Free Theatre Initiative

In September, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Arts Council announced its plans to offer free tickets to arts events to under-26-year-olds. Following on from the Government’s commitment to free access to museums, as well as more recently swimming, this fantastic scheme will start in February 2009 with an Open Stage Week in up to 95 publicly-funded theatres across the country. This week will run during the most common half-term dates of 16th-22nd February so that it can be enjoyed by its target audience and is designed to introduce families and young people to the theatre and arts world. To encourage this, backstage tours and speeches about the theatre and its operations will also be offered. Then from the 23rd February, the main programme will commence until March 2011. Tickets can be retrieved at least once a week whether you are with a group of people or simply on your own, on a first come first served basis, suggesting that it is not purely a profitable scheme. Its aim is to give increased cultural opportunities to young people as well as to get young adults interested in the theatre as the age range 18-26 is when traditionally arts attendance drops. But why have they introduced this scheme? What factors see less people within this age bracket attending the theatre and what attempts have been made to try and rectify this problem?

One of the reasons why the DCMS and the Arts Council may have introduced this scheme is to enhance the lives of future generations. As well as a leisure activity, the theatre can educate and enrich an audience. It helps develop cultural awareness, cultural skills, as well as community interaction. In education, children are taken to the theatre on school outings; these outings are not purely for the entertainment of the pupils, but they are designed to educate through the power of story and they also help nurture social skills and manners in a new and probably less familiar environment. More so than museum visits or field trips, there is a certain way to behave and you have to have considerations for others who are watching the show. After education, children are less likely to take the initiative to go to the theatre independently despite the fact they may want to, as they simply cannot afford it. These are the people that this scheme is aimed at. One of the points on the guidance document for this project states that this scheme is not for youth groups or school visits, but is designed for individuals to book independent visits. 18-26 is the age range, as mentioned above, that art attendance tends to drop at, and the age when young adults develop. By introducing this scheme, they can set the stage for these young adults to enjoy and indulge in the theatre in order to eventually grow into someone who will be willing to pay to watch shows, inadvertently building a new audience over a period of time that will eventually be contributing to the economy.

The theatre, like many aspects of culture, has practising elitists. Theatre land has attempted to make shows more accessible and appeal to the general public by introducing reality televisions shows such as ‘Any Dream will Do” and “I’d Do Anything” on to our screens. These document attendees to open auditions who showcase their talent in order to star in the latest musical sensation. For those who may be more cynical of such shows, its redeeming point is that it is produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and he is heavily involved in the show, deciding who goes through to the live show finals and each week having the final say over who goes. The public vote for their favourites each week and they watch the turbulent journey that each of the contestants go through, pulling on the heart-strings of the public. It is designed to get more people to attend the theatre as they feel a connection with the stars. But are these people the ones who are attending the shows? Will this really inspire the average person to go to an independent theatre to watch a play, not a musical in the tourist central West End? Some shows, such as Chicago continually enlist household names in order to appeal to the masses and everywhere we go these are the shows that are being advertised. Britain is full of great thespians such as Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs and Ian McKellen and although they are household names, they are only so due to their ability as actors- this is where the line should be drawn at celebrity actors. The initiative will show that there is more to theatre than our celebrity obsessed world. By working with independent theatres, it will show that there can be emotion and a connection with a character through the power of their acting, not simply because you watched their journey from day one on the television.

Students and young adults are always looking for cheap ways to entertain themselves and with theatre prices exceeding £10, even with concessions, there will always be cheaper alternatives. Free tickets however will be much more attractive to these people. It will also help to dissolve the elitist attitude that is associated with the theatre, making it accessible for all youngsters. But whether this scheme will have any long-term impact remains to be seen. This scheme lasts for two years and to a certain age group; after this period, how many people will be willing to pay for tickets after previously getting them for free? Once you know it is possible for the government to introduce measures such as this, it may be hard to accept you eventually have to pay.
SE For 3E News With Research by 3E

Housse De Racket

Take two college friends with a love of Gainsbourg, add some Pheonix and a good dose of chilled French electro and combine it with… tennis? What has tennis got to do with music? Apart from the obvious (they are both played on stringed instruments) it’s Housse de Racket, who have just released their debut album Forty Love, a concept album that tells the story of two tennis players called Vico Vix and Repi Rep, winners in the sport and losers in love. McEnroe may have made tennis rock n roll but these two ace it into the airwaves.

Housse de Racket are Pierre and Victor, two old grunge fans who, after initially ignoring each other, got talking one day after they both walked out sporting Pearl Jam T-shirts. It wasn't just Eddie Vedder they had in common, both loved sports but they excelled in music. Before long they were jamming together in a funk group.

With the 'French Touch' still misting the air, Victor and Pierre started recording their first record, a hard house digital mix that was eaten by their hard drive and beaten by Daft Punk's Discovery. From then, with a little hand from fate, Housse de Racket took on a new approach - racket the house, they literally beat a new approach into house and the tennis concept was born.

They’ve ping ponged around the 'French Touch' groups; supported the likes of Phoenix and Yelle, and Victor recently played with The Teenagers at Glastonbury; on Forty Love they worked with Gonzales and Renaud Letang and they’re sponsored by Lacoste. Not a bad start, but where do they go from here? Well, not London it would seem, not in the near future at least, at the moment they are busy touring France. Was there ever a better excuse to hop on a train for the short trip to Paris than this? Catch them now on their home grass before everyone and their mum is talking about them.

