Category Archives: Art

Cynon Valley Museum, Myth of Women Exhibition

Do not take Women for granted. Let us celebrate International Women’s Day. Women can be strong; they can be bold. The time is now.

Take a moment out of your busy day and visit the Cynon Valley Museum Aberdare as it presents the work of Alix Edwards (Alix Edwards visual artist & writer artography) and her KICKASS “Myth of Women” Exhibition.

Take heed, these are visually strong paintings of women, shown stunningly in vibrant colours resilient in their quests. Women who have battled the extremes of Humankind, illuminated shining and intense through the atmospheric power of this talented artist and storyteller of myths and truths

The vitality of pure brushstrokes hold the attention crying out for the legendary stories to be told. It is the black and white stretched so neatly into the full spectrum of colours. A kaleidoscope entwining mystery and magic

The names may be familiar with many attributed to the bardic Tales of Taliesen, others by their Martyrdom.

Ceridwen, Gwladys, Gwen, Nest, Winifred, Ffraid, Gwraig Anwn, Rhiannon and Gwenllian. Think of the strength and resilience of Gwenllian who fought when pregnant, her abdomen shown in the painting comparable to a shield protecting the future generation. The beheaded Winifred and the Rhondda Valleys’ own “Our Lady of Penrhys”.

There is the poignant reflection of the Magdalen Laundries in the accompanying paintings entitled “Babies”. You can sense the urgency of the lost children to be found, feel the cutting words and wounds that come with the sorrow of memories. The stains of injustice.

The fire is lit encompassing all these women as the forerunners of the suffragettes, the women who took on the jobs of men during the two world wars, the Greenham common protest, helping to launch the first space journey to the Moon, the first computer, the foundation of the Wireless connection Wi-Fi and the GPS system, the structure of DNA. A baton has been handed over for other women to blaze a new trail

The Myth of Women Exhibition calls out Women be strong, define yourself, be brave, speak out against ignorance, be beautiful, remind yourself you are unique, the power and the pride BE YOU

Do not take women for granted, do not forget that it was Adam who was left with the apple lodged in his throat.

This Exhibition is presented at the Cynon Valley Museum until Saturday 30 March.

Events ongoing at the Cynon Valley Museum please see their Website/Facebook for details.

In Aberdare and the Rhondda Fach Avant Cymru theatre company will present The Silent Volunteer by Sue Bevan at St Elvan’s Church on Thursday, 11 April and at Tylorstown Welfare Hall and Institute on Friday, 12 April. Performances at both venues are at 2 pm and 7 pm. Please see Avant Cymru website for more information and tickets In YOUR area within a short distance or a bus ride.

Review: Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind, Tate Modern, London by James Ellis

 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

It’s staggering the amount of hate Yoko Ono gets. Wrongfully blamed for breaking up The Beatles, after getting with John Lennon, she and her art has been mocked, judged and dismissed. In the biggest UK show to date, The Tate sets the record straight.

As we arrive before entering the space, we can leave notes on wish trees, one of many Japanese inspired ideas in her art. A video of her eye permeating the threshold to entry, we hear her on the phone and read tiny messages from personally. There is a vivid video of a match being struck, her work on fire may hark back to her escape from fire bombs of the Tokyo of her childhood. An escape to the countryside and the sky bring an influence is also essential.

We as the audience can take part in her work: doss around in a black bag, hammer a nail to a block of wood, walk over the canvas itself. The taking part is fun, though I think the chance for more than one person at a time would be encouraged. Her time in Japan, London and New York sees her ideas form and thrive, there is plenty of poetry and jokes. Collabs with John Cage and his partner David Tudor are also excellent. Getting a chance to hear this was a highlight. The video of bottoms is also telling and nicely filmed.

You can sit and watch the infamous Sit in Bed Piece with Lennon, creating your own art as you do. Listen to her music back catalogue, take a piece of jigsaw from a helmet for peace. Yoko asks us to create the art in our own minds, as we are given many prompts to do so. The idea of peace has been so important to her for years and now her messages are more important than ever. We got to draw in a room with a refuge boat. I showed off my Giotto circle. Children felt like they could muck in, which was lovely. A girl amused me saying she was scared when I was engulfed by the bag. It’s almost a burqa, the imagery is very similar.

