Emma Jane Palin


The Big Ones

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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Masters of Art | RCA Exhibition

If you do one thing with your days off this weekend, make sure it's a trip to the RCA graduate show. A multitude of design solutions await and let's not forget that the V&A, Serpentine and glorious Royal Albert Hall are all just a stones throw away. 

With a housemate now enrolled at the famous institution, I was curious to see the space that I'd heard so much about and of course seen written about by Patrick on my very own blogSurprisingly enough, it was actually my first visit but thankfully I'm happy to say it won't be my last. The array of talent was clear on arrival and after a day of being fearful about the referendum situation (hence the lack of posts this week) it was a relief to see the unity amongst students and the clear passion to change the world, be it with a humanitarian project or simply an artistic piece to bring a little joy to what seems to be a bit of a dark country at this moment in time.

My favourite project has to be that of Ailsa Sinclair (pictured above). You may have seen me post her piece on Instagram, along with a rather momentous caption about how we should be fighting with positive change - but that really is what design should be about isn't it? Why should we sit back and stay quiet when we can express ourselves through creative means and actually perhaps have more of an impact on those who can't comprehend more traditional ways of communication. 

Sinclair explores the positive attributes that often come with mental illness. Rather than a scale of cold words from a doctor, she has made her own set of terms and is challenging perception. By celebrating the positive attributes such as creativity, humour and divergent thinking, she's de-stigmatising mental illness while providing us with some pretty kick ass neon signs to drool over. Needless to say everyone wanted a photo of this, so I hope the message also came across, although I'm sure with Ailsa's eloquent description, it most certainly did. 

Ive included a little series of my favourites below but I challenge you to go an see them for yourselves, talk to the students and get inspired - who knows where the inspiration may lead to eh?


Monday, 20 June 2016

The Sprinkles of Italy | Write Sketch &

While I'm still rambling on about Milan, I think it's time to introduce to you my favourite discovery of design week - Write Sketch & - a vibrant and playful stationery brand that I'm pretty sure actually cried out to me from the street, I just knew there was a treasure to be found. 

Established by Angela Tomasoni and Matteo Carrubba, Write Sketch & is made in Italy and fuelled by a passion for pattern and a love for printed graphics. The design duo originally founded Officemilano, an agency specialising in art direction and branding, over ten years ago. After so many years of immersing themselves in the fashion and design industry, a natural progression allowed them to launch their own design brand, resulting in the birth of their Super Collection in 2014. 

I think anyone reading this is probably a stationery fanatic, right? Hands up if you have a draw filled with blank notebooks (ahem). I've had to become a bit of a stationery snob due in the past few years. Not even I have enough to-do lists to write to fill the empty pages that adorn my desk drawers and these days I have to find something very special to convince me that one of these little objects is needed in my life. 

The Super Collection ticks all of the boxes for me. Geometric, bright and full of pattern, there are four notebooks in total but all come with a double design so really you have eight options to choose from. This also means that the notebook doesn't have to be used a specific way round - my perfect solution to when you actually like the back more than the front!

Quality is at the heart of the brand. The notebooks are made from fellow Italian brand, Fedrigoni™paper which has been bound using thread stitching, allowing each page to open 180 degrees. Using Pantone™ inks, each page contains a border filled with the sprinkles pattern and to top it all off the lovely logo has been embellished on both sides in gold leaf.

The thought behind each design really makes them stand out from the crowd and granted, these are now a permanent fixture in my flat lays, along with the gift wrap that came along with them. The notebook pictured is now always by my side, so much so, that you may also want to keep an eye out on the FEATHR blog. Absolute motif perfection.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

The Free Range Star | Summer du Plessis

The graduate shows are back in town and boy am I excited. For me there's nothing more rewarding than meeting budding designers who have finally had the weight lifted off their shoulders after a year of damn hard work - I like to catch them later on in the evening when they're all a wee bit tipsy and less nervous about presenting, that's when you get the real gossip!

As of Thursday, design week at Free Range opened it's doors and you still have tomorrow and Thursday to get down to The Old Truman Brewery to check out work from students of Middlesex, Goldsmiths and UCA. In the second show of the upcoming weeks, design week is always my favourite and this time I was particularly on the hunt for one person to fire some questions at about their work, the event and what the future might hold for the graduates of today.

Just like last year Middlesex impressed me with the breadth of their work, the sheer effort they made with their curation and the variety of talent they have on their courses. A personal highlight for me was the work of Summer Du Plessis, a printmaker, writer and illustrator originally from Namibia, whose penchant for striking colours and artistic references had me at hello. When you're referencing Hotel Chelsea in your work, I'm sure to be intrigued and I just adore the psychedelic colour variations and freedom I feel when looking at her pieces. Vivacious and organic, the style is unique and captivating,  I hope to see much more of it in the future, hopefully with even more of a bohemian nature. Wonderfully, Summer quite kindly agreed to let me be nosy, so read on for a little bit of chit chat with the lady who stole the show...

Can you describe your work for me in three words?

Colourful, unsettlingly so.

Where do you seek inspiration and do you have any key people who influence your work?

I am inspired by things that are colourful on the outside but sinister or melancholy on the inside. Things that are not what they appear, bright yet broken, like the life of Frida Kahlo, the disintegration of the hippie movement, theatre and carnival. My influences change so frequently that it hard to pin any down, suffice to say that I try to look at everything from comics to photography, fine art to film, literature as well as illustration.

How are you finding Free Range so far? Any other students we should be looking out for?

So enjoyable! If a little bit exhausting. I managed to see most of the Middlesex show yesterday, and I might be a little biased but I do think Illustration really stands out. We're a small, tight course but incredibly diverse, and our tutors are all about nurturing the individual. I was also really impressed by Middlesex Jewellery. This is the last year they're running the Jewellery course at Middlesex and they've based their show around this 'the last jewellers' identity. Well worth a visit!

What are you most looking forward to now University is all over?

Lying in bed for an entire day and reading a book! Just generally catching up on all the culture I've missed out on while I've been so focused these last few months. Going to the cinema, going to exhibitions; I particularly want to see the one on Russian Children's books at the House of Illustration. I'm going to Valencia for a week in September and I can't wait to lie on the beach and draw!

Where would you like to be in a years time?

That is probably the most difficult question at this point. All I can say is that if in a year's time I am still managing to draw almost every day, regardless of what I'm doing for a living, then I'll be happy. I am very lucky to be part of a great collective, Drawn Chorus, so we've got a couple things on the cards, including an exhibition in brick lane next summer. In the long term I love to get into small press publishing, so if I was a little bit closer to making that a reality that would be great!

I'm thinking there won't be any problems for Summer in the future and I can't wait to keep updated with her progress with Drawn Chorus. What do you think of Summer's designs? Give her a follow on Instagram and Twitter and be sure to go and say hello in person too. Thank you so much to Summer for answering my questions. 

INFO: Free Range, The Old Truman Brewery. Ely's Yard, 15 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR
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