afrow

Black Girl on the Front Row!

Tag: ROYAL

‘DOTTY FOR MATT FORSTER’S UBERART!’

So here’s what you’ll do…

When your soul cries out for sustenance of the extrasensory kind, follow my lead, to the ‘Royal Opera Arcade Gallery’, London, and begin a most fulfilling journey of delicious ‘Über Art’! Created and developed with relentless fervour by the man, whom I like to call ‘Watercolour Wizard’, but whom is better known by the moniker of Matt Forster, this latest exposition is a vibrant testament to all of his dedicated efforts…and being of the ‘über’ variety, there’s more than enough to go around!

Noticeable is the space which houses the majestic collection…

A split-level gallery, flooded by luminescent white-light, akin to that of Skywalker’s sabre…Poised, yet utterly yielding to the array of immersive, wrap-around watercolour works!

Flowing from figurative to abstract, landscape to dreamscape, multicolour to monochromatic, über to klein, each piece immediately resonates with a clarity of purpose and distinctive technical execution, which speaks volumes to the subconscious. Forster is fearless in experimentation… collaging, cutting-out, scraping-back, slicing angles… Each, a willing foil for expressing his vision. In one mesmerising series, he seems to ‘liberate’ paint-spots and yet, contain the liquid movement, so as to become controlled ‘dot-formations’, of ever-increasing tonal and visual depth. In fact, with such gusto for graphics and colour collaborations, you would be forgiven for thinking him a designer of a couture collection for Spring-Summer 2015!

The opportunity to sojourn in the selection of global destinations is wonderful… In a hushed millisecond, collective languages can almost be deciphered exchanging tales of their pictorial formation! ‘Dos Pinturas’, ‘High Noon’ and ‘The Band San Cristobal de las Cases’, masterfully regale of reflective days in sunsoaked climes, whereas ‘Über Autumn’ and ‘Über Pennines’ celebrate the richness to be found amidst the more muted hues of our glorious British Isles. The latter, particularly capturing the masculinity of terrain, with the femininity of undulating hills or rippling waves… Pure, authentic, beautiful and boldly interpreted.

However, I would entreat you not to overeat the enticing wall-mounted fayre, for this is a week of artistic delights which offers even more! Indeed, this selection coincides with the launch of ‘The Art of MJ Forster’, his first, limited edition, retrospective book, the production of which, was made possible by a hugely successful crowd-funding campaign. What you will see displayed is accompanied by what you will get in the stunning publication, produced by ‘The Town and Country Gallery’…so you can snack on further morsels, at leisure!

What I would encourage you most definitely do, is partake of the ‘Über Art’ experience, firsthand… Meet Matt himself. He’s a highly personable and witty character, with an underlying intensity and creative sensibility, in perfect complement to the idiosyncratic medium of watercolour. Assuage that artistic appetite…go on….but be prepared to want, at least, a second helping from such a prolific menu!

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‘The Art of MJ Forster’: A Retrospective Exhibition (and Book Launch) is on now until Saturday 11th October at The Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, 5B Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 4UY.

Books are available for purchase during the exhibition, from ‘The Town and Country Gallery’ and via Matt’s newly revamped website!

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Afrow-Appreciation to:-

Simon de Pinna and the ROA GAllery for hosting a fabulous P.V and…

… HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Matt Forster….

…‘Über Artist’ extraordinaire and, hopefully, future fashion/fabric designer!

©AFROW2014-2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“Finding My Way From Hopper To Hoppen…!”

It’s all in the timing.

The past three events have proven it… beyond a shadow..

Read on.

All will be revealed… as it was for me.

The first, set the scene at the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Gardens. Mayfair was glazed in honey-hued sunshine, as I made my way to a private viewing of ‘The Lost Album’, an exhibiton of work by the late, great, actor, filmmaker, artist and photgrapher, Dennis Hopper.