I’m down to come back and muck about more, though I doubt the naysayers will be moved.

Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind runs at the Tate Modern till 1st September 2024

Review, Marina Abramović: The House with the Ocean View, Royal Academy of Art, London by James Ellis 

Photo credit: Royal Academy of Arts, London/David Parry

 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Marina Abramović has now been in London for some months. This performance artist who brought the form to the mainstream, has been collaborating with some of the city’s big institutions: English National Opera, Southbank Centre and more. Her fascinating exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art has gotten loads of attendees. It was her birthday a not long ago and even one of her photos at Phillips Auctions sold for over £58,000. There is much going on…

From 2002 comes The House with the Ocean View a durational piece where Marina lived in the gallery for 12 full days. Only allowed water, no food or talking or writing, people flocked to her as if for guidance. Let’s not forget this was in the aftermath of 9/11. After loving the show in London there were three chances to catch this piece, with three separate artists, all of which taught under the Abramović method. Firstly, it was Elke Luyten and now it was the time of Kira O’Reilly..

I wanted to spend as much time in the space as possible. I arrived around 10:30ish briskly past the masses in the exhibition to make my way to the end of the gallery. The space for The House, had one man who appeared to be meditating, I sat near him upon the wooden benches, with huge crystals both sides. Security kept up their demand of no photos. Kira, who appeared to be sleeping on her wooden bed, with a crystal slab as a pillow, similar to what he could try earlier in the exhibit. It was a quiet air within the space. For one unforgettable moment, Kira turned her head very slowly and gazed upon myself and the other gentlemen. This was the start of her last day in the gallery.

Gradually she rose, filled up a glass of water from her personal tap to the brim and carefully walked around the space so there would be no spillage. This almost Zen feel to the room was incredibly calming, just what I needed. Kira would often gently scan the room and share moments with the visitors. Through it all, it was her smile I’ll remember most fondly. It was a lovely sharing moment. She played with her hair, the wooden comb one of a few generous offerings. She moved about, altering the tempo of a metronome, one of the lone sounds in the space. My worry was its clacks would haunt me, yet this marker of time felt right and sombre in the space. Humour and horror would also be present thanks to the amazing ladders going up to the house which featured knives as its steps.

During I was in need of lunch, after going around the full show trying out all the hands-on crystal formations. Prior to leaving I saw Kira had placed her table and chair in at an angle in the space, as if hung from the air. We see all this, even in her platform rooms above us. Curiously the one thing absent from Mariana’s instructions for the piece is the telescope which featured in the original duration. I feel it would have added little and was perhaps cut with good intentions.

After being at the Southbank Centre I vowed I would make it just to see the end of Kira’s final half hour in the space. Wading through Xmas shoppers, I made it thanks to the gracious staff at the RA. I was let in, the room now stuffed with people. I sat and within minutes, who would turn up but Marina herself. I was metres away. She got up toward Kira still in her performance state standing and smiling. Marina, overcome, began to cry and then let it all out. It was incredibly touching. I wanted to comfort her. The idea of someone else trying this demanding piece would touch Marina and others. The security said they were closing, and we all gave Kira huge applause for such a feat. It was great to see her again at the end, she looked at me as if to say, ‘You’re back!’

An incredibly invasive film crew disrupted the good vibes, mucking about between artist and Marina. I found it didn’t matter.

Amanda Coogan performs The House with the Ocean at the Royal Academy of Art from 6 to the 17 December 2023.

The full Marina Abramović exhibition continues at the Royal Academy of Art till 1 Jan 2024. 

Review, Frans Hals Exhibition, National Gallery by James Ellis 

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

As I gaze upon The Lute Player by Frans Hals (1582-1666), I smirk at at the likeness between myself and the model, who remains a mystery to this day. A friend a few years back showed me the resemblance during our performance of a Shakespeare play. It seemed to me with the longer hair and the costume triggered this semblance of connection. It was fun to pose and try to capture the facial features of someone long dead. I do plan to go back and make myself look even more like the cheeky fella.

