Tame Impala

“I think the energy of being in a place that you’ve never been in before can make your brain think in different ways”

Kevin Parker’s shoot for NR Magazine came merely a few days before Los Angeles was locked down in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has, slowly but surely, turned everything we know on its head. ‘It was great to do something normal, something that I have been doing a lot of in the last few months; doing photoshoots and having fun,’ Kevin explains – now back in his native Perth, WA. ‘It took the attention away from everything that was going on. It was nice to spend three hours, just doing a photoshoot with wicked clothes.’ As the force behind the powerhouse band Tame Impala, Kevin is confident that the band has the resources it needs to weather the blow that the pandemic will have on the music industry; people still listen to his music online, ‘apparently’. When it comes to making music, it’s a well-known fact that Kevin works alone – so in that sense, business continues as usual. Yet, like many other artists who have had to abandon plans for the foreseeable future, the release of Tame Impala’s fourth album, The Slow Rush, in February has been overshadowed by this unprecedented upheaval. The band were due to play a number of shows in the US and Mexico in March, with an Australian tour following in April. ‘We’d spent so long preparing for the tour, and were at this absolute crescendo of getting ready for the shows – and as soon as we had played the first show, it was like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going to happen? For now, the dates have been postponed – which undoubtedly comes as a blow to the Tame Impala fans who have been waiting five years for a new album (though a number of fans turned to punning The Slow Rush’s exploration of ‘time’ in response to Kevin’s announcements of the postponed shows on social media; ‘it’s a slow rush’.) In its entirety, The Slow Rush is an infectiously funky record – and the influence of 70s disco and the current mainstream that has welcomed Kevin into its arms, are clear. Much of the heavy fuzz and reverb found on earlier Tame Impala albums have been slickened and given a shiny polish. Looking into the past may preoccupy some of Kevin’s lyrical reflections on the album, but there’s no reason for why Tame Impala’s sound shouldn’t move forward. It’s somewhat bittersweet that an album that unpicks the strangeness of time should come at a moment when, across the planet, we will have more time to contemplate the past and the future. It’s a heavy weight to place upon the shoulders of The Slow Rush, and if there was any kind of global crisis that was on Kevin’s mind at the time of writing the album, it would have been the climate crisis. Tame Impala partnered with Reverb, an organisation that works with artists to counterbalance the carbon emissions that are created through touring – something Kevin explains as a ‘no brainer’. Touring, especially on the level that the band are, has a huge carbon footprint, and trying to restructure the way world tours have been done for years would be a daunting task for Tame Impala to undertake themselves. But, it’s Tame Impala’s responsibility ‘first and foremost’ to ensure that the band is setting the right example, especially for a band that performs to thousands of people at every show (though, he hopes, the people that listen to Tame Impala are ‘probably not the kind of people going around denying climate change.’) During our Skype call, I ask Kevin about the prerequisites for listening to music; he says he has come to realise that his appreciation of music is shaped by ‘not necessarily the space, but who I was with when I heard it first, or what I was feeling.’ There’s a ‘helplessness’ to this reality; a ‘lack of control, from the songwriter’s point of view’ over how their music will be received. No doubt, Kevin could not have anticipated that The Slow Rush would come at the time it did; all that’s left to do now is listen to the album in solitude and await the moment when the music world comes back to life.

NR Magazine: The Slow Rush was a long time in the making – how do you feel listening to it now that it’s out there? Is it a relief to be done?

Kevin Parker: Absolutely, yeah. It’s funny because the moment I’m finished with the album, and the moment it comes out, I expect this huge sense of relief and a weight off my shoulders , but it never comes. That might just be because I have trouble appreciating things once they’re done; on release day, I didn’t get to enjoy it because I just can’t enjoy these things. I still enjoy the album, but it’s not always easy to enjoy the music when you’re aware of so many other people listening to it for the first time, and invariably judging it. When I look back, I remember thinking to myself, ‘Shit, am I ever going to finish this?’ Now, I am able to appreciate being on the other side of that. I was listening to the album yesterday; if I’m ever on Spotify for whatever reason, I’ll probably slowly make my way to the album and give it a listen – just to see what it sounds like now after a month. (It only came out a month ago, that’s crazy; it feels like a life time ago!)

What were your reasons for making an album that explores the concept of time?