CE For 3E News With Research By GM

Festival Outlook

The question has been asked for some time now, but perhaps it really is the moment to face the future of our festivals. The Summer of 2008 produced more festivals than the British public could handle, and a grand shift in profit and sponsorship that hit some hard.
Michael Eavis recently disclosed to BBC 6Music that 2008’s Glastonbury had made no profit for the first time in its 39-year history. The onset of the credit crunch, recession and all manner of other woes to go alongside was imminent at the time of the festival, and Eavis cited growing costs of fuel, staging, staff and numerous other aspects of the event as being part of the issue. With the economic crisis now bearing into our lives much more prominently and on a day-to-day basis, the problem is almost certain to continue into next year’s festival schedule - for the UK and, quite probably, beyond our shores as well.

It is arguable, of course, that huge profit is not and should not be on the agenda for Glastonbury: it simply doesn’t fit in with the spirit and ideology of the weekend. Over £1 million was still raised for charity in 2008, a pretty admirable total by any standard. But this, however selfish it may seem, is not the issue at hand. The organisers have nothing left to invest in 2009’s event, which is estimated to cost around £22 million to put on. It’s a shocking figure. Did anyone think about that kind of thing when refusing to buy a ticket this year for the simple fact that Jay Z was playing?

Poor ticket sales played a part in this lack of profit too, of course. Thank goodness, then, that 2008’s Glastonbury Festival received rave reviews and restored our faith in it continuing to be one of the best and most prestigious festivals, not just in the country, but in the world.

Despite this renewed faith in Glastonbury, however, the event in 2009 still has to sell out if it is to be financially viable for it to go ahead. Inevitably and obviously this is down to the music fans and the approach they take to the changing climate that is the Festival Summer. Glastonbury’s veritable well of die-hard followers may seem bottomless, but even this factor was criticised last year for making the atmosphere somewhat stale by not connecting enough with a younger demographic. Emily Eavis commented that 2008 “saw the most diverse audience for ten years”, so we can perhaps hope for a new injection of youthful spirit to return to another successful weekend in 2009.
The system for purchasing tickets for next year’s festival is in fact already proving triumphant and agreeable with our ongoing money concerns. The opportunity for placing a £50 deposit and waiting until next year to complete the payment has appealed to many festival-goers who now have the time to save up (or at least wait until Christmas) for the £175 total needed. For most the price is a fair one, being the same as last year’s and, in relation to many other live events, amazing value for money. The complaints last year that the youth of today have no means to afford such a cost can also be, in part, silenced by this new system, and the evident benefits of it have been proven by the fact that around 100,000 tickets for 2009’s event have already been sold.
Perhaps these facts alone say enough to reassure the live industry that music fans are still willing to pay large amounts to attend festivals. “The Industry” has hardly made it easy for us, though. 2008 saw notably more festivals than ever before, making for major lapses in judgement in some cases and a lack of satisfactory ticket sales in many.

Surrey’s Redfest, despite having a wealth of largely excellent bookings, was subject to the latter and unfortunately cancelled, while the increase in festivals saw an increase in corresponding line-ups, and therefore arguably somewhat of a depletion in both variety and quality of music on offer. Fair enough, the growing DIY nature of the live industry (and otherwise) has empowered people to develop their own dream weekends, but the past Summer is surely proof enough that the idea cannot fit the reality, and certainly is confined to limits within the British festival schedule. A fine example of this realisation was Z008 in Kent, an apparent shambles from unjustified start to welcome finish. Acts weren’t paid and headliners pulled out, the co-operation of staff was inefficient and there were even questions concerning health and safety. Amazingly, tickets for Z009 are now on sale, but 2008’s attendees can surely only be waiting with baited breath for the announcement of a cancellation.
There was, however, some success in the rally of anti-corporate-gain festival promotion, as the Reading and Leeds weekends were as good as ever despite Carling pulling out of sponsorship after nine years with the festival. Fine, those two are hardly against major profit margins or shameless advertising, but it shows that large festival organisers can still rely on music fans to buy tickets and can hold on to this belief throughout setbacks; Reading and Leeds are another pair that will seemingly always deliver an outstanding line-up and a brilliant weekend.
Comparatively much more independent and yet perhaps just as critically acclaimed this year were the more small scale and humble events – selective and unique, they catered for fans of actual alternative music and captured a quaint British Summer atmosphere for all involved. These could spell the end for larger festivals, given their appeal to music fans on numerous levels, or they could arguably be their own downfall in the not quite so distant future. These events are cool for being small, popular for being so hushed up: the secret surely cannot last too long before masses of promoters jump on board yet again.All that is left to debate is whether the bizarre occurrences of the Summer of 2008 are an anomaly in the face of a change in live promotion and, indeed, in our economy, or whether they are an insight into the future of our Festival Summer. It’s worrying to see that the latter is probably the likely outcome.

RP For 3E News with Research by MH


GOBAMA! was definitely my favourite campaign poster. It was countered by Nobama, which was also funny but not quite as good.
Aside from the puns, one of the best images I found on my search for Obama art was a painting showing him wading through a river of red roses, dressed in an open white robe while a white stallion gallops behind him. The sky is a dramatic pink and huge beams of light shine down on Barack’s gleaming figure. Very biblical.

It seems that the majority of the poster art displayed in favour of Obama shows strong parallels with Communist propaganda posters. The simple posters look like screen prints, and commonly use the colours of the American flag. The prints are of the Presidents face, and usually have one word in thick type at the bottom, showing strong similarities with Russian Communist posters. The posters are blunt and bold, but surprisingly unimposing.

However the same cannot be said for John McCain’s posters; the posters in support of America’s Republican candidate are possibly the most patriotic and 'American' things I have ever seen. I found one which consists of a background of clouds at sun set, on top of which is a feathered and faded photograph of wise old Mr McCain looking very deep and thoughtful. There are four war planes flying over his head and the slogan 'PEACE IS BORN OF WISDOM'. All of this is contained in an acidic wash blue and black frame and at the bottom there is an American flag banner with the words ‘McCain 08’. It looks like something a child would make as a joke. But there is something quite sinister about the poster, maybe it's the planes or maybe it's the fact that he looks completely dead in the eyes or perhaps it’s because he is a giant head in the sky and if you actually put this into perspective you'd have a John McCain about the size of Africa, and that is a very scary thought.