I approached the distinctive, weather-mottled structure, distinctly-etched into the cognitive history of Arts…its dappled-grey exterior punctuated by billowing banners, raised aloft in celebration of the creative wonders within. Somewhat awash with excitement, I entered. Gentle scents of artisanal treats from ‘Atelier’, the RA cafe, wafted invitingly, roundabout me. Monochromatic Hopper-themed images emblazoned the space and I was already lost in them.

Ascending the wealth-of-winding staircase to the ‘Senate Room’, was, I mused, somewhat akin to being Scarlett O’Hara, swept up into the strapping arms of Rhett Butler and being swung across the threshold with sheer, Southern swagger! The highly-decorative ceilings, expansive windows and caramel-coloured, well-walked, wooden flooring, momentarily served to fuel my imaginings, but passionately-delivered and hugely informative pre-exhibiton talks soon brought me back into the room, with an ever-more piqued desire to discover what lay behind a new door, to the next.

That which ensued was a rhythmic chorus of movement, of guests from all walks of life. From the designer-clad to the street-stylers, to the suited-and-booted and beyond…a contemporary collection of attendees quickly became the, unknown, precursor and parallel, to the breadth of Hopper’s subject matter. In genteel clusters, they transitioned through an antechamber, where an expressive quote from the man, himself, distils the life-giving inspiration which the photographs had given to him. Standing to read and re-read, in order to familiarise myself with his ‘voice’, the human satellites had dwindled, only to have reformed, face-to-face, with encased black-and-white stills, along three sides of the perimeter of Room 1, lunch-queue-like, as if to devour the prints whole! The counter-cultural undercurrent running through the exhibiton, also seemed to be running through my veins, to the extent that I bypassed the following space and the viewing gallery and began my journey in the final room! As others observed, I perched upon banquettes in the midst of the floor and copied more of Dennis Hopper’s words, echoed upon the walls… In so doing, I began to assimilate the sense of freedom with which Hopper captured everything he saw.

From the quiet intimacy of boudoir shots, taken in L.A., to the ebullient evangelist series, caught, mid-sermon, so that you could almost hear the preaching… From gowned hippies at flower-power festivals, to Hells Angels, at rest and play, to the effortless cool of the ‘Fab Four of Art’, Warhol, Geldzahler, Hockney and Goodman…From ‘Soul Brother Number 1’, Mr James Brown, being fêted outside his Lear jet, to the picture-perfect Paul Newman, a living canvas upon which are cast charcoal shadows of wire and foliage… From the most visceral bullfighting in Mexico, to the stark irony of a welcome which warns you to ‘Keep Out’, in race-hate ravaged Montgomery, Alabama… to the power and poignancy of Martin Luther King speaking at Selma, no stone seems left unturned, no issue too raw, through which to manifest the truth of life and times in Dennis Hopper’s 60’s. Even the narrative of such minutiae as blistering paint and torn gauze, seem to represent revelatory realities behind the glamour of Hollywood and an increasing intolerance, bleeding through the thin veil of society. All the while, the intensity and detail are juxtaposed by an expansive, audiovisual shangri-la, of a road-scene from the co-created classic, ‘Easy Rider’….the constant stream, of which, engulfs you and baits your curiosity, as to Hopper’s unique vista, developed on-screen.

No wonder, then, that when invited to the B.F.I Southbank, to attend a private showing of the seminal indie-archetype, as part of the ‘Icon of Oblivion’ season, I was only too pleased to rsvp, without hesitation, and appease my inquisitiveness!

Second scene set, it was lights, camera, action in a robustly, modern venue, with a Southbank wrap-around…Yet this was no ordinary cinema… This was a veritable palace, doused in ruby-red, velvet curtains, with plush, matching chairs (the pile of which somehow moulded, ergonomically to the body, like a warm, cinematic cuddle!)… unobtrusive air-con…spacious legroom, (fantastic for me, being 5’9″..old money for approx 1m 80cm!)… and at 20:45 precisely, an impressive demonstration of sound, vision and performance got underway.

