Art on a Ukulele takes The Jazz Cafe

DSC01734.JPG
Members of the Ukulele Orchestra share a moment 

Members of the Ukulele Orchestra share a moment 

Our night at the Jazz Cafe was a huge success and a lot of fun. The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain started us off with tremendous covers that put their fun and  orchestral spin on some classic songs to sing-a-long to. Amy Winehouse was a favourite, very apt for the Camden location. It confirmed that not only do these Ukuleles look brilliant, they sound just as good. There's nothing like the classics to get people dancing.

The guests at the Jazz Cafe get ready for the night of music, art and famous faces.

The guests at the Jazz Cafe get ready for the night of music, art and famous faces.

Jon Snow takes to the stage

Jon Snow takes to the stage

One of the highlights of the evening was the wonderful Jon Snow's rendition of Hey Jude, accompanied by the Ukulele Orchestra. He was a tremendous host, adding lots of heart and humour to the evening. 

Grace Chatto plays the Cello

Grace Chatto plays the Cello

The Massive Violins played with Clean Bandit's Grace Chatto who demonstrated her prowess as a musician as well as a vocalist. The band opened with beautiful orchestral string music, launching into a rendition of Bob the Builder. Funny, charming and musically gifted, the whole crowd sang along, danced and laughed. 

The Artists were all out of course to see their work on show. Prints were available to purchase at our stall and it was great to see so many of you supporting the cause, buying wonderful art in the process. The Ukuleles themselves will of course be available at our Auction on Thursday 21st September, make sure you get down there to place your bid on these one of a kind pieces. If you regret not picking up a print, we'll also have more of those on sale at our Private View on Tuesday 19th September, where we have the Ukulele's beautifully hung along the walls of the gallery in Westminster. 

Mick Rooney RA plucks along with his Uke

Mick Rooney RA plucks along with his Uke

Artist Eugenie Vronskaya taking a look at the prints 

Artist Eugenie Vronskaya taking a look at the prints 

DSC01758.JPG

Stephen Leslie for Photography on a Postcard

Stephen Leslie - Postcard 1

Stephen Leslie - Postcard 1

Stephen Leslie creates candid public street photography, where nothing is set up or pre-planned. He navigates the streets undercover, in the shadows, whilst illuminating moments and narratives created in everyday scenes. Only using film photography means each shot has to count, and that he is forced to wait for the shot to be developed before he can view the image.

Stephen Leslie - Postcard 2

Stephen Leslie - Postcard 2

How then is Leslie's photography so unbelievably well composed? The answer is perhaps rigour. On his process, he says that 'what began as a simple way to keep visually alert in between directing jobs soon morphed in to a daily diary of images and eventually became an obsession I've been struggling to contain ever since. Now I can't physically leave the house without at least one camera and have a vast back catalog of photographs.'  You can find his catalog here. 

Stephen Leslie - Behind You!

Stephen Leslie - Behind You!

Stephen's photography is mainly shot in London but he has photographed around the world. Stephen's London scenes are so diverse in setting. From the parks to the gutters, from the bus stop to the fun fair, Stephen's shots represent the city in it's totality; as a vast and diverse ever changing landscape where the people and their stories are extremely rich but often go unheard. Each of Stephen's images tells a story, or creates characters out of subjects that are often left anonymous in the big smoke. If you've ever sat with a friend on a park bench and people watched, creating characters out of strangers (e.g 'That man with the red hat on is definitely going through a divorce' 'yeah, and the woman he's talking to is consoling him but she secretly loves him'), then you will understand. With every photo he breathes life into his characters via expert composition, setting and timing. 

Stephen Leslie - Primal Scream Roadie

Stephen Leslie - Primal Scream Roadie

In Stephen's final photo postcard we are given a prime example of this. Entitled the Ice Cream Lickers, this piece is taken of a middle aged couple enjoying an ice cream. But true to Stephen's story telling tendencies, it is accompanied by a written piece. Enjoy. 

Stephen Leslie -Ice Cream Lickers

Stephen Leslie -Ice Cream Lickers

Ice Cream Couple

(Accompanying story taken from his forthcoming book SPARKS which will be published by Unbound later this year.) 