I found some of my favourite pieces of Obama art in the form of cakes, yep, cakes.

One masterpiece was a portrait of the president-elect using nothing but 1,240 cupcakes. Now that’s one sweet piece of art! One which was less successful was a chocolate cake with the caption 'YOUR VOTE COUNST' written in blue icing; so it's obvious no changes need to be made in their education system.
In one way, Obama winning the election is the end of an era in terms of art. I've never been one for political art, if you really hate your president maybe you should do something more than writing FUCK GEORGE BUSH across a canvas and then throwing it into a pile of other canvases which have FUCK GEORGE BUSH written across them, or picturing him with vampire teeth and bunny ears. Personally I'm rather glad to see that era end, but seriously, what are half the current 'artists' going to do now?
AG For 3E News with Research By AK

Victoriana Blouses

Fashion is notoriously nostalgic, and this season is no exception, with designers taking a trip down memory lane to 1835 England. The romantic Victoriana trend is high on drama this time round, with chin-grazing collars, floor-trailing skirts and beautiful billowing shirt sleeves, all of which can be dressed down for the office or given a spunky edge with attitude-ridden accessories.
While most of us contend with the daily hassles of crowded calenders and too little time, it’s nice to inject a little romance back into our lives. But as the saying goes, “less is more”, and this season's wardrobe basic, the blouse is back. It's autumn's most versatile piece, and no doubt will be your best buy all season.
On the catwalk, designer’s soft spots were seduced by old romantic novels and photographs, with Victorian nuances putting a fragile accent on a normally androgynous basic. Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent created silk shirts, with early Victorian style sleeves, strong buttoned-down collars and delicate pin tucking. He overturned the fragility by putting his gang in strong femme fatale black bobs and dominatrix style patent booties. Likewise at Givenchy, the collection had a dark, romantic and faintly goth aesthetic, with the blouse varying in design from frothy blouses in chiffons to crisp white tuxedo-style shirts. For those with a fear of frill, there were fuss-free options at Prada and Moschino. With ornate deep cuff blouses at Prada and at Moschino, pinafores over shirts made way for vivid imagery of Victorian school children.

In a season that has embraced proper grown-up clothes, the kind of functional stuff we call “investment dressing”, look to the blouse for encompassing the deadly combination of power and femininity and dig deep for classic items from Vivienne Westwood and Burberry Prorsum.
LH For 3E News

blouse pic courtesy of

Label Profile - Mooka Kinney

Most women will admit to having a rebellious side. But at the end of the day, very few can deny that they love to wear something uncompromisingly pretty. Hankering to swap the androgynous look of the past few seasons for ultimate sassy chic, live-in best friends and now business partners Rachel Antonoff and Alison Lewis have created Mooka Kinney, a label fit for the modern Alice as she prances through her wonderland.

It was back in 2005, that the two creative’s met, but it was their love for alternative music that initially made them inseparable. “I had a room for rent in my New York apartment, and Alison and I had a mutual friend that knew Ali needed a new place to live, I was heavily into underground singer Joanna Newsom, Alison came in and was like ‘Is that Newsom playing?’, I knew we were destined!”.

It was two years after the girls initially bonded over Newsom, that they decided to start making clothes recalls Rachel, “The two of us loved vintage dresses- that was another of our shared things, and we started to talk about how we wished there were dresses that were more vintage-like that were mass-marketed.” Alison continues, “We kept talking, and realised we should quit the talking and get on with it. So we literally just got our shit together- and that was like a year ago.” Despite the lack of formal fashion training, the pair learnt about princess seams and empire waists by dissecting their favourite finds from vintage stores, and with help from a friend in the textile business they began to make a selection of sample dresses whilst spreading the name Mooka Kinney amongst the numerous connections Rachel made as a former Fashion PR girl for Rebecca Taylor.

Two years on, a collection at the big apple’s Barney’s and two shows at New York Fashion Week later is testimony to their immediate success. Mooka Kinney’s super-coy aesthetic and sublime silhouettes, which summon the inner-child out to play, have dressed famous faces, like songstresses Lily Allen and Zooey Deschanel as well as fashion mogul Lily Donaldson and the fateful artist who brought the girls together- Joanna Newsom. “Newsom wears our dresses”, says Rachel, “We couldn’t have hoped for a bigger achievement”.

Alison’s favourite dress from their three collections so far, ‘Narnia’, plays homage to her favourite make belief land as a youngster, but Rachel says she prefers the ultra-girly dresses that can be “injected with attitude” through her preference for wearing cowboy boots and bluntly cut bangs. She continues, “Sometimes when I’m wearing MK, I feel like the bad-ass older sister in ‘The Wonder Years’ or a school girl in the ‘60s who would get caught smoking in the bathroom, time and time again”.

So what does the future hold for these girls, for whom Mooka Kinney was only a year ago, just a fun side project? “It’s literally like waking up in someone else’s life every day”, says Rachel, “We obviously hope the success for MK continues, but if it was all cut short tomorrow, we can still relish in the fact we’ve dressed our idol!”

LH For 3E News

The Evolution of the Saatchi Gallery

On 9 October 2008, the Saatchi Gallery opened its new premises in the former headquarters of the Duke of York's regiment on Kings Road in Chelsea. Against a backdrop of boutique shops, street-side restaurants and vast greenery, this classic nineteenth century building fits perfectly, although its new job of housing a contemporary art gallery could be viewed as strange. The exterior and interior are contradictory, with the former a typical example of neo-classicalism, with its large Doric portico gracing the entrance and the latter a typical example of a modern museum with its minimalist approach of fifteen standard white galleries artificially lit. The interior and exterior both suit their purpose, which is more than can be said about Saatchi’s last location at County Hall along the South Bank.

