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Black Girl on the Front Row!

Tag: EXPERIENCE

LAUNCH: LAUREN BAKER ART WILL ‘BLOW YOUR MIND’!

Imagine it…You alight with me at a Dalston Junction, which is giving birth to commuters, running-before-they-can-walk, to get to the already-distorted buses, distended, from overcrowding. We navigate our footsteps to the next available anaconda-queue, in anticipation of another modern-day Routemaster, to whisk us from Kingsland to Stoke Newington High Street and, arrive at contemporary art gallery-come-hang-out, of Hang-Up Pictures. Well, imagine that’s exactly what we did, as I take you on a tour through the mind-altering world of East-London, city-girl-turned-super-artist, Lauren Baker!

Owned by uber-curator, Ben Cotton and run alongside his wonder-woman sidekick, Carla, and their happening Hang-Up team, the gallery is a never-ending space whose walls change, chameleon-like, with the intense turn-around of incredible artists. Only a few winter-weeks had wound their way forward through the calendar, since Radiohead collaborator, Stanley Donwood had graced the walls with scenes from his ‘Apocalypse Boutique’, with ‘Karma Police’ being sonically speaker-piped into our waiting aural canals. Now, it was a decedent, two-tiered boudoir, with animal skulls of all dimensions, proudly-protruding along the vertical, with their human crania on the horizontal. Parallel uprights were replete with starburst relief-work and mirror-lightning bolts, complementing the intermittent thunderclap applause from beneath your feet in, enticing you to follow them below-deck.

What had been a second exhibiting room, had now become a night-sky-muralled, fog-smoke-filled, neon-flashing, lightning installation, which was all-encompassing, in swallowing you whole, whilst itself, spitting out rays of incandescent intensity. An homage to the power of Nature, it was, to me, a welcome riot-to-the-senses, which made my heart beat through my chest, like the bassline of the best dub-plate special!

En route upstairs, your eyes are seized upon by a golden sculpture of DNA, which has been drawn, 3-D printed, re-shaped and re-made into a thought-provoking representation of the precious fragility of the unique, human being. Yet, there was no point in trying to shift gear, since you could do all of that over the days to come (which I have been doing!)…All that was necessary, was to open the pores, accept the nourishment of Lauren Baker’s creations and release the sweat-inducing effect of sweltering multi-media art! Doingso was a lamp unto my neuro-processing-pathways, hitting me with the supreme potencies of Life, Death and the Afterlife, succinctly-presented via the stunningly poignant ‘White Light’. A mirrored infinity-coffin is leant, perpendicular fashion, as if propping up some celestial bar, daring viewers to come face-to-face with their own mortality/ immortality, dependent upon their respective perspective. Baker also points-the-finger at reflecting on existence, through clusters of projectile digits, protruding from a mini-fridge and 3-D wall-art, challenging the observer to ponder disillusionment in life’s journey and yet, not dwell on it. Why? Well, my thought is that one finger pointed in your direction, leaves the remainder pointing back at someone else. I assimilated them as a host of sat-navs, indicating the true-north of my authentic creative direction.

It was pointless to linger, either, as the gallery was soon heaving with well-wishing guests, apt for drowning in hip-hop, whilst making sequential moves around encased, hyper-embellished skull-art, made in collaboration with Sequin Kay, herself a rising-art star. in addition, the crystallised touch was applied to those of rodents, showing an acute attention-to-detail. Antlers were also bedecked in gold-leaf, or high-visibility flourescent pink paint, with my favoured set, adorned in amethyst crystal and the most stunning magpie plumage. Pieces doused in Mexican-styled paint-techniques showed Baker’s innate sensibilty to both, transforming and translating global culture, in an extremely audacious and masterly manner.

For many, the showstopper was a beating ferrofluid heart, blackened through the acrid, magnetic, influence of one lover’s presence upon another. The narrative is fulfilled in the melancholic hope that, still beating, life-after-loss can and does go on. Being the last exhibit I saw, on exiting, it left me with an essence of stoicism. Indeed, compounded by my enthusiastic admiration of such gargantuan and eclectic dynamism from Lauren Baker, the artisan, I have come to realise a deeper wealth of learning, which is that of appreciating the skeleton anew. After all, it offers us all support, in different ways, and whilst it lies beneath, it is no less beautiful because it is unseen.

I thank Lauren for sharing her distinct ability to encapsulate the meaning of the cycle of life with such raw emotional prowess and the Hang-Up curators for, once again, ensuring that a journey around their gallery is, not only utterly mind-blowing, but highly recommendable and totally unforgettable!