It’s always been something that fascinates me – not time itself as a weird existential force – but the way it affects us. The way you can smell something, you know, if you walk past someone in the street who’s wearing cologne that someone that you were in a relationship with ten years ago was wearing, and you haven’t smelled it since then, it just sends you into an absolute time warp. The way these experiences shape our lives intrigues me. At the same time, I didn’t consciously go about making songs about all these things but, when it comes to an album, the kind of music that I’m making subconsciously informs what I start singing about. Like, when I made Lonerism, the chords and instruments I was using reminded me of times when I felt alone growing up, and so the album ended up being like that. And I feel like The Slow Rush is the same kind of thing, where the music I was making – the rhythms and cords – just made me think about the future, the past and everything in between.

I listened to Innerspeaker again a couple of weeks ago and it transported me back almost ten years back which was, like you say, an emotional time warp. Does the way you listen to your music change with the passage of time, or is the sentiment the same?

Definitely not, no! It’s funny you know, you’re saying about Innerspeaker – it’s the same for me. I hardly ever listen to the album the whole way through, but if I really pay attention to parts of it, it’s crazy because it so clearly reminds me of where I was and what I was feeling. Like for you, it’s kind of crazy; music is crazy how it can do that. I guess the other thing is, listening to Innerspeaker now, it feels like it was someone else. I just hear this naïve kid, not really knowing what he was doing, which is nice because I don’t judge it anymore. I don’t judge it in the way that I do with The Slow Rush. Innerspeaker was so long ago that any of the mistakes, any of the things that are wrong with it, just sound charming and cute, which feels weird to say…

I guess you’re so disconnected from it, with that amount of time passing?

Yeah totally. That’s also good because it finally allows me to listen to it like someone else, not as me – the person who made it. That’s kind of the dream, to be able to listen to your own work. I don’t know how much money I would pay to be able to listen to the songs I’m working on at the time, you know? To be able to listen to the album, as an outsider… I’d give anything to be able to do that, but it’s something that only time can offer.

I’ve seen a few people mention that the cover for The Slow Rush was 3D-animated, but it’s a photograph from Kolmanskop, Namibia, right?

Yeah – I’m not going to lie, I was a little bit disappointed when people asked how I synthesised the image. I was like, ‘Man, I flew half way across the world to take that picture!’

I can see why people don’t believe it’s real. How did you decide on using that as the album cover?

I was a little bit obsessed with abandoned places for a while, and the internet is full of pictures of these abandoned ghost towns; there’s just something so enthralling about them. I mean, probably not coincidentally, it’s like the experience of time passing smacking you in the face. I guess some people find it depressing to look at, but I just see such beauty in it. As soon as I saw that place, I knew that we had to go there. Kolmanskop is like a ghost town in the desert and it’s super windy, so sand just builds up in these amazing ways. What I love about it, is that it looks like liquid – and if you look at a picture, you can’t tell if it took the sand that’s up to the window a matter of minutes or decades to reach that point, you know? You can’t tell which it is and that’s kind of what I love about it.

You’ve previously spoken a lot about how you make music, but how important is the space around you during that process?

It’s important – not that I need to be in a particular place to make music, but I think there’s something about being somewhere new. I think the energy of being in a place that you’ve never been in before can make your brain think in different ways. So, with The Slow Rush, I tried to milk that. I was renting Airbnbs, taking music equipment with me and recording there for a week on my own. There’s this nervous tension about being in someone else’s house…

Though I guess, you got more than what you bargained for when you were staying in Malibu [when the worst wildfire season in California in 2018 ravaged the area]?

Well exactly, yeah. And I’d only been there for one night, and the next morning I just had to go. I had stayed there for a week earlier that month recording, and it’s funny because I think about that space – I started a few songs off this album there, and when I listen to something I think about where I was when I working on it. It takes me a while to realise that that space doesn’t exist anymore; it was completely burned to the ground, it was just rubble. When I listen to a song, or the chorus of a song I wrote there, I remember the colour of the walls; what the door looked like; what it was like leaning out into the backyard. It’s kind of weird to think it just doesn’t exist anymore because, in terms of memory, we never think of a space as not existing, you know? Our minds think of the space we’re in as these permanent places, not something that can just disappear in one day.

It goes without saying that Tame Impala has seen an unprecedented level of success in the past ten years – what’s next for Tame Impala and for you?

That’s a good question; I don’t know. Well, I want to get making music. One of the things I was looking forward to so much with finishing this album was it just being done with. There was so much stuff that I wanted to do, in terms of Tame Impala and not; there were things that I couldn’t do until I made this album. So now, I’m happy to be on the other side of it so I can do the things that seemed wrong before. I have no shortage of things that I want to do now. I’m kind of excited about it – whatever that ends up being.