He thinks:  Hang on a sec, this isn't pistachio. I ordered pistachio. 
She thinks:  He still hasn't noticed I've got his flavour by mistake. 
He thinks:  I think this is hazelnut. I don't really like hazlenut. 
She thinks:  Even if he does notice he won't say anything. He never does. 
He thinks:  Maybe I should go and complain? 
She thinks:  Like that time on the ferry from Zeebrugge when they tried to put us in to a third    class cabin with mouse droppings on the bed like morse-code and we'd paid for    second class. He would rather have said nothing and avoided a scene than stand up   for himself. I had to sort it out in the end. I always do.
He thinks: Problem is I've eaten most of it now, it's probably too late. 
She thinks: If only you could pick a husband like you can choose an ice-cream....
He thinks:  It looks a little bit like the Statue Of Liberty. A tiny ice-cream torch.
She thinks:  So you knew precisely what you were getting in advance.  
He thinks: Maybe I could get Magda to stand holding it aloft in her right hand and I could take   a picture? It would be funny. One for the album. 
She thinks:  I thought he was going to be exciting. He was exciting a long time ago, for about two   months and then that was it.
He thinks: She wouldn't do it though. She hates me taking her photo now, says I make    her look old and ugly but that's not what I see.
She thinks: Now all he does is take stupid photographs and wear those ridiculous sunglasses,   like he's still a teenager.
He thinks: She never used to mind... 
She thinks:  And don't get me started on those shorts....
He thinks:  I definitely ordered pistachio.

We are delighted to have Stephen's work as part of our Photo Postcard exhibition in October. For more info on the project and other participating artists go to http://bit.ly/2r0MUE4

Tom Hunter for Photography on a Postcard

Tom Hunter is an artist using photography and film, living and working in East London. He is Professor of Photography at the London College of Communications, University of the Arts, London, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of East London. Tom has earned several awards during his career, his latest in 2016, the Rose Award for Photography at the Royal Academy, London.

Tom graduated from the London College of Printing in 1994 with his work ‘The Ghetto’, which is now on permanent display at the Museum of London. He studied for his MA at the Royal College of Art, where, in 1996, he was awarded the Photography Prize by Fuji Film for his series ‘Travellers’. In 2006 Tom became the only artist to have a solo photography show at the National Gallery, London with his series ‘Living in Hell and Other Stories’.

His work has specialised in documenting life in Hackney, depicting local issues and sensationalist news headlines with compositions borrowed from the Old Masters. For instance, his photograph of a squatter, Woman Reading a Possession Order, references Johannes Vermeer's Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window. This photograph won the Photographic Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery. Of the photograph, which was shot with a large-format camera and printed in Ilfochrome process, Hunter said:

"I just wanted to take a picture showing the dignity of squatter life – a piece of propaganda to save my neighbourhood....The great thing is, the picture got a dialogue going with the council – and we managed to save the houses."

His photography has therefore done what most artists hope will come of their art; real social change. He has bridged the gap between politics and art, and walked across it too. Tom was handed keys to one of the famous Holly Street’s flats by Hackney Council so he could document residents before their evictions. On the project he says “It was rough and violent and there was graffiti and rubbish everywhere, but then you went into people’s homes and it was a warm experience – meeting these people who had put pride and effort into their homes and bringing up their kids. There was a contradiction going on between local government and decay, and personal pride. It was a privilege to work with the community before it was scattered to the wind.”

His photo postcard is taken at Hackney Marshes. Like many of Tom's images, here he references Pre-raphaelite paintings giving a sense of beauty and narrative to a maligned and overlooked place and culture. 

Hackney Marshes, 2017

Hackney Marshes, 2017

We are delighted to have Tom's work as part of our Photo Postcard exhibition in October. For more info on the project and other participating artists go to http://bit.ly/2r0MUE4

David George for Photography on a Postcard

David George is an artist who has been working with photography for more than 20 years. After gaining his BA in Fine Art and Photography he went on to gaining his MA in Photographic Studies at the Sir John Cass School of Art. His main subject is the interaction of rural with urban spaces and long exposure, especially night photography. David exhibits and sells work internationally. 

