Arts Thread – more graduate showtime

Arts Thread

My last post about Showtime noted the opportunity this afforded for new graduate designers to display and share their work widely via the web. Arts Thread is another such site.

Graduates can upload their portfolios to Arts Thread which can then be browsed and viewed via their online directory.

Works are divided into four categories detailed in the above graphic – Fashion/Textile/Accessories; Visual Communication; Industrial/Product/Spatial and Ceramics/Jewellery/Glass.

Arts Thread is not just a resource for Graduates – Universities and Colleges are able to use it to advertise and promote their courses and their own graduates work, working in effect as a recruitment tool.

The site has its own blog and print magazine which can be ordered on their site.

Chloe Watson Portfolio

Chloe Watson Portfolio Example

In respect of the portfolios and the four aforementioned categories you are then able to search by further specialisms – for example the Fashion/Textiles/Accessories can then be searched by Fashion Journalism, Fashion Photography, Embroidery and a whole host of other specialities.

Alternatively you can search by place – by country or city or by a specific university.

Or you can just trawl through lists and lists of names – if you are so inclined!

I like too that they provide a visual search with thumbnail images from each of the available collections.

Having clicked on a collection, information about the graduate’s university and course is given followed by a summary in their own words of their works and inspirations.

If you are registered with the site you can also send a direct message to them. Most graduates also provide links to their own websites.

A portfolio that took my fancy is this début collection ‘Wings or Fins’ from Chloe Watson undertaking a BA Honors Degree in Fashion/Textile Design at the University of the West of England. The collection utilizes digital print on luxurious silk and wool twills and described as inspired by inks and melted wax.

And this is just one of many hundreds of portfolios available to view.

Arts Thread is yet another example of the web making the world more accessible to us all.

Arts Thread Visual Search

Visual Search Function

University of the Arts London – Showtime for Cherica Toshiba Haye

Cherica Toshiba Haye JacquardThe University of the Arts London shares the works of their artists and designers on its Showtime website.

This is an effective way of demonstrating the skills and techniques of their students and providing a potentially global audience for their works at low cost.

It was disappointing though the lack of interaction offered on these showcases – no option to leave feedback let alone share with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

One of the many showcased is textile designer Cherica Toshiba Haye of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

Her collection is called ‘Chimera‘ and she describes her inspiration for this collection as nature in the form of birds and flowers and an exhibition of Imperial Chinese Robes from the Forbidden City at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Her textile work focusing on weave (inc Jacquard), embroidery and print.

Her work is very visual and tactile, the latter not ideally suited to experiencing on a computer screen – as the search for ever more realistic and immersive viewing only extends to the visual and audio senses with touch and smell neglected!

Nevertheless the showcase provides us the opportunity not just to see the outfits modelled but also to see the materials used – including silk and mohair – up close and in detail.

Please go see for yourself.

Cherica Toshiba Haye Silk Dress

Castle – Crime Writer, Crime Fighter

CastleRichard Castle is a crime-fighter who due to a serial-killer copying the plots of his novel is seconded to the New York Police Department Homicide Investigation team – not to police but to research. So crime-writing about a crime-writer – meta crime fiction!

This Investigation team is headed by Detective Kate Beckett, strong and no-nonsense, with some reservations about Castle’s involvement in their work, rather like The Mentalist and Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon of its Criminal Bureau of Investigation and her wariness toward the involvement of Crime Consultant Patrick Jane, who like Castle has an irreverent singular approach to crime detection. Initially the professoinal relationship of Lisbon and Jane was cool before she eventually warms to him. Likely, I think, a similar relationship curve between Castle and Beckett.

This new crime series (commenced 2009) now being broadcast in the United Kingdom on Five and episodes re-shown on Demand 5 is a US based crime drama whose two leads are from Canada.

Jayne Brook Castle

The Nanny's Boss - did she do it?