Photo · JJ GEIGER photo assistant AMANI BATURA
Interview · ELLIE BROWN
Special Thanks · Grand Stand HQ

Abhijeet Ghosh

Cox’s Bizarre

COX’S BAZAAR, Bangladesh — Cox’s Bazaar, a beach town in Bangladesh is in the midst of human and environmental interventions. Being a major tourist destination, the place is literally a sandbox of excessive commercialisation and unstructured infrastructural growth. At the same time, there is also a growing concern of rising sea level and climate change. Amidst these issues, there is a futuristic possibility of developing a beach culture in this part of the world.

Cox’s Bizarre  is a metaphysical exploration of these complexities of the place, an unstructured fantasyland built on top of rising environmental concern.


Photo and words Abhijeet Ghosh

Rachelle Mendez

Displaying swaths of the urban landscape as unoccupied while revealing layer upon layer of seemingly blank architectural elements, is ultimately what I aim to execute in the composition of my photography.

Spatial distancing creates leading lines with maximal scale. Suggesting a confrontational viewing experience I choose to frame the composition with elements bleeding off the edges; a nod to the confrontation we navigate through in our environments every day.

When I’m out shooting these urban landscapes in Southern California, I’m looking for bold colors and a dramatic blank surface, but the interest comes in the layering of those elements and how space or lack of space can create an organized, almost painterly, chaotic abstract.

Through bold composition that runs from edge to edge, these photographs are my attempt to push something into nothing and still be whole. The question remains, how far can it be pushed?


Photography and words RACHELLE MENDEZ

Cassi Namoda

“I think colour brings so much energy and vibration”

Cassi Namoda takes archival images, memories and ruminations, and transforms them into vividly rich paintings, weaving an overarching theme throughout. Sometimes, there’s a clear narrative that informs her work, but at other times it can be a looser concept that has been on her mind.

Though many of the scenes and the characters within her paintings are imagined, they are drawn from concrete anecdotes. Take, for example, the character of Maria who often appears in her paintings. Maria embodies the way in which Cassi confront the history of her home country, Mozambique. Cassi saw a similarity between Ricardo Rangel’s photographs of downtown Maputo in the latter half of the twentieth century, and the work of European expressionists in the 1920s, where artists like Edvard Munch and George Grosz depicted scenes of a ‘very fucked up Europe’ at a period of turmoil and debauchery. Maria became a way for Cassi to explore this moment in Mozambique’s history, at a time when the country was going through revolution and dealing with its colonial past. Through the Nightly Bread series, Cassi depicts Maria’s navigations through the seedy underbelly of the city in a way that felt personal to her, given its proximity in recent history. There’s humour in these works too, in which, like Grosz, Cassi deliberately adds a twist on a serious scene – where, for example, Maria has spilled a glass of wine.

Those subtle, but carefully considered, symbols are also evident in the cover Cassi painted for Vogue Italia’s sustainability issue in January this year. The magazine commissioned eight artists to each design a cover for the issue, as a statement against the huge impact that fashion shoots have on the environment. Maria appeared on the cover, with a mosquito hovering sinisterly above her head; a symbol of how disease is an undeniable implication of the climate crisis that is not often contemplated. These issues have been preoccupying Cassi for a while, and as she explains below, the darkness that our future may hold is something that informed the work for her recent exhibition at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in London. The show’s title, Little Is Enough For Those In Love, was derived from an East African proverb, and its exploration of the polarities between ‘joy’ and ‘pain’ have taken on new meaning in the context of the current global pandemic we now find ourselves faced with.

In light of what’s currently happening, your recent exhibition at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery touched upon the balance between joy and suffering, which is something that we’re all suddenly forced to confront. 

Totally, and it’s fascinating to see how the West is adjusting, in relation to the rest of the world. At the end of 2019 and the beginning of this year,

“I had this sense of anticipation that we were entering biblical times.”

It felt as though the Pippy Houldsworth show was preparing for this. As artists, we might be okay or not, depending on how the market swings but, ultimately, it’s just art. I’m very aware of that, and for me, art isn’t about the currency. Instead, it’s about expressing a narrative so, in that sense, nothing’s really changed for me. But, it’s more a case of the impact it’ll have on daily negotiations – like, do I need this expensive yellow ochre, or should I just get this other cheaper one? I hope that this might become something beautiful, in terms of a discovery process. The Pippy Houldsworth show healed me in a way, so that I could be prepared for something to happen.  

Did you anticipate this change when you were making the work for the show? 