David George 

David George 

David George

David George

David approaches photography in a unique way that combines academic research of the camera and light with an artistic curiosity for finding beauty within darkness. He currently lectures and runs masterclasses on available light and alternate/archival photography at Universities around the UK. In available-light photography, you look for the interesting light, then figure out how to use it to make an interesting picture. Available-light photography has always held the allure of intimacy. Other genres reach for grandeur and beauty or the brutal impact of graphic truth. Available light offers something else: the exotic possibility of going beneath the surface and into the shadows to reveal what is hidden.  Whilst this type of photography requires extremely acute technical knowledge of how light and camera interact, it is also a fete of the artists spirit. By getting pictures out of tough situations, David is pushing the boundaries of what is possible within photography. This is demonstrated in all four of his photo postcards. 

David George 

David George 

In 2009 he co-founded the Uncertain States Project, a quarterly broadsheet showcasing contemporary British photography. Their shared purpose is 'to be part of the ongoing dialogue of what photography is today, what motivates us to create and ask how photography communicates'. Whilst this is a shared manifesto, it is clear that this investigation into contemporary photography underlies David's personal photographic project. David exhibits and sells work internationally. 

David George

David George

We are very pleased  to have David's work as part of our Photo Postcard exhibition in October. For more info on the project and other participating artists go to http://bit.ly/2r0MUE4

Paul Theroux: The Ukulele

Paul Edward Theroux is an American travel writer and novelist, whose best-known work is The Great Railway Bazaar. He has published numerous works of fiction, some of which were adapted as feature films. He was awarded the 1981 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel The Mosquito Coast, which was adapted for the 1986 movie of the same name. Here he writes on the beauty of the Ukulele ahead of our Art on a Ukulele concert on the 12th of September. 

Paul Theroux: The Ukulele

          The beauty of a ukulele in Hawaii is that the sweet plinking of its strings never drowns out the other music of the islands; it harmonizes with the slosh of waves on sand, the rattle the palm fronds, the sigh of iron woods in the Trade Winds. The uke- not ancient here –  was first remarked upon on a particular day, Sept 3, 1879. A British clipper ship, the Ravenscrag, had recently arrived from Madeira, 12,000 miles away. When the newly arrived passengers began busking on Honolulu street corners, the Hawaiian Gazette wrote that day of the “strange instruments, which are a kind of cross between a guitar and a banjo, but which produce very sweet music in the hands of the Portuguese minstrels.”

          Among the new immigrants, who had come from their impoverished island to prosperous sugar-growing Hawaii to cut cane, were three men who ended up making a living fashioning a new instrument, combining the virtues of an instrument they call a machete with a similar but much smaller Portuguese rajao. This new creature, now four strings, and made of local, brilliantly flamed and strong koa wood, was named ukulele, the word for jumping flea.

          The ukulele’s greatest boost was that it was loved by the young king, David Kalakaua (1836-91), who learned to play it and sing. We know this from R. L. Stevenson, who feasted with the king, whom he called “a too convivial sovereign” (“a bottle of fizz is like a glass of sherry to him”). Stevenson’s step-daughter, Belle Strong wrote in her memoir This Life I’ve Loved, that his majesty usually strummed and crooned his favorite, Sweet Lei-lei-hua, but once, in his cups “he electrified us” by singing,  

          Hoky Poky winky wum
          How do you like your taters done?
          Boiled or with their jackets on?
          Sang the King of the Sandwich Islands.

The heroes of ukulele are Herb Ota, Jake Shimabukuro, and Israel Kamakawiwoʻole -Brudda Iz ,who  a giant at 700 pounds, strummed his uke – tiny in his hands – and sang like an angel. In his house in Maui, George Harrison, played and sang to friends. The small simple instrument of such versatility, gives life to a gathering. Virtually every family I know in Hawaii owns a ukulele (mine was made by a Madeira descendent, David Gomes, in Kapaau on the Big Island.) At some point in a party, someone picks up a ukulele and plays – well or badly - an island ballad, a rude (kolohe) song, a teasing tune, or something romantic, while the wind rattles the palms.

Cathie Pilkington Double JPG.jpg

The Art on a Ukulele Auction is now open..place you bids HERE