Every Sunday, Brick Lane floods with people coming to sell their goods, eat food from around the world, shop, drink and hang out. When it’s not raining, the sidewalks also fill up – with people who have bits and pieces spread out to sell on blankets like these two. You’ll find everything there – abandoned mannequins, old cameras, vintage jewellery, cheap plastic jewellery, giant Union Jack boots, discarded walkers, gardening books from 1952 and dolls with their heads torn off. Enjoy.
Graham‘s got a brilliant eye for photographing the people of Camden Town. He’s always out and about with his camera in hand to capture this unique little pocket of London where everything goes and no one really looks twice. Here’s some of his latest shots from the Flickr pool.
For the rest of Graham’s posts, have a look here.
Brightly coloured designs marked Karishma Shahani’s award-winning catwalk collection for the London College of Fashion’s Graduate Runway Show 2010. She came away with an award for “Best Surface Textiles” to add to her CV alongside the “Nina De York Fashion Illustration” award and “Fashion Graduate of the Year award.
It’s no surprise her eye-catching work has caught the attention of staff at Vogue, Grazia, Elle and ID magazine alongside quite a few others around the world from France to Russia to Hong King and Japan.
Her values of longevity in clothing, ethical fair trade and using “upcycled” and organic materials match the values of the forward-thinking audience she will reach with her vibrant collections.
For this week’s London Art Spot, Karishma tells us how life in her native India plays a massive part in her work, shows off some photos of latest stunning collection and lets us in on the details of her collaboration with American artist Amy Sol.
LLO: Give us an overview of your latest collection, Yatra.
KS: The collection draws inspiration and elements from the multiple layers of India’s vibrant culture that continuously create colourful, vivid and eclectic experiences for the onlooker. The colours are picked from traditional paintings of Indian Gods, and recreated through natural methods of dyeing. The surface texture adds to the multi-dimensional feel enhancing the use of natural fabrics alongside upcyled packaging materials.
In its essence this collection is a reflection of the Indian lifestyle of re-interpretation of materials and their function at every step; always re-using and recycling; creating heirlooms that are passed down through generations. Each garment is made with beauty, simplicity and versatility as its core which lends it a multi-layered and personality-driven charm. The designs combine a fusion of two extremes, making the collection experimental and unconventional, while being hinged on modern functionality.
LLO: Which aspects of life in your native India most inspire your work? What about aspects of London life?
KS: A lot of aspects ranging from the people on the road, to our vast history, culture, architecture, crafts, travel, the list is endless. London’s cosmopolitan nature is very appealing. Being a melting pot for people from all around the world is quite inspiring. UK too has a comprehensive history and its ties with India are aspects I like exploring.
LLO: Tell us about some of the materials that have gone into your latest collection – the bright colours, the recycled concept, etc. What’s the most unusual material you used or the most difficult to obtain?
KS: The materials in the collection range from calico and cotton to pure silk and silk tulle and then over to High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). The last being a material used extensively in packaging in India hence lending to the upcycled nature of this collection as the patterns were cut from previously used sacks. All the material in the collection barring the HDPE have been hand dyed to suit the colour requirements that give enough homage to their source of inspiration. The accessories include secondhand hand-painted shoes and piece from chandeliers, cut away sneakers and blankets. The toughest material to obtain was the HDPE due to its varied sizes and quality control it required to obtain large pieces to create the garments.
LLO: Do you remember a precise moment that made you decide you wanted to have a career in fashion?
KS: Just the simple fact of creating new things. Consciously or without realising, clothing plays an important part in defining a person’s personality for the onlooker and I’ve always found this aspect really interesting. So I can’t pinpoint a precise moment.
LLO:Which signature elements of your designs make them unique to you?
KS: Colour, texture, contrast
LLO: Not only have you won some impressive awards (including “Best Surface Textiles 2010 LCF BA Graduate Show”, “Nina De York Illustration Award 2010” and “Fashion Graduate of the Year 2010 British Graduate 100 Award”) but you also started your own label. What has been your proudest moment so far in your fashion career?
