Preview – Dials Festival

Dials Festival, Portsmouth, 5th October 2019

The summer festivals may be safely tucked away but there’s no shortage of indoor events to look forward to, with the added bonus of not having to worry about getting sunstroke or washed away in the rain. Starting the winter season off in style, Dials Festival is back with another fine line-up, all hand picked from a huge pool of new and emerging talent to make up a really well thought out mix of artists and genres. Held at The Wedgewood Rooms and surrounding venues on Southsea’s Albert Road, this year’s headline slot is filled by The Blinders, bringing a phenomenal live reputation and plenty of searing post modern anthems, their set will undoubtedly be a highlight of the day.

Returning from hugely popular sets in 2018, it’s great to see LibraLibra and Fake Empire back on the bill. Both bands took early slots last year but pulled in the crowds and made big impressions – both well worth checking out.

The rest of the line-up looks equally appealing, some acts I know, some I don’t… yet. Having attended all the Dials events so far I can honestly say I’ve found new favourite bands every time and am looking forward to history repeating itself once again. Three of the best come highly recommended in the shape of menacing melodies from the mighty Madonnatron, pure disco-infused indie from Walt Disco and an intense hit of raw punk from Luxury Apartments.

Aside from the artists, Dials is once again supporting and raising funds for Solent Mind, a much needed and utilised local charity. There is no doubting that music can give a massive release from mental health issues and the pairing of Dials and Mind is one that makes perfect sense. If you haven’t got a ticket yet there are limited numbers still available at the incredibly cheap price of just £20. There’s just a month to go so make plans, get along, support a great cause, come and say hello then find some favourite new bands of your own.

More info from Dials Festival here

Words and photos by Siobhan

5th September 2019

 

Preview – Victorious Festival

Victorious Festival, Portsmouth, 23rd – 25th August 2019

Since its beginnings in 2011 at the Historic Dockyard, Victorious has grown in numbers and stature every year, now transforming Southsea Common into an enclosed festival village each August bank holiday weekend. The scope of the site allows for multiple stages, food and retail vendors and activities for all ages, making this a really family friendly event.

Last year’s event saw the sun setting over the fitting inclusion of Beach Boy Brian Wilson on the main stage just a few hundred yards away from the seafront. Earlier highlights included an impressive set from PINS, plus crowd singalongs with Happy Mondays and a stand out performance from The Cribs.

This year’s headliners cross genres nicely with indie favourites Two Door Cinema Club on Friday, drum and bass from Rudimental on Saturday and the legendary New Order closing on Sunday. Other big names playing across the weekend include The Specials, Doves, James Bay, Lewis Capaldi, Clean Bandit and The Vaccines. But keep some time free for the smaller stages and event tents. Check out a heady fusion of jazz hip hop from Omar Baba at the People’s Lounge on Saturday, Isle of Wight style psych from Plastic Mermaids at the Castle stage on Sunday, a great mix of artists at the World Music stage plus there’s the Comedy Tent, Literacy Live and lots for families with children to do elsewhere in the festival.

Providing excellent value for money, you’ll often pay less for a day ticket to Victorious than it would cost just to see one or two of the bands playing. And there’s no disputing that they have one of the best locations going on the edge of the beach with a castle, museum and skate-park all on site.

Remaining tickets and full details are available here – book now for a bank holiday trip to the seaside with a difference. There’s just a month to go so be quick!

Words and photos by Siobhan

23rd July 2019

Preview – 110 Above Festival

110 Above Festival, Twycross, 2nd – 4th August 2019

You have to wonder how much longer 110 Above Festival can be touted as ‘indie’s best kept secret’ as word continues to spread about what a great event it is. Now in its 10th year, there is no let up in the array of hugely popular artists playing, but the limited capacity of around 1,000 people and intimate stages on site will ensure that this remains a slightly more up close and personal experience than many other festivals. Set on the outskirts of Twycross on Gopsall Hall Farm, this year’s headliners tick the full set of indie boxes with new music from Swim Deep, the continuing rise of Pale Waves and the wonderfully named Eel Pie Island’s best known export, Mystery Jets.

The rest of the line-up is equally worthy of your attention – we had a chat with four acts you’ll be glad you didn’t miss over the weekend – look out for CHILDCARE, Hunger Moon, The Tin Pigeons and Hey Charlie…

CHILDCARE

For anyone just discovering the band, tell us a little about CHILDCARE and your music… 

We’re quite simply the best south London capslock soft-core psych quartet who are also running a revolutionary wellness campaign around.

Your album Wabi-Sabi has just been released to much acclaim – how long has it taken to put together and how does it feel now it’s out in the world?