‘You Blow My Mind’ is on now until 24th January!

 www.hanguppictures.com  ~ www.laurenbakerart.com

http://www.sequinkay.co.uk/

©AFROW2013-2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

SPOTLIGHT ON: ‘THE 24 HOUR PLAYS CELEBRITY GALA’… A SENTIMENTAL RETROSPECTIVE!

Dearest Afrow-Family, as I compose this, my newest post, somewhere, there is ensuing, a hive-of-activity, a buzz-of-excitement, a thrill-of-the-theatrical-chase! The location for the epicentre of this explosion-of-anticipation, is one of the cornerstone venues of the UK, if not global, Theatrical Arts arena, namely, our beloved Old Vic!

Yes, this weekend, will see well-known faces of stage and screen, join artistic forces and flex creative muscles with a tantalisingly team of writers and directors, themselves amongst the industry’s finest emerging and established talent, to produce ‘The 24-Hour Plays’, one of the most exhilerating, multi-discplinary rollercoaster-rides upon the Cultural/Creative Arts mustsee list!

Past years have seen a plethora of stars, old-guard and new, showcasing the best of edge-of-your-seat collaborations, somewhat metamorphosing into a combined vanguard, for the elemental nature of stagecraft. Such names as Josh Hartnett, he of the melifluously Robeson-esque tones, Sally Phillips, she of the razor-sharp witticims and Mackenzie Crook, he, the rascal of genuis comedy-timing, have deigned to take the bull that is the ’24 Hour Plays’ event, by the horns and subdue it over an evening of live performances, so palpably immediate, as to be ignited by raw flint!

This year’s participants, who will include the indefatigable, Clive Rowe, the understatedly sublime Tom Ellis, the creative powerhouse, who is Catherine Tate and a rising-star, with quite the most captivating screen-presence, Douglas Booth. The list of celebrities does not tail off and, consistent with the unpredictability of the process, will surely serve-up some of the most delightfully unusual casting combinations that the audience in-attendance might ever have the pleasure to see!

To compound the hub-bub, akin to that of a Hollywood premiere of a hotly-tipped, award-winning movie, is the fact that this year also marks the 10th Anniversary of the fundraising gala. No pressure then!

So what if, as an actor, you have to sit in a room with a prop, share it with other new faces, except that they’re not new faces, because you already know who they are, having racked-up, between them, a C.V the likes of which you couldn’t dream-up?! So what if, as a writer, you are to take that prop and reversecram a vignette, which will, hopefully, interlock seamlessly with all of the other five scenes?! What of the fact that you have to pull an all-nighter, in order to release said work-of-written-art?! Or even that there’ll barely be enough time for writer’s block?! Who cares, that it is all to be nursed-and-rehearsed, then presented infront of a kindly-donating audience of savvy theatre-going witnesses?! Oh and why should it be in-the-slightest bit bothersome that the Social Media-Readers can ride, side-saddle, with every second of progress?!

Forming, storming, norming and performing in a 24 Hour group-dynamic, for one night only?!

NO. PRESSURE. AT. ALL!!!!!

Well, having attended, myself, I know that it was pressure-filled, but that, evidently, this was the kind of pressure which caused the artists to yield control, dig deeper than ever before and share the journey towards the birth of theatre-like-no-other! I had the privelege of seeing the entire arc-of-vision, from backstage tours which allowed we band-of-happy-guests to see the performers working through scripts on their own, as well as being face-to-face with the very boards upon which so many greats had trodden, and which would soon become the home of skilfully-crafted creativity, with an intensely off-the-cuff edge!

The very year I attended, I remember walking with other guests, extremely gingerly, past an actor, himself, sat staring into the distance, as if in his own incredible world of moment-to-moment brainfreeze, interspersed with absolute recognition of his lines! It was, right then, that the realisation dawned upon me of being an honoured party to the condensed version of this ‘artist’s way’… and although, prior to the day, I had been enthusiastic about what was to burst its way into my psyche, it rapidly stepped onto my mental-plane and took subsequent flight!

My chosen outfit of a floor-length, champagne-coloured, spaghetti-strapped, ballerina dress, with draped bodice and an acreage of tulle skirt, had also flown all the way from New York City, and was accompanied by a matching pair of crystal-embellished high-heels, an iridescent, sheer pashmina, matching oyster-shell satin purse, with gold chain, a selection of pearl jewellery and a shower of Coco Chanel! My hair was gently encouraged into a delicate chignon, with a few wisps and tendrils, teased for texture… My chosen transport? A good old London Cab!