Well, I had my show, The Day A Monkey Is Destined To Die All Trees Becomes Slippery, at the François Ghebaly Gallery earlier in 2019, and there was an ominous presence in those paintings, with bold black lines and colour blocking. But, when it came to the Pippy Houldsworth show, it felt as though we needed something else. I wanted to be very sensitive. There were two directions my work took in the lead up to the show. There was the work I made while I was in East Hampton in early Autumn; I would take walks around 7am with my dog, and

“what I noticed was this slight melancholy that comes when seasons change, and I think, a part of human nature is having trouble accepting change.”

So, it felt quite cathartic to massage in the new season – and so, my work was more compositionally about the landscape, with a more detached gaze upon the figures. And then, in November, I did a residence in Oaxaca, Mexico, and there’s something so vibrational about the earth there. I was faced with challenges, logistically, where I was out of the comfort zone of being able to call people to deliver canvases or paints. Also, I mainly paint with acrylic, but it’s very dry in Oaxaca, so my paint was drying on the brush; intuitively, I’d brought a retarder with me, but I still needed to work in an immediate way. So, in the show, there’s these two styles of painting. There’s the very magical, illusive paintings – so you have the beach scene with the couple getting married, and then you might have something like the Mimi Nakupenda painting, with couples dancing and a lot of energy in the air. 

You’ve got two upcoming exhibitions (one at Nina Johnson Gallery in May, and the other at the Goodman Gallery in the Autumn); do you know what you’ll be doing for these shows? 

Yeah, I do. The Nina Johnson show most likely won’t open up in a physical sense, but it will still hang. There will be 8×10 inch paintings, and the show is called Dog Meat, Cat Meat, God Knows What Meat – it’s a little bit humorous because I wanted to do something that was dark, funny and also random. There’s no real narrative behind it. I want to do paintings of women that are in my life, so I’m using this time to do something that I’ve always wanted to do. I can’t paint them in the flesh now, but I’ll get friends from all around the world – Kenya, South Africa, New York – to send photos of themselves to paint from. And then, I’ve also been exploring medical imagery, in the sense that black bodies have been sold under the gaze of medical research, that never actually served the female body, but was instead a form of slavery. I’ve been researching Millie and Christine McKoy, who were these conjoined twins born into slavery in 1851 and were, by the age of 2 being exhibitioned around the world. I wanted to give them a renewed agency, so that they can now be part of the black community so that we can remember them in a more intimate way. And, then, I might also paint a random scene from a Djibril Diop Mambéty film that is special to me – so, the process is really open with this show, it’s more communicative of everything I’ve been thinking about. 

As for the Goodman show, it will be a lot more narrative based. The show’s called To Live Long Is To See Much, which is very much about what we’re going through right now. I want to call my elders and ask for advice – like, what do we do in this situation? It’s such a strange time we’re living in. So I thought about this Swahili proverb, to live long is to see much, and I wanted to take an archival approach,

“looking at everything that I’ve found so fucking bizarre in slavery, in colonialism, and in the projection that black is bad. I thought about how the Christian epistemology of the world that we live in is actioned through a white gaze, and I want to question that.”

Why hasn’t that been challenged? I’ve also been looking at Pointillism, and then, after spending some time in Kenya, I realised that there’s this African Pointillism here too – it’s called Tingatinga, and I grew up with that type of painting! So, I am ruminating now on how I can combine some sort of folklore with a classical aspect of painting, because I love painters like Joaquín Sorolla and Paul Cezanne. But,

“there needs to be some duality; I want to make these beautiful paintings but also tell the truth.”

Do you consciously group series of paintings together with certain colour palettes? 

I think colour brings so much energy and vibration. I definitely think I work with colour more consistently when I’m working on a show, much more so than when I’m painting in my studio for painting’s sake. I think there’s something spiritual in the process of negotiating with the paint that exists in a body of work. So, yeah – it’s something I’m very aware of and it’s super intentional. With the Pippy Houldsworth show, I wanted to convey healing through soft yellows, light blues, violets and pale greens – and then maybe some stronger colours like red. I feel like red is a very religious colour, and I’m relating colour to John Mbiti’s writings, where he talks about religious objects, like for example, a rock, in traditional African culture. And to me, a chair can be a religious symbol, so when Maria is sitting on a red chair, that’s her religious object. The red chair has become an ongoing symbol in my work. More recently, the symbol I’ve been using is this orange, reddish circle that ends up in the upper right of the canvas – sometimes the left depending on the composition – and that was there in a lot of the Pippy Houldsworth work. It’s a tool that draws you to the upper right corner and it’s a symbol that feels warm. When it comes to narrative, I think about the palette in its totality because, for me, I feel like it’s part of the story.  


