Today is International Coffee Day. I’m not sure when it was that coffee shops (formerly known as cafes) began to loom so large in my life. It wasn’t always that way; whole decades went by without subjecting myself to a grande, decaf, iced vanilla latte with soy milk every time I journeyed into town. Half my annual income is now spent on the things. From time to time, I attempt to write in coffee shops, but it never ends well.
must have camped out overnight
because this coffee shop has only been open five minutes and they have already taken command
of the plug sockets
my laptop battery is on 12%
which, by my calculations, should allow me
just enough time to connect to the wi-fi,
spill an overpriced latte over my tatty blue cardigan,
wonder how it can be that people, not even half my age and with no obvious sign of regular income,
all possess laptops (and cardigans)
immeasurably more desirable than my own,
consider whether, at the napkin-soaked heart
of all this jealousy, it is their youth or their plug sockets I covet the most, and nearly – but not quite –
finish writing my po
This poem is taken from Brian Bilston’s forthcoming book ‘Days Like These: An Alternative Guide to the Year in 366 Poems’ which is out on 13th October (and available for pre-order now). For more Brian visit www.brianbilston.com or follow him on Instagram where he posts a daily poem.
Our Autumn Cultural Wildlife includes exhibitions which will take you on a journey from remote parts of Brazil to Korea and Iran, get you thinking about vision and desire and look at how artists have used clay in inventive ways.
Soheila Sokhanvari: Rebel Rebel
In an exhibition that couldn’t have become more pertinent to the current activism in Iran, Rebel Rebel, the Curve gallery’s new immersive art installation, is the first major UK commission by Iranian artist Soheila Sokhanvari, celebrating and commemorating feminist icons from pre-revolutionary Iran.
Barbican Curve Gallery, 7 October 26 February
Richard Mosse: Broken Spectre
Long since fans of Richard Mosse’s powerful work, which has exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery and as the Irish entry for the Venice Biennale, he has quietly become one of the most important photographers working today. His latest work, filmed in remote parts of the Brazilian Amazon, is an immersive video installation documenting environmental crimes, using a range of scientific imaging technologies. Seeking to overcome the inherent challenges of representing climate change in order to make visible the world’s most crucial yet ignored ecological warzone, this is Mosse’s most ambitious project to date.
180 The Strand, 12 October to 4 December
Hallyu! The Korean Wave
From Squid Game to Gangnam Style, South Korea has become a celebrated part of global pop culture. The V&A’s new exhibition, Hallyu! The Korean Wave explores the beginnings of the ‘Korean Wave’ and traces its evolution from the 1960s to today. You can also check out the new Thames & Hudson book, Make Break Remix, edited by the exhibition’s co-curator, Fiona Bae, which we’ve been working on the UK publicity for.
V&A, 24 September to 25 June
In Plain Sight
A cerebral but fascinating new show at the Wellcome Collection explores the subjectivity of vision. Corrective and protective eyewear, vision systems and other lenses enable us to construct realities, perform identities and observe others – the show presents a range of perspectives to critically reflect on the predominance of vision as a sense. If this intrigues you, also check out filmmaker Mark Cousins’ documentary, The Story of Looking, available to watch HERE and which we recently ran the publicity campaign for.
Wellcome Collection, 20 October to 12 February
Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design, 1924-today
Pieces by Sarah Lucas, Björk, Tim Walker and Dior show alongside artworks and objects from Man Ray, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp and Leonora Carrington to explore the relationship between Surrealism and design.
Design Museum, 14 October to 19 February
Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art
Hot on the heels of curator Ekow Eshun’s critically acclaimed In the Black Fantastic comes the first large-scale group exhibition in the UK to explore how contemporary artists have used the medium of clay in inventive ways. Featuring artists such as Grayson Perry, Lubna Chowdhary, Betty Woodman, Emma Hart and Magdalene Odundo, the artworks encompass fantastical creatures and the uncanny, and small abstract works to large-scale installations that take the medium beyond the kiln.
Hayward Gallery, 26 October to 8 January
On our stereo
Our autumn playlist has been curated by author Paul Gorman, inspired by his new book Totally Wired: The Rise and Fall of the Music Press (published by Thames & Hudson). A raucous yet reflective look back at the evolution of the music press and the passionate rock and pop journalists who defined the music of the 20th century. It’s been a riot to work on publicity and partnerships for the book’s upcoming release.
