Tag Archives: Art

➤ A swelle hello from upstart Judith, returning in an explosion of colour

Blitz Kids, David Bowie,Ashes to Ashes , Judith Frankland

Blitz Kids chosen by Bowie to star in his Ashes to Ashes video, 1980: Darla-Jane, Steve, Judith and Elise with Bowie at centre as Major Tom. © EMI

❚ WE ALL REMEMBER DESIGNER Judith Frankland’s nun-like appearance in David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video in 1980 alongside Steve Strange who was wearing her infamous black wedding dress. Tomorrow Judith unveils her first women’s collection in eight years at the Holy Biscuit gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne, in a week-long show by a mixed group of women artists. She says her new outfits are designed for “The Woman Who Likes to say Hello!”

Judith Frankland, fashion, Holy Biscuit gallery, Newcastle

Judith’s flyer illustrated by Manny More

They are joyous explosions of colour that, she insists, “come from within my well travelled head” — and here we’re talking the shock tactics of an eternal punkette, whose own looks veer between the immaculate cool of revue star Bea Lillie and the fruitiness of dancer Carmen Miranda. At the height of the Blitz club’s notoriety, Judith’s playful yet tailored outfits adorned Steve Strange as vocalist with Visage to become some of the most distinctive styles of the New Romantics movement. Most memorable was the taffeta jacket with medieval flourishes on the cover for Fade to Grey.

Judith Frankland, Milan, clubbing, Pussy Galore,

Milanese night warrior: Judith during her Pussy Galore hostess era, 1989-96

Where did the last 30 years go for Judith? She has lived more lives than the rest of us ever will, in a whirl of bespoke design partnerships and nightclub promoting from Vancouver to LA to Milan to Paris, fuelled by acerbic wit and a mighty big heart. With such landmark clubs as Pussy Galore and Chocolat City, the Italians branded her one of “i guerrieri della notte” — the warriors of the night.

In the end she returned to Tyneside to look after her ailing mum, and only now has she found the time and energy to return to the fashion fray. Judith’s last business was based in Paris and that’s where she plans to return next year. The new Winter 2011/12 collection is a modest calling card that exploits a secret stash of “school-blazer fabrics” in stripes and vibrant colourways. Judith has suffused uniform wool suitings with a positively romantic glow.

With the left hand, she has been contributing to a smart new blog called The Swelle Life, run by writer-photographer Denise Grayson. Here in her own uninhibited confessional style, Judith pays generous tribute to the inspirational circle of friends she has acquired on her travels.

Judith Frankland, fashion,nun,Sound of Music

Judith’s nun look from 1980, left, echoed in 2011, right. After fashion, her second passion is the film The Sound of Music. “I hate revisiting the past,” she maintains, but for her Swelle Life blog, she couldn’t resist accessorising this vintage German skirt with her own nun’s collar and cuffs. Photographs by Derek Ridgers and Denise Grayson

Judith Frankland, Paris, 2002

From Judith’s 2002 collection while living in Paris: her apartment in rue Montorgueil just by Les Halles converted into a showroom during fashion week

Judith Frankland, Christian Lacroix , fashion

A couture original: When Shapersofthe80s visited Judith’s Old Curiosity Shoppe of a home last summer, she showed off the latest treasure acquired from her local thrift shops, this Lacroix coat, priced 25 pence! Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s


I’m an upstart and a woman like many who loves — and in my case lives — fashion and the world that lurks around it, a world I have stepped in and out of all my life. I have an excitable, excruciatingly inquisitive mind; I never stop thinking, plotting and some would say talking! I am not a lover of the term ‘On trend’; I like to say ‘On form’. Micro mini to maxi. If it feels right on the day I’ll wear it — no sheep mentality for me. I mix bargain buys, charity shop finds and my own creations.

 Denise Grayson, Judith Frankland,The Swelle Life, fashion,Winter 2011-12

Judith models her Hello! look for Winter 2011/12: day wear and evening wear giving new life to school-blazer suitings. Jewellery from the designer’s own massive collection. Photographed © by Denise Grayson

London’s Cafe Royal, 1980: Judith’s graduation show from Ravensbourne college of art caused a sensation with a glamorous evocation of the 50s in black and white taffeta, brocade, velvet and satin. Its climax was this black wedding dress worn by Sheila Ming, gloriously crowned by Stephen Jones’s veiled head-dress made of stiffened lace on a metal frame. Blitz club host Steve Strange was later to wear it in David Bowie’s video for Ashes to Ashes. Photographed © by Niall McInerney

Ashes to Ashes, video, Judith Frankland, David Bowie, fashion, Blitz Kids

On the beach at Hastings filming Ashes to Ashes: Judith (right) in the ecclesiastical habit Bowie had seen her in at the Blitz, with Steve Strange (second left) in Judith’s black wedding dress he’d also worn that night (head-dress by Stephen Jones). Elise and Darla-Jane wear their own outfits. What with the shingle and the quicksand and Steve trying to outrun the bulldozer, Judith says the wedding dress was completely destroyed. © EMI

