. It was also when there was a lot being circulated about rape, and scoring different experiences of rape against each other. It was a time where I was finding my feet as an artist in the art world, which is a very male dominated arena. In a way the boxing gym gave me a space to work through certain personal traumas, but it also gave me practice at learning how to hold my own and take up space, and even take space away from others. 

Visually boxing and iconography, like boxing gloves are very interesting to me because a lot of my work does look at masculinity, aggression and violence. So using boxing gloves but reworking them with these domestic feminine textiles, and often placing so that one is balancing on the other and bringing a kind of fragility to something that is stereotypically quite masculine and resilient.

The phrase “it stings” has also been used in your work prior. What does this statement mean in your work? 

A lot of the texts that I use in my work, both the titles, for what I write and embroider, that is taken from this ongoing poem that I’m writing. The poem is called “show me your bruises then” and it weaves together snippets of conversations or memories, or things that women have said to me, or even things that men have said to me. A lot of the text is from my own experiences with relationships with men. But that particular line it used to be “it stings, I sob”, that was taken from a play my mother wrote about her experience [of] coming on her period for the first time. 

In the Jewish tradition, the matriarch of the family will slap the young woman across the face the first time she gets her period. And so that was obviously this deeply problematic ritual for women, at least for my Mum she didn’t know what was happening to her body, and she didn’t know she was going to get slapped in the face by her grandmother. It’s this way of using a violent act to mark a significant time in a woman’s life. She found that, and therefore I find that really interesting and problematic. 

I also merged that with another piece of text which said “Mama would use that cloth to cook and clean, and she would use that cloth to make a sling”. She was talking about her grandmother in the kitchen using these tea towels in all these different ways. When a kid broke his arm, she would use that cloth to make a sling, but she would also use that cloth to tend to her own black eye. This line “it stings” for me, I’m sort of looking at the feminist experience. You can apply that “it stings, I sob” to coming on you period the first time, to losing your virginity, to experiencing violence, to experiencing heartbreak: it just seems so universal to me.  

As an artist and creator, do you believe your art has an obligation to tackle wider socio-political subjects? 

I try to veer away from any feelings of obligation because I feel they can limit the creative process. But I was brought up with this example of art being something that is used to examine or attempt to change the status quo. I personally will always use my art to do that. I think it’s something that I just intuitively want to do, and do. But I don’t feel like I am obligated. 

How does your art speak to your own experience as a woman and to the ‘female experience’ as a whole?

The series that I create they always start from a personal experience. Whether that’s divorce, grieving the loss of my mother, or sexual violence, or abortion or whatever is the impotence for me to embark on a series. It also comes from something within me that I find difficult or problematic or complicated. And then I go through a process of expanding that out and talking to other women, and bringing other women’s experiences and stories in the work. I hope it will always be something that is collective. For example, I’m not interested in making work that is solely about something that I have gone through. I’m more interested in saying “I have an experience with this” and I know there are plenty of women out there that have that; I want to share that space with them.

One of the subject matters highlighted in this exhibition is “metamorphosis”. Did you go through a process of change or metamorphosis that brought you to creating these two pieces?

I think that I’ve been on a real journey of transformation. The last few years for me have been almost a fast track of different experiences: from a divorce, to losing my mother to a terminal illness, to a very painful breakup from a relationship where there was violence and assault. A lot of that has brought a real complex darkness to my work as I have been exploring those things in my work. But more recently I feel that I am arriving at a place of joy and celebration. I think from my own spiritual practice, and through my relationships with other women, my best friends – my gyaldem, it has really put me in touch with this kind of inner force of creativity, and resilience, and joy. A lot of this work is looking at how we as women overcome the fuckeries that life throws at us. Through prayers, and devotion, and dancing, and raving and being together and through accessing our own ‘inner wild space’, and our own ‘inner wild women’; I think that is really the antidote to subjugation, and oppression, and trauma.  

In the current tumultuous time we are living in right now, (Covid-19, the US election, police brutality), where does your work as an artist fit into these conversations? 

I think that where the work explores as an antidote to oppression, and trauma and difficulty, choosing and seeking out joy, and connection to spirit and that inner wilderness that I was referencing; I think that sort of fits in with what is going on right now. Everybody is going through something, everybody is grieving something right now or everybody is anxious about something right now, or feeling trapped or limited or held back. Those are things I have had experience with, and some practice with. And so I think offering as a tool for those difficult experiences, this connection to something that is within us that can’t be limited, can’t be held back or trapped. I think that is a good way of reaching people during this time and what they’re going through. 

Ming Smith, Symmetry on the Ivory Coast, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 1972, archival silver gelatin print

Wangari Mathenge: The Ascendants IX (Just Like My Parents’ House, I’ve Become A Visitor), 2020’

I noticed that you use oil paints in the majority of your work. Why did you choose this medium specifically? 

It started just out of curiosity. I actually started painting with watercolours and acrylic. I just used to look at artworks a lot, like when you go to museums [and] there was this quality, a sort of richness that I noticed. I noticed the difference between oils and acrylics. Acrylics have come a long way and they mimic oils right now, back in the day acrylics were kind of dry and they didn’t really have the mixing mediums that they have right now; I think you can mimic an oil painting with acrylics now. When I was doing it, you could tell the difference. And so it was really curiosity. The first time I ever tried to work with oils, it was a complete disaster. It was a very difficult material to understand. And then it just became a quest to understand the language of oils. And then after a while, I just became good at it I guess. Initially it was just curiosity, and now the reason I still paint with oil is – I think just being comfortable with it. 

As an artist that has a diasporic experience, being between more than one culture, how does your artwork speak to your experiences? 

For me I think it changes. Initially what ‘diaspora’ meant to me when I started painting and thinking about it is very different to what it means to me today. Initially I think it was more of a statement, and now it’s more of an exploration of ‘what is diaspora?’. I think that would happen in any time you’re trying to work out something, whether you’re writing or whether you’re painting it tends to become this exploration, this understanding. With my works what you’ll notice is the motifs and objects, and all of these sort of informs that inquisition which is “what is diaspora?”, because it means [something] different to any individual. 

Most recently, I started reading this book ‘Potential History’ by Ariella Azoulay. It’s really interesting because it questions this whole notion of culture, objects, history, art history: what is it? I think for me, especially now with my work, I’m beginning to really look at what my place is in the world, my place in Chicago, the United States. How I have always kind of thought of myself as being a part from Kenya, and sort of being a part from here [United States], with a basis of being diasporic. But really what is that? I realised that there really is no understanding of what that culture looks like. And so [I’m] basically trying to explore that in my work. 

Do you see your work as a direct representation of you as an individual and your identity?

Yeah. I think it has to be. It’s an interesting question, because I have never thought about it not being that I guess. So it must be. 

How has the current world, this ‘new normal’ we are living in affected your work as a creative? Has it enhanced or hindered your work?

The thing is that I have been in school, right? Especially since Covid happened, the only thing that changed is that I was going to class and mingling with my peers and I had a studio on campus, and then we were relegated to distanced learning. Initially I had to change what I need, because I didn’t have access to the kind of space that I had in school. 

In a way it also makes you a little bit more introspective, because when I was in school I had my colleagues, and I had my professors walking in and kind of making the paintings with me because they come in [and] make comments, and you adjust accordingly. While now because you don’t really have eyeballs on your work all the time it forces you to go I think a little more inwards and pull things out. I think for me the change has been a self-direction. I say it’s forced self-direction because part of being in school is that you’re looking for that direction, and you’re looking to be challenged in that way. But because of Covid that hasn’t quite happened in the last 5-6 months. 

What do you hope this exhibition will do for you and your work as an artist moving forward?

I think I would love to have more people have conversations. And I guess the exhibition has more people seeing my work, right? Like you had said you hadn’t seen the work before and so having more people see the work and then engaging in the conversation is always helpful, because I’m not making this work just for me. So I would hope that all those conversations then helps the work grow and become something else as you move along. 

What do you hope people will take away from your artistry? Is there a particular message that you want to portray? 

No. Definitely for me I know what it is that I’m trying to get out of it. I would prefer to leave it a little bit open ended, rather than say that “Okay, this is what I am trying to convey”. I would rather leave it open ended because I think that’s how we live in any case. When we are confronted with visual things and even with writing, there isn’t that capability to always have the author or the artist translate what is going on. I would like for people to come to the work and take with it whatever they want to. And if it can do that, if it can relate to them in some way without me saying anything, then I guess that’s what I’m looking for.    