Saatchi’s move to County Hall in 2003 was, and still is, viewed by critics as an unsuitable space to exhibit contemporary art. Inspired by an Edwardian Baroque style when it was built in the early twentieth century, its ornamental interior managed to detract from most of the art that was displayed inside. One review on the opening of the Saatchi Gallery at County Hall suggested that, although they applauded him for his vision to abandon conforming to the idea of a modern gallery with large white open spaces, certain works came off badly in the heavily decorated surroundings and saw the art struggle to stand out. Although a prime location for tourists to come and visit (it’s location was by attractions such as the London Eye, the London Aquarium and was across the river from Big Ben), even Charles Saatchi referred to the County Hall location as a “major cock-up” in a recent interview, as its rooms were small with dark wood panelling. In 2005 however, the gallery was taken to court by the landowners of the site over a ‘breach of contract’ and Saatchi announced his plans to move to the new location in Chelsea.

This move is seen as a return to the original Saatchi Gallery space of St John’s Wood, except in a better location. It has taken time to create the space that now exists with the interior being completely rebuilt; however, attention to detail is not the main point of this structure. Upon approaching the gallery, you would expect a heavily ornate interior with columns and pilasters, but when entering, you are greeted by a small, open reception space that quashes any expectations you may have had. The galleries are large white boxes with high ceilings that contain a soft light. This enhances the plain settings which provide a less disruptive platform from which to study the art. It also makes you very aware of the surrounding space. Each room is like a blank canvas itself, and the art within decorates it. It is a very modern construction and you are only reminded of the historical fabric as you enter the vast hallways to ascend the staircases, here is the only evidence of the original brick work. True to the theme of contradictions, while the Saatchi gallery has taken over twenty years to evolve to its current state the first exhibition on display is entitled The Revolution Continues: New Chinese Art.

One point that the gallery prides itself on is the fact that through the sponsorship of Phillips de Pury & Co auctioning house, it is now able to become “the only completely free-entry contemporary art museum of its size in the world”. All art work within each gallery does not have guides by their sides, but there is a picture by picture guide that you can buy at the entrance for the small fee of £1.50. It is not compulsory that you buy this guide, but even if you choose to, this price is in vast contrast to the £8.50 that people used to have to pay at County Hall. This is fitting with Saatchi’s principle of wanting to “bring contemporary art to the widest audience possible” as what better way to do so than not charge an admission fee? Although the location is not a tourist hot-spot like the County Hall on the South Bank, with the recession affecting everyone’s bank-balance, it is a real incentive for a cheap day out.

SE For 3E News and research by SA

Statuephila. But where was the arousal?

If this is the “really tacky display” that Jonathan Jones warned us of in his Guardian art blog, then at least it's really well heated in here.

Statuephilia, the British Museum's current exhibition, consists of sculptures by five contemporary artists placed amongst the permanent collection. Each work is situated in a different gallery, and their settings have been cleverly thought out as each modern sculpture has which relate to, and are supposedly inspired by their ancient surroundings.

The first of the Statuephilia collection, placed in the entrance of the museum, is a sized down version of Antony Gormley's Angel of the North. When I walked into the museum I saw a man, arms stretched out in imitation whilst his ten year old daughter took a photo; Oh wow! I thought, I would love to see that photo! The statue is supposed to provide a clear link with the Egyptian, Assyrian and Classical statues in the museum's collection. However, with its isolation and lack of blurb to accompany it, it was almost impossible to know this. But at least people are getting a decent photo opportunity out of it, perhaps this, and not education, is at the top of the British Museum’s agenda during the crisis.

After struggling to find out exactly where it was placed, the next piece I went to see was Marc Quinn's Siren, a solid gold statue of supermodel Kate Moss. To understand the relevance of this sculpture you should know that the Statuephilia exhibition is based on the idea of agalmatophilia, where one feels desire and arousal towards an artificially created human form. This sculpture is by far the most publicised piece in the exhibition, with Kate Moss being given the ridiculous title of “Aphrodite of our times” in an attempt to justify her presence within the honourable British Museum. Quinn's piece is the largest gold statue since Ancient Egypt, and is placed, fittingly, amongst statues of beautiful, iconic women from Ancient Greece. Again a lack of blurb meant that anyone _______(Siren by Marc Quinn) _______ who hadn't read up on the exhibition would have no idea that the sculpture was made from solid gold. As I took my time forming my opinion on Quinn's piece, the man next to me declared 'I don't like sculpture.' Ok, I thought, so why are you here? Clearly agalmatophilia or Kate Moss doesn’t affect him in the way it’s meant to.

But after circling the Great Hall until I was dizzy in an attempt to find Damien Hirst's contribution, I began to agree with this insightful fellow. I may not excel at orienteering but it seemed as if someone had hidden the rest of the exhibition from me; was everyone else finding it this difficult? I eventually found Cornucopia, and realised I had walked into the room a few times before and just not seen it. Placed in a floor to ceiling book case was row upon row of paint-splattered skulls (200 to be exact). At first glance, they were hard to distinguish from the books in the cases around them. This was definitely my favourite piece in the exhibition. The dizziness had worn off now. I continued my self guided tour.

Next I went to see Ron Mueck's Mask II, which admittedly freaked me out. The sleeping self portrait was well placed, amongst Easter Island heads, but that was really the extent of my enjoyment of it. The piece was far too realistic for my liking and I felt as if I was having one of those distressing dreams where you wake up sweating believing your hand is now giant-sized or that your foot could fit in to a match box. But maybe that was intentional. As well as this, no one was talking about it so the only thing I have written in my notebook is 'I really don't like this - it's just weird'.

