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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Aesthetica Magazine Gift Guide 2010

It’s that time of year again and at Aesthetica we’re already excited about the festive season. The Christmas we’ll be avoiding the high-street chains (apart from WH Smith to pick up the Dec/Jan issue of course!) and buying our gifts from independent artists and makers.

It goes without saying that we’ve all been bitten by the change in the economic climate so we thought it was the perfect time to put the focus back on something handmade and sustainable; a gift with a story from an independent retailer.

These pieces are an investment buy, and not in the fleeting sense. At Aesthetica, we believe that the origin of the products we consume should be a central ethical concern and from a less serious stance, there is something much more exciting about a handmade gift.

We’ve handpicked you a selection of 12 gifts from our favourite designers, makers and online stores to solve all your Christmas shopping woes!

Amma Gyan’s beautiful pendants are made from moulded leather, which is painted to give a metallic effect. The single pendant is hung on a slender trace chain attached to a solid brass bail.

Sun-Woong Bang’s intricate and delicate jewellery centres around a simple and profound idea, that contemporary practice, in time, will become traditional practice. The pieces are unmistakably contemporary. We’re most excited by the more abstract pieces, such as the Transit Series which generates electricity while being worn!

Yueh Yin Taffs’ sculptures are hand built and exude personality, energy and spirit. Focusing on hand built porcelain figurines of horses in various dramatic poses, these sculptures are inspiring.

A Little Bit of Art specialises in affordable printed artworks. Tackling head-on the fact that we all want art on the wall, but can’t necessarily afford to shell out for it, A Little Bit of Art is an online gallery that offers a diverse selection of artists, illustrators and printmakers who are using different mediums and techniques to create exciting imagery, printing on papers, glass, mirrors, ceramics and wood. Contemporary and current, this website is well worth a look.

Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery specialises solely in contemporary jewellery. Much of the work on show pushes the boundaries between fine art, jewellery design and fashion resulting in jewellery that is best described as wearable art. It’s all too easy to head straight to the likes of Topshop for contemporary jewellery but it is refreshing to see pieces that are current, design-led, handmade and affordable.

Culture Label brings you an edit of products, currently available from the world’s best museums, art galleries and artists. We are all guilty of spending more time in the gallery shop than in the exhibition itself and this website provides the perfect anecdote to the office blues. We’ve spent hours on this website, making our own wish lists and gaining valuable inspiration from the gift service they provide. Proceed with caution; this site will have you hooked.

Other Criteria is great for those family members who are notoriously tricky to buy for. Working directly with Damien Hirst and a number of established and emerging artists to make limited editions and multiples, t-shirts, jewellery, photographs, posters, prints and books, these products are original and quirky. Our favourite is Hirst’s Silver Turtle which is a bargain at £8,000!

Tom Hare’s willow sculptures are hand-made to order and it doesn’t get more unique than that. Working with greenwood, specifically willow, he creates large woven sculptures which are largely botanical in nature. Each piece has its own character and if you’ve got a big garden would make the perfect centrepiece.

The Peanuts Collection is a beautiful hardback book that covers 50 years of Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Woodstock and the gang. This tactile book features 200 illustrations, and has sections that can be removed, unfolded and pop out. It evokes a sense of nostalgia, and as you flip throughout the pages, it makes you want to watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas and for a brief moment, makes you feel like you’re 10 again.

We Admire has the world’s largest collection of original t-shirt designs and their selection of children’s togs is almost too cute for words. For those kids who seem to have everything, their shirts with Francis Bacon and Cindy Sherman had us all wishing we had children to dress! With designs incorporating Design, Architecture, Cosmology and Philosophy there is something for everyone.

Emma Gordon makes clutch bags and coin purses to order. Tired of only being able to buy mass-produced goods in the shops that were being worn by thousands of other people too, Emma decided to do something about it. Using pretty colours, quirky details and delicate trims, every bag is handmade making them the perfect gift this Christmas.

Complete Creative Package There is nothing like self-promotion at Christmas so our favourite gift this year is a fantastic combination of 1 year’s Aesthetica Subscription, Free DVD of emerging filmmakers, Creative Works Annual 2011 all for £29.95. Offering endless enjoyment for the long winter evenings, this gift will keep on giving throughout 2011!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Filmmaker Series – Q&A with Finalists from the Aesthetica Short Film Competition

To celebrate the launch of the Aesthetica Shorts 2011 DVD, there is a feature on the nature of short films and a discussion of the current film industry in the Dec/Jan issue of Aesthetica.

In conjunction with the feature in Aesthetica, over the next few weeks, we will be running the full interviews with the filmmakers in the blog. To watch these films, order the Dec/Jan issue, and receive a FREE DVD of 13 emerging filmmakers from 7 countries.

Unearthing the Pen directed by Carol Salter – Winning Film
Beautifully photographed, Unearthing the Pen is an intimate portrait of a young Ugandan boy’s desperate desire for an education in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Forty years ago, tribal elders buried a pen, placing a curse on the written word.