  1. Little is Enough for Those with Love/Mimi Nakupenda, 2019 acrylic on canvas 167.6 x 233.7 cm, 66 x 92 in Photographer Mark Blower
  2. Family Portrait in Gurué, 2019 acrylic on canvas167.6 x 121.9 cm, 66 x 48 in Photographer Todd-White Art Photography
  3. Sasha And Zamani’s Fruitful Earth, 2019 acrylic on canvas 188 x 152.5 cm, 74 x 60 in Photographer Mark Blower
  4. Visit From Ancestor, 2020 acrylic on canvas 101.6 x 76.2, 40 x 30 in Photographer Thomas Mueller
  5. Young Woman makes a dress in Quelimane, 2020 acrylic on cotton poly 101.6 x 76.2 cm, 40 x 30 in Photographer Mark Blower

Mari-Ruth Oda

“I’ve always had this desire to belong somewhere because I never really have”

There is a calming serenity in the sculptures of Mari-Ruth Oda, and the importance of the natural world is made abundantly clear in the organic surfaces, shapes and curves that can be found in her work. This makes sense, given the influence of the Japanese principles of Shintoism on her practice – that there is something inherently divine about nature.

Having been based in Manchester for a number of years, Mari has recently left the city that was rapidly changing for the worst behind her, opting for a new way of living, ‘in the middle of nowhere on the Llŷn Peninsula of North Wales’. The move, which Mari explains she had been considering for a number of years without never quite making the leap, makes sense for someone so invested in the beauty of our surroundings.

No more is this made clear than when she describes the personal relationship that people can build with objects and natural formations that can be found anywhere – an ‘odd-shaped boulder on the beach; I bet loads of people will have a different name for it, or way of referring to it.’ Mari’s consideration for the characteristics of the natural world, of a ‘pebble on a beach that just makes you think, “Ah, that’s a comforting shape,” translates into her approach to the materials she uses in her sculptures. Discussing the process of sanding clay, she describes the way in which bits of grit and grog emerge at the surface – simultaneously revealing the process and the constitution of the material. And it is through this process that the intentions of Mari’s work are conveyed; that the ‘material composition gives rise to visual composition.’ 

I suppose it may be too early to say but, what influence do you think your new surroundings in rural Wales will have on your work?

We’ll see, but I think having the beach really close by will have a massive effect, because I’m already looking at pebbles and stone. I’ve not done a great deal of stone sculpture – in fact, it was my first time working with stone last year when I was commissioned to carve a water feature for Chelsea Flower Show. It’s an area that I’d like to go into a bit more. I started off in ceramics, but the move to Wales meant I couldn’t take my 3 phase kiln – and I was also already starting to move away from ceramics. There’s been a lot of letting go of the old, and we’ll see what the new brings, to be honest. But the light is amazing here, which was one of the driving forces behind the move. In Manchester, as my work was getting bigger and bigger, I needed a ground floor unit (because relying on lifts in an old mill wasn’t great), but the windows are often covered in the ground floor studios around the city. I just really craved an abundance of natural light and there’s a lot of it here, which is amazing, so I’m really looking forward to making work in the light. 

Am I right in thinking you moved around the world a lot growing up? 

As a youngster, my dad worked for the UN so we tended to move around – though I’ve not moved as much as some people in the same situation might. I’ve always had this desire to belong somewhere because I never really have; wherever I’ve been, I’ve always been a foreigner – even going back to Japan, I’m not that ‘Japanese’ because I’ve not lived there for such a long time, so there’s a lot of the contemporary culture that I don’t know or understand. I’ve always longed to belong to a land, and hopefully, this move to the countryside will be it. 

Does that yearning for belonging manifest itself in your work at all? 

I think, what it’s made me do with my work, is strip it back to the basis of my emotions. I’m not so much swayed with culture – I don’t have a real drive to do social commentary for example – but I think that’s because I’ve shifted from one culture to another and recognise that it’s something that can be quite transient. Nature has always been inspiring to me; who isn’t touched by an amazing sunset? That awe of just being hit by a beautiful view, or even just seeing the shape of a shell; there’s a lot of inspiration that can be found in that. When I went to art college, I kept being asked what I was trying to express. I had been quite sheltered, and I didn’t have much angst; I didn’t recognise anything that I needed to express. I came to realise that I didn’t need to express angst, and that came to be what I did express. At my degree show, I got a lot of comments about the work being contemplative and calm, and I thought, yes: why can’t that be the expression? 