To view the full exhibition, visit artbasel.com 

All images courtesy of Pippy Houldsworth Gallery.

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Introducing ‘HOME’: A Black-Owned Creative Space by Ronan McKenzie

Introducing a creative, multifunctional space made to hone in on artists of colour: this is ‘HOME’. Founded by creative director, photographer, and curator Ronan McKenzie, this accessible art space is built to house exhibitions and events from a diverse range of artists.

This black owned space is one of few, working from the inside out to fully understand and support other BAME artists. The space works as a ‘home away from home’ for creatives through uplifting the voices and work of artists that are often relegated to lower positions of influence and authority or simply cast aside in the art world. The team at HOME also prioritises accessibility and sustainability, through disability access needs built into the space and fabric eco-friendly alternatives to paper backdrops. By giving these artists access to equipment, expertise, and a safe place to create, HOME is moulding a new infrastructure entirely, one built on equity and empathy. 

The space features an array of equipment including an affordable daylight photo studio, an open workspace and a curated library where exhibitions will take place year round. Events that will be held in the space range from film nights, artists talks and portfolio reviews to supper clubs, life drawings, and music events. 

“Art spaces remain hierarchal and out of reach for most – especially BAME audiences, making entering artistic spheres extremely difficult and maintaining a place in them even harder. Drawing on my own experiences of showing work at institutions, and working across fashion and arts, I am all too aware of the difficulties of navigating creative industries as a black female, and amongst the current offering in London, there needs to be a HOME.” – Ronan McKenzie, Founder and Creative Director of HOME. 

HOME’s debut exhibition is titled: ‘WATA; Further Explorations’ a show by Joy Yamusangie and Ronan McKenzie. This exhibition launched digitally on November 28th and will run till February 9th

For more information on HOME, visit homebrym.space

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Colville’s Authentic Vision

Collaboration as the core of creative vision: Colville founders Lucinda Chambers and Molly Molloy discuss the cultivation of an authentic vision with Marte Mei and Viviane Sassen for Twin. 

There is never just a single solitary eye in fashion. No isolated roving thoughts, or an action not inspired by another. Colville might be named after a street in London, but its name feels drawn from the family of collaboration, cross-pollination, creative inspiration. 

Founded by Lucinda Chambers and Molly Molloy, there are so many creatives, resources, ideas at play it feels like more than two: it is a river of thoughts, streams pulling in and rolling through.

In anticipation of their most recent collaboration with Marte Mei and Viviane Sassen, we spoke to the four respective collaborators about the freedoms of sharing visions and the interconnectivity of the creaive landscape.

If 2020 has taught us anything, do you think it is the vital importance of collaboration and creative cross-pollination?

Lucinda Chambers

I think I have always felt the joy of collaborations, not just during this time. I truly think no man is an island and it is one of the greatest pleasures to have a criss-crossing of minds, hearing others’ point of view and expressing ourselves creatively.  Also, as I get older, I let go more, not needing to hold on to my ideas or my way of doing things. I enjoy the freedom of collaborative work, and I feel very fortunate to have identified amazing collaborators to take the journey, and some have found me!

Molly Molloy

Absolutely, I think the incredible moments that happened for me during the first lockdown were the ideas and collaborations that came out of it. We worked with people all over the world to knit squares for blankets that we will eventually auction next year for a women’s refuge here in Milan. It was moving to involve so many people and to read the letters they sent along with the squares. I also took part in a group talk with BoF and many other designers, everyone coming together in a think tank to exchange ideas and make changes. These and many other projects we started during this year have reinforced our vision of collaboration. This was something we all talked about at the beginning of Colville: we all have collaborative natures and it just makes the creative process fresh and inspiring.

Marte Mei

I think 2020 has showed us how fragile our systems are. The interconnectivity of our global economy but also as a species within the ecosystem. Hopefully it has also showed people how much we depend on a healthy ecosystem around us, and how much we depend on that as a species to survive. 

Viviane Sassen

I believe the vital importance of collaboration and creative cross-pollination is something of all times.

How can fashion cultivate authentic visions in a creative climate in flux?

Lucinda Chambers

Now more than ever creativity flourishes. You must be authentic these days – people’s money is precious. They want to know where it is going and what the journey was. There are so many good stories out there and I think things are being scrutinised in a way that’s never happened before, and that’s a good thing. So, the more authentic you are, the better tale you have to tell.

Molly Molloy

To quote Louise Bourgeois “Tell your own story and you will be interesting”. I think what stands out are designers being authentic and working from their hearts and creating what they believe in.

Marte Mei

Fashion to me has always been about making something that triggers a new vision, sets a new tone or creates new examples. In the context of this project, it was all about freedom about coming together as a woman-only team. We also worked very local and with low carbon emissions and a very small team. The shoot took place in Amsterdam, the clothes were sent do us by mail, and nobody had to travel for the job apart from biking to the studio. I hope that becomes the new norm of creating within the industry. 

Viviane Sassen

By embracing true and original creative minds and give them a platform. Like Marte got through her collaboration with Colville!

How has this image series come about, and do you think it expresses a convergence of unique viewpoints that come together as a greater whole?

Lucinda Chambers

Molly contacted Marte Mei. We have worked with her from the very beginning of Colville. One of the beautiful things about Colville is the friendships we have all made along the way, for years now, way before we dreamt of having our own company. We have gathered around us a band of really dear and important friends who are creatives. Collaboration and giving everyone a voice is something that is very important to us, always has been. It’s about relationships, friendships and respect. In that sense we feel that Colville is a real collective. A meeting of the minds. 

Molly Molloy

Marte has worked with Colville from the very beginning, I worked with her creatively in the past and Lucinda and I love her vision, use of colour and sensitivity to what surrounds her. What’s amazing about letting go of control is what it brings back to you and how it surprises you. We didn’t give Marte or Viviane any constraints, they created something together that was for us completely unique and took the clothes somewhere else. It was an incredible privilege to work with two such inspiring women.

Marte Mei

To me, the process felt like a chain reaction of appreciation and admiration. Both the textile design collaboration, the set design, the image making, all felt like an overlapping patchwork of creation without clear borders. I found that really special in the way that Lucinda and Molly approached me for the textile design. They asked if I wanted to create a special follow up of an artwork I’d made in the past. I find it fascinating that they acknowledge potential within that sculpture from paper and wood, to become a piece of clothing. To see their brand as a space without borders, entering the field of art and going beyond their set team of designers by having me as an outsider creator woven into their collection. 

Viviane Sassen

It was a super organic collaboration; I have known Marte for years and we’ve worked together so many times – she’s one of my muses so to speak. The whole process of working on this project together was very intuitive and smooth and a lot of fun. It is also a matter of mutual trust and understanding, that makes for a good collaboration, and Marte and I absolutely recognize that in each other. 

What does fashion and photography come to learn from another?

Lucinda Chambers

I think they are totally intertwined. As is art and fashion, theatre and fashion, music and fashion. Fashion can be expressed so beautifully through photography. Fashion and in particular clothes are the tools we use for storytelling. The narrative and dialogue that fashion and photography has can create something wonderful, standalone images or a drawn out tale. Clothes facilitate that. And they can also be the inspiration, the beginning of the photograph.

Molly Molloy

They are ever evolving together, it’s so exciting when you see the two combine in original and unique ways, it’s such an incredible feeling when you see a shoot that’s inspiring, it will stay with you for years if not ever. It’s like moving image and sound, the two go hand in hand and can really evoke emotion. 

Marte Mei

I think that it was a revolutionary experience for me as a former model, to take on a different role within the dynamic of the team I really look up to. Having designed the textile, and the set design, but also modelling within the project. On a personal level I still think there is a lot to learn in being comfortable within that role of being both the creator as the subject of creation. For instance, when we were working with the clay on my body, I wanted to just trust the image of Irena within applying it to me, so when she asked for my opinion to guide her, it was hard for me to switch between having a creative vision to the outcome of project but also being subjected to her creative expression in the project and onto my body. 