It’s been a really long process actually because I kept thinking we weren’t ready to record an album. It was only when Emma (bassist) sat us all down and we listened to about 50 songs we’d recorded over the last 3 years that we realised it was probably time to put an album out. Now that the album is out fans are being healed all over the world.

Over the last year and through this summer you’re festival regulars – how does playing festivals differ to playing gigs, do you get a different reaction?

Festivals are fun because the crowds tend to be bigger, it’s glorious walking round on the grass in the sunshine and bumping into and watching other bands, but the gigs themselves are never as intense and focused as single shows.

What can people expect if they catch your set at 110 Above?

They can expect poise, personal glory, Chinese finger cymbals and hips.

And what else is on the horizon for CHILDCARE?

Continuing our Get Well Soon campaign, this will involve live healing at shows including the Radio 1 stage at Reading and Leeds, on a tour in September and at our biggest headline show to date, Scala in London in December. We’ll also be taking our Personal Glory™️ retreats round the country – events where we impart our twisted versions of mindfulness, meditation and yoga on fans.

Facebook    Spotify

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Hunger Moon

Photo © Laura Chen

Can you give us a quick intro to the band and your music?

Absolutely, we’re James and Natalie and we’ve been writing songs together as Hunger Moon since December 2017. We describe our sound as ‘melancholy alt pop’ and draw our songwriting inspiration from the world around us, from emotions to, more recently, current affairs.

Your latest single Honey is getting great reviews, how did the song come together and how does it feel to read people’s reactions to it?

Yeah, we were discussing only today how crazy the response to the track has been. We’re getting people around the world popping up on our socials now, and have had such a great response from radio and blogs already. It’s a really great feeling to know that something you’ve built from nothing is connecting and reaching not only with friends and their friends but with complete strangers too. We’ve been growing as an act with every release, and it really feels like the momentum is too.

What can everyone look forward to if they come and see you at 110 Above Festival?

Our usual set of emotional alt pop bangers. We love festivals as they’re a chance to play in front of completely new people in new places, so that always feeds into the adrenaline of our performances. We love meeting new people, so we’ll be looking forward to having a chat too.

If you were putting on your own festival and had no restrictions who would you choose to play alongside and headline?

We love Amber Run, if it wasn’t for those guys we wouldn’t be making music together, so we would definitely pick them. Aurora, Stereo Honey, The National and Radiohead would all make appearances too.

And what’s next for Hunger Moon?

We are playing a handful of festivals this summer before heading over to Europe for a week to play some dates in late September / early October. New music will hopefully follow!

Facebook    Spotify

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The Tin Pigeons

Say hello and tell us what it’s essential to know about Tin Pigeons…

Hey! Fraser and Thom here from Tin Pigeons! We think its pretty essential to know that we make music you can bounce to! Who doesn’t love a good bounce?

You’ve been described by BBC Introducing as ‘one of the best festival bands we know’ – what did you do to deserve such an accolade?

This comment came after we were named as Radio 1’s track of the week so they were showing us loads of love which was amazing, we just try and have as much fun as possible at our shows, and try and get people to dance along with us!

What have you got planned for your appearance at 110 Above?

We have been recording loads so we’ve got some brand new, hot-out-the-oven tunes to smash out!

Which other artists have you been listening to lately?

We have a load of mates all making music that we LOVE – we’ve been listening to loads of our good pal Lauran Hibberd who is sick!

And what does the future hold for the band?

More music! Working on touring plans for winter, then more studio time and new releases out very soon!

Facebook    Spotify

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Hey Charlie

© Victoria Holmgren 

Introduce us to Hey Charlie and your music…

We are a pop-rock band combining crunchy guitar riffs with sugar pop melodies. We manage, book and style ourselves and are trying to challenge the expectations of what it means to be a band in 2019.

What’s your desert island disc (ok, you can choose 2 each)?

Jimmy Eat World – The Middle
Neck Deep – in Bloom
The Band Camino – Daphne Blue
Bloxx- Headspace

Any top festival tips?

Talk to strangers and go see a random band you don’t know.

What’s in store for your set at 110 Above Festival and who else is playing that you’d like to see?

We have a new guitarist! So you can meet her…
We can’t wait to see Bloxx and Indoor Pets!

And what’s happening for the band in the coming months?

We’re touring the UK in July which we’re super excited about! We’re writing a lot of music at the minute and planning on getting in the studio over the summer.