➢ An Eclectic Mix of Arts & Design runs April 8–15 at the Holy Biscuit gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne. Join Judith for a chat at the preview this Friday 6–8pm. Others showing are Tutu Benson, Anne Johnson, Helen Moss, Sheelagh Peace, Susan Stanton, Jill Stephen

➢ Update — Judith’s new collection for Winter 2011–12 reviewed


2010 ➤ Index of posts for November

Martin Kemp, HarleyMoon Kemp, Roman Kemp, Paradise Point

On the town: Spandau's Martin Kemp with his children HarleyMoon and Roman, whose band Paradise Point made their debut this month. © Richfoto

➢ This £5m iPhone has to be a spoof! Yes, that’s $7.8m or €6m or 52m Chinese Yuan or 245m Russian Rubles

➢ Amazon “Fail” — no show for Kevin Cann’s new Bowie photo-book

➢ Rottweiler Dawkins croons his way into our hearts and minds

➢ 1984, On this day, pop made its noblest gesture but the 80s ceased to swing

➢ If Paradise Point aren’t the pop tip for 2011, you decide who is!

➢ How Roman Kemp helped his dad Martin to pick up the bass again

➢ 1918, War: the 20th-century way to build a new world

➢ The Princess known as Julia becomes an art object for sale

➢ Hear a clip from Duran Duran’s new album — lucky No 13?

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Facebook

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II goes networking

➢ Status update: QueenLiz2 goes live on Facebook, though Her Maj will not be abused

➢ Killing a king tells you who you are — so do your haircut and shoes

➢ 2011, Pulp: the Britpop comeback everyone’s been waiting for, hooray!

➢ 19 gay kisses in pop videos that made it past the censor

➢ Why Lady Gaga “gets it”, Pixie Lott doesn’t, and the jury is out on Rihanna

➢ Was the Band With No Past truly wafted here from Paradise?


1918 ➤ War: the 20th-century way to build a new world

We Are Making a New World,  Paul Nash,Imperial War Museum,Robert Hughes, Shock of the New

We Are Making a New World, 1918: war artist Paul Nash’s ironic vision of the Western Front (Imperial War Museum, London)

❏ Robert Hughes laments the effects of war in The Shock of The New, his 1980 BBC series on modern art (6 minutes)

Robert Hughes , Sylvia Shap,Smithsonian Institute

Robert Hughes (1981): detail from portrait of the critic by Sylvia Shap (Smithsonian Institute)

❚ “IF YOU ASK where is the Picasso of England or the Ezra Pound of France, there is only one probable answer: still in the trenches.”

In 1980 the no-nonsense art critic Robert Hughes was standing in the former waste-land created in France by sustained bombardment between 1914 and 1918. He was presenting the milestone TV epic, The Shock of the New, which spanned the 20th century in eight hour-long episodes described recently by one critic as “the greatest series on art ever made”. Just as Jacob Bronowski’s powerful documentary series The Ascent of Man had transformed how new generations thought about science in 1973, so too did the Australian-born Hughes for art.  He had already been the critic for the weekly Time magazine for ten years, and the insight, wit and accessibility evident in his TV series confirmed his status as the world’s leading voice on contemporary art.

“World War One destroyed an entire generation,” Hughes maintained in episode two, titled The Powers That Be. “We don’t know and we can’t even guess what might have been painted or written if the war had never happened. As for the waste of minds, we know the names of some who died: among the painters, Umberto Boccioni, Franz Marc, August Macke; the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brezska; the poets Isaac Rosenberg and Wilfred Owen. But for every one whose name survives there must have been scores, possibly hundreds of those who never had a chance to develop.”

Guillaume Apollinaire ,Henri Rousse

Muse Inspiring the Poet (1909): Henri Rousseau’s painting of French poet Guillaume Apollinaire and Marie Laurencin (Art Museum of Basle)

Today being Remembrance Sunday — the closest to “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” in 1918 when the Allies confirmed the cease-fire by signing an Armistice — the BBC not only recalled “the pity of war” through the familiar poems of England’s romantic realists Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Radio 4 also shocked us with a slice of the French poet so avantgarde as to bravely interlace his awe at the nightmare spectacle of the trenches with themes of eroticism, mechanization and other modernist speculation — Guillaume Apollinaire, the man who gave us the word surrealism. He too had sustained a serious shrapnel wound fighting in the trenches, and died just before Armistice Day.