Viviane Sassen

I’ve always perceived my fashion photography as a great way to express myself; to play, to experiment, and to collaborate with other creative people. I also work as an artist and that is a much more solitary process, so I love working as a fashion photographer too, as it enables me to work together in a group, have a mutual goal, and create images together with others who are often super inspiring. In that sense, I feel I’ve learned so much from collaborations with stylists, designers, models, hair & make-up artists!

What does fashion and photography come to learn from another?

Lucinda Chambers

I always learn from Molly and everyone really, we have an incredible team, Danny, Alice and Luisa.  I think I’ve learnt from Molly to try things out even if they are out of my comfort zone, out of my field  of vision, to give things a go and see where it leads or takes you. Also not always getting my own way and that’s fine. I’ve learnt to let go. And to like vegetables more.

Molly Molloy

I’m learning every minute of the day being a founder with Lucinda we are both on a huge learning curve having our own business and bringing people in to Colville that constantly keep it evolving and exciting. 

Viviane Sassen

I really love watching Marte work, the refined gestures she makes and the thing(s) she creates, both while modelling and while working on her own art; it all comes from the same source, the creative energy which is within her. I recognize her inner drive to create beauty, and I admire her sense of colour, texture, and shape. It’s a true joy to watch her work evolve and refine over time!

What was the last thing that made you feel inspired?

Lucinda Chambers

Well, everything really, but probably the leaves on the pavement tonight coming home, I wanted to collect them all, the colours, shocking reds and yellows, blowing around. Beautiful.

Molly Molloy

Heavy Metal by Osamu Matsuo, I hadn’t seen it for a while and forgot how beautiful it is!

Marte Mei

Nature is a limitless source of inspiration to me, being inside due to corona and wintertime limits the possibility of going outdoors, so for me this is a time for reading and thinking. 

Viviane Sassen

A few documentaries I recently watched about climate change, and how some new technologies and (futuristic) solutions will be able to help humankind towards a better, more sustainable future.

Explore the collaboration here

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Jermaine Francis, ‘Something that was so Familiar becomes Distant.’

Covid-19 altered our reality in many ways. For renowned photographer Jermaine Francis, this was felt in the dislocation of everyday London environments.

On his daily walks during the first UK lockdown in March, Jermaine documented the ever shifting landscape of the city. The people had gone, but London was far from silent.

Francis’ portraits reflect the cultural, political and economic movement that were unfolding on the streets. The anxiety, anger, hope and care which have shaped 2020 in equal measure, when social distancing signs were printed on pavements, boarded up shops became commonplace, yet even in isolation, people found power in each other.

It is these photographs which form a beautiful new book, ‘Something that was so Familiar becomes Distant’. 171 pages of visual imagery that offers an evocative living memory of this transformative year.

The first run consists of a limited edition series of 150 copies, and the book is available to pre-order from 7th December.

Jermaine Francis, ‘Something that was so Familiar becomes Distant.’
Jermaine Francis, ‘Something that was so Familiar becomes Distant.’

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Designing for the future, Less is More

Celebrating transparency and craftsmanship within the industry, the International Woolmark Prize 2021 nominees inspire hope for the future of fashion at time when innovation is needed more than ever.

This year’s theme, ‘Less is More’, focuses on slow, conscious and responsible design. Buzzwords these may be, but this year’s crop of design talent are showing how to put ambitious principles into action. The nominations brings together a group of bright young designers who have built innovative new models from the ground up.

Twin talks to Bethany Williams, Casablanca, Kenneth Ize, Lecavalier, Matty Bovan, Thebe Magugu about putting sustainability first and creating a green hype cycle.

Matty Bovan, United Kingdom

We have always tried to be sustainable, and to question where we source materials and artisan makers. We make everything in the United Kingdom and try and source as much as we can from the UK and even more locally, Yorkshire where we are based. We use deadstock fabrics, deadstock yarns, and end of line pieces alongside stock service fabrics. This is very important to myself, and my business, in a world where we have such huge amounts of materials and garments made every day – it’s important to rework and make something special.

I am very interested in upcycling, whether this be vintage pieces, or end of line, damaged fabrics; it excites me to be able to transform something under an artisan process. We rework all leftover fabric we have each season, alongside any excess yarns we have, nothing is ever disposed of and always reused in some way. Constantly experimenting with craft and process is very important to me and helps aid me in transforming materials that others may disregard. We use screenprinting in-house, embroidery and hand-dying to rework. 

We are in a great place in fashion, with people asking more questions about who is making what we buy, who is putting love into these pieces. Traceability has always been very important to me, and I have always found it key to understand who we work with and where they are in the world. I try to work with artisans with hand skills. I try to make and treat a lot of textiles in-house. I like the touch of the hand on everything that comes under Matty Bovan. 

mattybovan.com

Thebe Magugu, South Africa

If the current state of the world is enough to go on, I think it’s critical for anyone working in creative output of any kind to consider their sustainability practices. We are effectively destroying the world and sustainability is all our pledges to try to counter that destruction as much as possible. 

I am very proud of the fact that most of our resources and production are made locally in South Africa. I am excited about the continuation of problem-solving through fashion, and the growing consciousness our industry is having towards its role in solving those problems. This is very particular to the younger generation especially.

thebemagugu.com

Lecavalier (Marei-Eve Lecavalier), Canada

As a young generation of creators, we were put in front of a reality that fashion production and consumption was creating a lot of waste. My creativity comes also from a place where I want to make special pieces by reusing discard materials, there is so much material available out there and it is our duty to find new ways to be creative with it. I’m really proud that I have created a unique technique to weave discard leather. There is still so much for us to explore in terms of new weaving technics but also to explore of different fabrics. I’m looking forward to an era where the craftsmanship and savoir-faire will become more present. Fashion has always been about the garment, it’s not only a product and it’s not only hype.

lecavalier.studio

Casablanca (Charaf Tajer), France

I think it’s important we all play a role in sustainable practices. The fact that we go from the idea to the creation of the garment is very special for me. My most proudest is that I am continuing the techniques of French classic fashion traditions. The whole process of creating the print and the fabrics. In terms of my own designs, I am optimistic about bringing more joy and gratitude through the clothing to people’s lives. I am optimistic that there is going to be more diversity and more acceptance towards people from different backgrounds. I think we have experienced a small part of the ongoing evolution that will create a better a future.

casablancaparis.com

Bethany Williams, United Kingdom

Growing up my mum has always been very socially and environmentally conscious, and very caring, so this has been something that has been of interest to me from a young age. I want to create beautiful things but I always want to create something with a purpose, something that can support and protect the maker and the supply chain it is a part of. Each item we produce is made from recycled, deadstock, or organic materials and made in the UK and Italy. I feel it’s really important to have produce locally or close to home so that you know exactly where your garments are made and who exactly is making them.

I think our most recent collection titled ‘All Our Children’ is what I’m most proud of. Not just because of the outcome of the final collection of garments but also the groups of creatives and like-minded people that worked on the project alongside me. I really like the network of amazing people we are building through each collection and how positive and supportive the network is that we are surrounded by and look to grow and add to this network each season.

I’m always really excited to develop my skills and look forward to introducing new techniques each season, alongside the research into and introduction of new social manufacturing partners. I hope to expand my knowledge of social manufacturing, supply chain, and craft, and strive to share this at every opportunity to help drive change within industry. I feel the presence of change starting to happen within the fashion industry, and I’m optimistic that this will continue and build momentum towards a more environmentally and socially conscious system, however there is a long way to go yet.

bethany-williams.com

Kenneth Ize, Nigeria

My love for the traditional Nigerian design textile culture of Aso Oke. Historically Aso Oke weaving created fabrics that were used to create everyday clothing that lasts for centuries and can be passed down from generation to generation. However, we started seeing less and less use of the textile except in occasion wear. With my brand I hope to bring the use of this textile to the forefront. 

I’m also very passionate about the weaving villages we empower, and I hope to do all I can to continue to push opportunities for them to grow and develop

In a collaboration with Nigerian Product design firm nmbello Studio, we were able to redesign the loom. The old loom had never been redesigned or updated, the weavers had complained about the discomfort they felt while using it. By redesigning the loom we were able to birth new life into the industry as a new generation of weavers have come forward with an eagerness to learn and push Aso Oke weaving into a modern era.

I am most optimistic about the economic empowerment that is the bedrock of my atelier. We are currently building a factory to house many of our local artisans, creating more opportunities for local textile designers and establishing a more structured industry within Western Africa.

kennethize.net

Find out more about the International Woolmark Prize here.