Photo credit: James Ellis

Getting that out of the way, this Frans Hals exhibit was simply wonderful. Often overshadowed by the eternal Rembrandt, a fellow Dutch master, time and time avian this show proves the brilliance of Hals. Lovers of more unconventional paintings of the period will stew over this highly emotive and relatable portraits. Staggering for a young man to simply strike a pose that only a bachelor could make of the time. The Portrait of Catharina Hooft and her Nurse is a swell example. Catharina the child, dressed in the most luxurious dress of the era and the nurse who still gets a loving depiction here. It’s one of many masterpieces you’ll see in this gallery.

The aforementioned Lute Player might just be his best, the facial expression and light are heaven sent. The similar Merry Lute Player, the figure gets a highly detailed face that I found myself drawn into. His larger commissions would wow and put light upon the black servants and wriggling children, whom Hals again gives much respect. It’s the elder looking Dutchman in their famous black hoods and massive hats that appear ludicrous in nature. Either looking defeated or fed up, I found it hard not to laugh in this sea of black fabric, white faces and a lone, shocking red-orange stocking of one gentleman.

The Portrait of Jasper Schade that is devilishly detailed and impeccably crafted, later work would show Hals commitment to more wild brush work, near impressionistic in style, through still of its time. Jasper’s proud stance and affirmed glance is the cock-sure male we never lost in society, though its hard not to marvel at his drip (clothes for the older readers out there). A tiny room with miniatures are another joy, children and smaller ideas haunt the space.  A Young Man Holding a Skull is another famous flutter, though the blurb next to the painting says it is not likely to be a depiction of Hamlet, looking at the timeline, I dare say it might be.

A disappointment came when the gift shop was not selling postcards of Hals’ iconic work as singles, but in multi pack. What surprised me the most was the smallness of the exhibition. I did expect it to be a few rooms bigger, though this should not sway anyone to see this genius of the candid, polished portrait.

It runs at the National Gallery till 21st Jan 2024. 

Review: Marina Abramović: A Visual Biography & Institute Takeover, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, By Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Arguably, Marina Abramović is one of the most influential and incredible Performance Artists of all time. Her methods of challenging the body, of challenging the social norm, of breaking boundaries and being raw and in your face has transformed much of the performance landscape over the past 50 years and inspired many an artist, including myself.

Abramović is everywhere in London at the moment. Not only with her new book launch, A Visual Biography and her Institute Takeover, both at the Southbank Centre, she is also taking the Royal Academy by storm as the first solo woman performer in their main space and with an opera, 7 Deaths of Maria Callas at the English National Opera. For a woman who was literally on death’s door only a couple of months ago, at 76, Abramović is still pushing boundaries and her body to extremes for art. And us number one fans are happy she still is.

After her memoir in 2016, A Walk Through Walls, telling the story of her life in Belgrade and her art across the world, you wouldn’t think there was much more for her to tell us about. This raw and personal memoir seemed to feature it all, her life, her feelings, her failures, her successes. But in this new book, A Visual Biography, she has teamed up with arts and fiction writer, Katya Tylevich, to delve into her aeroplane hangers full of memorabilia of her life to bring new stories, new insights and plenty of memories.

With both Abramović and Tylevich on stage, this book release felt a lot more casual and free than I remember A Walk Through Walls launch to be. Abramović seemed relaxed, she made us laugh constantly and her stories and anecdotes were mesmerising. There was something changed in her, possibly with a near death experience recently, A Visual Biography seems more a celebration of who Marina is and less about how her work came to be. While her first memoir featured much about her family, she now tells us more of those moments you remember from your childhood. At the time, many seem like terrifying scenarios but certainly ones to be appreciated and laughed at now.

Abramović is hugely engaging and an hour and half did not seem enough to listen to her. She is captivating in her own right, without her magnificent art, with a life full of unique experiences and humbleness.

Following from this, Abramović and the Abramović Institute have taken over the Queen Elizabeth Hall, from front of house to the backstage and areas likely unseen by most of the public. Using the Abramović method, the artists are encouraged to present long duration work over several hours across a number of spaces, allowing the audience to self-lead their experience. Marina herself is not performing, but there’s enough essence of her in each performance to not feel at all cheated.

This was opening night and therefore, taking into account any problems with this. It seemed that much was delayed, from the opening of the venue itself to some of the works. Once you were in, you could see lots in the foyer but the knowledge there is more behind the scenes that you couldn’t quite yet access yet was tantalising but also confusing at times. Once everything opened up, the freedom to roam felt enjoyable and clear, with signs noting spaces and doors you couldn’t enter. It felt like a little treasure hunt throughout the building.