Facebook    Spotify

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Lots more information and remaining tickets for 110 Above Festival available here – be quick to get in on that best kept secret…

Photos reproduced with artists’ permission

17th June 2019

Preview – Y Not Festival

Y Not Festival, Pikehall, 25th – 28th July 2019

It’s incredible to think that Y Not started life as a house party and is now heading into it’s 14th year as one of the largest UK festivals. Set in the rolling hills of the Peak District, this year sees as impressive a line-up as ever of big names from the indie, rock and alternative world – expect huge performances from headliners Elbow, Two Door Cinema Club and Foals across the 3 days.

Elsewhere, the Giant Squid stage hosts a brilliant line-up including two Dublin bands that  everyone’s clamouring to see in the shape of Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital – if you haven’t been able to pick up tickets for their live shows recently this is a great chance to catch them. On the same stage, soak up some acid-washed fuzz from Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, look out for some uncompromising lyrics and jagged refrains from the excellent Hotel Lux and don’t miss the powerhouse cacophony that is Demob Happy – always a set to remember.

Check through the full line-up poster to see the complete array of artists playing over the weekend, along with top names from comedy and The Nighthawk Cinema offering some downtime from the music on site.

Remaining tickets and all the other information you need can be found here.

Words and live photos by Siobhan

6th June 2019

 

 

Preview – 2000 Trees Festival

2000 Trees Festival, Cheltenham, 11th – 13th July 2019

In the thick of the flurry of summer festivals all boasting the same acts, headliners and promoters, 2000 Trees stands apart as a fiercely independent option for fans of all things rock, indie and alternative. Setting up its annual home at Upcote Farm in the Cotswolds, the festival is the perfect size to walk easily from stage to stage, catching your favourite acts and chancing upon something new on the way. From crowd-surfing in inflatable dinghies to chilled acoustic sets in the woods, you’ll see it all here in the midst of one of the friendliest atmospheres you could wish for.

This year’s headliners include Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls, You Me at Six and Deaf Havana and there’s much more to see elsewhere on the bill – amongst many others, we recommend that you enjoy some gratuitously dark art-punk from Lice and a head on crash into raw garage rock from their Bristol neighbours, The St Pierre Snake Invasion. The ever popular Martha always bring the happiest fans to the table with their angst-filled pop riffs and expect a very warm welcome back for mighty rockers Pulled Apart by Horses, who have been known to climb a tent pole or two mid set in previous years. 

If you need a break from the music, this year also sees an new area devoted to spoken word, talks, poetry, podcast recordings, debates, workshops and comedy.

Tickets for 2000 Trees 2019 are selling fast – to get yours and for more information about the festival check the website here –  don’t miss out!

Words and photos by Siobhan

31st May 2019

 

Exhibition – Iconic Bowie (Dimbola Museum & Galleries)

Exhibition, Dimbola Museum & Galleries, Isle of Wight, 7th June – 18th August 2019
Iconic Bowie

From the flame-haired glam and stacked platforms of Ziggy Stardust to the stark, dark persona of the Thin White Duke, David Bowie leaves an imprint of creativity, experiment and style that defies convention and comparison. A pioneer musically and visually, his imagery is instantly recognisable and has opened doors for future generations to have the confidence to be themselves, whatever that means and however it looks.

A new exhibition celebrating Bowie’s remarkable contribution to the world will be opening its doors at the Isle of Wight’s Dimbola Museum & Galleries just in time for this year’s festival-goers to drop in. The show includes photography, painting, vinyl art and sculpture and takes a look at some lesser known local connections as well as housing pieces from established industry contributors. It looks set to be a fascinating visit.

Bowie © Terry O’Neill

Details from the press release here:

Iconic Bowie is a major retrospective of the extraordinary life of David Bowie. A journey in which the Isle of Wight witnessed his first public musical performance at a Corf Scout Camp, Shalfleet in 1958 and Bowie’s last UK live show headlining at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2004.

Iconic Bowie showcases both stunning and intimate portraits of Bowie by some of the world’s greatest photographers. The photographs, from the extensive Iconic Images archive, were taken over his phenomenal 50 year career and draw into focus the remarkable contribution Bowie made to culture, music and art. These portraits contain rare moments, the force of Bowie’s unique nature and his personality on film. Each image is an illuminating artefact of one of the greatest artists that has ever lived.

‘Great portrait photographers do a rare thing through extraordinary alchemy that renders light, exposure, emotion, soul, sorrow, joy and beauty forever fixed in time. Iconic Bowie contains images that startle the world and provide an illuminating insight into the astonishing career of David Bowie.’ (Brian Hinton, Chairman of Dimbola Museum and Galleries)

There is a brilliance in capturing the sound, spirit, aesthetics and unearthly metamorphosis of Bowie. The Iconic Images archive is one of the biggest collections of David Bowie imagery under one house. Terry O’Neill, Kevin Cummins, Markus Klinko, Justin de Villenuve, Milton H Greene and Gerald Fearnley all had important roles throughout the visual life of this singular artist. Through the collective lens of these creative photographers, a true visual image of Bowie the artist was realised.