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Marni Presents: Holiday Glassware Collection

Introducing a limited edition collection of sophisticated coloured glassware by Marni. The holiday edition includes kaleidoscope patterns that are offered in vases, glasses and carafes. Inspired by nature, each piece of glassware is made to be one of a kind: unique in shape and beautiful in design.   

The selection is formed by two Columbian artisans who work in harmony, using local traditions to forge the eccentric pieces. Recycled glass is used in the process with the hodgepodge of fragments representing the unpredictable, raw, and creative essence of Marni. This collaboration yields a variety of tones and unexpected shapes, with warm and homely functionality. 

Each vase is carefully crafted, taking up to two hours of steady workmanship to create one. The chords that are used to mould the goblets and tumbler glasses, brings about alluring dances of colour in the mixed glass. The line of carafes and glasses are smoothed over, also producing refined colour combinations. 

The pieces take on the meticulous and intricate workings of the craftsmen; the singularity of the construction process can be seen in each design. The glassware physically embodies a material metamorphosis: from glass shards to artistic centrepieces. 

This line will be available in select boutiques around the world at the end of November. 

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Somerset House presents: Untitled by Akinola Davies Jr

In their latest installation of their ongoing online Pause programme —  a mid-week moment designed to carve out time to enjoy an artist’s work in full —  Somerset House Studios has partnered with artist & filmmaker Akinola Davies Jr. on a film that documents his interactions with his mother during lockdown. In an exploration of themes of mortality , intergenerational relationship and the black female body, Davies Jr. uses his lens to tell a story of black motherhood. 

 “There is redemption in exploring the power of vulnerability. The passage of time and a confrontation of mortality and the eternal.    This work leans on the sacrifice of motherhood.   The process of ageing.   The relationship of the human body with the physical space as expansive lives inhabit the daily ritual of being.  It is a requiem of living memories.  Homage to technology as an archive of embalming our history, bringing life to our past.   It is the honouring of our mothers so our days on earth can be long.   Ultimately I don’t know what the work is about, but I also know exactly what it is about. It is a work that lives in the quiet space, beyond words. It is ultimately what I place value on. The most value,” he explained. Watch the full film here.

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ANIME SALVE by Jess Kohl – A Detailed Visual Account of Neapolitan Queer Culture

British photographer and director Jess Kohl is scheduled to inaugurate her first Italian solo exhibition next month under the title Anime Salve. Set to debut in Napoli, Italy the presentation is a visual documentary recollected during the last two years, intimately exploring themes of gender non-conformity in a city like Scampia where spirituality, gender and sexuality have long co-existed.

Initially her body of work began with a magnification of the concept of the Italian slang ‘femminielli’ which is a word used to describe effeminate men — often used in modern Neapolitan culture. The exhibition then takes its viewers on a journey throughout the lives of five people, most living in Scampia, as they’re framed in intimate portraits and candid shots. A woman named Alessia is documented living with her elderly mother Amalia and Kohl captures current moments of an ever-changing narrative that moves with the city that surrounds them. 

Each subject was documented over a period of years,  which gives an accurate scope of their personal evolution and an authentic representation of marginalised communities throughout change. Named after the famous album of Italian songwriter Fabrizio De André, the exhibition (which translates to “solitary spirits”), also includes monochromatic images documenting the architectural and developments of the Scampian landscape, an exploration of the intersection between queerness and Catholicism, and a visual map between traditions of the femminielli and modern day trans lives. It then closes with a thought-provoking ending composed of 8 portraits that bridges a sentimental connection between the lives of trans women in Napoli and trans women in Koovagam, India through cultural similarities and liberal attitudes towards gender.

Also accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue by ShowDesk, giving a more detailed scope on the documentary which includes an essay by Paolo Valerio, honorary professor of clinical  psychology at the Federico II Naples University. Anime Salve will officially open its doors on September 11th 2020 at the Palazzo delle Arti Napoli. 

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A chat with Ming Smith – the photographer whose work is soft, intimate & bathed in community through its documentation of the black American experience.

Cover image: America Seen Through Stars and Stripes, New York City, NewYork Painted, 1976, by Ming Smith

Ming Smith, not necessarily a name widely known in photography, was the first Black woman to have her photographic work accepted into the Museum of Modern Art, in 1975.

The only female member of the Kamoinge Collective, and a dedicated image maker to capturing the humanity for the Black Experience, Ming Smith’s imagery and life trajectory is due a mighty relook. Currently staging an online exhibition of a selection of Smith’s work, from her image of Grace Jones as a Ballerina, to the playwright August Wilson, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery has moved the exhibition online through Vortic

We caught up with the photographer from her apartment in New York. 

How did you first get into photography?

I borrowed my mother’s camera on my first day of school in kindergarten and I took photographs of some of my school mates. The class was predominantly white, and we were about 10% of the class. I had a lot of friends and classmates that I took photographs of. 

Did you feel looking back that there was a central focus for your photographs?

It was just a natural thing. My father was a photographer. He was a hobbyist but he was really artistic: he drew, painted, did films and things like that. However he worked 12 hours a day as a pharmacist, so he didn’t do photography a lot, however I think it then became for me a natural thing to do. 

You trained to be a doctor initially, and then you decided to focus on a career in photography. 

My grandfather would always say that he wanted me to be a doctor. I liked that because he taught bible school, and my grandmother was helping all the neighbours, so I felt that being a doctor was a way of helping people. I know that might sound pretty naive but that was what I wanted to do. I did volunteer work at the children’s hospital when I was young. I saw a lot of pain around me, so I wanted to help.  Being a doctor was a way of trying to help. Then I read something about artists, and they were talking about the system and how your work could help humanity, and you work could be outside of the system, instead focusing and turning ideas into something that would be healing. 

Child Porter, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 1972 by Ming Smith

There is such a sense of intimacy and connectivity about your images. How do you capture that? What do you look for in your subject matter? 

Well there are stereotypes of the Black community, but there is so much love in the community, from people who were making and doing the best spiritually or going to church. There was just this stereotype of Black people, you know, and I never saw those types of images with the love and the empathy and the humanity with the people that were around me in my community.

You have become renowned for your portraiture for Black cultural figures and icons What did you hope to profess or present in these images of these icons?

I hope that other young people or students will find inspiration in what they are teaching: the struggles and what they went through to get to where we are now. For example, August Wilson, I went to Pittsburgh and photographed his hometown and economically depressed neighbourhoods and shot some of the places he talked about in his plays. He documented the comic and the tragic aspects of the African American experience in the 20th Century. The characters in Pittsburgh were the same characters that I knew in Ohio where I grew up, or Detroit, where I was born. 

Lou Drapper’s Pick, 1973 by Ming Smith

What would you say the main challenges you have faced in your career?

I would say being taken seriously. I am a better photographer than a talker. I am quiet, and I like that with photography you can be by yourself, you don’t have to talk. Being shy, photography was a way of me being in it but out of it at the same time. If you are a quiet person it’s harder to take you seriously.

I went to a gallery seeking representation, and the gallerist didn’t hardly even look at my photographs; it was very disappointing. Just like “ok, thank you”. Just total dismissal.

Did you have a lot of other female counterparts and friends that were experiencing the same in the art industry or the creative industry?

I am sure there was, and I’m sure there is, but I have really continued to be a loner and doing photography was almost like a friend or a companion and was how I spent my time. Being a photographer was a way of expressing yourself and going through your own challenges, and needs, and so I spent my time not really talking to anyone else. 

Ethiopian Crew, 1973 by Ming Smith

What was New York like when you arrived? What were you focussing your photography on?

When I got to New York I was photographing but I came for money, and one of the first jobs I had was as a model. It was like 100 dollars an hour: an Ohio pharmacist back then was making 100 dollars a week. 

Someone told me ‘you should be a model’, and so I tried it for a bit. When I first met Grace Jones, she was an aspiring model also. 

You were part of the Kamoinge Workshop: did you feel like things changed then, that you were a part of a group of like-minded individuals?