As time went by, the crowds increased and there were many smaller performances in tiny spaces that developed long queues. All performances are well worth the wait but you need to be prepared that some may need a wait. As they are durational, there are a number that change as time goes on, and so instead of doing a once round, always take the journey around a few times as it is ever changing.

Performances ranged from almost no movement, to abusive and loud anarchy, to continual movement pieces. There was something for everyone, including interaction from potato peeling to unusual yet childlike chats with a group of clones. Each art and artist has created something unique and perpetrating to their lives and what they wanted to convey and each was fascinating on their own and in comparison as you crossed from one to the other.

Audiences are almost forced in close quarters at times with one another, and there’s a almost meta sense of freedom to roam but at the same time, being confined closely with strangers. It is an extraordinary exhibition that we wouldn’t have dreamed of having in 2020 during a pandemic.

The sheer determination and strength of the performers, their bodies and concepts are incredible. Not one looked bored. Not one looked as if they were not fully in their space and performance. And this is what is awe inspiring and incredible. One performer spends the entire performance, melting a block of ice with their own bare body… when you think how you feel holding an ice cube for a short time, this on a larger scale without any break in character is impressive and thought provoking. Abramović notes in her book launch that a fit and almost dancer body is needed for her type of work – to sit still or move slowly/hold a position for a long time is actually painful and an experience little of us ever have or will have. We are used to moving when uncomfortable, but this is often not an option in these scenarios.

Marina Abramović Institute Takeover is an immersive, performance art exhibition and experience unlike any other. It is the height of contemporary art and each piece is unlike anything seen before. You may not be seeing Marina herself perform, but the heart of her influence and method is abundant in each performance, while leaving room for the artist to be their own.

Review Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance, V&A, London by James Ellis

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Perhaps overshadowed by later artists, Donatello wows in many ways. The sculptures remain highly polished and from the era of the 15th century being well before his time.

The V&A have take it upon themselves to grace London with a wonderful show of his work, though looking at the details of a lot of the pieces, only so many are officially linked to the master. A majority of work is attributed to him, or from his school, or perhaps later loving tributes, what is actually his remains uncertain. Though his genius is proven in his David, a world away from Michelangelo’s more famous statue. David here is more androgynous, the head of Goliath slumped below him. David stands proudly, his left arm resting confidently on his hip. This was the start of the exhibit and there were many more joys to see.

Of note were the fellow artists around the time of Donatello. A huge head, God the Father by Beltramino de Zuttis da Rho, made from copper gilded and silvered remains a staggering vision. It’s size is imposing and the vivid details are also fascinating, tuffs of hair and beard aside, wrinkles and slightly open lips. How well persevered the marble bust of Donatello’s doctor Doctor Giovanni Chellini by Antonio Rossellino remains. Donatello’s Reliquary bust of San Rossore, is bronze though is a typically gilded site you’d see for a reliquary in a cathedral. It has a remarkable pull to it commanding attention away from the other busts around it.

The Sarcophagus of St Justina from the workshop of Gregorio di Allegretto is a fine example of perspective. With upcycling of this Roman sarcophagus, this was once believed to have been by Donatello and makes the female body match the length of it with feet spread apart and shoulders wide. This marble wonder also sees angels carved upon its side ends were by another craftsmen. Giovanni Pisano also had a fetching marble piece of Virgin and Child: turn to the left of it and both Mary and Jesus gaze at you almost judgementally. Donatello’s milky white marble relics are also staggering. One phenomena sees Mary as if she slammed her nose against the baby Jesus, a vision of true beauty. His bronze statue Attis-Amorino sees the Pan like fella stomping on a snake and gesturing with his fingers also OK signs. This is certainly a real highlight of the show, I saw a few people spend time with it and marvel upon it.

Two angels from a tomb by Michelozoo di Bartolomeo also had a lot going for it, their preservation also note worthy. As you go on a huge horse head, St George, a Crucifix and St Maurelius stunt the viewer as the exhibit continues. These are the show stopper sculptures and perhaps the main reason to come and see this. Even a drawing believed to be my Donatello of a section of The Massacre of the Innocents, sees vidid eye markings and horrible facial expressions.

