Art on a Ukulele at The Jazz Cafe

Royal Academy Artists, Art, Ukuleles, a storming Ukulele Orchestra concert, famous faces and a worthwhile contemporary cause.... Art on a Ukulele presents an evening with The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (UOGB) and very special guests The Massive Violins and Clean Bandit.

Bill Jacklin, RA

Bill Jacklin, RA

For those of you who don't already know, 30 ukuleles have been painted by luminary artists such as Bill Jacklyn RA, Allen Jones RA, Cathie Pilkington RA, Ramiro Fernandes Saus, PJ Crook, Norman Ackroyd CBE RA and many more. You can take a look at all the ukulele designs here. They will be played by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at a performance at The Jazz Café on September 12 and ultimately auctioned to raise money for The Hepatitis C Trust to eliminate hepatitis C in the UK by the year 2030.

The UK's foremost luthier Pete Howlett has produced a suite of ukuleles in Churchstoke Alder especially for the UOGB to play on September 12 at The Jazz Café where the orchestra will be giving a concert, with celebrity guests and celebrity presenters, including Jon Snow and more to be announced. 

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A concert by the Ukulele Orchestra is a funny, virtuosic, twanging, awesome, foot-stomping obituary of rock-n-roll and melodious light entertainment featuring only the “bonsai guitar” and a menagerie of voices in a collision of post-punk performance and toe-tapping oldies. There are no drums, pianos, backing tracks or banjos, no pitch shifters or electronic trickery. Only an astonishing revelation of the rich palette of orchestration afforded by ukuleles and singing (and a bit of whistling). Audiences have a good time with the Ukulele Orchestra. Going from Tchaikovsky to Nirvana via Otis Redding and Spaghetti Western soundtracks, the Orchestra takes us on “a world tour with only hand luggage” and gives the listener “One Plucking Thing After Another”.

So don't miss it! Get your tickets here for what will be an unmissable evening bringing art, music and some colourful characters together. 

Didier Bizet for Photography on a Postcard

This next Photography on a Postcard Artist is a tour de force, balancing a career as a commercial photographer for companies such as Mango and Bayard presse with a career as a documentary travel photographer. In both fields Didier Bizet has shown a dedication to his craft with a defined personal aesthetic emerging in both. 

As a documentation photographer Didier has travelled across the globe including places such as North Korea, Russia and Kazakhstan. In his series People is my God. Didier explores the bizarrely staged and 'Truman-show' like atmosphere of North Korea, where the tourism industry is moulded and shaped to create a facade over a desperate country with declining resources and a strict authoritarian political regime. However, his photos are not bleak and heavily satirical in ways that often this kind of documentation can be. Rather there is a sense of Didier aiming to search for the heart of the people of North Korea. An exploration of the every day lives of the people who are a part of this globally condemned country. 

It has been said that greatest artists see their work as incomplete, stepping stones to be built upon and lead to the next project. In Pyongyang Paris, inspired by his Truman Show-like trip,  Didier Bizet decided to take a North Korean tourist on a similar journey around France. Bizet merges recognisable scenes from North Korea with shots showing one of its residents discovering Paris in the same regimented and militant manner. He is seen at various landmarks across the French capital (the Eiffel Tower and Louis Vuitton store) experiencing a less-than-honest depiction of Paris – similar to Bizet's Pyongyang experience. The aim is to compare the two worlds side-by-side with strangely common visuals which obscure the cosmic differences that are between the two cities. "I want to denounce the stupidity of [North Korea], the crazy stupidity of this big cinema movie where millions of people are playing a role," Bizet explains.

We feel very lucky to have one of Didier's Pyongyang Paris images as one of the Photo Postcard pieces we will be exhibiting in October. 

Iiu Susiraja for Photography on a Postcard

In this social media age the selfie has become the fastest and most widely used form of self portraiture in history. With the help from beautifying apps we can now edit our own image to conform to existing beauty standards, which has created an additional amount of competition and pressure on, in particular, young girls to present themselves regularly online and in ways that mimic an ideal. Iiu Susiraja's work aims to challenge this kind of self-representation.

In self portraits wherein the artist has wedged a broom under her breasts, is hugging a loaf of bread or carries her tummy on a serving tray, we are presented with a sort of satire on a form of photography that has become the norm. Iiu says the most common reaction to her work is 'confusion', which perhaps reveals how innate this 'perfect selfie' phenomenon has become within our culture, and shouldn't a contemporary photographer be reacting to the contemporary photographic phenomenons? Iiu's work almost feels like a public service to all of us women, to remind us that we can express ourselves and our bodies however we chose and that sometimes the most bizarre, least conventionally beautiful representations can be the most honest and exciting. As the artist puts it, she wants viewers 'to feel freedom to perform how they want to in their own self-portrait. And the best part is if the viewer has conflicting thoughts with my art.'