Going to the meetings, I was first introduced to photography as an art form. Prior to this I had not committed myself to being an artist.  I didn’t think of myself as a photographer as I was still studying pre-med curriculum. So when I came to Kamoinge, I had first heard about the collective on an assignment, where a photographer was talking about whether photography was an art form. I was invited into Kamoinge by Lou Draper, who also printed for Eugene Smith. He used to tell me stories about Lorraine Hansberry, who I loved. that was when I first learned about the goal of Kamoinge: to own and interpret our own images. Roy Decarava was one of the founders of Kamoinge, which came out of the Black Arts Movement, where they started plays, and there were writers, musicians, painters, artists. That is where I learnt about lighting. I remember one member saying that his neighbourhood grew up in Harlem, and that all the young men that he grew up with were all dead. That opened my eyes to the politics. 

Oolong’s Nightmare,Save The Children (for Marvin Gaye), New York City, New York 1979 by Ming Smith

Tell us about your experience of fashion photography.

In New York I never knew about fashion photographers and advertising: it was a completely new world. I had a chance to go into both of those worlds, as I was modelling. I met people like James Moore who was a beauty photographer, or Arthur Elgort or Deborah Turberville, who I loved. She photographed my lips for a Bloomingdales bag! She did fine art photography besides that; I really liked her. I lived in the Village, so I knew Lisette Model, and I would go eat at this little dinner, the Waverley – the cheapest diner! You could buy a meal for five dollars there, and that was where Lisette Model would eat too! She would tell me stories about Diane Arbus, and she would call her Dion. For the longest time, I didn’t realise she was talking about Diane Arbus as she called her Dion!

You documented some of the greatest spokespeople of the African American experience. 

August Wilson really told our stories through his plays: the comic and the tragic of the African American experience. That is what connected me to him, to go to Pittsburgh and photograph him. Eugene Smith did a famous series on Pittsburgh, but the African American experience wasn’t documented. This is another aspect of my work. We also have Katherine Dunham. She was an anthropologist, choreographer, writer. She was an activist as well: she wouldn’t perform in places unless they de-segregated the audiences. There is always a struggle, that is extremely distressing of the black American community. They simplified the experiences of the black community in the 20th Century. Katherine went to Haiti and Africa and notarised the dance technique. When she won the Kennedy award, she talked about how hip hop came out of her technique, meaning the isolations and different notations of moves and contractions and release. Now we have dance, twerk, afro-latin, west African, Haitian, rumba, Caribbean, west African beats. We have had all these different classes come out of the diaspora. That is what Katherine Dunham did. 

Flying High, Coney Island, 1976, by Ming Smith

How do you get inspired?

I follow mainly instincts and my heart about things. I hope to say these things in my work: that is the intention. 

Would you say your photography is driven by intuition?

Definitely. Intuition, which is also very spiritual. It is like there is a spirit that speaks within me, and I go with that. I trust that more than I trust my brain. 

What changes do you see in the photography industry now? 

There is a lot more inclusion, and participation. There are different avenues for photographers – there are now young black American fashion photographers, and I think a lot of the hip hop generation are participating in that inclusion, you can go into documentaries, they work with the NYT. I think this is not only in America, but globally. 

Beauty, Coney Island, 1976 by Ming Smith

Do you think there are still many racial obstacles that need to be overcome in the art industry?

I think of course, but I am in the middle of it, and sometimes it is harder to see, but of course I think there has been many steps in the right direction. Dr Deborah Willis, she started doing books on black images, she started this in publishing and the School – she has made a life of that. I remember she came to Kamoinge to do a book. It wasn’t easy for her to receive support so I think that we have a voice now greater than before and it is growing. People are conscious of it, and they are trying to make it right, or more honest: the documentation of us, including us. Not just the stereotypes. More human.

Do you see more women photographers being showcased?

Most definitely, but I also think that there is more of an option. Before, it was a question of what could you even do with photography! Photographers and artists now, there are different avenues and you can earn a living from it! I see this more and more. Before, what could you do with it, how could you earn a living? Now, photographers both men and women are like ‘oh I could do photography, portraiture.’ 

There wasn’t any kind of show, exhibitions, talks, creating a book… there wasn’t those options. You did it out of pure love in the beginning. You did photography as an art form.

Self Portrait Nursing (Total), 1986 by Ming Smith

Do you still photograph regularly?

Yes I do! The main obstacle with that is everything is digital now. I am doing a book at the moment for Aperture, and so taking it from film to digitising it, to having to re-edit everything over again… it’s a lot! I need a lot of help with the translating of it. 

What do you hope viewers take away from your works?

I think just the personal struggles, the empathy or the humanity or the altruism or just being supportive. Maybe the humanity, and that being exposed to the people I have photographed, they will know what to do. It was like when I heard my first August Wilson play, or the drum, and I went and took my first dance class and the teacher told me he was a Katherine Dunham dancer. People will get what they get from my photography: hopefully an experience that will inspire them in some kind of way. 

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Ahluwalia’s Jalebi – photo book & virtual exhibit

Just in time for London Digital Fashion Week last weekend, designer Priya Ahluwalia launched her photobook titled Jalebi in collaboration with photographer Laurence Ellis. The hardcover book is the designer’s second release, following the success of her first book Sweet Lassi not too long ago. Throughout the pages Ahluwalia & Ellis explore themes within the designer’s work as they give a visual account of what it means to be a young mixed heritage person living in modern Britain.  She explores her roots growing up regularly visiting Southall, Britain’s first Punjabi community with the help of Ellis who captures the beauty of diversity and the level of enrichment immigration brings to our lives and communities. The theme of family also stands out as one that is also a major factor in the make up of the Ahluwalia brand. Old family photographs tell stories of past lives lived by her family.

Each image in the book is featured with extracts from an interview carried out by Ahluwalia with her Nana regarding the family experience between India and Britain. The personal touch of the book mimics the finishing techniques of the designer’s work as how each one her pieces acts as a fundamental part of a bigger story. The book launch has also been supported by Chameleon Visual who have rendered a 3D , VR exhibit , allowing the contents of the book to be presented in a way that might not have been achievable otherwise , considering the circumstance. To view the exhibition and purchase Jalebi visit alhuwaliastudio.com 

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Important Resources for the Black Lives Matter Movement

In the wake of the recent movement that has been born from the heinous murder of African American George Floyd, it is is evident that as active members of the fashion industry, we have the responsibility to play our part and make our contributions in the support of black voices and the Black Lives Matter movement. The industry itself is one that widely looks to the influence of black culture and black creatives both throughout history and present day for inspiration throughout many aspects of our work from campaigns, to shows, to music, which is why it is imperative for us all to answer the call when the community is in need of support of any kind. In doing our part we have to learn to create an industry where black voices and black talents are able to blossom and speak freely without the worries of being stereotyped or blacklisted.

It is a process that will take time as it means levelling the playing field and holding ourselves and those who came before us accountable for the systemic oppression that have existed throughout the industry for years. However, regardless of how much time it may take it’s important for us to take action first within our own industry and in supporting the community at large. In doing so, Twin has composed a list of how you we all can contribute to the cause.

Petition

  • Justice For George Floyd is a petition to sign in support of George Floyd , who was murdered in Minneapolis by police officers, signing this petition helps to gain the attention of the city’s Mayor for the arrest of the police offers.
  • Raise the Degree is a petition to sign to raise the degree for the charges of officer Derek M Chauvin —  the police officer seen kneeling on George Floyd neck — to first degree murder.
  • Ahmaud Arbery – a petition to sign in support of Ahmaud Arbery , another black man that was murdered by white supremacists in Georgia USA, only a few weeks ago, that will help in the arrests and charge for those involved.
  • Breonna Taylor was an unarmed American woman murdered by a police officer while sleeping in her home in Louisville, Kentucky USA, a few weeks ago, this petition is in aid of firing and arresting the police officers involved.

Donate

Support the family of George Floyd by donating to cover funeral costs , counselling and the creation of a memorial .

As many are out in the streets protesting , many are being arrested, here’s a list of funds that will help in the bail of protests who have been jailed. 

Donate directly to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Donate with no money 

By watching this video, and the other videos that follow after it without skipping the ads, it supports the fundraisers for the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the funds for the bail of protesters who are arrested.  

For more information on how to help, visit Black Lives Matter Card.

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A refreshing energy of inclusion: Marguerite – the female-focussed network for women to build likeminded connections in the arts – talks to Twin about their 5th year as a very modern arts organization.