______________________(Mask II by Ron Mueck)

I ended my visit on Noble and Webster's silhouette piece. And alas! My eves dropping work finally paid off! Their sculpture is craftily assembled from dead rodents which were apparently teased and tortured by their feral farmyard cat. The work casts a shadow of the two artists’ faces, and is inspired by the mummified creatures of the ancient Egyptian world. But who cares? Because this piece won, hands down, the prize for best onlookers comment: 'I think that this is awesome,' said a young male punter, 'I think that this is proper art; fuck that white room and lights going on and off shit.' I didn't even bother to form my own opinion on the piece, I thought this would suffice.
(Dark Stuff by Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Top)

So that was that, my extremely confusing but well heated experience at the British Museum was over. And so back out I went, into the cold, but without that tingly agalmatophilic feeling I so wanted to experience.

AG For 3E News and research by SA

Art Vs The Credit Crunch

Is the price of Art too high?

All around us the economic recession seems to be taking its toll on the world’s economy from dramatic falls in stocks and shares to soaring food prices, but what about the art market? How is this lucrative and fast growing market fairing at this time of financial insecurity? Have the auction houses lost the plot with their estimates? And what impact is the current economic climate having on artists themselves?

In June of this year one of Claude Monet’s large water lily paintings Le Bassin aux Nymphéas, sold for an amazing £40.1m, a record amount for a Monet anywhere in the world to date, despite the unstable economic climate and impending credit crunch.

(© Experience Music Project)

It was at this sale that Olivier Camu, head of impressionist and modern art at Christie's London explained that, “the art market is strong and it recognizes quality when it comes up. Art in the past has not followed stock market fluctuations, and also there is an element of people seeing it as a refuge.”

But is it utter desperation or because art is a secure financial “refuge” that Lehman Brothers Chairman, Richard Fuld , plans to boost his cash flow by auctioning 20 works at Christie’s in New York in November? Handed over to Christie’s for the sale, is reported to be a 1951 De Kooning, which was secured for a sum of around $20m back in July prior to the collapse of the bank.

The increasingly international nature of the art market means that if one or more countries struggles to produce buyers this should not dent the overall market dramatically. Whilst the US and Europe are creating financial rescue packages Russia and the Far East continue to thrive, with new buyers and collectors continually being born. We recall Roman Abramovich spending a cool £60m on a Lucian Freud and a Francis Bacon, and Sotheby's calling off its sale of Mstislav Rostropovich's art collection when the Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov bought the entire package for £20m. In the former USSR a new wave of Russian billionaires and business magnates forever seem to have money to spend and with this has developed a passion for art, being especially keen on reclaiming Russian art lost or deported during the years of the Soviet State. This can only be good news for those who snapped up Russian Cubo-Futurist and Suprematist works when there was little demand and prices were relatively low. _

(© Sothebys London)

____________Furthermore, the art market is vast. By this I mean that art in its quantity and range of choice is abundant, from all historic periods and in all mediums. Art will always exist and appreciation and demand for high quality art will never decrease. Film makers and new media artists may find themselves in a more risky situation at present, but paintings of quality will continue to sell. Painting is a particularly easy medium to buy and showcase, with the Monet sale being an example of this.

Whilst the art market started off in a formidable fashion at the beginning of the crisis, recent sales in Chinese art have brought the market back down to reality. In October at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong we saw 47 works go unsold after they did not reach their reserve prices. This poor sale is in stark contrast to the success of Damien Hirst who made £95m in his Sotheby’s auction in September. Representatives from Sotheby’s believed the Chinese auction flopped because of “estimates which were overly optimistic”. So perhaps it is Sotheby’s who needs to be brought back down to earth. Is the financial crisis merely highlighting the fact that art has become too expensive and auctioneers are becoming obsessed with breaking records?

For years now the art world has enjoyed unprecedented success, with prices rising all the time, therefore isn’t a slowdown in the market inevitable and could it possibly benefit the art world to be more realistic instead of greedy? Jonathon Jones wrote in his article “Art booms during a bust” for the Guardian that “a boom in artistic intensity is one of the few things we have to look forward to as the economy nosedives”. It has certainly been true in the past that economic depression has produced some of the best new artists and pieces. Perhaps it is time to invest more in new artists and projects, and in making art more accessible rather than unattainable for small collectors and art enthusiasts. Some artists seem prepared to adjust, such as sculptor Francis Upritchard, who when asked what she thought might happen if the art market followed the financial markets in a downward spiral replied, "I lived in a squat for six years, if I had to downgrade my studio, it wouldn't matter. I want to be an old lady making art. Perhaps I'll be out of fashion at 50, but trendy at 80".

(Picasso's Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto was expected to sell for $60m and was bought by Andrew lloyd Webber in 1995 for $28m © Christies)

With artists having to adapt to the current situation the art production of the next few years could be the most exciting we’ve seen in recent years. Similarly if auctioneers drop the ridiculous estimates, then action on the auction house floor should be exhilarating as we see rare and important pieces come under the hammer. The on-going controversy in New York over Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Picasso piece and its Nazi-era past gives us a glimpse of the potential drama possible in the art market. And at this time of down-sizing and cutting back what could be better than some artistic reinvigoration!

BW and HB For 3E News research by CK


Old, new, borrowed, blue, vintage or custom-made, Yasmin Rizvi talks us through our mutual fascination.

Tightening our purse strings this month, what better way to spruce up an outfit than to accessorize. More to the point; with a hat.

Seen on the PPQ and John Rocha catwalks at 2008s September London Fashion Week, fascinators are the new season must-have favoured by burlesque beauty Dita Von Teese and our number one girl snogging, singing sensation Katy Perry.

Many of the most talented designers around are milliners with Philip Treacy, Prudence Millinery and 2008s Hat Designer of the Year, Yasmin Rizvi’s fantastical head creations. The beginning of Yasmin’s road to fashion started with an immediate obsession with materials on the silk route to China. She later graduated from the London College of Fashion, a distinction under her belt.