Iiu's work does not mock the vanity of selfie culture, but rather sees the benefit in this new and highly accessible way of self representing as a form of free self expression and a way of taking control of how you wish to be seen. Rather she sees that it is headed down a path of singularity, and her work demonstrates a breath of fresh air which may inspire a diversity, honesty and truth to how we continue to document ourselves and present our image to the world. 

We are honoured to have one of these self portraits as a Photo Postcard for our exhibition in October. In the image the artist displays the infamous tights struggle every woman knows all too well, humorously using a baseball bat to help her with it, to seemingly no avail. 

Iiu Susiraja, Kodinpelastaja, 2012

Iiu Susiraja, Kodinpelastaja, 2012

Her work is a great example of how contemporary photographers are reshaping the climate that photography exists within by satirising the forms that make up the 'norms'. We are delighted to have Iiu on board as one of our participating artists. For the full list of who else's work is on the line up go to http://bit.ly/2r0MUE4

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About the writer

Rosa Torr has a BA in Politics and Philosophy from University College Dublin, though she herself is from London. Her place of interest is political theory and in particular Gender Studies. Rosa has written for numerous online publications and the University Observer. She is also a theatre maker and is currently co-artistic director of BUMP&GRIND Theatre Company. The show she co-wrote BUMP is on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer.

David Shillinglaw for Art on a Ukulele

David Shillinglaw, is a London-based artist born to British parents in Saudi Arabia. Since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2002 he has exhibited in galleries in Japan, China, The Gambia, Holland and key cities such as NY, London, Berlin and Istanbul. 

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Shillinglaw’s work moves between street and studio, from small handmade book, to paintings on canvas, and large scale wall murals. He has also applied his fine art practice to a number of other contexts, which range from theatre set designs, to album cover designs. Past commissions include illustrations for The British Council Annual Report, murals for Converse and The Dulwich Picture House and a limited edition bag design for Agnes b.

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“David is a mind adventurer, where the left half of the brain explores the right one. Unanswered, impulsive, instinctive and restless - David doesn’t paint or draw, he creates time. Evident in all his work is that David Shillinglaw is not afraid to humanise his art. He incorporates the perceptual concern of his journey as a man with his own sense of humour. The result is a powerful and fresh interpretation of everyday reality. His art has the appeal of Pop but a friendly, subtle, self-effacing Pop that presents the ordinary and delights the viewer when he shows that you have your best conversation with yourself." -Jaybo Monk

We invite you to take a look at David's Ukulele design. It's incredibly colourful, playful and is truly a beautiful one of a kind piece. We can't wait to see it played next month. To buy tickets to see this uke get played by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain along with 27 others designed by David's contemporaries, go to http://bit.ly/2qTFR0O.

David Shillinglaw

David Shillinglaw

Louis Turpin for Art on a Ukulele

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Born in post-war London, the son of artists living in Brixton. On leaving school Louis Turpin studied Architecture before changing direction and going to art school. The last half of his Fine Art painting course was spent film-making and, on graduation, he became involved in film work in London.

In 1975, Louis began to concentrate on painting and, in an intense three-month period of work, he moved from abstraction to figuration. The hop garden outside his cottage was the pathway through to figurative painting.  In 1985, inspired by Vita Sackville-West’ s garden at Sissinghurst he embarked upon a continuing series of British garden paintings. This year also saw the start of a series of very successful one-man shows throughout the UK, and latterly in the USA.

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During this period he also continued to paint his distinctive portraits as shown at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Royal Society of Portrait Painters and at international contemporary art fairs. His work has featured in several publications including Anthony Huxley’ s ‘ The Painted Garden’ .

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In 1993, Louis was invited to exhibit in York in conjunction with the National Garden Scheme. This was the first of a series of National Garden Scheme exhibitions around the country, including a one-man show in Henley which was the subject of a major article in the Sunday Times ‘ Classic’  magazine. In 1996, Louis completed several commissions to produce paintings for hotels including a suite of paintings for the Bedruthen Steps Hotel, Cornwall.

He has long been established as one of Britain's leading horticultural artists. Working in oils, he starts with a brightly coloured semi-abstract ground over which he builds the image in patches. This creates a tapestry-like effect, which suits the Victorian-gothic character of many of the gardens he paints, where rather than standing back to view a grand design, the viewer is overwhelmed by a barrage of subtly differentiated colours and textures. And it's clear he sees the gardeners who create them as kindred spirits, who are in effect painting with plants.

We are very proud to present his Ukulele. A completely unique design by a contemporary master in painting. 

Louis Turpin 

Louis Turpin 

To buy tickets to see this uke get played by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain along with 27 others designed by Louis' contemporaries, go to http://bit.ly/2qTFR0O.