Kevin Cummins first photographed Bowie on his Aladdin Sane tour of 1972- 1973, went on to photograph and be influenced by him throughout his career and can remember the effect of seeing Bowie on stage… ‘I went to see David Bowie when I was in my teens. I had never seen anything like that on stage and I had seen various things which were all very flashy and very showy. Now, it may seem normal but at the time nobody really had that kind of theatricality in rock ‘n’ roll.’ (Kevin Cummins)

Bowie © Kevin Cummins

To celebrate Bowie’s influence on art and culture, Dimbola has invited contemporary British sculptor Guy Portelli to curate an artists’ response to Bowie in the Charles Hay Gallery. The collection, featuring artists Keith Haynes, Chris Myers and Guy Portelli, will show artworks inspired by the music and iconic imagery of David Bowie.

Exploring the Isle of Wight/Bowie connection there will be a rare display of ephemera tracing Bowie’s early footsteps on the island. These include copies of The Bowie Bureau (1977-1982), a magazine produced by two long-standing friends and sent from their Ventnor home to destinations throughout the world as well as adverts from Bowie’s three early appearances at Ventnor Winter Gardens with Davy Jones & the Lower Third in the summer of 1965.

The exhibition is kindly sponsored by Wightlink, Solo Agency, Style of Wight and The Seaview Hotel. All exhibition images are limited editions and available to purchase.’

Iconic Bowie runs from 7th June – 18th August 2019 

Dimbola Museum & Galleries, Terrace Lane, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight PO40 9QE
Opening times: 7 days a week 10 – 5 – please check the website for admission prices and further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from Dimbola Museum & Galleries and are copyrighted as credited

Words for introduction by Siobhan

21st May 2019

Preview – Portsmouth Psych Fest

Portsmouth Psych Fest, 4th May 2019

Only a month away, Portsmouth Psych Fest returns to The Wedgewood Rooms for its third outing on 4th May. From the outset the festival has been steadfast in booking some very special line-ups, with previous years featuring Bo Ningen, The Wytches, Hotel Lux and Black Midi amongst a long list of other established and breakthrough acts.

Spread across two stages, 2019’s headliners are Yak, who will be joined by a host of local and international artists making up an event not to be missed. The best recommendation would be to see everyone on the bill. Here is our pick of just a few artists to look out for on the day…

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Sleep Eaters

It’s time to discover that you need country garage in your life. The South London five piece won over new fans with their live performances supporting Drahla last year and head back out on the road with them in May.

Sleep Eaters    Listen here

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The Howlers

Dark garage rock of the finest calibre, The Howlers are unsurprisingly sparking the interest of the music media. Now signed to These Bloody Thieves, look out for new music soon.

The Howlers    Listen here

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Los Bitchos

Fresh from supporting Bill Ryder-Jones, Los Bitchos will be showcasing their hybrid of Peruvian instrumental Cumbia influenced garage psych. Bring your dancing shoes.

Los Bitchos    Listen here

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Drusila

Keep those dancing shoes on for Drusila. Full of energy and explosive synths, the Portsmouth locals are fast making a name for themselves, bringing electronica bang up to date.

Drusila    Listen here

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Snapped Ankles

If you prefer your music delivered by woodland tree creatures then Snapped Ankles are here for you. With their new album Stunning Luxury described by The Line Of Best Fit as ‘music to soundtrack the apocalypse’, make sure you catch them and hope, for their sake, that it’s not too hot.

Snapped Ankles    Listen here

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Portsmouth Psych Fest takes place on 4th May; remaining tickets are available now from just £17 – don’t miss out

Words and photos by Siobhan

4th April 2019

Preview – Doc ‘n’ Roll Film Festival

Doc ‘n’ Roll Film Festival, Brighton, 1st – 7th April 2019

Setting the mood for the upcoming Brighton Festival and Fringe activities, Doc ‘n’ Roll Film Festival returns to the coast, taking over Brighton’s art spaces and select theatres between 1st – 7th April. For fans of film and music, there’s a brilliantly diverse range of documentaries, live Q&As with artists and directors, exclusive after-show parties and much more.

The festival is supported by the BFI Audience Fund, using money from the National Lottery to encourage and grow audience appetite and enjoyment for a wide range of independent British and international films. Following successful runs in London and Liverpool, the action moves to Brighton before heading north again to take part in the Edinburgh Festival from 25th-28th April.