Cover image by Dunja Opalka

Marguerite was founded in Joanna Payne’s living room after a few glasses of the bubbly stuff. Hey, who hasn’t concocted their million dollar idea on the sofa, or a brilliantly innovative concept with mates in the pub. For Joanna however – Marguerite came to be a living, breathing, invigorating association for women in the arts to come together, and share their thoughts/views/frustrations/hopes with other women that might feel the same. 

After the adage of the ‘members club’ gratefully comes to wear off – the notions of exclusivity wearing thin in a world that has never felt more isolated and alone – Joanna is shifting the dynamics and the dusty insinuations members clubs have come to imply, and has built a community across the globe that looks to if not inspire at least articulate a  universe where women can feel the confidence to advance their own interests, passions and careers.

Here we talk to Joanna about starting her own business, the importance of sharing experiences, and the art of slowing down.

David Seymour, Venice. Peggy Guggenheim in her palace on the Grand Canal, 1950

What made you want to start Marguerite?


After seven years of working in the art world, for organisations including Whitechapel Gallery and Frieze Art Fair, I wanted to do something about the fact that women often found it harder to realise their potential than men. By that, I mean that I so often found that my female colleagues and friends found it much harder to do things like ask for a pay rise than their male counterparts. Whilst there are many reasons for the pay gap in the UK, one of them is women’s confidence in comparison to men’s. If men are happy to ask for a pay rise whereas a woman isn’t, guess who’s more likely to get it?

I was very lucky in that I landed my dream job at the age of 23, working in the VIP department at Frieze Art Fair, where I was meeting collectors, artists, gallerists, museum curators.. even Jay Z and Beyonce! I found that having such a strong network in the industry really helped me in my career and I was made to feel pretty confident as a result. I wanted to share that network with my friends and peers in the hope that it would do the same for them – so in February 2015, set Marguerite up as very casual drinks in my living room. It didn’t have a name back then and the initial idea was for a different woman to host a similar sort of thing in their own home every other month. The idea was simple: to bring women in the arts together to meet, share ideas and in turn, build their careers in the industry.

Has the original purpose changed at all over the years?

The concept of Marguerite changed pretty quickly after that first event in my home. After a friend had to pull out of hosting the second event, I decided that it would be better to instead ask artists, curators, photographers and designers whether they would in fact play host to our events. This was very much drawing on my experience from Frieze and later Photo London, where I was organising special events in artist studios and collectors’ homes for some of the best known collectors, museum directors and curators in the world. From that experience, I was taught the importance of having ‘content’ at events in the form of a talk, panel discussion, workshop or some other form of entertainment. I really wanted to step away from your awful average networking event where a bunch of people are just chucked into the same room with a name badge and a glass of wine and expected to find things in common.

Our core values are still very much the same: to advance the careers of women in the arts by providing a ready-made professional network and spaces in which to hear from some of the most influential people working in the creative industries today. The caliber of our hosts has always been pretty high (two of our first events were hosted by the world renowned fashion photographer, Rankin and winners of the Turner Prize 2015, architecture collective, Assemble) but we’ve built on that hugely and have welcomed some incredible speakers including the likes of fashion designers such as: Dame Zandra Rhodes, Roksanda and Alice Temperley MBE; photographers: Miles Aldridge, Nick Knight & Juno Calypso; artists: Idris Khan OBE, Gavin Turk and Michael Craig-Martin; and museum directors: Maria Balshaw (Tate), Dr Tristram Hunt (V&A) and Tim Marlow (then the Royal Academy of Arts, now The Design Museum). 

Despite the hosts and the quality of our events (hosted everywhere from London and Somerset to Venice to New York) growing ever more magnificent, we’ve worked hard to ensure that the original energy of friends meeting over a couple of glasses of prosecco in my living room remains.

Idris Khan & Annie Morris for Marguerite by Dunja Opalko

You have turned 5 years old which is amazing: how has our definition of members clubs changed in that time?

Thank you! Whilst the concept of ‘private members’ clubs’ seemed very glam when we first started out, we now actually steer away from the term as we don’t want the network to seem too exclusive or off-limits to anyone who works in the arts. Anyone in the industry can buy a ticket to our events if they’re interested in one particular topic or want to ‘try before they buy’ a full membership. 

Unlike many private members’ clubs which operate in the way they do so that they can be strict about who they do and don’t let in, the reason we offer membership is to encourage the same group of people can come together six or more times a year. The frequency means you’re much more likely to actually make friends at our events than if you just attended a standalone talk. Marguerite’s aim is to foster friendships as opposed to make people feel left out because they’re not included.

Linder Sterling & Charlie Porter for Marguerite by Luke Fullalove

Why did you choose to build a female only members club?

I think that incredible things happen when women come together. I wanted to provide a space in which women would be made to feel more confident which would hopefully go on to have an impact in their careers and most importantly, their lives. Judging by our talks in comparison to many others I’ve been to, I’m always struck by how many questions from the audience there are at the end. I think women feel a lot more confident in the company of other women which means they get more out of the situation. Furthermore, if there’s one thing the #MeToo movement taught us, it’s that there’s a lot to be learnt from women sharing their experiences with one another. 

I should say that Marguerite is female and non binary-focussed. If a man wanted to come to one of our regular events, he would be very welcome and we host some events that are open to all. We hosted one of these with Lean In just before lockdown began on how people feel in the workplace post #MeToo – a discussion that would have been a pointless echo chamber if it was just had by a group of women!

Marguerite members at their Polly Morgan studio visit by Luke Fullalove

You have aligned your online presence to support the creative industries: tell us a little bit about this

The week before the official lockdown began, we began to see many members of our community (especially freelancers) lose their jobs. We therefore instantly shifted our attention to launch a forum where freelancers could meet potential employers. It was way more successful than we could ever had imagined and we paired our first freelancer with a paid job in under 24 hours. The following week we also launched a forum to support small businesses – where independent brands could present their products and anyone who was in the position to shop could find them! In the absence of our usual events, we wanted to pivot quickly to best suit the new needs of our community. 

We’ve also been hosting online talks and workshops on our Instagram Live focussing on the things people are most worried about right now including money, managing anxiety and parenting kids and teenagers when you’re trying to hold down your other full time job! We’re now running ‘Marguerite Creates’ every Saturday and Sunday morning where creatives are showing us how to do things like: draw our house plants; collage; make simple home improvements; and take better photographs on our phones! We wanted to provide quick, fun activities to allow people to try something new to alleviate the lockdown boredom – and maybe even get that “Oh my god! I did it!” feeling I think we all need a bit of right now!

Unlike our usual events, these new online features are all quite ‘rough and ready’. We felt it was important to act quickly to give people what they needed rather than spending lots of time (and money!) producing something really sleek that may become redundant by the time it was ready. People’s requirements and moods are changing every day at the moment and we’re very mindful of being relevant. It’s actually also been a brilliant time to test out new things and throw us out of our comfort zone! 

Marguerite Presents Snappy Salons on Women in the Arts part of the February 2017 Uniqlo Tate Lates at Tate Modern Image by Dunja Opalko

What has C19 taught you?

Professionally, the joy of slowing down. We’ve hosted 40 events a year for the past few years which is a lot and can mean up to three events taking place in one week. I think once this is all over, we’ll consider hosting fewer events but maximising the quality.

What will the most important lessons be for the creative industry post C19 do you think?

Much like many industries, I think coronavirus will force the creative industries to slow down. The hectic merry-go-round of private views, art fairs, fashion weeks and events was tiring for everyone involved and I think ultimately, unsustainable. Furthermore, the shipping and travel required for the larger international events of course had huge environmental implications. It’s been interesting to see how quickly art fairs and galleries have shifted to host their events online – I hope a lot of this will remain in place once this is all over. 

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Motherhood & Pregnancy by Simone Steenberg

When looking at motherhood and its lineage within the canon of art history, images of Madonna and Child are at the forefront. A prevalent symbol in Christian iconography, depictions were greatly diversified by Renaissance masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Caravaggio. Yet it was only in the last century that motherhood emerged from the skirts of the Madonna into a space of critical and conceptual practice. During the 1970s second-wave feminism nudged a more rigorous and expanded consideration of women’s issues into the arena. Take artist Mary Kelly’s Post Partum Document 1973 – 1979; a six-year documentation of Kelly’s relationship with her newborn son that includes drawings, annotations, and recorded conversations. 