Rizvi won her title through designing and creating her enchanting headpieces from the couture range to ready-to-wear for her Rizvi Millinery collections. Her newest line is a collaboration with textile artist Ptoleny Mann in an attempt to create a sense stimulation of colour on colour pieces layered with Swarovski Crystals and huge blooms.

It’s clear from the start an awful lot goes into what some describe as ‘sculptural headpieces’. She refers to the glamour of eras gone by, capturing the essence of all hats represented and fascinators being her latest obsession.

Fascinators can be found anywhere upon close observation, from street market stalls like London’s Portobello Market (, to small vintage shops in the heart of Soho. The big stores with the big names are currently stocking the designer versions with Harrods ( and House of Fraser ( being the top two picks. Up-and-coming milliners like university student Eloise Gill are setting up their own DIY sites having taken their hand to creating fascinators themselves, available online at

It isn’t at all difficult to make them yourself, sometimes even better. Grab a pair of scissors, some superglue and bits and bobs from around the house and just...experiment!

Our Top 4 Hat Wearers

1) Dita Von Teese and her burlesque wonderfulness

2) Katy Perry - Forget the girls, we want her hats

3) The Queen - Well if it’s good enough for her...

4) Sarah Jessica Parker at the London premier of Sex and the City in Leicester Square

HW For 3E News

The (not-so-tentative) Relationship between Music and Fashion

Earlier this year, when ‘relevant’ fashion model Agyness Deyn decided to extend her line of influence to The Stagnant Indie Music Scene and provide some lilting vocals for Some Shitty Indie Band, critics were up in arms – lamenting over the erstwhile ‘proper’ celebrity; a Proper model, a Proper singer, without any of this pretentious crossover nonsense. It seems that Santayana’s saying, ‘Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it,’ has become even more applicable in today’s disposable society – music and fashion have always been inextricably linked. Music is a social phenomenon – something deeply entrenched in culture and the trends of the time. Similarly, fashion is a cultural phenomenon – we associate a particular silhouette with, say, the 80s, and the cultural connotations to this mode of fashion are often directly linked with music – in the case of the 80s, we would associate clich├ęs such as shoulder pads, puffballs and batwings with New Wave music – a stereotypical and less-than-valid association, but a common one nonetheless.

We can trace the relationship between music and fashion back hundreds of years – Mary E. Davis argued that since the time of Louis XIV, music and fashion have been intertwined among upper classes in her book, ‘Classic Chic: Music, Fashion and Modernism’. Similarly, she contended, the close relationship between the two mediums of art were integral in the rise of modernism – through Coco Chanel’s minimalist designs and the modernist compositions of the ‘Les Six’ musicians (an anarchic, avant-garde group of composers that created music that counteracted the melodramatic, Romantic music on the 19th century), which both created and popularised a new, less oppressive culture – the culture of modernism.

It is only in recent times, however, that the fashion industry has begun to capitalise on musical movements. A fairly obvious and tired example of this is Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s SEX boutique – to avoid this becoming a badly-paraphrased Wikipedia article, let us assume we know all about the ‘punk’ connections this little Chelsea boutique garnered in the mid-70s. A recent Guardian article deemed 1977 the zenith of punk, declaring that at this time “punk's nihilistic swagger was the most thrilling thing in England”. Miss Westwood and her fetishist, sadomasochistic goods surely played a vital role in the rise of punk – the Sex Pistols famously auditioned in the boutique, the shop was frequented by, ahem, ‘musical greats’ like Adam Ant and, most importantly, the boutique popularised what we now know as ‘punk’ fashion – DIY t-shirts, allusions to bondage, tartan, drainpipes – ‘punk staples’ (possibly the most contradictory words ever written). The movement became accessible - you could dress like its perpetrators and frequent the scene’s most important hang-out spot.

Similarly, Don Letts’ punk/reggae boutique-slash-club ‘Acme Attractions’ sold “electric-blue zoot suits and jukeboxes, pumping dub reggae all day long” – it was the first to meld two cultural phenomenon, both in terms of fashion and music. The punk kids in ’75 were introduced to reggae (this influence is apparent in The Clash’s music with their thrilling sub-dub-meets-The Ramones sound) and the reggae crowd started to integrate punk rock aesthetics into their own ideals – Bob Marley’s song ‘Punky Reggae Party’ (inspired by the crowd at Acme Attractions) is concrete proof of the sheer power of Letts’ clothes shop in integrating two seemingly contradictory art forms, and proof of the power of music and fashion – both together and apart.
Since then, music and fashion have collided too many times to remember or mention – sometimes good (Bowie! Madonna! M.I.A.!), often abysmal (‘heroin chic’, Marc Jacobs grunge revivals, et cetera). The fashion industry seems to lose all dignity when a quirkily-dressed band/singer/zoothornist saunters by – designers use them as muses, dotcom fashion giants produce identical copies of their outfits in days and before you know it, someone’s started a t-shirt company devoted to capitalising on the popularity of tired, old, stifling rock bands – Amplified, I’m looking at you.

Then there are the crossover artists – Agyness Deyn-alikes who dabble in singing and Lily Allen-alikes who are employed by high street brands to replicate their ‘image’. The annual charitable event, Fashion Rocks, is truly the epitome of the music-fashion liaison; designers designing, singers singing, it’s a dramatic sweep of glamour that leaves you feeling decidedly cold – the relationship between fashion and music started out as a counter-culture, a revolution, with design and music acting as one entity naturally, without being coerced into affiliation. If we remove the smiling, warm liberal ‘charity’ aspect, we are left with a mere showcase of mismatching music and fashion – when did Natasha Bedingfield become a muse? Or a person of with a notable fashion sense? Or, for that matter, a notable musician?