Doc ‘n’ Roll will present 6 fascinating feature films that chart the incredible stories of ground-breaking labels Blue Note (It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story) and Trojan (Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records), shine new light on the previously unexplored depths of the Detroit techno scene that would redefine electronic music (Never Stop – A Music That Resists), explore some of the best soundtracks you never knew existed (The Library Music Film), launch you full pelt into the world of punk’s fearless heroines as they break the glass ceiling and blow the genre apart (Stories from the She Punks) and take you behind the scenes with Badly Drawn Boy as he creates his Mercury Prize-winning debut (About A Badly Drawn Boy: The Story of the Hour of Bewilderbeast).

Among a number of live Q&A highlights, expect candid insights from punk pioneer and co-director  Helen Reddington (The Chefs) as she discusses She Punks, and The Mitcham Submarine’s first-hand account of working with Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy, on his cinematic portrait of a unique artist and a seminal album.

This year Doc ‘n’ Roll Brighton will also introduce an eclectic collection of stunning film shorts especially selected for the 2019 edition.

Check out the full programme below:

1st April – Launch Event, Hotel Pelirocco, 6:30pm (free event, advance booking required)

A hand-picked selection of shorts reflecting the diversity and depth of this year’s programme will be shown

3rd April – Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records + Q&A, Duke of York’s Picturehouse, 6:30pm

4th April – The Library Music Film + Q&A, Duke’s at Komedia Picturehouse, 6:30pm and after-party with DJs at Merkaba (My Hotel) from 8pm, entry to the after-party is free for anyone attending the screening

4th April – It Must be Schwing! The Blue Note Story, Duke of York’s Picturehouse, 9:00pm

5th April – Stories from the She Punks + Q&A with Helen Reddington (The Chefs), Duke’s at Komedia Picturehouse, 6:30pm

7th April – Never Stop: A Music that Resists, Duke’s at Komedia Picturehouse, 12:15pm

7th April – About a Badly Drawn Boy: The Story of the Hour of Bewilderbeast + Director Q&A, Hotel Pelirocco, 7:00pm

The festival is a perfect opportunity for music and screen aficionados to gain in-depth insights into the background stories behind some defining cultural moments, while supporting independent venues at the same time.

More information and remaining tickets available here.

29th March 2019

Exhibition – Joy for Ever (The Whitworth)

Exhibition – The Whitworth, Manchester, 29th March – 9th June 2019
Joy for Ever: how to use art to change the world and its price in the market

A new exhibition opening its doors on Friday takes a look at the life, work and impact of artist and social reformer John Ruskin. The parallels between his quest for equality in the 1800s and current concerns around discrimination and accessibility in today’s society can’t fail to strike a chord. The content includes a huge variety of subject matter and artistic technique, all set in The Whitworth’s beautiful building and surroundings.

John Ruskin and Manchester – a synopsis:

Born into a prosperous home in 1819, John Ruskin travelled extensively around Europe with his parents, developing a keen interest in art and architecture. Over time, he became troubled by the comparison between some of the beautiful places he visited and what he considered to be a grimy capitalist environment on his return. In adulthood he became a famed art critic then began to speak out as a lecturer, berating property developers for prioritising profit over the wellbeing of their communities, industrialists for not treating their workers properly and the Victorian bourgeoisie as a whole for neglecting the welfare of the poor. In 1857 Ruskin voiced a particularly scathing attack on the city of Manchester in response to The Great Art Treasures exhibition, a huge collection of artworks amassed from wealthy private owners, epitomising everything he found unjust and unbalanced. His views were not appreciated by the conservative magazine and publisher he wrote for and led to his essays being pulled from publication; he proceeded to publish them instead in his seminal book Unto This Last. He went on to set up The Guild of St George (originally St George’s Company and still a charity today) to pursue his vision of a better society where communities would live more happily working within a network of rural, sustainable farms and be given access to education and museums. Quite what he would make of today’s society where the vulnerable have their benefits withdrawn and food banks are a growing trend is something to ponder. There is no little irony in the fact that the exhibition opens on the day that was due to see the dawning of Brexit but instead finds us amidst a political meltdown of enormous proportions. 

Facade of The Doge’s Palace, Venice – The Vine Angle, 1907.5, John Ruskin © Manchester Art Gallery / Bridgeman Images

Exhibition details:

‘In the 200th anniversary of his birth, The Whitworth responds to the artist, art critic, teacher and social reformer John Ruskin – in a year when his words seem as relevant now as they did then, in a climate of perceived ecological, political and social catastrophe. Ruskin was complex, difficult and flawed, as well as profound. He also hated Manchester, and therefore it seems fitting that the city responds with equal complexity and irreverence.