“I started looking to sculpture as an expression of an energy or a certain emotion that I want to convey.”

What informs the choice of materials you work with? 

I’m still in search for the ideal material to work with. I began to find ceramics quite restrictive in the way I was working and, of course, the kiln was a constraining factor for the size of the work. I would have had to compromise the smoothness and the uniformity of a piece, and having to fire it in segments wasn’t something I was prepared to do. I had this attachment to the idea that the clay comes from the earth, that I was moulding the earth to make these shapes, which is such a romantic idea. I realised that it was more of a hindrance for me than an expression. I recently did a project for an old people’s home in Japan, and the client specified using fibreglass resin, which I really dislike the idea of, in terms of the environment and the toxicity for the person using it; but, in terms of what it can do, functionally, it’s the perfect thing. From my experience of seeing my parents approach older age, I can see what really benefit these spaces, and I wanted to create a shape that was comforting and enriching – and this took over trying to perfect the use of material. In that instance, it was better to make something that would enhance the lives of the people using that space. So, I’ve given up being an idealist for the time being.

I realised that I’ve just got to give to my work what I can. 

So, is site specificity important in your work?  

That always helps. I do work both ways, where I make what I want for an exhibition, that will then eventually end up in someone’s house. But I do a lot of site specific work, or commissions where I know the people who will be having the work, and I actually find that, when I have a site in mind, that makes my intentions easier to define. It’s a bit clearer that way – and more of a collaborative process. Going back to the Japan project, for example, I was working closely with the landscape architects and my work had to be in line with their vision. I find that really exciting because, as a maker, I end up spending a lot of time on my own, stewing in my own energy. So, to have that input from somebody else gives me the opportunity to shake it up a bit. And in terms of energy, I’ve done work where I’ve thought that, in that particular space, something invigorating would help and so I’ll make a sculpture that has a lot of movement; the emotions that I want to portray can really change from work to work. What I find interesting with the creative process is that if you have an intention, something that you want to express, the creative force works to bring that about. Having a certain site and the intentions for what that space needs gives the maker another dimension to work in, which is exciting.  

Is there anything that you think is important for viewers when they experience your work? 

No, not at all really. I think the freer you are of preconceptions, the better. I’d rather someone intuitively understood it, or not. Of course, each person has their own experience that they bring with them when they look at a work. I had a piece of work that I was told an astronomer had bought because it reminded them of the stars. What it was, was a piece that had white specks in it that were revealed by sanding the material, so it was like the universe – that’s how the person took it. That’s a very specific way to engage with the work, and a very personal way, and I think that’s a really important thing. When you have a piece of work, you want to bond with it in your own way and that’s not something I can dictate. I can say what it’s been inspired by, but maybe sometimes that’s a hindrance rather than a help. 


Isabelle Young

Northern Italy

I am always making up for lost time in Italy. I grew up Italian but have never lived there. 

My family are from Turin with their roots extending across Northern Italy and to England, where my Nonna  rst moved in 1948. Everything always feels so urgent when I am back. I see too much to take in and capture. Architecture plays the lead, and I am drawn to its towns and cities, focusing on fragments. Classical details; modernity; industrial Italy and upright stones.

What draws me to certain Italian cities is the fact that I can still see and photograph the country my family’s generation grew up around because, in a large part, it still exists. 

The upheaval surrounding the Italian landscape and Italian society between the seventies and eighties is one I perceive as still visible, and have actively investigated in my own work within a contemporary context.


Photography and words · ISABELLE YOUNG

Larry Hallegua

In 2014 I moved to China to teach English in a primary school for one year. I was based in the west, in Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province.

During this time Chengdu had a growing population of over 14 million, and was one of China’s ‘pilot reform regions’. The city was experiencing rapid economic growth, resulting in heavy investment in infrastructure, such as a fast expanding metro and rail system, as well as the building of new schools to cater for the large migration of rural workers and increasing urbanisation.

I was amongst only a handful of foreigners living in Xipu on the outskirts of the city, and would receive daily stares from locals who rarely saw or mixed with foreigners. I used my camera to record, albeit in a whimsical manner, some of the behaviours of a city experiencing a growing sense of self confidence.