KS: Receiving the “Best Surface Textile Award” at the London College of Fashion Graduate show 2010 was a great way to graduate, a fulfilling pat of encouragement.
LLO: Your bio includes a degree in economics, experience in at an NGO and a stint as a production manager. Does your career background have an impact on the way you approach fashion?
KS: Yes it does. I do think that one needs to know all the aspects of the industry they are a part of; it’s not about mastering all aspects but just simply about knowing how things work, because everything works hand-in-hand. All my previous work experiences have shaped my outlook towards design and its end result. The work has made me travel and live in various cities, that in itself is an enriching experience.
LLO: Where’s your favourite place in London to gather fashion inspiration – both in the shops and on the streets?
KS: Camden Town. One of my absolute favourites. I love how you can find ‘anything’ in the market and see ‘anyone’ on the streets. It always puts me in awe at the diversity that is around us.
LLO: Any other up-and-coming London-based designers we should keep an eye on?
KS: Felicity Brown, Manjit Deu, David Longshaw to name just a few.
LLO: What’s next for you?
KS: I am currently working on developing an AW 11 collection, alongside a brand that further promotes social responsibility and traditional techniques for a sustainable future of products and fashion; that continues to become more aware of its power to change and assist changes in lives of all those involved. Alongside this, I am working on a collaboration project with American artist Amy Sol, whose phantasmagorical paintings always depict girls in flowing dresses wandering through luscious landscapes. This project for a social eco-fashion enterprise called “Jhoole”, a non-profit business, designed to uplift female artisans based in a weaver’s village in rural Madhya Pradesh, India which will culminate in exhibitions and fashion shows in the summer of 2011. Another, being a textile development project for a textile producer based on recyclability and sustainability of fabrics combined with a base to provide further work for craftspeople in different regions of India.
For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.
Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martin Payne, born in Barking but left with a family move at age 2, returned to work in London following a work re-location. He describes himself on Twitter (@MWPayne) as “Accountant on weekdays, Murderer at weekends, a Plinthian, and an occasional Gorilla … oh and I steward at the Globe / usher at Tristan Bates Theatres…”.
LLO: London is one of those places that thrives on random, unexpected moments. You’ve contributed to the randomness by recently wearing a gorilla costume for a charity’s silent disco and the gorilla run. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve done in London that may have made a few people look twice?
MP: The gorilla suit is worn to raise awareness of the Gorilla Organization (formerly the Dian Fossey Memorial Trust). It’s a charity I have only relatively recently started supporting – due to the sheer Great British Eccentricity of donning a full gorilla suit and running 7km to raise funds to help both gorilla protection and people support in Rwanda, Uganda and the Congo. The Gorilla Organization provides efficient fuel stoves and work for families living near the three Gorilla areas to try to minimise the need for poaching and thus protect the Gorillas. As well as the Silent Disco (Millennium Bridge) and the Run itself, I’ve also been videoed wandering around dressed in a business suit and gorilla head to raise awareness of the Run and the Organization – great fun to do and a real shock for people suddenly realising the guy in the crowd next to them is a Gorilla!
On Saturday 13 November 2010 (today!) I will exchange my Gorilla Suit for a fox suit as I’ll be the mascot for the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games float in the Lord Mayor’s Parade! I hope that will make more than a few people look twice – especially as the float is at almost at the head of the parade! I’ll just be trying to avoid any “messages” left by the horse of the City of London Police’s Assistant Commissioner which is immediately ahead of us, preceded by the Band of the Grenadier Guards. Being “Foxy”, the mascot of the Games, will certainly be a very different way of spending a Saturday in November!
LLO:Tell us about a favourite London moment that could only have happened in London.
MP: Only in London could a ‘normal’ person (if I am one) be able to stand on a Plinth in Trafalgar Square wearing a Gorilla Suit for an hour. A once in a lifetime opportunity and one that I will remember forever. Of course, it has to be in London since Trafalgar Square is here but …
That was the 2009 “One & Other” project by Antony Gormley as part of the London Mayor’s Fourth Plinth commission. Has any other city tried something similar? Only London could be the first.
LLO: Have you ever overheard anything really amusing on public transport that you’re willing to share?
