Friday, 5:21am
5 October 2012

The view from Here

Typography, generosity, jelly and body architecture (with a side order of unexplained nudity) at It’s Nice That’s ‘creative symposium’

In mid-September, It’s Nice That (see Eye 82) held their first creative symposium at The Royal Geographic Society in South Kensington, writes Sarah Snaith.

Eye was the event’s media sponsor alongside event partner Pantone and sponsors We Transfer, GF Smith and The London Graphic Centre.

The speakers represented a variety of design disciplines (see ‘Creative countdown’ on the Eye blog) attracting delegates from every part of the design / visual culture world. In addition to talking to readers alongside Janet South at the Eye magazine stand, I had the chance to hear some of the day’s talks, including Paul Smith’s stirring keynote address.

Illustrators Sarah Maycock (pictured), Kyle Platts and Thomas Slater created portraits of symposium delegates.
Top: Job and Roel Wouters in their typographic screen-printed shirts. Photograph: Cat Garcia.

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Giles Duley, a documentary photographer who sustained severe injuries after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan, took the stage to end the morning session. ‘I always think photographs should be “given” rather than taken,’ said Duley. This generosity is apparent in his approach to portraiture. Instead of focusing on the most shocking elements of a person’s situation, his work favours an expression of their character that inspires the viewer to seek more information.

With only his right arm intact, Duley is certain he can continue his photographic humanitarian work for non-profit organisations and Médicins Sans Frontières from a ‘position of empathy’. He flew off to Kenya that afternoon.

Giles Duley: ‘It took me 40 years to point my camera in the right direction.’ Photograph: Cat Garcia.

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Film-maker Carol Morley talked frankly about her personal history with clips from her film The Alcohol Years (2000). In a likeable manner, Morley proclaimed that she used to be a bit of a ‘wanker’, before assuring the audience this was no longer the case.

Image from Lucy McRae’s music video for ‘Fat Monk’ by Rat Vs Possum, 2011.

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Self-proclaimed ‘body architect’ Lucy McRae has an interest in blurring the edges of the body. Her early work, in collaboration with Bart Hess as Lucyandbart, used their bodies as canvas, covered with moss, balloons and blue foam. McRae’s most recent film ‘Morphe’, for Australian skincare company Aesop, showed that she wasn’t the only speaker interested in jelly.

Flamboyant jelly-maker Sam Bompas (Bompas and Parr) spoke while an uncredited (and unexplained) naked woman stood behind him on the stage. Brothers Job (aka Letman) and Roel Wouters (top) also gave a performative presentation in their typographic, screen-printed ‘Here’ shirts.

Paul Smith recalls his first job, his windowless first shop and the compromises he made on the path to his success. Photograph: Cat Garcia.

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Paul Smith was a humble, self-effacing speaker who aired his professional challenges with humour and ease, offering anecdotal advice to those starting their careers in the design industry. Slides that flipped between holiday snapshots of beach huts and the sweaters he designed in their memory filled the audience with laughter. Smith concluded with reminders that ‘you can’t do it without doing’ and ‘effort is free of charge’, and the delegates flooded out on to the streets of South Kensington.

Some ‘Here’ audience members show their appreciation at the Royal Geographical Society, Fri 21 September 2012. Photograph: Cat Garcia.

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The Eye stand at ‘Here 2012’ (with Janet South and Sarah Snaith in attendance. Photograph: Lauren Pires.

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