Frederik Nystrup-Larsen

“Say no: say no the market, say no to people, not just following along”

Growing up in Copenhagen, Frederik Nystrup-Larsen was surrounded by the principles of design. ‘I thought I was going to be an architect because that was the most prestigious and important thing you could do’, he explains. But, when, as a young teenager, he realised that this would involve a lot of technical drawing and ‘sitting in an office’, his ambitions shifted towards becoming an artist. An awareness of the uses of space, and the ways in which users interact with their surroundings, nonetheless underpins Frederik’s work. The installation of much of his work, whether sculptural or more performance-led, is shaped by its siting and the ways in which people respond. Those factors are no more present than in last year’s Off Licence – Cash Only, a project with long-term collaborator, Oliver Sundqvist, in which sculptures of everyday objects were made out of found trash and papier-mâché, and sold at a pop-up shop, priced according to their retail value at that moment. If Off Licence – Cash Only was, as Frederik suggests, an ‘analysis of consumerism’, the importance of having a critical approach is key. And, on the day we speak, the innerworkings and underlying motives of the art world is something that has overshadowed the importance of integrity that appears to push Frederik forward. Last year’s installation, How to Build a Blanket Fort, designed in collaboration with Sundqvist for the Tuborg Lounge at Roskilde Festival, presented Frederik with an unfamiliar set of challenges  – mainly, designing a space from London, to be installed by a team in Copenhagen. ‘It becomes about communication; how good are you at saying what you want to have made and what is the result of that?’ But, it seems, the result was more than he bargained for,  where the reality of commercial involvement (and ensuing ulterior motives) have jaded his view of an otherwise well-received project. The tensions between art and critique are extended to the materials that Frederik uses; the Eros Torso vases, repurposed single-use plastic containers, have been latched upon by certain fashion brands keen to champion the importance of ‘sustainability’. Yet, as Frederik maintains in our conversation, neither he nor Sundqvist vocalise the fact that most of the materials they use are recycled; ‘it’s not a selling point’. Rather, he continues, ‘I think it’s irrelevant, I think it’s something that is necessary and everybody should just do it.’ Across the various mediums that Frederik’s work takes, there’s a  quiet emphasis on organic matter, which in turn, translates into a necessary critical engagement with the world around us. 

How do you anticipate the way people might interact with your work?

I think I’m quite open to it, for sure. I mean, a lot of the work is made for interaction; that’s an important part of it. But it’s also always quite interesting to observe how people act around things. When we did the Off License – Cash Only project, when people started coming in, there was a line for the opening of the store and, in the beginning, people would go up to the counter and say, ‘I want that piece’, and the store clerk would say, ‘Just take the piece and come pay for it’. Then, people in the shop realised that that was the whole point, so people just started to grab things, and they would just be holding like five, six pieces to reserve them so nobody else could take them. That whole thing was kind of funny, and interesting, and it obviously worked as a critique of consumerism. People bought the cheapest stuff first, and then it went from there. So it was this analysis of consumerism. 

I read that you were planning on doing Off License – Cash Only in other cities as well, is that still your plan?

Yeah, for sure. I mean, I don’t think it’s going to be in the near future – maybe next year. The work was extremely fun to make – I really enjoyed it – but it was also a case of, when you sell a piece of work for £1, you don’t earn any money. So, it’s more of a fun project, that you can’t do all the time, because you can’t really live…

I read too that you bought fake followers for the Off Licence Instagram account: How did having an Instagram account for something like that work? Did people realise what it really was, or?

No, I don’t think anyone really noticed it. I mean, I had a couple of people asking like, ‘How did you get so many followers?’ But what I saw was that, when the Instagram had so many followers, a lot more people started following it just because it had a lot of followers – which is obviously how things work, with algorithms and stuff like that. But I was like, really? That that amount of followers becomes this signifier of authenticity – like, ‘like, ‘Oh I need to follow this as well because there’s a lot of other people following it’, but’, but it would take you five seconds to realise that all the followers are fake. When you go through the process of buying followers, you also realise how many people buy them – and I started to realise how many people actually do this, and it’s incredible. I don’t remember the number, but it’s something like 60% of all influencers have bought followers, so it’s a big thing.

How did you get involved with the kind of materials that you use in your sculpture? 

To be honest, it probably begins with the fact that, if you want to make big things and don’t have any money, how can you actually do something for nothing? Especially with the Off Licence – Cash Only project, which is made from trash found around London – we weren’t going to spend any money on that because we were going to sell it for nothing. The Eros Torso vases was a similar situation, using found plastic barrels. I mean, I’m not saying I’m going to do this forever, but I like to think about where stuff comes from. It’s also about the concept of the work, and that the concept fits together perfectly with the materials. 

You’re in your final year at the Royal College of Art – has that experience impacted on the work you’re doing outside of the Masters? 