As the cold nights close in we’re highlighting six eclectic new books that we’re adding to an ever-growing pile on our bedside tables. In no particular order, here’s our prescribed dose of the best new and recent writing across arts, culture, fiction and ideas:
The History of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel (Penguin)
The Experience Book For Designers, Thinkers & Makers by Adam Scott & Dave Waddell (Black Dog Publishing)
Assembly by Natasha Brown (Penguin)
I’m A Fan by Sheena Patel (Rough Trade Books)
How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (and Other Parents) by Hettie Judah (Lund Humphries)
Wiper by (legendary former Margaret) John Harris Dunning (Dark Horse Comics)
A little of what we’re up to
Autumn never sees us twiddling our thumbs, and this year is no exception. We’ve been kept busy and culturally inspired by a rich array of exciting new projects and clients (thank you world). From Channel, the new curated online space by Somerset House, to the launch of Polaroid Music and new working friendships with Doc’ n Roll Film Festival, as well as Ireland’s fantastic ‘Other Voices’ Festival. Not to mention the discovery of a brilliant new Social Enterprise called Good Hotel which takes some of the Margaret team to Guatemala this month.
Channel is the new curated online space from Somerset House that delves into art, ideas and the artistic process, which we’ve been helping launch. It showcases special commissions, documentaries, films, podcasts, talks, interactive works and editorial content. Its first commission is an incredible film by Turner Prize nominated artist Sin Wai Kin, shot entirely in the historic surroundings of Somerset House. Head over to https://channel.somersethouse.org.uk/ to see more.
Polaroid has always been a brand closely connected to and inspired by music and this September has seen them taking this further through the launch of Polaroid Music. This includes the release of four new analogue-inspired, playful and vibrant Bluetooth speakers called ‘The Polaroid Players’ as well as the introduction of an exciting, new ad-free digital Polaroid Radio station, curated by some of the most exciting creators, artists, DJs and musicians working today, all made accessible via the newly launching Polaroid Music app. As their PR agency, we’ve been managing the UK launch.
We discovered Good Hotel for the first time through reading Alan Moore’s great book ‘Do Build: How to Make and Build a Business the World Needs’ in which he lists Good Hotel as one of 50 ‘Beautiful Businesses’. A social enterprise, it gives jobs to long-term unemployed people, enabling them to build careers in hospitality as well as funds education programs in Guatemala for low-income families. We’re thrilled to now be working with them to raise awareness for their recently launched hotel in Guatemala and another docked (it’s on a huge ship) at London’s Royal Docks. Expect to hear more about them in the coming months… And in the meantime you can read their story at www.goodhotel.co.
Doc’ n Roll Film Festival returns for its 9th edition from 27 Oct to 13 Nov. We’re publicising its programme as it takes music to big screens this autumn with a 13-city tour. Featuring 22 hand-picked feature-length documentaries, some premiering for the first time, alongside shorts from across the globe, Doc’ n Roll brings its events to life with live Q&As with directors and musicians, special DJ sets, afterparties and post-screening gigs. With a glittering programme of major artists and unsung heroes, cult icons and underground subcultures it covers all musical genres from electronic, folk and punk to soul, psychedelia and jazz. Head to www.docnrollfestival.com to find out more!
Work with our new client, the wonderful music festival and TV programme Other Voices, takes us to beautiful West Wales this November for Other Voices Cardigan and a weekend of music, performance and stories. They then return home to Dingle to celebrate their 21st birthday, with an incredible weekend of songs from the head and the heart on the extraordinary Dingle Peninsula between 2-4 December.
As part of our ongoing work for The Photographers’ Gallery, this season we are publicising two major exhibitions including a retrospective of late British Magnum photographer Chris Killip (also a Thames & Hudson book) and An Alternative History of Photography which draws from the Solander Collection and includes a book from Prestel. Other highlights include announcing the four new shortlisted artists for the Deutsch Börse Photography Foundation Prize; a collaboration for Magnum’s latest Square Prints Sale; plus An Underground Resistance by Josèfa Ntjam, an Augmented Reality initiative co-curated with HERVISIONS’ Zaiba Jabbar (based at our other client Somerset House Studios), developed for TPG’s new Soho Photography Quarter.