Castle is played by Nathan Fillon who you may remember as Caleb in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Adam Logan in Miss Match or more recently as Dr Adam Mayfair in Desperate Housewives.

Kate Beckett is played by Stana Katic. You may have seen her fleetingly in a good number of TV shows – CSI Miami, Heroes, 24, ER and The Shield among others, but this is her first substantial lead role.

Castle is written by Andrew W Marlowe and is a promising premise for a crime series.

In the second episode Castle employs his literary imaginative skills to good effect assisting Beckett and their team in the investigation of a murdered Nanny whose body was found by a neighbour unceremoniously dumped in a laundry-drier in their apartment basement, so setting the scene for ‘Nanny McDead‘.

A tangled web of relationships and motives the episode then weaves. Reality hits Castle when Beckett reminds him that the parents of the Nanny will have to be informed – contrasting the comfort of the authors chair and the distanced messy reality with the police officers who have to deal with it face-to-face daily.

There are no shortage of crime-fighting double acts on our TV screens – our very own Scott and Bailey, the aforementioned Jane and Lisbon in The Mentalist, Gene Hunt and Alex Drake in Ashes to Ashes – these first episodes of series one of Castle shows signs of another sleuthing duo worthy of our viewing-time.

China and UK £1.4 Billion Trade Deal – Just Don’t Mention Chinese Democracy

Today the British government signed a trade deal with China worth it is said £1.4bn to British businesses.

The two respective leaders David Cameron and Wen Jiabao made the expected speeches about their country benefiting from the others prosperity and ever closer relationships, if mercantile ones.

Human Rights was raised and the Chinese Premier did his usual dance ‘that things were getting better’ without giving any examples to support this. The UK Prime Minister stated that human rights were not ‘off limits’ though again it was not clear what if any issues were raised between them.

The Chinese premier said ‘On human rights, China and the UK should respect each other, respect the facts, treat each other as equals, engage in more co-operation than finger-pointing.’ Treat each other as equals – the gall!

The elephant in the room of course is that the Chinese Premier is an unelected leader. I don’t believe you can have human rights without democracy which is not to say that democracy itself guarantees a human rights paradise. But it does provide a foundation and framework, rights of appeal and transparent processes.

To expect respect for human rights from a tyrant is absurd – wherever you may rate them on the scale of malign dictator to benign autocrat.

If China was a small and impoverished nation with the same democratic framework one can but imagine the vitriol and campaigning against it. But because of its size and ever-increasing economic power our democratic leaders couch their opposition to China’s human rights violations and lack of democracy in the most asinine diplomatic language as clearly for them money matters most.

If any Country did speak out too vocally against China they would be cut off from its huge growing teat – so all is silence. Our own Prime Minister to his credit did write last year that economic development must be underscored by democratic development – but rhetoric is never enough.

Which of our Global democracies will speak out against China? Not the UK, not Europe, not the USA, no-one?

When Joanna Loved Me – Scott Walker

When Joanna Loved Me is a grand romantic gesture.

Robert Wells wrote the words and Jack Segal wrote the music – it was a hit for Toni Bennett – well it reached number 94 on the singles chart in 1964!

I know it from Scott Walker‘s 1967 UK début album Scott.


It opens


Today is just another day,

tomorrow is just a guess, but

yesterday, oh what I’d give for yesterday,

to relive one yesterday and its happiness


A lyric of existential ennui, cool even cold toward the moment and the future but warm and nostalgic for days of Joanna gone by.

With no new love, living now on the embers of this past love.

Delivered in Scott’s luxurious baritone, as luxurious as the string arrangements that accompany him. Arranged by Wally Stott (and Wally was a she as this was a pen-name – real name Angela Morley), Reg Guest and Peter Knight.

Understated yet nothing left unsaid. Masterful.

When Joanna Loved Me,

Every town was Paris,

every day was Sunday,

every month was May.

When Joanna loved me,

every sound was music,

music made of laughter,

laughter that was bright and gay.