Though a painting by Giovanni Bellini of Dead Christ supported by two angels is awkwardly place in a corner of a wall where you cant get to take it in, its positioning made it hard work. The immaculate, angular revelation of the Lamentation over Dead Christ by Bartolomeo Bellano also felt way ahead of its time and could have easily been by David Jones. The creases in the shrouds cannot be hyped use enough, I was ecstatic. The last rooms set tributes, influences and even fakes all turning to Donatello as a guide. An arch in the wall makes you look back at the David we started with and we see the Victorians develop a love for this Italian master.

Lovers of sculpture shouldn’t think twice about seeing this show.

Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance continues at the V&A till 11th June 2023.

Review, OMELETTEMACHINE, Tommaso Giacomin, Vault Festival, By Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

If you are not familiar with the style of Bouffon theatre, then you are severely missing out.

Myself having trained in this art and a huge fan of Red Bastard, was so pleased to see and be invited to a show using this type of theatre, so little seen or experienced in modern theatre, while being the right genre to grace our stages.

A brief outline of Bouffon; grotesque creatures are made with costume and physicality, to comment on taboos of the world. These clowns address these topics without barriers and put them almost uncomfortably into your face, leaving you not knowing whether to laugh, cry or be thought provoked.

OMELETTEMACHINE, loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, addressing issues around family trauma, of power and mental violence and to some degree, of capitalism. A clowned chicken meets egg is forcibly made to work in his father’s butchery, unable to leave and tortured to massacre fellow chickens. He is unable to leave, and if so, commits punishments of almost cannibalism with “rotten” egg eating, smashing of eggs and chopping of chicken meat.

This production is very powerful; Bouffon aims to make the audience uncomfortable and Giacomin does this in spades. He isn’t afraid of addressing the audience, bringing them into the folds of his torture. This is through direct interaction, through the use of raw meat and blood-like liquid, through the beginning projection of live chicks in a factory. Real blades are used, unceremoniously chopping at raw meat; raw chickens still in tact and grotesquely danced on stage or come through the audience on a electric toy car. It’s these elements of surprise that are comedic but make you uneasy. It entirely and fantastically achieves what it is meant to, really making you think. And if you’re vegetarian like myself, there’s a barrier of disgust but admiration for the boundaries that are being pushed to make comments on these topics. A sense of “working for the man” comes to mind when Giacomin uses repetition to advertise his father’s butchers, with monotonous and repeated tasks and conversations. There’s the family trauma but also a sense of working for something and someone you are against.

Giacomin has the style of Bouffon on instant look; plumped up with padding and contorted physicality, he is comedic and difficult to look at, moving his face into an almost unrecognisable clown. When we reach the end of the production, he lays himself bare, releasing the shackles of his costume and returning to his natural features and this is when you truly realise the lengths he has taken in his bodily and facial contortion to create the character. If we had not seen him undress on stage before us, you would almost think they were two different actors. He is childlike, to meet the idea of his father’s control yet somehow uncomfortably adult, with the mixture of the two creating a feeling uneasiness. He is full of emotions of anger, of fear, of borderline mental illness and it makes it subtly chaotic, your body itchy with uncomfortability but entirely thought provoked. This is a triumph of Bouffon.

OMELETTEMACHINE is brilliant – it is everything that Bouffon is meant to be and leaves you laughing, uncomfortable and yet with a profound thought on family relationships and the capitalist world.

Review Spain and the Hispanic World Exhibition, Royal Academy of Art, London by James Ellis 

 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Another centre to the Royal Academy in London would see a huge show with a massive scope spanning centuries for the art of Spain. There was a lot to get in here and I dare say I think a good three hours (consider a break in between) would be advised to drink in its entirety. 

We start with the Bronze Age and Roman finds from Spain, though there a only a few items on display. A headless statue of Diana, goddess of hunting and the moon is one curiosity, the other an astounding pair of trullae, large silver spoons two thousand year olds and in phenomenal condition. Later rooms would feature the influence of Islam and the Moors, textiles becoming mainstream with intricate detailing and fine craftsmanship. Larger and larger bolts would also prove popular with wonky animals and more elaborate patterns, though this gradually grew overdone. 