This month we had the chance to sit down with one of the country’s leading Mycologists, Darren Springer who has been working with GROW to create the country’s first AQA accreditation mushroom growing course, giving disadvantaged young people tools to develop life skills and the option of a viable career in Mycology and Mushroom Cultivation.
We’re super happy to be working with GROW this year as one of our 1% For The Planet charity partners. The charity works with schools & communities in North London to deliver programmes in sustainable food growing & outdoor learning for young people.
How did you get interested in mushrooms?
I have been interested since childhood, though it became less cool and I got interested in other things (music, football) in my teenage years. It was really triggered again by my first trip to Barbados, where my family are from. I reconnected with my food growing lineage: I come from a family of farmers. It’s part of everyday life there, everyone in the community knows about food growing there and being there made me feel naive and I wanted to know more and be able to feed my family good food. I came back to the UK, went to the local farmers market, connected with Organically and it started from there. But with mushrooms, it all really started when I was studying at Organically and my favourite subjects were soil science and composting, and I discovered the magic behind all of this was mycelia.
It feels like mushrooms are having more than their moment, with brands increasingly using them for packaging material – eg. IKEA – and the medicinal uses for treating anxieties etc. How do you think and hope we’ll be using mushrooms in the future?
I feel we’re just coming full circle. With my work with indigenous communities I know we’re just going back to how things used to be done. With things like permaculture, it’s a newish thing but the founders of permaculture said they learnt through watching the indigenous Aborigines from Australia. Back in the day using these raw materials for clothing, packaging, for everything was normal.
Your work takes you around the world. Which people and places are exciting you in mycology at the moment or in general?
In Jamaica, there’s a true interest in its therapeutic and medicinal potential, and because of the cultural climate it being a taboo area, we can educate, we can empower a third world Caribbean island to become something through these provisions. And in places like Guatemala and Mexico also, where plants are indigenous to these areas and its people have knowledge and old wisdom we can learn, have cultural knowledge exchanges: those three places are spearheading mycological works.
What is a good starting point for people to learn more about mycology?
Netflix documentaries like Fantastic Fungi, YouTube, books such as ‘Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World’ by Paul Stamets. If you want to delve a bit deeper I’d recommend ‘Radical Mycology’ by Peter Macoy, which looks at basic to advanced techniques in the mushroom world – clean polluting waters, create sustainable biofuels, clothing materials, there are endless lists of what mushrooms can do!
If you weren’t doing this what might you be doing instead?
I’m into music, filmmaking, and have a background of working with communities in the creative arts, organising events, concerts etc – I still do.
Anything else you want to plug?
The AQA is really important. Not just at GROW, but the opportunity for all schools, all communities to engage in this recognised accreditation for the first time, especially for young people to access this stuff. I also have a series of workshops happening across the mushroom season (October to November). Check out my website – darrenlebaron.com
Elemental Making at Make Hauser & Wirth
Review by Margaret alumni Siobhan Andrews Kapoor
Make Hauser & Wirth in the picturesque Somerset town of Bruton, is, for those yet to visit, a small but beautiful gallery space (and only a train ride from London – bonus!). Housed across two rooms in a quintessential Georgian townhouse, Make’s exhibition programme focuses on work by contemporary makers and the crafted object.
Their latest exhibition, Elemental Making, brings together work by two artist-makers; Akiko Hirai and Craig Bamford (SASA Works); Hirai working predominantly with clay to create subtly shaped and richly textural vessels, and Bamford with elemental materials including wood and metal, to create elegantly understated sculptural objects that seem to possess an unexpected sense of both weightlessness and solidity. Both artists explore themes of material transformation and the relationship between making and intuitive response, drawing out the intrinsic essence of the objects beyond their physical form in a really thoughtful way. I couldn’t help but revel in the interplay between the materials; Hirai’s Poppy Pod Vases and groups of Still Life Bottles in black and white were particularly memorable.
Elemental Making is currently on show at Make Hauser & Wirth, Somerset until 5 th November.