The Photography of Sook Moon

The Photography of Sook Moon

Sook Moon is one such creative who brings a new life to the seemingly mundane: butchers’ markets, closed convenience stores, empty alleys. Yes, they are stylised in a certain way but not to diminish the character or the story each image tells. Instead, they enhance the vision and give extended importance to their portrayal.

We take for granted the food we eat or the shops we visit for a packet of cigarettes or box of teabags. There’s an ugly abandonment to these services, commercially and emotionally. But these images put them at the forefront and turn bleak and underappreciated moments into felicitous wonders.

You can follow the rest of Sook’s work on Instagram and I strongly recommend you do.

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Hibaq Osman - The Heart Is A Smashed Bulb

Hibaq Osman - The Heart Is A Smashed Bulb

Hibaq Osman is a Somali writer born and based in London. Her work centres women, identity and the healing process. I’ve been following Hibaq online for a number of years and it’s been wonderful watching her grow as a poet. Her words cut and soothe in equal measure.

The thing about blood
it reeks of metal
baby,
aren’t you sick of chains?

What a verse. Just wow.

The Heart Is A Smashed Bulb is a four-part anthology and you can download it via Google Drive. I also recommend you buy A Silence You Can Carry and Where The Memory Was as well.

Proper Magazine is a proper magazine

Proper Mag

Head to any half-decent intercity newsagents and you’ll see a wall full of different magazines, glossy and independent, carving out a space to exhibit their culture of interest.

Proper Magazine started out as a fanzine quite some time ago and the indie mag has grown into a website and creative agency. Having worked with the likes of Adidas, Clarks, and Barbour, Proper know their stuff when it comes to clothing brands and related cultures.

The icing on the cake for me, however, is their online store. It contains the usual fare of t-shirts, stickers, and socks but I’m enamoured with the mugs on offer. Yes, I fell in love with some fancy mugs, okay? But they come in all kinds of wonderful colours and my particular favourite is the Proper El Pibe Mug (as I have a soft spot for Colombia after Italia 90 but unfortunately it’s no longer in stock.)

El Pibe Mug by Proper Magazine

Proper Mag knows their audience well, as to be expected with decades of experience between the editors, Neil Summers and Mark Smith. Having their base in Manchester also helps; a cosmopolitan city with its own rich heritage, away from the clutches of London. Want to know more?

Visit the Proper website and check out the list of stockists so you can grab a copy!

The Wonderful Art of Jonny Wan

Based in Sheffield, Jonny Wan’s work covers everything from “advertising to product packaging and beyond”. As you’ll see, he likes bold patterns and shapes with plenty of nods to Art Deco.

He also graduated from the Manchester School of Art in 2008 and has gone on to work with the likes of Apple, Nike, and The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Being an illustrator can be a very up and down career, where one month can bring a flurry of jobs in and the next one can be dead. It’s important to remain committed and to not forget why you chose illustration in the first place.

Interview with Jonny Wan on Crazy Animal Face

(all image rights reserved by Jonny Wan)

Nottingham Contemporary: A Review

Nottingham Contemporary

I’ve been in and around Nottingham for about 17 years. My sister moved in 1995 to attend Nottingham Trent University and I’d visited plenty of times. I lived in Luton at the time so it was the only city I’d regularly visited that wasn’t Bradford – my old hometown – or London. It was my choice of destination for university in 2008. Alas, that didn’t end so well and I left but I returned in 2014 and I’ve been here ever since. My voyage to Nottingham Contemporary was only the second Nottingham landmark I’d visited in my life. I was eager to go.

Where is Nottingham Contemporary?

The building is nestled within the city’s Lace Market, a protected heritage area, formerly the epicentre of the world’s lace industry during the British Empire. The modern cladding is significant in design contrasted with the surrounding architecture but in celebration of the area’s history, the building has been embossed with a lace design. At night, it shines like a beacon; a brutalist monolith bursting with cultural light.

The exhibitions

You’re graced with the gift shop upon entering (more on that later) but for my visit yesterday, there were two exhibitions. The first, FOXP2, was from French artist Marguerite Humeau. Having graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2011 and shows at the Palais de Tokyo, MoMA and the V&A, this was quite an acquisition. FOXP2 was inspired by conversations with zoologists and other biological experts and comprises of two installations. Grunts and primitive murmurs fill the dark corridor leading to Gallery 1. They form the components of a sound installation; “a ‘choir’ of 108 billion voices, re-enacting the moment when the gene – FOXP2 – mutated, allowing our ancestors to develop language”. The longer you stay, the more elaborate and developed the noises become.

Marguerite Humeau - FOXP2
Taken from nottinghamcontemporary.org

Then from the darkness, you become enveloped in a pinkish hue of light. The second installation is what Humeau describes as a  “biological showroom” of elephants. A series of elephant sculptures tell differing takes of life and bio-engineering. I strongly recommended using the guide to gain a better understanding of both installations. Poignant and brooding, FOXP2 leads to questions of existentialism, not only for the planet but for ourselves as human beings.

Gallery 2 features the second exhibition by Nigerian artist, Otobong Nkanga. The gallery also holds two separate installations as part of the exhibit. Taste of a Stone is a microcosm of boulders, pebbles and flora, intended to be used by local artists and visitors to share their experiences. The interactivity of the exhibition diverges from the modern interpretation of the word, retreating to the basic natural world as opposed to the technological.

The second room contains The Encounter That Took a Part of Me, an examination of the Earth around us through its environment and the fruits of its labour. The wall is emblazoned with a mural, starting with a steel framework, gradually decaying with rust before meeting depictions of neural passages and finally cracks in the earth and accompanying bronze canvas. There are also sculptural displays showing the varying examples of environmental change – rust, condensation.

Otobong Nkanga - Taste Of A Stone
Taken by myself

And then there was the gift shop. Usually a superficial part of a museum with its overpriced knick-knacks but this was different. Much different. The selection of books was diverse, from art and architecture to philosophy, music and a wide range of children’s books. There are also postcards and other stationery on offer at affordable prices. I picked up a double pizza cutter in the shape of a 1950s race car (there’s method behind this apparent madness but if you want to know more, ask me on Twitter) and a book of essays on the work of Michael Jackson. The exhibitions had enriched my cultural mind but the gift shop served as a fin parfaite to the experience.

The privilege of a museum visit

When I was about 13, after much nagging, I finally got the chance to visit Legoland in Windsor. I had wanted to go for ages and the visit came as a surprise. We reached the gates and the anticipation was palpable. But I never crossed the threshold. Why? Too expensive. I’m much wiser now when it comes financial reasoning so I completely understand but of course this upset me no end and I sulked for the remainder of the trip. My mother grew impatient with my attitude. Eventually, she snapped and uttered the now-immortal sentence:

“Do you know how privileged you are?”

The short answer to that was “no” but I now understand what she meant. I hadn’t appreciated all the holidays abroad and museum visits in my childhood. Some of my school friends had never been on a plane. Nottingham Contemporary encapsulates the wonder of cultural exploration and growth I took for granted in my younger years. I took my 10 month-old son who seemed less enthused by the exhibitions but he has to start somewhere and he seemed to enjoy the lights at least. I won’t be turning my back on this place.

Recommended reading, links and footnotes