A dog door knocker possibly from Galicia excited one of my friends from the area on Messenger, I also noted that the map of Spain upon entry, only listed some cites and regions and not others. What did, wow were the coloured busts of saints, both the fine artistry of Juan de Juni and Pedro de Mena whited gleamed in their light and candid ecstasy. Even more amazing remained the Polychrome wooden busts of Christ and the Virgin Mary by Andrea de Mena and what remained a highlight of the whole epic show. Mary even had eyelashes…I remained floored by these two creations.  

Work from their empire in the Americas would see a dazzling aqua lion water kettle, vivid plates and a statue of an angel so dramatic it somehow appeared Asian in design. The smaller things in the show would prove the triumph with ‘The Four Fates of Man: Death, Soul in Hell, Soul in Purgatory, Soul in Heaven’, attributed to Manuel Chili (called Caspicara). You can just feel the shame and guilt these little half bodied figures would install in people back then, their death metal appearance is still vivid all these years later. Some classic, conventional Goya portraits are also a delight, though I did crave some of his more twisted, unsettling works.  

Many pieces do obviously feature religious subjects, more specifically Catholicism and we can see this grip loosen as the empire dies down, after looking at some famous maps of the Americas and Europe. Velazquez still has a pull over an audience all these years later, his portraits command the space. ‘El Costeño (The Young Man from the Coast)’ by José Agustin Arrieta sees a young man of colour who was possibly a slave, holding an abundance of tropical fruits, a decent painting loaded with more than you think.      

The work of Joaquín Sorolla moved with it’s watery impressionistic beach scapes, really lovely just to look at. Contrasting this in the same space was Ignacio Zuloaga disturbed with ‘The Penitents’, dark and moody, blood everywhere. The show ends with a sketch of one of Sorolla’s murals ‘Vision of Spain’…but the question remains…where is the art that came out of Spain since these painters? We are talking over a century of work which has been completely ignored for perhaps a safe choice of not going into Modernism and other movements. What about Picasso? Dalí? Joan Miró? This remains a shame as it could have crowned the exhibit with a final flourish. 

Spain and the Hispanic World runs till 10 April 2023 at Royal Academy of Art, London.  

Design for Contemporary Drama An interview with Director Mehdi Razi

In this interview Mehdi gives an overview of his career to date and shares his experience as part of Fio’s Arise Wales Creatives programme for Emerging Directors at RWCMD.

Director Mehdi Razi in front of the model box and designs by Kathryn Brown of Brown Boys Swim by Karim Khan

Hi I am originally from a Shiraz in Iran I first came to Wales in 2015 for a Masters in Product Design at Cardiff Met. During my time as a student I found Cardiff to be a very welcoming city. After completing the Masters I worked for two years in the Design Industry, based in Splott.

I was always interested in the performing arts and after moving to Wales a few things changed in my life, offering the opportunity to focus on the performing arts as a career. Initially I  started ushering and volunteering through Sherman 5 at the Sherman Theatre and National Dance Company Wales on the Dance for Parkinson’s programme

Volunteering helped give me an insight into the possibilities of different areas I could work in the arts. This alongside shadowing and then later assisting on performances gave me an option to see things in detail and how I could invest in these areas as a career.

I developed my experience as a Producer about 5 years ago with WNO on a placement and shadowing on productions. I produced an R and D project called Beyond the Rainbow with Oasis (who support Refugees and Asylum Seekers) and the Refugee Council for Wales, this resulted in an informal sharing at the Wales Millennium Centre.

I then started on small assisting roles with the company and also enjoyed working as an emerging producer for Theatr Clwyd. During lockdown I worked on some projects of my own with support from ACW

Thankfully as Lockdown eased, work opportunities opened up and I assisted Joe Murphy as trainee Assistant Director on Christmas Carol in 2021 at The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.

The Design for Contemporary Drama Exhibtion at RWCMD

Then in in April 2021 I signed up for Fios, ARISE – Wales Creatives programme for Emerging Directors. At the start of the project we all met with Patrick Connellan and Lucy Hall in the RWCMD Design Department they spoke about the relationship with the Director and Designer and the level of collaboration between the individuals

We were then put in pairs and given some plays to work on in order to help develop our working relationship. I was partnered with a RWCMD Design Student called Kathryn Brown.

