Thursday, 24 July 2014


Derek Ridgers described himself as a 'rank amateur' when he first started out. Equipped with 'one camera and one lens', he later expanded on his kit in order to capture his vision with more versatility. His subjects are the people you might look twice at when passing them in the street. I've been one of them down the years. An unassuming man preferring his role as documenter and social voyeur, polite to the extreme he always asks his subjects permission to photograph them, 'I was never interested in photographing people unless they were looking at the lens'. Perhaps Derek sees himself as an outsider, in actual fact he has become an integral 'insider', his photographic reportage being pivotal in recording transitional era's of dressing from the mid 70's onwards. In his latest book 78- 87 London Youth Ridgers reveals a counter culture of people obsessed with personal style, pointing his lens towards the characters that populate our fair city you get the feeling he himself is both obsessed and intrigued. Dressing in outlandish style or belonging to one particular scene is not something Ridger's feels compelled to do on a personal level but it's something he feels driven to document,  'I suppose I might have been fashionable when I was 15 [years old] for ten minutes'. His stern father mocked him at a tender age telling the young Derek he could not wear a seemingly garish item of apparel of Derek's own choice out in the street, at the time Derek quickly responded with a quip, 'Well can I wear it indoors then?'

All photo's courtesy Derek Ridgers

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Weekend in Rome... Galleria Lorcan O'Neill

Last weekend I went over to Rome for Lorcan O'Neill's new gallery opening at 3 Vicolo Dei Catinari and to dj at the after party. First of all I should say it's been a while since I've been to Rome and in fact since I left dear old Hackney Road! I do like traveling don't get me wrong - not so keen on the train, plane process of actually getting somewhere. Once I'm at said chosen destination I love it. Anyway Rome, yeah, blazing hot and a lot of cobble stones not ideal for a lady like me who likes to add the inches with an ankle strapped hoof. Still though I managed! The Gallery is something to behold, up it's cobble stoned entrance and a slice of old Rome greets you in the form of a ornate fountain. It's a bit crumbling but there are plans to get it back to it's former glory.

Entrance to Galleria Lorcan O'Neill
The entrance is to the left btw. The debut group show consists Richard Long, Jeff Wall and Enrico Castellani. I'm a great fan of Richard Longs work... Devonshire mud paintings and rock installations. Richard Long was actually there and I actually got to meet him and have a chat. Fan facts: did you know Richard Long once made a bow tie out of a cereal packet when he was at college in the 60's. Gilbert & George were his class mates and he likes to have a disco dance on occasion.

Richard Long rock formation in the viewing room.
Inside the gallery (courtesy of Galleria Lorcan O'Neill)
Jeff Wall was also there, and a cast of artists and supporters on the wildly hot and glamourous evening of Friday 4th July. Later we made our way to Gilda, a  disco which looked liked something straight out of the 80's for a light bite and a proper dance. Yes and everyone danced as I played a selection of old and new disco plus favourites.

Next day a special lunch... complete with speeches.

What we ate.
A little fact about Lorcan whom I met when he was at the Anthony Doffay Gallery in London and who was integral to putting on the Leigh Bowery installation there in 1988.

A snatch of Leigh performing at the Doffay gallery 1988

Website click here... Galleria Lorcan O'Neill Roma

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Well did you ever... 'Princess Julia in Meadham Kirchhoff' in the BP Awards 2014 - National Portrait Gallery - by Ben Ashton

Last week saw the grand unveiling of the National Portrait Gallery's annual BP Awards. Now in it's 25th year which went up last week. Yeah and you'll never guess what artist Ben Ashton did one of me. 'Princess Julia in Meadham Kirchhoff is quite a thing. Life size and quite imposing, here's what London Calling said... 'This year’s submissions certainly capture the spirit and personality of their subjects. Some of the more notable portraits include Ben Ashton’s painting of Princess Julia in Meadham Kirchhoff. Demonstrating a painting style suggestive of a fashion photograph, Ashton encapsulates the strong, fearless and imposing presence of Princess Julia on an otherwise bare canvas. Her unique fashion sense is unapologetic and bold, making this portrait one of the highlights of the exhibition.' 

It's painted on raw canvas so you know it's a painting,  Ashton's technique is what you might call hyperreal. When I went to the launch I noticed how people were peering at it closely. Fascinating.

Ben Ashton says...
I first painted Princess Julia back in 2010 for a charity auction. Since then she has been a fantastic advocate for my work and I have kept her in mind as a subject due to her striking looks and exceptional style. As Julia has held the title of Princess for many years, it seemed fitting for her to be portrayed as royalty. I proposed the regal concept to Julia, and it put her immediately in mind of the design duo Meadham Kirchoff. Their look is both reminiscent of a bygone era and completely modern, and perfectly suits this satirical take on a royal portrait.

I chose to leave the linen bare around her to really accentuate the richness of the garments. There is something quintessentially British about both monarchy and rebellion that is encapsulated in Julia's pose, and indeed in Julia herself. With her hands on her hips, echoing many a Tudor painting, she judges the viewer defiantly.

I also asked Julia to write a few of her own words about the painting, as I view this piece as a collaboration:

"There's nothing I like more than delving into the dressing up box. When Ben Ashton asked to paint me, we conjured up a spark of an idea and I immediately thought of designers Edward Meadham and Ben Kirchhoff. I have been an avid fan of their work for some time now; the world they create on the catwalk is fantastical and heady, a story unfolding. Likewise, Ben Ashton attends to his painterly detailing with intensity; his artistry is at once traditional and contemporary in execution. A story unfolds with each brush stroke."
                                                                                                           - Princess Julia.