Having heard of, but never seen ‘Easy Rider’, I chose not to delve into research, preferring to rely on my R.A experience for a creative template. However, from the opening moments of South American drawl, to a dashing Peter Fonda (‘Wyatt’) in leathers and a hippie Hopper (‘Billy’), strands of Mexico, motorbiking and marginalised members of society, started to emerge.

A stream of consciousness unfurled. From Downtown L.A., wide-angled highway scenes on Harley Davidsons, begat pacy cut-aways, themselves, spliced with extreme-close-ups of twigs, only to be followed by contrasting, mountainous backdrops, which, in turn, were artistically peppered with silhouetted figures of our protagonists and an enigmatic hitchhiker, whom they had picked up, en route to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras!

The spectre of automation, hovering over tradition, was also accutely parallelled in a scene which sees Wyatt and Billy ride into a farm and park their bikes in a barn in the background, whereupon they clean their tyres, with a farrier/ farmhand, in the foreground, tending to horseshoes. Modernity and the notion of progress, seem to be replacing heritage, as swiftly as the Harleys.

Multi-sensory statements including the changing faces of fashion, music and spirituality, are vividly presented. Nothing is contrived. The script is sparsely written, to allow for its multi-faceted, sociopolitical meanings to deeply penetrate the psyche. With an energy of unadulterated art-in-response, undaunted by popular opinion and a short-sharp-shock of an ending, ‘Easy Rider’ struck me with extreme profoundity and was brilliantly complemented by the truly incredible ‘Lost Album’ exhibition.

In fact, it is the final ‘view-from-above’ shot, which would resonate even further with me, at the closing scene of my event-trilogy, that the ‘Photographers v Prostate Cancer’ private viewing and silent auction, in aid of Prostate Cancer UK, held at ‘The Michael Hoppen Gallery’, in the heart of Chelsea.

The late Dennis Hopper lost his battle against prostate cancer in 2010, as did my Father and so, by way of honouring his memory, I sought the chance to cover the evening…and what a moving, optimistic, enjoyable night it was! Photography spanned such genres as portraiture, landscape and reportage…decades, with such names as Hendrix and Yehudi Menuhin encapsulated alongside Keira Knightley….and such amazing photgraphers as Thomas Stanworth, Clive Barda and Rankin.

Hearty addresses were given by Lord Archer, himself a survivor of the male form of cancer and leading prostate surgeon, Professor Roger Kirby, both, of whom, were unrelenting in encouragement of men to proactively pursue GP check-ups, at the first sign of a problem, rather than leave the situation, until it might be too late to treat. Enthusiastic rallying was also made, to bid as much as possible, in order to raise as much as possible, so as to continue the fight against this ruthless disease. Notwithstanding the seriousness of the cause, the bright, white gallery was filled with an air of joy and hope…and by the end of the 3-hour event, an outstanding £17,600 had been raised.

I exited with a sense of peace, joy and exhileration, safe in the knowledge that whilst some, dear, loved ones might have lost their valiant battles against prostate cancer, such cheerful giving-in-action, would help to win the war.

I was then brought, full-circle, to ‘Easy Rider’s’ end camera angle, which finished high up in the sky, as if looking down upon the world…

I somehow felt as if Dennis and my Father were smiling and doing the same…

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Many thanks to:-

Simone Stewart at the Royal Academy, Victoria Humphrys at the B.F.I Southbank, Michael Hoppen, Richard Dunkley, Leena Patel, Team Prostate Cancer UK for your kindess and hospitality!

For more information on the above events at the R.A and B.F.I Southbank, organisations and to bid on remaining pictures in aid of Prostate Cancer UK, click the links below!

www.royalacademy.org.uk ~( @royalacademy ~ www.facebook.com/royalacademy )

www.bfi.org.uk ~ ( @bfi ~ www.facebook.com/BritishFilmInstitute )

Photographers v Prostate Cancer

www.prostatecanceruk.org

www.michaelhoppengallery.com

©AFROW2014-2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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EMAIL EXCHANGE FROM LEENA PATEL (PCUK)

‘Thank you so much for doing this, means a lot that we have your support.’

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