Angela Morley

Angela Morley

With Joanna in our life it was worth living, whereas now we just exist as Joanna fades into ever distant memory. Time not standing still.

But when Joanna left me,

May became December.

The day becomes the night,

hope extinguished like a candle-flame,

but no, listen on, hope still lingers…

‘Even in December, I remember her touch,

her smile, and for a little while, she loves me.

And once again its Paris,

Paris on a Sunday, And the month is May.

What a beautifully compact expression of love lost but still living, burning on in the heart and soul of the lorn lover.

It is never said if ‘He Loved Joanna’, or how their love ended, an infidelity perhaps. We do not need to know. The song is a vignette – what came before, what comes after, of no consequence.

Agony & Ecstacy: The BBC’s Year with English National Ballet

Daria Klimentova

Daria Klimentova

Last year was English National Ballet‘s 60th Anniversary and the BBC spent that year with the company.

The result is this three-part series of sixty-minute episodes, currently being re-shown on BBC 4, Agony & Ecstasy: A Year with English National Ballet.

The first episode followed the rehearsals and eventual performance of Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall.

As the English National Ballet is blessed with talented choreographers and ballerinas so too they have blessed the BBC with a cast of characters for this series.

There is the choreographer Derek Deane a friendly (ish) autocrat who bullies and only very occasionally flatters the dancers under his direction. Close to the opening performance the Musical Director Gavin Sutherland gets an earful for his in Deane’s view errant tempos – in contrast Sutherland’s view of a lot of hot-air vent by Deane – alas the BBC Cameras did not film this encounter – or if they did diplomatically chose not to show it!

English National Ballet Swan Lake Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

Then there is the leading man or boy – shy twenty old Russian Vadim Muntagirov – is he inarticulate because he is shy or because of his English or because he has little to say. It is not clear but on stage he transforms as Prince Siegried, his ballet moves as eloquent a testimony as any words he might have spoke.

Finally there is ENB Lead-ballerina Czech Daria Klimentova filling in for absent Work-Visa-delayed international ballet superstar Russian Polina Semionova, as Princess Odette. Now 38 which in ballet terms is quite old and as another of the troupe euphemistically called her ‘in the autumn of her years’ and of which she self-deprecatingly said regarding her pending first-night performance that she is not that nervous as she is hardly going to be discovered and hailed a ballet-star at this late stage of her career.

Daria Klimentova in Romeo and Juliet

Her performance though confounded her and the doubting director’s, it being compared to Margot Fonteyn as the young Russian compared to Rudolph Nureyev. She was as delightful off-stage as elegant on-stage.

Alongside the prima-ballerinas were the supporting cast which in Swan Lake’s case included sixty swans for sixty years of the English National Ballet and sixty ballerinas required giving additional opportunities for ballet-dancers in what can be fleeting and occasional ones in these very competitive rehearsals.

Notable too was the wear and tear on the ballerina’s bodies – the bone, muscle and tendon injuries, the daily blisters and scuffs.

Successful Swan Lake Candidate Ballerina

The BBC program is not just following the performers and choreographers but those behind the scenes – the managers and administrators and other background support. In the year the UK Coalition Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government announced Arts funding cuts to pay for the bankers who caused the 2008 Global financial crisis to continue living the uber-wealthy life they are accustomed English National Ballet is having to reflect what this could mean for their own future. Being as taxpayer funding is a significant contributor to their touring work.

In this first episode the Managing Director Craig Hassall is only floating the possibility of cuts and beginning to explore options open to them – no performances and staff jobs have yet been lost.

The second and third episodes will centre around performances of Romeo & Juliet and Christmas Nutcracker respectively and new ballerinas and choreographers for we the viewers to get to know.

The trials and joys of running the English National Ballet and the staff involved will though remain and I am looking forward to watching how they face these challenges, alongside the backdrop of abundant beautiful ballet.