The show, itself, was…well…out-of-this-world! Filled with emotional highs, lows and turning points…and that was just the introductionEvery excited synonym, possible, sat upon the lips of the adrenaline-fuelled audience. We all knew what the rules of the ‘game’ were, but the improvisational quality of the experience meant that all of the rules had been jettisoned out of the fourth-wall window.. We all knew that too! No longer were we ‘audience members’, but, fellow participants.. Co-creative-cathodes, emitting empathetic energy! Thus, when one actress forgot her lines, looked out at us, declared, ‘Oh, I can’t do this’ and proceeded to retrieve the script and read, verbatim, through the scene, she received rapturous applause, not, as one might think, because she had been defeated, in any way, shape or form…but because she had made an absolute triumph of the moment, and enjoyed the freedom of being able to do so! In this context, it all made utter sense and gave rise to a certain bonding, such as I haven’t experienced in quite the same way since. The post-show party was an entirely relaxed, yet, highly elegant affair, with artists and guests mingling and dancing away until way into the wee, small post-24-hours hours!! I have no doubt that 10th anniversary celebration of this uniquely glitzy gala will be even more impressive, especially being held at the luxurious 5* Rosewood Hotel!

 Whilst embraced by glamour, The 24 Hour Plays model, is an ingenius medium, through which we are blessed to see expressed, what I believe to be at the foundation of all great experiences… At the root, is the courage to fly-by-the-seat-of-one’s-pants (be they of the exquisite YSL cigarette-silhouette, or a nonchalantly loose-legged, denim-flared DKNY variety), and to have faith that, not only is there potential for all of those experiences to come together for the good, but also, that these combined episodes, en-route, will contribute to an amazing ‘mosaic-of-moments’, which we, with true feeling, can all call ‘real life’.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to support The Old Vic by snapping up one of the few remaining tickets, getting your best bib ‘n’ tucker on and going… Black Cab, optional, of course!

©AFROW2013-2019  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

http://www.oldvictheatre.com/the-24-hour-plays-celebrity-gala/

www.rosewoodhotels.com

MASONBENTLEY: STYLE AND SUBSTANCE FROM A UNIQUE FASHION-DUO….

Barely have the curtains on a most resplendent London Fashion Week come down, than my head has been turned by the wondrous collection from design-duo, MasonBentley!

The brainchild of Anna Mason and Kate Bentley, the eponymous label was birthed in 2012, with the objective of ‘carefully selecting and sourcing vintage clothes to be re-loved for the modern wardrobe’*. The popularity of their brand of one-off pieces left savvy consumers wanting more and to that end, an idiosyncratic capsule collection was created in order to satisfy the rumbling style-stomachs of their ever-increasing number of supporters!

You need only peruse their blog to notice how much they are relishing every precious moment upon, what they call, ‘the journey’, as well as to quickly recognise how seamlessly their respective talents combine. Delve deeper into the collection and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that they are totally in the fast lane to exponential success!

Their design aesthetic is effortless glamour, which you can expect to see represented in timeless separates such as their ‘Harper’ blouse, alluring, both in white or black cotton-broderie anglaise fabric. Add the ‘Deneuve’ collar, for a perfect complement to the leg o’mutton-style sleeve and evoke a look with inflections of ‘elegant equestrian’. The ‘Hepburn’ skirt and ‘Audrey’ top are aptly- named, offering than a nod to the ‘Roman Holiday’-spirit of Audrey, herself (after she had the elfin cut!) and the beige/ ivory and black options make for ultimate versatility in the wardrobe of any woman.

Let it be known that MasonBentley have a delightful way with detailing but do not shy away from colour or print either! Such examples can be found in the range, from the ivory piping in the aforementioned ‘Audrey’ top and the precisely-positioned black horizontal stripes on the ‘Billie’ dress, to the ‘Dante Blouse & Belt’, the ‘Romy’ dress and the ‘Birkin’ bikini, flamboyantly adorned with ‘Royal Peacock Print’ in grey, fuschia pink and teal colourways, respectively.

A House signature must be their ‘trans-seasonal’* silk/ crepe-de-chine blouses, such as the ‘Macaroon’, available in shades of baby pink and ivory and with silhouettes suited to all body shapes, featuring flattering butterfly sleeves, as on the grey ‘Trilby’ blouse.

Prices ranging from £120** for the Deneuve collar, through to £340** for the silk/ crepe-de-chine blouses, competitvely reflect the high-quality of design and execution, however, I believe that in purchasing a garment from MasonBentley, you are getting so much more… The creative journey which we are all invited to share and to which we can all respond through their blog, and the love which clearly goes into manifesting a priceless, ‘total experience‘ are at the root of this rare gem of a design-partnership…

Long may the ever-increasing success of the MasonBentley legend continue!

©AFROW2013-2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

*Quotes from masonbentleystyle.com   **Prices correct at time of publication, from masonbentleystyle.com