Naturally, photography became a popular medium through which to depict motherhood and to reflect the fascination and controversy it attracts. Sally Mann’s Immediate Family series from 1992, capturing her naked and roaming free children highlights a departure from the stereotypical portrayal of motherhood that dominated contemporary visual culture. 

Like photography itself, the expectations and demands of motherhood are in flux; both subject and medium grapple for new meaning in a changing world. Simone Steenberg’s series Motherhood & Pregnancy explores just this, as she records the transformation that women experience on this journey. Capturing this transitory state of the female body is simultaneously an exploration of their strengths and vulnerabilities. 

Steenberg’s subjects are observed in varied guises. Some are adorned in flamboyant and playful outfits positioned in both assertive and contrived poses within the studio setting, some proudly nurse their new-born within the familiar domestic setting, while others are immersed in water, gracefully floating in what appears to be their natural habitat. Ultimately, Steenberg’s series showcases how women navigate an experience that is both collective and deeply personal. 

Using analog film cameras, Steenberg began documenting mother and child three years ago;

I’ve always been intrigued by the different states women go through, the physical and psychological transformations, and especially the different shapes of the female body. The women I photograph are a mixture of friends, women I cast through Instagram or women who contact me directly. I shoot everything with analog so it’s a very performative and intimate process. I love shooting outdoors in nature and I feel the pregnant body relates so beautifully to mother earth, its curves, and diverse landscapes. “

With a background in fashion photography, Steenberg was sensitive to the stereotypical image of the pregnant woman; 

Maternity/ Pregnancy shoots have always been done in a certain way, very polished and not hugely sensual or empowering. I want to produce images which challenge the norms and beauty ideals inherent in society, and where women have ownership of their bodies and are allowed or free to express pleasure and desires. I want to create a special experience, an exchange between me and my subject, where we reveal things about ourselves to each other. It is very much about intimacy and trust.

The dialogue Steenberg fosters with her subjects allows for images that present the reality of motherhood; beautiful, personal, raw – matter of fact; one of the main elements in this project is that everyone involved learns and grows from working together. 

The intimate bond between photographer and subject is reflected in her documentation of various mothers breastfeeding their children; a natural and universal exchange, yet one that has forever been tainted by cultural perceptions. Steenberg wishes to celebrate this intimate bond, yet without sentimentality; “I’ve done many images of women breastfeeding where I highlight their milk leaking. I want to open up a dialogue about this phenomenon, and also celebrate this state and the natural wetness created from women’s bodies.

Acknowledging that she has yet to experience motherhood, Steenberg draws on her fascination with the relationship between women and water. We observe it in the milk that oozes from her subject’s breasts and the mouths of the naked, heavily pregnant females surrounded by water reeds, or those who flow freely in the lakes near to her hometown in Copenhagen; 

I see water as reflective, always bouncing back and forward, like an exchange. I grew up in Copenhagen, surrounded by the ocean, and have always felt very close to the water. I am fascinated by the effect it has on us, which is why I believe it has become such an essential part of my photography. 

The mother has unprecedented visibility and influence in both our cultural and political spheres. As a result, our evolution into a technological dependent and consumer-driven planet has given rise to an obsession with social platforms that host a growing number of communities.

‘The Mummy Blogger’, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are vessels for celebrity bumps and babies; literature and film regularly take mothering as their main storyline; and in society, debates around women’s work-life balance and childcare are in regular political focus. Instead of fetishizing the mother, Steenberg offers a reflective and safe environment where her subjects are allowed to express their connections and experiences of motherhood. Steenberg’s images are consistent in that they always manage to convey the intense power and beauty inherent to mothering. Pain and happiness are paired with the exhaustion and vulnerability of motherhood; all of which must be acknowledged as part of this collective and deeply personal journey. 

Be sure to keep up with Simone’s journey and her latest series via instagram.

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Imagining the Self by Adaeze Ihebom

London based, Italian-Nigerian photographer Adaeze Ihebom makes intimate self-portraits, turning the camera on herself to explore her identity, the lives of Igbo women and the power of the gaze. In her ongoing body of work Imagining the Self, Ihebom uses the camera to explore her duality as an Igbo and Italian woman. Creating a project on the self brings the viewer into intimate and private moments.  But, by being in control of the camera, Ihebom’s project is ultimately an act of empowerment as she retains control of her own narrative and the gaze. 

The title of the project, Imagining the Self, alludes to an element of performance. For Ihebom, these photographs are a mix of performance and reality. Through exploring her identity as an Igbo-Italian woman living and working in London, she is staging a conversation with herself. The series was created in response to an identity crisis that she experienced during her teens — when Ihebom had refused to let people take her photograph. ‘I had low self- esteem’, she recalls, ‘and, as a result, I have no pictures of my adolescence. Photography has helped me overcome that and portraying myself makes me feel empowered.’ She recreates some of these lost moments in the project and through this act, regains control over these periods of uncertainty. We see Ihebom in a number of intimate and private scenes. In one image, she is in the bath, looking directly at the camera. She is holding our gaze, as if she isn’t afraid to be seen in this way. In another, she is in her underwear looking in the mirror, a private moment we can all resonate with.  We also see her lying on a bed with the light streaming through the window. Was someone originally there with her to share this moment she is recreating?

Images of women are often subjected to the male gaze. By taking self-portraits, Ihebom is in total control of her image and can capture herself in authenticity. When it comes to others taking her photograph, she is aware that she ‘is losing that control’ which makes her uncomfortable: ’weirdly I am more at ease with photographers that I know or love because in a way I can sense that they can capture my true essence.’   

The process of making the image is as important to Ihebom as the final outcome. This is particularly visible in her project Igbo Woman in which she performs different fictional characters inspired by China Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart. In this series of self-portraits, she ‘traces the evolution of family identity from pre-colonial, through colonial and post-colonial times.’ Her clothing and pose are particularly important as each character represents women from different time periods. We see Ihebom dressed as Ezinma Okwonkwo who was born in 1900. Here, she is wearing a white head wrap, beads around her neck and stands bare footed, looking directly at the camera. In another, she is dressed as Reverand Sister Mary Uzoamaka Okwonkwo from 1930. She is wearing religious dress, looking down at the prayer beads in her hands. We then move through time to see Ihebom as women from 1950, 1960 and 1967. By the time we get to 1972, we see her as Alexandra Daberechi Okonkwo. Here, Ihebom is sitting on a high stool, sitting casually, her hair in an afro, wearing sunglasses and platform shoes. We move through 1981 and finally finish on Ihebom as Claudia Onyeka Okonkwo in 2015. Here she is wearing an off-the-shoulder dress and heels, holding a book and looking directly at us.  In this final image, she is representing the modern Igbo woman, giving them a voice and their own identity. 

‘I knew there was a need to represent them as there is an enormous lack of visual illustration and narrative. I feel that history has not portrayed the Igbo woman in her rightful perspective. She is customarily shown in images that correspond to a supposed African man’s world and the idea of feminine submissiveness to the man. The series is a way to challenge this mistaken notion and to show how colonialism has further removed feminine freedom from the Igbo woman. I want the spectators to question if these ideas have always been there or colonialism has planted that idea into us.’

Ihebom originally planned to shoot different women but realised that by using herself and becoming both the photographer and model, she could connect more closely with the characters.  Ihebom describes the image-making process as ‘really fun’ – she listened to music, danced and created a positive atmosphere. She meticulously planned each image, creating storyboards of each character she portrayed. When it came to actually taking the image, she removed herself from the world, turned off her phone and imagined herself in the lives of each individual. Through this perfectly staged act of self-portraiture, she reimagines the characters as real women, tracing them through time to give them their own story. Through turning the camera on herself, Ihebom brings us into her world, while also creating visibility for Igbo women who have historically been misrepresented and left out of the visual narrative. 

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The global drag community in quarantine captured by Damien Frost

Cover image: Left: Luke Harris, Right: Sakeema Peng Crook

Damien Frost is a London-based Australian-British art director / graphic designer who spends his time during the day working in the theatres of The Big Smoke and immerses himself to document the city’s alternative queer life by night. His latest project is an ode to social distancing as he uses his opportunity in isolation to portrait creative compositions featuring some of the world’s most dynamic drag queens. 