“Ah Dieu! que la guerre est jolie,” he declared in 1915, which can be roughly translated into English as “Oh! What a lovely war” but unlike the anti-war stage musical of that name created by English Theatre Workshop producer Joan Littlewood, and the subsequent film, Apollinaire’s line was devoid of irony. His first war poem, The Little Car written in August 1914 after he’d driven into Paris to find mobilisation being announced, contained these prescient lines:

We said farewell to an entire epoch
Furious giants were rising over Europe
Eagles were leaving their eyries expecting the sun
Voracious fish were rising from the depths
Nations were rushing towards some deeper understanding
The dead were trembling with fear in their dark dwellings

Dogs were barking towards the frontiers
I went bearing within me all those armies fighting
I felt them rise up in me and spread over the regions through which they wound
The forests and happy villages of Belgium
Francorchamps its l’Eau Rouge and its springs
A region where invasions always take place
Railway arteries where those who were going to die
Saluted one last time this colourful life
Deep oceans where monsters were stirring
In old shipwrecked hulks
Unimaginable heights where man fights
Higher than the eagle soars
There man fights man
And falls like a shooting star

Within me I felt skilful new beings
Building and organising a new universe
A merchant of amazing opulence and prodigious stature
Was laying out an extraordinary display
And gigantic shepherds were leading
Great silent flocks that grazed on words
While every dog along the road barked at them

➢ Listen to Radio 4’s Oh What a Lively War — Martin Sorrell explores the work of Guillaume Apollinaire
➢ The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change
— Robert Hughes’s book updated and still on sale


➤ The Princess known as Julia becomes an art object for sale

Ben Ashton, Princess Julia ,

One of Ben Ashton’s unique Princess Julia hand-painted plates on sale at the House of Voltaire pop-up shop. Image courtesy of Simon Oldfield Gallery

❚ PRINCESS JULIA, deejay, former Blitz Kid and a work of living art in daily life, has now been immortalised in the form of a pair of hand-painted ceramic plates. They are newly created by 27-year-old Slade graduate Ben Ashton, a painter and performance artist whose themes include celebrity and voyeurism. The plates go on sale priced £1,250 each in a pop-up shop being run by Studio Voltaire, a not-for-profit independent arts organisation that provides education and studio space in London. Throughout the month, familiar faces from the arts and fashion worlds will be fronting the shop. Julia herself plans to attend on Sunday 21st.

An exclusive edition of canvas bags with leather details, £120, by Stefania Pramma is available through Studio Voltaire online

The House of Voltaire is a fund-raising outlet open until Dec 4 in the heart of Mayfair selling a diverse selection of limited editions and original pieces by leading contemporary artists. Gift notions include creative Christmas cards by Cary Kwok, editioned T-shirts by Clunie Reid, lambswool blankets by Renee So, a David Noonan screenprint and splendid canvas tote bags by Darbyshire & Spooner.

Studio Voltaire produces portfolios and affordable editions (£50-£100 per print) of such artists as Linder, Cerith Wyn Evans, Spartacus Chetwynd, Mark Titchner, Dawn Mellor, Daniel Sinsel, Ryan Gander, Hilary Lloyd and Mark Leckey. These are on sale through the Studio’s online gallery.

For Ashton himself the portraits of Julia are the start of a year-long collaboration with other creative talents in The Bloomsbury Studio, a subsidised space opened in 2008 by Simon Oldfield, a 32-year-old former lawyer turned gallerist. Part of his gallery’s profits go to support charitable organisations such as the Whitechapel Gallery and the Contemporary Art Society in its centenary year.

➢ House of Voltaire pop-up shop — Upstairs at Rupert Sanderson, 
19 Bruton Place, London W1 (Nov 11-Dec 4, Mon–Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 12-6pm)
➢ Studio Voltaire online gallery and shop
➢ Inquire about Ben Ashton’s work through the Simon Oldfield Gallery where he has a solo show Feb 11-March 19

Joel Croxson,Clunie Reid, House of Voltaire

At the pop-up House of Voltaire: unique works donated by painters such as Joel Croxson, left, and silkscreened 100% cotton T-shirts by Clunie Reid

➢ Watch artist Ben Ashton live in his Bloomsbury studio


2010 ➤ Index of posts for October

Birth of electro-pop, synth-pop,Makers, Gentry, Spandau Ballet

Feb 1978: The Makers, one day to be Spandau Ballet. Photographed by Gill Davies

➢ Classics of 80s graffiti revived by campaigning collective in New York

➢ Final spin confirmed for the Technics 1200, the DJ’s top turntable

➢ On this day in 1980 Spandau fired the starting gun for British clubland’s pop hopefuls: dada didi daaa!

➢ A second squadron of high-octane British artists zaps the Saatchi space

➢ Facebook may well be the mother of all networks but one man needs to check his maths

➢ Cool 21st-century branding for Channel 4, but when will it junk those clunky Bladerunner idents?

➢ A step up in the world for graffitist Eine, thanks to Potus and lady friends who shop in high places

Molly Parkin, John Timbers

In her heyday: Molly aged 29 at her first art exhibition. Photographed © by John Timbers

➢ Miss Parkin regrets that she said no to Cary… and can’t wait to meet Orson, Lee and Walter

➢ How Keith Richards’s life of debauchery became an inexplicable sign of alien invasion at The Times

➢ 30 years ago today: First survey of their private worlds as the new young trigger a generation gap

➢ 2011: Sade comes home to tour UK but even a cheap seat will cost you £158 !

➢ 1980: The day Spandau signed on the line and changed the sound of British pop

➢ 1980: Rik and pals detonate a timebomb beneath another kind of strip for Soho

➢ 1976: When Iain met Stephen, London traffic stopped and St Martin’s stood still

➢ Britain’s top hatter, Stephen Jones OBE, celebrates 30 years of Jonesmanship