Joy for Ever combines The Whitworth’s renowned collection of art and design with archival documents, contemporary installations, a cast of the wall of Westminster Hall, a road building, textiles, politics, pictures, a protest on the EBacc by local school children and commissions from Manchester based design studio Standard Practice and Grizedale Arts from the Lake District.

Peter Hodgson and Laure Prouvost, Tile Panel, 2016, Photo by Adam Sutherland

In the first gallery, the displays respond to Ruskin’s question: how can an art collection be used for wider social advantage? Here some of the Whitworth’s collections are curated by the gallery’s Handmade group, who meet regularly as part of a city-wide campaign to develop Manchester as an age-friendly city, alongside Year 9 pupils from Hyndburn Academy in Blackburn in protest against the introduction of the EBacc that devalues arts education in schools.

The next gallery focuses on the relationship between art, architecture and ideas of good governance, speaking of how Gothic style was appropriated in the 19th century and became the architecture of state and commercial power. Ruskin admired the city of Venice as a model society, in which its Gothic buildings were created by the mutual cooperation of architect and craftsman, forming much of his thinking on the relationship between labour and happiness. Depictions of Gothic architecture by Ruskin’s favourite artists JMW Turner and Samuel Prout from The Whitworth’s collection will be displayed.

Jorge Otero-Pailos’ Ethics of Dust, a large-scale latex cast directly from the wall surface of Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament, will be displayed alongside wallpaper designs by Augustus Pugin and Alfred Waterhouse’s designs of Manchester’s neo-Gothic Town Hall.

Both images above: Jorge Otero-Pailos – The Ethics of Dust, Westminster Hall, London, 2016. Commissioned and produced by Artangel, Photos by Marcus J Leith

A new moving image work by Greek artist, Aikaterini Gegisian is included. This draws from the archives of the US Library of Congress and explores the breakdown of the European Union manifested in both the Greek debt crisis and Brexit.

Picture above & header picture: Third Person (Plural): Episode 1: Centrifuge, 2018-19 film stills courtesy of Aikaterini Gegisian

The final gallery explores art’s role in education and social design. Ruskin believed that drawing from nature helps shape our understanding of citizenship. He had a huge teaching collection, often making and commissioning copies of paintings and drawings of natural specimens as tools for instruction. Here a selection of drawings from Manchester’s collections alongside an original lecture diagram, plaster casts of leaves and models of feathers borrowed from The Ruskin Museum are presented. Manchester design studio Standard Practice has been commissioned to make a series of drawing lecterns for visitors to make drawings inspired by the collections on display.

Grizedale Arts marks its 10 year anniversary of projects in Coniston, the town where Ruskin lived for the last 28 years of his life and where he implemented many of his social experiments on craft, farming, water supply, dairy producing etc. This exhibition will present a mini survey of around 100 projects they’ve created to date, such as the Honest Shop, mini library and exhibitions of local crafts with a series of connected making workshops and talks.’

Joy for Ever: how to use art to change the world and its price in the market runs from 29th March – 9th June 2019 – free entry

The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER
Opening times: Monday – Wednesday 9-5, Thursday 9-9, Friday – Saturday 9-5, Sunday 10-5 – please check the website for further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from The Whitworth and are copyrighted/owned as credited

Words for introduction and synopsis by Siobhan

27th March 2019

Preview – The Great Escape

The Great Escape, Brighton, 9th – 11th May 2019

Widely acknowledged as the biggest UK festival platform for breakthrough musicians, The Great Escape returns in May for its annual party in Brighton. Scheduling over 400 artists playing across town in more than 30 venues is no mean feat and TGE includes a multitude of great music across different genres, bringing bands and singers from far and wide to perform. With the first 200+ acts now announced, we picked 5 of the best who we think you should look out for. Get to know Cocaine Piss, Nice Biscuit, Pip Blom, Sick Joy and Weird Milk below, then go and add them all to your must see list…

Cocaine Piss (Belgium)

For anyone who doesn’t know the band, give us a quick intro…

We are Cocaine Piss, we’re cute, we might be weird and we play loud. 

Over the last few years you’ve played hundreds of gigs and festivals across Europe – any notable memories from the UK?

A lot! One of the best festivals we played was Raw Power Festival in London last year. We had a lot of fun playing, and we discovered a lot of great acts there. I think we also found out about Buckfast on that tour, which was a great adventure. Also found a set of false teeth in front of a venue in Liverpool, it made our day.