How did you begin filmmaking?
I studied painting as part of a Fine Art degree, but by my second year, I started spending more and more time in the college basement playing with the Super 8 cameras. I was attracted to film as a medium, because of the range of ways I could use it in order to tell a story - from the spoken word, music, sound, and of course, moving images - no matter how abstract they might be.

Who and what are your influences?
Listen to Britain by Humphrey Jennings was the first film that made realise how powerful editing can be. It’s a documentary, but it’s like a poem; its deployment of sound and image montage is inspiring. Another film that used the same approach, but was more playful was Unsere Afrikareise by Peter Kubelka. Films that are more fiction that have influenced me include: Timeout by Laurent Cantet, which is about a character who is isolated from the world in which he lives. Equally, Lucy and Wendy by Kelly Reichard is about somebody who feels alone and powerless. While 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days by Cristian Mungiu is another film where the main protagonist battles alone. Strong, isolated characters feature a lot in my work; it’s a theme I return to all the time.

What do you try to achieve through your filmmaking?
I want to get an insight into the character’s universe, their inner world – hopefully in quite an intimate way. I try to hint and suggest rather than be too literal.

Can you tell me about the balance between cinematography and narrative? Which takes precedence?
For me I get a strong feeling about the subject, but I’m not always able to articulate their story through words. I always imagine a narrative in pictures, and I’m particularly drawn to documentary, because there is such richness in the visuals, subtleties and nuances from real life. I would like to think that my stories are told in carefully composed images and sequences.

Talk me through the process of making a film – working practice, shooting, collaborations, funding?
I work as a one-woman crew; I do the research, shooting, sound recording and editing myself. I don’t work in isolation though, I work with people within a community or a tribe who advise and translate. It is crucial for me to build up a very close rapport with my subject. I don’t know if that would be possible with a larger crew. After intense periods of research, I then have a feel for the material I need to capture, but I like to be open to the unexpected, which could make the story richer. Then it’s back home to edit. I like to show rough cuts to friends and colleagues for comments. Unearthing the Pen was self-funded, although I had support developing the idea from the Scottish Documentary Institute as part of the Bridging the Gap Scheme.

What was the most challenging aspect of making your film?
It was tough filming with small budget in a very remote area of Uganda. I travelled there alone and worked with a local translator from the tribe. I didn’t know the culture or speak the language, so I really had to rely on local contacts for guidance in making sure I worked sensitively and respectfully to Locheng, (the boy in film), his situation and to local customs and traditions. My story explores the village elders’ fears that prevented their children from learning to read and having an education. I had to respect their beliefs within their cultural context. I also had a moral obligation not to raise this boy’s expectations in ways that I could not meet, which was really important to me. By pointing the camera at him, I put him in the spotlight and it’s quite a responsibility. My local contacts guided me in this respect.

How would you define cinema culture today? How easy is it to make a film versus the process involved with screening and distribution?
By having my own equipment and resources, I can make films without too many obstacles, however to distribute them and screen them, is extremely hard work; it’s a full time job.

How do you feel short films fit into today’s cinema culture?
Beyond festivals, outlets are unfortunately very limited. It would be great if they regularly accompany feature films.

How do you make yourself stand out from other filmmakers? What’s your plan for marketing your films?
I’ve worked very hard distributing my films to a lot of national and international festivals. That in turn can lead to other opportunities to show my film. I create a website for each film, but so does everyone else! It’s not easy, but I like to think that my work speaks for itself.

What are your future plans?
I am currently working on a feature project, it’s a drama, but I’m using a similar approach that I use to make documentaries. It’s a poetic thriller about a woman’s relationship with her neighbours, playing with the themes of voyeurism and mis-perceptions.

To watch Carol’s film and read a feature about Unearthing the Pen in the Dec/Jan issue of Aesthetica CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Aesthetica December/January Issue out Today

We’ve introduced some new sections into this issue, as well as more features. You’ll also get a FREE DVD of emerging filmmakers with the Aesthetica Shorts 2011 DVD.

In art, Aware: Art Fashion Identity opens at the Royal Academy and examines this multi-faceted relationship. We survey four contemporary Greek sculptors’ works in conjunction with Greece’s network of histories and recent economic climate. David Spiller renegotiates the label of Pop artist with his new show at Beaux-Arts London. This Must Be the Place interrogates location in the context of street photography. And French photographer, Gilles de BeauchĂȘne creates interplay between fine art and advertising.

In film, we present the finalists of the Aesthetica Short Film competition, and celebrate how they are driving the genre forward. Elliot Grove from Raindance offers part two of his guide to Budget Filmmaking, and we have included reviews of the latest DVDs. In music, French Horn Rebellion chat about their debut, while we engage with the sounds of Chiptune (read the article to learn more).

Writer, Dinaw Mengestu re-invents the past with his new book, How to Read the Air and Rula Jebreal discusses her text, Miral, now a major motion picture. In theatre, we examine the democratisation of performance, and finally, Alan Haydon from De la Warr Pavilion discusses the impact that changing economy has the arts.

Get comfortable, we’ve got you covered throughout the festive season.

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