MP: My exposure to public transport tends to be limited to the train into either Vauxhall or Victoria (depending on whether I wake up in time to change at Clapham or think the weather is nice enough to walk to work from Vauxhall – or ‘Boris Bike’ it). So I really can’t recall anything amusing – but there must be a law that says I will now hear something really amusing too late for this interview!
LLO: I want to go on a date in London – somewhere quirky or unusual. What would you suggest?
MP: Trudy, my ‘other half’, and I have decided that we need to spend a weekend in London being tourists and certainly one of the places on the list of places to visit (‘have a date’) is the Wellcome Collection. I was there in October 2010 for the launch of the “One & Other” book celebrating Antony Gormley’s “One & Other” on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square and so I picked up a few leaflets. That may be somewhere different…
LLO: Is there a place in London that always seems to make you happy? Why?
MP: I guess that my time spent stewarding at the Globe Theatre on Bankside would fit this question. The Globe seems to have exactly the right atmosphere for making Shakespeare work and be understandable – and it’s great for people watching! There is a degree of responsibility as a steward in looking after the safety of the audience members and trying to stop sections of the audience from irritating other sections with mobile phones etc, and it is a long evening standing, but it’s a great way of seeing a lot of performances at no cost!
LLO: What’s the best thing about living in your postcode?
MP: I don’t actually live in London, but in Windsor in Berkshire. The best thing is probably being close enough to London to be able to work here (an hour’s commute) and yet be almost instantly into green space walking out my front door. Mind you, the worst thing is easily the tourists … but my ‘other half’ and I have got into the habit of waving at the coach parties as they trundle past our front window as they invariably are looking directly into our house – most look away quite quickly when they realise we’re watching them as much as they are looking at us!
LLO: You’ve got a free day to explore a part of the city you’ve never been to. Where do you go and why?
MP: There is a place that I have wandered through once and I do want to go back and explore further – The Inns of Court. It seems to me to be a very tranquil place, away from the hustle and bustle of the City surrounding it. I’m waiting for the London Observationist to take some pictures…
LLO: I’ve got one night in London and want to head off the beaten track to find something to eat and drink. Where would you recommend?
MP: Just off the beaten track is a café called “Stockpot” (Panton Street, just off Leicester Square). Friends of mine took me and Trudy there for a meal after my stint on the Fourth Plinth. For that reason, it is memorable – and the food was excellent and good value despite being so close the Leicester Square / Trafalgar Square.
LLO: Best London discovery?
MP: I’m not sure it is really a discovery of my own, since it was suggested to me as something that Globe stewards could do during the Globe’s ‘close’ season (winter performances in an open air environment would not be generally well attended!). I spend some evenings ushering at Tristan Bates Theatre, just off Seven Dials. This is a very small theatre, attached to the Actors Centre, that has a maximum seating capacity of 70, and is usually not full despite the very cheap tickets (for a West End theatre, the average ticket price is £10 – £12). There’s never any major shows playing there but there are frequent changes of shows (perhaps a bit developmental and not necessarily as long an evening which means that you are in the West End and still have time to enjoy the after-show buzz – but, for me, early finishes there mean I don’t miss my last train home!
LLO: Who is the most interesting Londoner you’ve met and why?
MP: Difficult question because some of the most interesting people you meet simply have an impact on you but you may never know their name or meet them more than once. There was a great guy I met in a pub once near Westminster Bridge – he either was, or at least pretended to be, a town crier and knew many of the Pearly Kings and Queens. I think he passed away a few years ago.
More recently, I re-met “Captain John”, a fellow Fourth Plinthian and a staunch supporter of the Fourth Plinth project in general and ‘One & Other’ in particular as well as being one of the very few people who attended every day of the Diana Inquest….
That’s what makes London special.
For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.
When I was younger, I used to draw portraits of people I found in photographs – especially people who had strong character in their faces. I still adore photos of people so I had to share these fantastic shots that Joshua Jackson added to the Flickr pool.
If you’ve taken photos of the people of London, add them to the pool.
Want more? Check out Graham’s eccentric characters of Camden Town.