You’re part of the Toutpartout Showcase at this year’s Great Escape – how did that come about?

We’ve been collaborating with Toutpartout for about 2 years now, and we are very fucking happy to be invited to play at the showcase. The lineup is beautiful, it’s going to be a perfect day.

What can people expect if they come to your set?

They can expect dancing, laughing, feeling like we’re all sharing a beautiful and intense moment together. Also a lot of swearing, and sadly, very little elegance.

And what else are Cocaine Piss up to this year?

We are releasing our new album Passionate and Tragic on April 5th. From then, we’ll be intensively touring for a few months. Come and see us – we have more shows in the UK in early May!

Facebook  Bandcamp

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Nice Biscuit (Australia)

For anyone who hasn’t heard or seen you can you introduce the band…

Hello. We’re Nice Biscuit. We’re a six piece from Brisbane and we play garage psych with a little bit of pop thrown in the mix.

What’s your local music scene like?

The Brisbane music scene is really good and quite tight knit. Because we’re one of the smaller cities everyone’s really supportive of each other’s bands. There’s some really good bands doing some interesting stuff here at the moment and a lot of good quality mid-sized venues to support all the bands. Any given weekend you’d be able to head out and see a good show.

Your album Digital Mountain came out last year. Tell us a bit about it and what’s the reaction to it been like?

Digital Mountain was a bit of a while in the making. It was a long process of writing and recording and then often scrapping those songs in favour of new ones, so it was nice to finally get a bunch of songs that made something cohesive and be able to put that out. It’s just a collection of the best songs we’d written from the 12 months before its release. The reaction to it was good. People seemed to like it and come to the shows and respond positively which is always encouraging.

You’re over in the UK for The Great Escape in May, how did that come about – have you been to Brighton before?

We had some bookers in the UK reach out to us about coming over and playing at The Great Escape and we’d never played overseas before so we thought we’d jump on it. Some of us have been to the UK before, I’m not too sure about Brighton. We’ve never in any musical capacity so it’s pretty exciting to get to travel far away from Australia and get to play music as well.

Plans and hopes for the rest of the year?

I think we’d just like to write and play as much as possible. We’ve started working on new music so ideally we’d like to get another album finished as soon as possible and then move on to some new stuff again. We get quite restless playing the same songs for too long and like to change it up as much as we can. We all like playing live so we’d like to try and play to as many new people in as many new cities as we can. I suppose just play as much music as possible.

Facebook  Soundcloud

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Pip Blom (The Netherlands)

For anyone just discovering you can you give us a quick insight into who you are and where you’re from?

We are Pip Blom, that is my name and the name of the band. My brother, Tender Blom, also plays in the band. He plays guitar and sings, just like me. Then there is Gini Camron who plays the drums and Darek Mercks who plays bass. We all live in Amsterdam.

You seem to be constantly touring – is this hard to maintain and are there any stand out tour memories?

Touring is fun but hard at the same time. When we are at home, doing the jobs that make us a living, we can’t wait to be on the road again. But if we are away too long we miss our loved ones and the peace and quiet of our private bedrooms. Playing in front of enthusiastic audiences makes up for a lot of things though. And we have an app in which we mark all the special places on the road – great shops or petrol stations!

What’s the best thing about playing at festivals?

Playing at festivals can be hard, ‘cause half of the audience doesn’t necessarily come to see you, but trying to conquer those crowds is fun when it all works out. Also, at festivals, you get to meet other bands. Sometimes the bands you know and love, like Sports Team, Personal Trainer or Canshaker Pi.

What should we expect from your set?

An uptempo set full of energy and fun. And maybe some new songs from our upcoming debut Boat which will be released on May 31st.

And what’s on the horizon for the rest of the year?

SXSW, lots of playing in the UK and the rest of Europe, some Dutch festivals and some more club shows in the fall. And maybe going back to the USA…

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Sick Joy (UK)

Can you give us a quick band intro…

Hello, welcome. Sit down, grab a sherry. Indulge. Everything is fleeting. We do songs. If you like lazy musical stereotypes, chances are you’ll liken us to Nirvana.

You played your first Brighton gig back in 2016 with other local favourites Demob Happy and Tigercub – how was that as a debut show and what’s changed for you since then?

As far as I can remember it was good. Since then Brexit was born and Trump became president. But I swear it’s got nothing to do with us. We’re actually on tour with Demob Happy right now so there’s a little serendipity.

Who else on the local scene would you recommend?

Projector, Murmur, Tigercub, Demob Happy. Many.

How does it feel to be on the Great Escape line-up for 2019?