 “I began the Social distancing project when we first went into lockdown in March as I quickly realised i was going to miss capturing the ephemeral art of the people I normally document and not only did I want to find an excuse to keep using my camera but I also needed to focus on something to distract me a little from the unfolding drama and try and document it in some safe way.

Julius Reuben @luisbenlon

Around the same time that I began the project many people who work in the nightlife economy had their livelihoods and cash flow immediately cut off – there were parties due to happen that people were depending on to pay their rent and some of these people began to pivot towards creating online social content – doing smaller scale performances form their bedrooms or party organisers moved the parties to be Facebook live feeds where the do’s would still play and people would tune in, dance around their lounge rooms and still talk shit over drinks (or warm tea even) and collectively solve the worlds problems albeit via text chat rather than the smoking area of a club, and so I’ve been capturing people before they do a show or after they do a performance or makeup tutorial video and present these portraits in The Social Distancing project,” Frost commented.  

Chloe Doherty , @chlodoh

Each portrait from the series carefully captures each queen’s individual character in the comfort of their homes as they transform themselves for their respective performances which creates a raw outlook / performance out of the concept of social distancing in itself. 

“I find the term Social Distancing fascinating for it’s inherent oxymoron being social and distant at the same time and so this project is exploring that, how we are connecting with each other during this strange moment in time. I wanted to show the process also- the image quality of the photos is mostly terrible as it’s very dependent on both the video call connection, the camera the other person is using on the other end and the lighting they have available and then I’m just taking photos with my camera of a pixelated video feed on an old iPad but this poor quality is also partly the point – the technology we have is imperfect and nothing can replace the personal social experience but at the moment this is all we have and so we make-do.

At first I thought there wouldn’t be a lot of people doing transformative looks during this period but I’ve been surprised by just how many people are still practicing their craft – using this time to play with new ideas, engage with challenges with other artists and just keep ploughing on. Despite the fact that many people are in extremely precarious and difficult circumstances and often not knowing where they will get the money for the next rent payment people are trying to keep positive in the knowledge that we are all in this together and there’s a strong desire amongst everyone I talk to that hopefully we can all learn from this situation and we might come out of this situation more thoughtful about each other and the delicate balance of the world we live in.

Keep up with the artist and view the full version of the artists featured @damienfrost.

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The Teachings Of Ikebana And Their Life Lessons From Big Love Records Co-Founder Haruka Hirata

A cult record store and the Japanese art of flower arranging might not make natural bedfellows, but there is plenty to connect the two skills and passions for Haruka Hirata, the co-founder Big Love Records – the ‘if you know, you know’ globally respected record store in Tokyo. Speaking to Twin about what this ancient practice has taught her about life, her musings could act as a reflective signal to how we will need to responsibly think about a future we are carving as we all move forward. 

How did Big Love Records come about?

Masashi Naka, co-founder of Big Love Records started his record label in the 90’s, and opened his own record shop called Escalator Records in 2002 in the same location as now. I started working there and changed the name to Big Love Records in 2008. It was to focus more on international bands. That organically made us meet great artists, not only musicians.

What is the ethos of BLR?

To be independent. Be responsible to the world. 

Do you think our approach to records and independent music stores will change post COVID-19?

I believe a lot of people has revisited listing to music during their self-isolation, and dug deeper, so it definitely was a good chance to realize how music could be your nutrition. But at the same time, some people may notice it was because you had enough time to do so. Record shops should not just rely on the customers, but needs to create a better platform for people to fully enjoy and experience music and embrace in their lives.  

It’s about experience. A community is an experience.


You practice Ikebana: tell us how you got into this and what it has taught you?

Hiroshi Teshigahara, son of the Sogetsu Ikebana School founder and the second Iemoto (grand master), was an avant-garde movie director. I was a big fan of his movies- “Woman in the Dunes”, and “The Face of Another”. One night I was casually googling his name and found out he was an Ikebana artist. I was looking for a medium to address my voice in a better way, and the next day I called my Ikebana school. Been studying for four years, I finally got a certificate last year.

It has been teaching me a lot.

The importance of preparation and cleaning up. Showing respect to your teachers, and classmates. Patience. Never compromise but forgive yourself.

You can never complete learning an art form working with nature, because you will never be able to use the same material ever again. 

Can you give us a few pointers on what makes a balanced arrangement, and how can an arrangement effectively come alive?

Focus on three things. Line, color and mass. How do you feel today? Pick one main color. Use three strait or curved materials, in three different lengths. 

Create a mass, or keep it 

Give space to each other. Don’t fully cover the vase, create a room. 

You can keep the flowers or branches live longer if you cut the stems under the water. This is to prevent air coming in the stem, and let it absorb water.

What sensations does ikebana give you? Calm, satisfaction, energy?

Ikebana is about life and death. You need to face how selfish you are to cut, bend, or nail the flowers or branches only to express yourself. You are sacrificing nature. 

Do you listen to music while practicing ikebana?

One time I was listening to dark techno while working on the piece, and it was not right.

The sound of the scissors are the best music. 

You should always listen to silence and find your own rhythm.


What does beauty mean to you?

Life and death.


What was the last thing that made you excited?

Eating french fries with my friends.  

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Twin Magazine For NHS Fund – a print initiative

Cover image by Yaniv Edry

In the light of the coronavirus health crisis, Twin Magazine has partnered up with a few of our contributing artists for the sale of 10 printed photographs in charity of the National Health Service (NHS) Fund. The initiative launched this morning, features 10 photographers including Benedict Brink, Ben Weller, Daisy Walker, Jo Metson Scott, Joyce NG, Julia Noni, Marianna Sanvito, Scott Trindle, Stefanie Moshammer & Yaniv Edry who have donated 1 image each for the project.

All prints have been framed and moulded from the highest quality real black wood and UV reflected as they have been carefully packaged by our handmade sponsor G.F Smith . The cost of each print ranges from £125 -£175 depending on it’s size. For more information on how to purchase directly , visit Twinfornhs.com

Image by Joyce NG
Image by Marianna Sanvito
Image by Julia Noni

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PRADA launches instagram live series – PRADA Possible Conversations

In the midst of the current global health crisis, Italian fashion house Prada is set to launch a conversation series to help us deal with our quarantine woes. Prada Possible Conversation is a series of live discussions between thinkers, cultural arbiters and fashion insiders across the world in an effort to piece together a community of collective thoughts and thinkers. Set to take place on Prada’s instagram page, guests will be engaging in real time conversations that the house promises to be enlightening , engaging and maybe even revelatory. Guests will include personnel from all sectors of the creative industries including fashion, art , architecture, film, literature etc. 

The headliner of the series is scheduled for this evening April 14, 2020 at 6pm CET, and will feature Pamela Goblin, author curator & Artistic Director of Jacquard x Google Arts Culture Residency and Alexander Fury, fashion features director of Another Magazine and Men’s Critic of the Financial Times. The duo will be having a conversation under the theme, ‘Fashion in Times of Crises’ and will also allow for questions from their audience. 

This and all the upcoming Prada Possible Conversations will result in a donation from Prada to UNSECO. 

Be sure to tune in via PRADA

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Twin Flames by Justin Aversano – Documenting shared tulpae of genetics

Cover image: Vera & Barbara Ann Duffy and Jimmy, Saoirse, and Albie

Over the period of a year and two months, New York based photographer and creative director Justin Aversano photographed 100 sets of Twins from all across the world which he has recently published in his latest hardcover photobook Twin Flames.

“I photographed 100 sets of twins, aiming to create a body of work focused on the existence of multiple births and the phenomena of twindom through an immersive portrait survey. Twins and multiple siblings provide a lens on the magic and causality of biology. In our everyday society, twins, triplets et al. have an assigned position within all current and historical cultures—a shared tulpa of genetics, fate and timing. Twindom has a deep root in shared storytelling, its visuals conjure metatextual manifestations across the astrological, the mythological, the academic and the popular, stringing together tangents of the everyday and simultaneously karmic,” explained Aversano.

Asha & Ayanna Diaz and Chris & Clayton Griggs

Bahareh & Farzaneh Safarani
Valeriia and Anna Lyshcenko

Each image was shot using three formats of film Polaroid, by focusing on the simple idea of seeking an “intentional phenomenology” by direct image making and facilitating a broad and reflexive photographic engagement that is about these unique individuals and their presence in a collective nature.

The full hardcover compilation of images Twin Flames is currently available for purchase online.

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