However, it would be inaccurate to say that Nowadays The Relationship Between Music And Fashion Is Strained, because it is precisely the opposite – the relationship is flourishing. Musicians now sell lifestyles – Pete Doherty, the ‘heroin chic’, ripped-everything, piss-stained kind, M.I.A, the kaleidoscopic, worldly, post-new-rave kind, with her fleeting clothing line ‘Okley Run’. There is a unity among the artistes of today – the luminous Jeremy Scott is both influenced by and an influence to many musicians. Similarly, Hedi Slimane was influenced by the gaunt, razor-cheeked indie-boys of yesteryear and continues to inspire future gaunt, razor-cheeked indie-boys. Just as punk as a ‘movement’ was both inspired and sustained by both music and fashion, there have been movements in recent times spurred by designers and musicians – the most obvious is ‘New Rave’, either coined by a drunk NME journalist after losing his thesaurus, or possibly started by a designer on a bad trip somewhere in a bar in Shoreditch. We just don’t know. It was sustained through a mix of music and fashion – Carrie Mundane AKA ‘Cassetteplaya’ provided the palette, ‘SuperSuper’ magazine the aesthetic and about twenty million bands with synthesisers and screamy vocals provided the soundtrack. Music and fashion were in perfect harmony again, if only for a passing moment.

There is another important aspect of the relationship between music and fashion – the media, the public and their demands. Let us ask: who holds cultural influence in the media? Magazines hail the ‘new generation’ of post-teens to be multi-talented, ambitious, diverse and pliable – they mean the models who DJ, designers who identify strongly with whatever ultra-modern music scene may be growing, bands whose music and style is fluid and near-synonymous. The idea of An Image is crucial to success – Madonna’s entire career is punctuated by revivals and reinventions, based on the belief that cultural chameleons will always succeed by staying one step ahead. ‘Image’ is all-encompassing – music, fashion, personality, politics; musicians are selling themselves to the media and the public unashamedly, hoping that their latest incarnation will appease the heaving masses. Sometimes it does, sometimes it does not. Pop musicians depend on popularity, therefore their image is integral to their appeal – so they bend to the demands of the public and the media, changing their musical direction while changing their outfits.

What is left of the anarchy of the early 1900s, when music and fashion were unified in their need for change? Now, indie pop stars stand uneasily alongside statuesque fashion models in Burberry ad campaigns and we, too, feel uneasy – maybe we pine for the days of ‘proper’ models and ‘proper’ singers (in reality, there was no such thing, just ask Francoise Hardy), or possibly we feel that the line separating music and fashion has disappeared, leaving us confused - the jumbled mass of ideas of music and fashion labelled ‘culture’ is surely too chaotic for us. In truth, it is far more personal than this – before, music and fashion joined forces to ‘do good’ – open our eyes to new forms of artistic expression – now, it merely comes together under the wide, merciless, corporate umbrella of ‘entertainment’. As long as the fashion industry remains aggressively capitalising on music, the relationship will be one of suspicion – only when music and fashion are once again on a par can we say that music and fashion are linked. Until then, I warn you of more ‘crossover’ models, more rubbish songs and a distinct lack of inspiration on the runways. Sigh.

AJ For 3E News

To Swish OR Not To Swish

If you don’t know what Swishing is yet, where have you been? You could have been saving pennies in this time of financial woe!

Swishing is the brain child of Futerra Sustainability, the idea is that you throw a party with all the usual ingredients: - wine, nibbles, music, friends, strangers etc, however each attendee must bring at least one unloved, high quality item of clothing. This must be an item of clothing you used to adore, but doesn’t fit you anymore or maybe something you “invested” in but never actually got around to wearing. Everybody places their garments (or accessories) on the rails, then over the next hour you can try on other peoples cast offs and decide on what you like, when the hour is up, you place everything back onto the rails and a mad free for all begins, where anything you grab is yours to keep forever and ever (or until you re-swish it).

Sounds good? It should do! It’s like second hand (or “vintage”) chic, without having to pay a penny and when you consider that we throw away 900, 000 tons of clothes and shoes in Britain every year, not only does it prevent your bank balance from declining but it’s not too shabby for the environment either!

You might even strike gold and pick up fantastic designer pieces. On “Twiggys frock exchange” a BBC2 programme about swishing, party goers brought a range of fabulous pieces to swish including pairs of Jimmy Choos and Jean Paul Gaultier suits. As a general rule of thumb, the more affluent the area of the swish, the better the goodies, just don’t think you can show up with a £3 Primark t-shirt and expect to waltz out of the swish in the latest Alexander McQueen number, it works both ways.

If you’re thinking about throwing your own swishing party, consider a few things when conjuring up a guest list; the quirkier the people you invite, the quirkier the garments they will bring with them, nobody wants a room full of several shades of beige. And don’t be age conscious, your grandmas friends might have some amazing dresses from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s hidden in the back of their wardrobes that are in desperate need of a new lease of life!

Why stop at fashion? Why not organise a record swish where you can swap each other’s un-listened vinyls or cds? Or video games swish? We could even go right back to the middle ages and organise skills swishing e.g. I’ll take the hem up on your trousers for you if you dye my hair, the possibilities are endless.

So check out your nearest swishing party on or even better, throw your own, just remember to drop us an invite.
(All Photos ©
LA For 3E News and research by AV


In 1972, a little shop in Notting Hill was about to change music. Virgin Records and Tapes, a hippy record store that dished out free vegetarian food to customers (if you believe the tales) was about to branch out into releasing records itself. With a student Richard Branson at the helm Virgin Records was born. Initially a prog-rock label, their debut release was a gamble; Mike Oldfield, after being turned down by virtually very other label, was signed up and together they released Tubular Bells, an album that would stay in the UK album charts for the next five years, and win Mike Oldfield a Grammy.