The last two I’ve worked behind a bar for it and that’s fucking awful, so it’s gonna be fun to be drinking the beers instead of pouring them and cleaning up the sick.

And what’s in the pipeline for Sick Joy?

New record, more touring. Survival, both literally and financially. The plight of all bands trying to live.

Facebook  Soundcloud

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Weird Milk (UK)

Introduce us to Weird Milk…

Weird Milk is a band created by Zach, Charlie and Alex a few years ago… man, it feels like an age away. We all come from the countryside outside the wannabe city of Milton Keynes and left the farmyards to write music together in London.

You’ve played with some great bands over the past year (Pip Blom, Thyla, Sports Team to name a few) – any live shows that have stood out?

The most recent shows have stood out a lot because we’ve acquired the irreplaceable talent of Blue (Joe) on the keys, and the sound has got much more oomph/pizzazz.

You were part of the Alternative Escape line-up in 2018 – how was that and did you see much of the rest of the festival?

That was a great show! I can’t remember the name of the pub but it was nice and cosy. We stayed there all day and all night! Really excited to come back.

Why should people come and catch your set this year?

For the chance to leave any anxieties and sorrows at the doors and have fun. There are some nice loving words as well as more serious (attempts of) thought provoking messages. But it’s got good balance to it. We think. Be the judge and come!

And what else should we be looking out for from Weird Milk in 2019?

We will be releasing at least two singles! So if you get curious, do listen, we feel that they’re worth your time. Whoever YOU are. Hey YOU.

Facebook  Soundcloud

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The Great Escape runs from 9th – 11th May in multiple venues across Brighton. You can see the full list of acts confirmed so far here.

Photos reproduced with artists’ permission
(Cocaine Piss © Thierry Tönnes, Nice Biscuit © Jeff Andersen Jnr, Weird Milk © Timothy Casten)

4th March 2019

Preview – Rockaway Beach + The Boaty Weekender Festivals

Rockaway Beach, 11th – 13th January 2019
The Boaty Weekender, 8th – 12th August 2019

Fed up with festival downpours and cancellations due to the weather? The increase in urban festivals goes some way to addressing this with city-based multi-venue events cropping up all over the UK. May 2019 will see Brighton’s long established The Great Escape, Live at Leeds and Dot 2 Dot spanning 3 days across Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham to name but a few.

But if running around town isn’t your thing, you can go one step further towards ensuring that your feet stay dry and your ‘campsite’ contains a proper bed.

Heading into its fourth year, Rockaway Beach makes its home at Butlin’s in Bognor Regis, a perhaps unlikely setting for ‘a boutique indoor music festival (which) focuses only on the best emerging, breakthrough and established alternative artists’. However, Butlin’s does have a tradition of staging music breaks, notably retro, punk and soul weekenders, complete with your own self-contained apartment and not a portaloo in sight. What makes Rockaway Beach different is that it attracts an eclectic hybrid of big names and newer acts who are making waves and building reputations as the ones to watch.

2019’s Rockaway Beach (11-13 Jan) brings touring stalwarts Gary Numan, Echo & the Bunnymen and Maxïmo Park to the south coast holiday camp. It’s some of the smaller acts though that make it stand out, Goat Girl and The Orielles already firm favourites amongst the 6 Music crowd – check out Madonnatron and Squid to shake the winter cobwebs away in style. And when the music stops (or before it starts) you can while away the time with film screenings, pool parties, DJ sets and arcade games or just have a lie in safe in the knowledge that your tent’s not going to blow away.

Not content with being wrapped up warm indoors? Take a look at The Boaty Weekender (8-12 Aug). Taking the hosting helm is of one of Scotland’s favourite melodic duos, Belle & Sebastian,  suggesting ‘…a party, an adventure, something on the horizon, something to take the chill out of the thought of winter… a sail around the Med, a nice little trip with friends, some of the best people, in some of the best places!’

It’s cruise life for the music aficionado; a relaxed environment where you get to sail from Barcelona to Cagliari, taking in live music and potentially even some onboard sunshine along the way. There’s a pool, hot tubs, a casino and fitness centre to occupy your down time. And when Belle & Sebastian say they’re bringing along some friends to play, it becomes apparent that they have an excellent group of friends, as the starting line up includes Alvvays, Mogwai, Django Django, Hinds and Honeyblood with more to be announced. A summer holiday with a difference and cruise ship singers like you never heard before.

You can find more details about Rockaway Beach and The Boaty Weekender here. But keep your wellies handy; festival season’s not festival season without trawling through the mud at least once.

Words by Siobhan

6th December 2018