Yeah, quite a lot I think. To be honest, I haven’t been to school a lot because I’ve been busy, and I’ve been sad about that because the whole point of going was to have time to reflect and develop my practice. So for this past year, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and not necessarily producing, which is good because I came to the MA confused about what to call myself, in terms of the work and myself as a title. I think doing an MA in sculpture makes it easier because that’s sort of the label; sculptor. Also, London is extremely different to Copenhagen, and that’s been great. Coming from a place that has zero diversity, it’s amazing to be in London and seeing the way people work. In Copenhagen, it’s the easiest place to live – everyone’s has the same sort of ideas. So I think it’s extremely interesting to be involved in a community like RCA to see how other people are working.  

A lot of your work is in collaboration with Oliver Sundqvist, have you got anything that’s in the pipeline?

Not anything I can really say anything about. I mean, I had a long talk with the V1 Gallery that I work with a couple of weeks ago, and we agreed that I will focus this half year on my Masters. For the moment, I’m really into saying no, and I think that’s going to be playing a big part in things coming up. Say no: say no the market, say no to people, not just following along… 

As a young artist, being able to say no is quite a bold thing to do. 

Yeah, for sure. And I think everybody should do the same because I feel like commercial partners take advantage of young artists, using them as figures that they can put their commercial work up against. For the artist, it becomes sort of like peeing in your pants – it’s really nice when it happens, and warm, and then after, it’s a reality check: you showed yourself up and nobody else of value will probably want to work with you anymore. When I started out, I was having a hard time dealing with this. And, after a couple of bad situations, I’m not going to do that again. That’s not why I’m in this game, it’s not about that. 




  1. Artemis Tears
  2. Floor Standing Pedestal Champagne Bucket Cooler
  3. Folding Electric Scooter
  4. Firechief Pressure Water Fire Extinguisher
  5. Gold Plated Family Portrait Frame
  6. Japanese Army Sword

David Vail

when I was a kid, I was being dragged around a garden-centre type 

shop by my mum, from what I can remember, I was doing her head

in something horrible, so to distract me she told me she was going 

to buy me some seeds to grow my own plant when we got home 

the patch I chose to plant was right beside the garage at the back

of the garden, perfectly viewable from the kitchen window

my well renouned patience did not set me up in good stead 

for the coming weeks 

slowly but surely the seeds gave life to a sunflower, luckily it was 

the start of summer so – even though Ireland isn’t synonymous 

with beaming sunlight, I figured it would have a chance in this patch

by midsummer my sunflower had become somewhat of an 

attraction to the neighbours in the street, as it now stood at least 6 feet 

high, boasted a thick, strong stalk supported by a piece of bamboo

the summer inevitably came to an end, and the plant withered

but the memory of this flower has lived so strongly in my subconscious, 

veritably popping into the forefront of my mind from time to time 

i often ponder why the image of the sunflower has left such a lasting memory 

why I have chosen to preserve this over others 

i have always found myself distracted by the passing world, which would 

get me in trouble in school for daydreaming – but I couldn’t help but wonder 

where my daydreams would take me, what else would I see that would have the 

lasting effect of the sunflower 


Photography and words DAVID VAIL
Inspiration and collaboration BENEDIKTE KLUVER

Clemente Vergara


An aperture into architect Paolo Soleri’s City of Future, an urban laboratory

ARIZONA, UNITED STATES—I arrived to Arcosanti late on an afternoon, after driving many hours from Monument Valley through Sedona. I was really looking forward to visit Arcosanti, but having seen the wonders of those natural reserves, canyons and spectacular landscapes, I believed Arcosanti would not impress me… and I was wrong… I didn’t know much about Paolo Soleri’s project. I just knew it was an unfinished experimental city created during the 70s designed to be self-sufficient, and that we were going to sleep in The Sky Suite, the room with the best views you could rent in Arcosanti.

Once there, I was amazed by the project, the buildings, the people living, working and studying there. Also I got interested about the Architect (Paolo Soleri’s) work. I was lucky that in the room there was a huge book that gathered his drawings and ideas about futuristic cities. I also learned that the name of Arcosanti came from two italian words “Cosa” and “Anti”, that literally means, “before things”. I learnt also about the concept of Arcology, which comes from putting together Architecture and Ecology, and the importance of that concept in the current society of “take make dispose” that is ruining our planet. 

I will always remember the days I spent in such a special city, that keeps alive Paolo Soleri’s ideas.


Photography and words CLEMENTE VERGARA

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