The play we worked on is called Brown Boys Swim by Karim Khan

Kathryn created a mood board and we discussed the different elements of the production. We worked on the core idea of movement and cubic elements, The play interrogates feelings of oppression and the individuals place in society. Kathryn found that the traditional changing cubicle in the swimming pool would be great metaphor for the boys lives, sharing and then isolation so we played with this element.

Kathryn’s designs

We then worked on choreographic elements for the space. We had a few creative meetings, and considered what the change of position of the cubicles in the work would this mean to the audience and storyboarded the development of the play together.

A rough design was presented to me and we then looked at the blocking and the choreography was clear, we focused on the visual details, lighting, colour  and transitions in the space. We focused on design details and construction, how scenery might be moved around the space and considerations of construction. A more detailed version of the model box was presented to me, we then finalised the design details and the practicalities of the sightlines for the audience.  

Kathryn’s costume designs

Our  brief was based on a specific space called The Studio at Chapter Arts Centre so we went on a site visit to the venue.

Kathryn’s finished model box

This was my first project at College I really enjoyed going into the design studio as I have a design background myself. Everyone involved was very inclusive, it was very collaborative. The RWCMD Tutors would often come in to chat, it was great to see such a high level of support.

I enjoyed being around the students, RWCMD is comfortable and homely, its a welcoming campus you can have lunch and work its such a pleasant environment.

The exhibition at RWCMD runs until the 10 Feb you can find more information below with a selection of images from other RWCMD Designers.

Africa Fashion Week, Freemason HALL 2022 Review by Tanica Psalmist

 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

‘Africa Fashion Week’ successfully celebrated its 12th year anniversary on the 8th & 9th October 2022 taking place in London, Freemason Hall. To ensure 2023 fashion show was another sell out 2022 had to be truly African infused & it truly was!!!

Credit Tanica Psalmist

A grand exhibition showcasing several merchants, latest garments & handmade jewellery made from various crystals, minerals and materials such as ebony and stone for starters! It’s no doubt that the Motherland was truly represented with deep infused floods of Africa’s rich culture, boutiques, diverse beauty & celebratory inspirations, influence & contentment oozing from the models onto the audience.

Credit Tanica Psalmist

I attended both days to glimpse AFW in every detail & glory from behind scenes, mental preparation to the adequate appreciation for the designers clothes, which all were worn to perfection! Many of the Fashion designers this year included; Pills, LN Watches , Sluvin Designs & Durban South Africa , Gugu Boutique, May M Designs, Massassi B, Twelve19styles, Ethnicity Clothing , Fresh by Do Turn, Slungile Mokoena Designer, Black Snow Men , Dogan Culture , Fashion Ash & many more great legends who’s brands captured, elevated & fulfilled the purpose to represent African designs on a global & grand scale.

AFW is more than just about diverse beauty, fashionistas, togetherness, celebration, unity, embracement, inspiration – it’s about elegance, royalty, Deity, learning, engagement & witnessing the beauty of freedom, culture, love, passion & acceptance.

Credit Tanica Psalmist

A typical start at AFW entails early starts booming intense makeup prep, dress & tech rehearsals & in return audience energy, infusion & model excellence! The unpredictability of unexpected authentic African dance styles is what makes poses equally exciting! certain poses entailed dance styles, such as; Ikpirikpi- Ogu (war dance), Atilogwu (Acrobatic Dance), Mmanwu (masquerades), Omuru onwa & Agbacha-ekuru-nwa, Indlamu, Adumu, Kete to name a few, hitting our eyes with eloquent spins, twirls & flirtation. The entire atmosphere took you to the African continent flight free for a truly memorable, captivating & rewarding evening.

AFW’s statement this year was to love yourself unconditionally & that your worth is not determined by the worth of high end fashion brands but by the price of realness, quality, uniqueness, happiness, tranquility, innocence, projecting your soul & to embrace the individuality of African culture, passion & depths of the motherland’s diversity.

Credit Tanica Psalmist

Nothing spoke louder then Sunday’s event where we witnessed the community within the audience come to life! oozing out positive intelligence, passion, enthusiasm, self love & a reminder to be you & live as you & be the best person of yourself, good job AFW – ROLL ON AFW 2023!!!