In the late 70s and 80s Virgin turned its attention to punk and new wave. Happy to court controversy, Virgin signed the Sex Pistols in 1977 and subsequently enjoyed a police raid on their shop in response to their infamous Nevermind the Bollocks window display. Where the big movements in music were, Virgin was never far behind (they even invented the modern Compilation album when they released Now That’s What I call Music in 1983, fact fans.) Their artists included The Human League, The Smashing Pumpkins and Blur.

The 90s was the last time the record industry really felt secure and Virgin was one of the biggest labels around. Branson sold Virgin to EMI in 1992 with the condition that he would not set up another label for at least five years, leaving Virgin, under EMI’s global supervision, to scout for exciting new acts without fear of losing any existing artists to a new Virgin label. For a large label they were still innovative, feeding into popular culture and picking out interesting acts that would define the era. The success of the Spice Girls left money to help break bands like the Chemical Brothers and Massive Attack into the mainstream.

In the late 90s, post Britpop, things took a downturn, for years we’ve been hearing about the demise of the record industry; the arrival of auction sites like Amazon and Ebay eliminated the middleman from second hand record sales, which has resulted in the gradual closure of independent record stores. Next came digital downloads, signalling the final call for music retail; albums covers, editions and weirdly bearded sales assistants are no longer a part of our music buying horizon. So where did this leave Virgin?

Adrift, it would seem. New bands Bloc Party, The Cribs and At the Drive-In were getting people interested in music again; the common thing between them was that they were signed to V2, Branson’s new label. They recruited the type of bands that Virgin before them had prided themselves on. Around the same time EMI had downsized Virgin and moved their premises to a building next to EMI’s offices, effectively leaving them identity-less.

Over the past few years things started to look up again, EMI might not be making much profit, but Virgin was finding itself back where it was comfortable, promoting radio friendly guitar acts. Recent successes like the Kooks and The Good The Bad and The Queen were both slow builders that spent a lot of time in the charts.
Following on from there seems to be the problem. Limited edition albums, dvds and free link to downloads and interviews are being used as purchasing incentives. They have the right idea, scouting artists such as Laura Marling and Unklejam, but then they squander them. After Amy Winehouse everyone is jumping to get hold of a staple female singer; Universal’s Duffy seems to soundtrack everything available, Sony BMG’s Lily Allen is spread all over blogland and Laura Marling? As unsuited as she is the faux female jazz genre the others find themselves in, she could have done a lot better than the niche indie market she was presumably aimed at. The effort was there, Virgin added a unique touch to sell hardcopies of the album – a free intimate gig ticket with every purchase of the special ‘Song Box’ edition of the album. The problem was that it was too intimate and too expensive at £20.

Unklejam too, were an exciting new band, money was spent on them but the records didn’t sell. Everyone heard and remembered ‘Love Ya’ but nobody bought it and it peaked at number fifty five in the charts. Once a band with personalities as loud as Unklejam would merely have to smile from the cover of Smash Hits to guarantee a number one single. Things are different now, people don’t want a personality, they want that song they just heard a moment ago, a couple of clicks and a few seconds later the song’s theirs without them having to leave their seats. Unklejam so far haven’t released an album, although promos were sent out, and the band have subsequently found themselves dropped.

So what happens now for Virgin? Since EMI created the Capitol Music Group in 2007, a merger between Virgin and Capitol records, there ceased to be a Virgin records in all things but name. The label has been merged and streamlined to within an inch of its life and no longer has the creative edge that it once commanded.

Perhaps the problem is that these days they can’t afford to fail on the bigger artists so they dedicate their time and resources there and consequently neglect the smaller artists. There have been some great success stories this year, Late of the Pier and Black Kids are just a couple, but in major label terms just how successful are they? Of course there will always be big label casualties that sink in the competition; Vincent Vincent and the Villains spring to mind, but likewise there will still always be the unlikely success stories, who would have thought Jamie T would have broken down the barriers into the mainstream when he signed to Virgin? It just shows that all the gimmicks in the world can’t substitute a really great record and a little bit of luck.

CE For 3E News and research by LW

Company Profile – Indigenous People

With several music labels, pr and marketing companies seeking ways of discovering new talent, nurturing them and offering them to audiences all over, this company, Indigenous People seems to have nailed this perfectly and the following piece shall explain why.

Indigenous People is an agency promoting the music, dance, visual art and the welfare of indigenous communities throughout the world.

Harnessing the appeal of creative media as a means of raising awareness of social and cultural issues, Indigenous People seeks to empower musicians, dancers, story-tellers and artists from indigenous communities to travel to the UK to perform and teach – enabling them to represent themselves and further the economic and social development of their communities by harnessing the economic potential of their own traditional culture. At a time when the interest in all things ‘tribal’ and indigenous is steadily increasing, the importance of indigenous communities having as much control as possible over the commercial exploitation of their art and culture has never been greater.

The agency will build on the track record of Indigenous People, which has 10 years experience in marketing and managing tours by traditional world music and dance groups to the UK market. Specialising in participatory educational and performance projects, the charity has worked with a wide variety of partners – local authorities, festivals, universities, schools, youth and community centres – arranging a series of workshops prior to a performance to enable people to learn a few rhythms, chants and dances which they can use to join with the traditional group for a communal finale at the end of the performance. This not only acts as a valuable audience development and marketing tool for the host venue, it also serves to break down the barriers between the ‘audience’ and ‘performers’ to generate a sense of inclusion and belonging that is the inherent function of music and dance in traditional societies.

In 2008, Indigenous People developed partnerships with a number of traditional world music and dance groups and festivals, theatres / arts centres, educational institutions and other agencies interested in raising awareness of indigenous culture to the wider public with a view to organising performances, workshops, exhibitions and seminars led by the indigenous musicians, dancers and speakers they represent.


3E For 3E News