12.02.2019

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Walking the streets of Bangkok, there is hardly any litter. But occasionally you see a flattened empty cigarette packet. After seeing one with the most horrific photograph on it, I started collecting them.

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Smoking in Asia is rampant, how it was here in Britain and America twenty years ago. They don't smoke in public buildings or on transport (can you remember that? the tube trains thick with smoke!!) - but you'll see crowds outside hotels, and those smoking rooms at airports. They also hold cigarettes differently, their hand held palm-towards-face, the cigarette sometimes between the middle two fingers.

The photographs of Hell are the result of the World Health Authority Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: "every person should be informed of the health consequences, addictive nature and mortal threat posed by tobacco consumption". Thailand is a signatory. Article 11 suggests a "large health warning" covers a recommend 50% or more of the packet.

"Evidence shows that health warnings and messages that contain both pictures and text are far more effective than those that are text-only ... [and they] increase motivation and intention to quit ... Pictorial health warnings and messages may also disrupt the impact of brand imagery on packaging and decrease the overall attractiveness of the package."

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Why so many different images? "The novelty effect of new health warnings and messages is important, as evidence suggests that the impact of health warnings and messages that are repeated tends to decrease over time, whereas changes in health warnings and messages are associated with increased effectiveness."

Then I stumbled upon a very different packet. For those that know anything about Chinese visual culture, this packet pulls out all the stops.

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It is red, the colour of money and good fortune and of the Chinese flag. Gold is a close second to red. The front shows an image of Tian'anmen, the Gate of Heavenly Peace, it is the entrance to the Imperial Palace, the point from which Beijing extends outwards in a series of squares, quite literally the centre point of the Chinese world. It makes a big features of the two marble columns outside, making them far larger than they are in proportion to the gate. Can it be because the columns are tall and cylindrical and white? On top of all this, the most significant way that value is conferred on the packet is the brand name: Chunghwa: the name for China itself.

If smoking is generally popular in Asia, it is more than that in China, "Nearly three-quarters of all Chinese men are smokers ... Smoking could eventually kill a third of all young Chinese men if nothing is done to get them to drop the habit, according to the largest ever survey of tobacco use ... Two landmark studies involving 1.25m Chinese people show that [as of now] China has the largest number of smoking-related deaths in the world." So far the medical information that has done so much to reduce smoking elsewhere has yet to reach the ordinary Chinese: "Surveys showed two-thirds of Chinese people think smoking does little or no harm, 60% think it does not cause lung cancer and 96% do not know that it causes heart disease."

In fact, it is rather the opposite. Cigarettes are a symbol of wealth. This is from China Daily, one of the Communist Party newspapers: "Serving a cigarette is good manners. When we meet our boss, we serve a cigarette to him to show our respect. When we talk to somebody, we offer a cigarette as a peace offering, which will build trust observably. We thank our plumber with his fee and a cigarette, We serve a cigarette to a guest, suggesting "You are very welcome." A cigarette (a nice cigarette is better) is an external, material expression of a compliment. To our shy, not-good-with-words Chinese, cigarettes helps us talk.

"In many places in China, the cigarette brand could also represent one's social status. It is kind of a cigarette version of "You are what you smoke." China has many kinds of cigarettes and a huge price gap between different cigarette brands while cigarettes in other countries have similar prices, some are even the same.

"Chunghwa, as a symbol of a high-end cigarette brand in China, has very high sales in China. Anyone who carries a Chunghwa cigarette between his or her fingers is regarded as upper-class or a wealthy man or woman ... If you are holding a low-end cigarette, you are probably a nobody."

Chairman Mao is said to have promised, as a result of the Communist revolution, Chinese people would have ample food, shelter and cigarettes.

To anyone really, really interested in why China seems so reluctant to go the way of Thailand, and swap Tian'anmen for a tumour, this study explains. (The short answer is, unsurprisingly, the same as the answer to why smoking prevailed in the West for so long after its effects were known: money.)

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I chanced across this fiendishly clever photobook, which explores the way cigarettes are part of marriage celebrations, in the way flowers and food are abundant, so are money, champagne and cigarettes. The book is inside a card container the exact size of a packet of Chunghwa, the book itself has cigarettes printed on the boards: you open the tiny book, you enter a foggy world of coffin nails.

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Quentin Newark
(cough)

11.02.2019

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One of a series of profiles of our neighbours, here in Pullens Yards. We love craft: the creative process that involves turning a vision into reality. We craft brands and sign systems. Our neighbours craft pots and buildings, chairs and lutes, paintings and beeswax candles, eaux de cologne and hats.

KATTY JANNEH

Katty makes hats. In a studio she shares with two artists, shaded by a big Bay tree in Peacock Yard. Before fashion college, Katty went to evening classes, initially to study the complexity of pattern-cutting, but took a class with Rose Cory, milliner for the Queen Mother. Suddenly life was hats.

Katty is instantly likable with a smile that lights everything up. She has says her design is "anything but avant-garde", she isn't about to make a "hat made of meat". She concentrates on wearable designs, hats that mix with everyday clothes.

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Her portion of the studio is a blend of atelier and factory - a duality common to the artist-maker. Walls smattered with watercolour sketches and colour-coded notes. Tables like a landscape from a Tim Burton animation; hillocks of cloth samples, behind which porcupines of needles bristle. The floor is given to serious making, chock-a-block with wooden forms over which the cloth is stretched and left to fix a shape. At a glance, it is chaos. But if you look longer you can see how everything has its place in the processes of imagining hats and then physically making them.

Behind the sweetness, there is something of a missionary in Katty. Her designs are playful versions of classic hat types - 'classic with a twist' is a design approach taken by some of the world's most successful designers. Katty is making hats attractive and wearable to make us all wear them. Her deeper purpose is to furnish every-one with a hat. Every one of us. Some designers strain to do things never done before, others make things that touch every one of us.

Katty has a new website, about to launch. It shows her designs matched with this season's popular looks, you can instantly see how the hat adds something extra, quirky, personal, literally above what the original clothes designer's considered. When the site launches, the fashion world ought to beware, Katty has discovered a hither-to unexploited area: the top of our heads.

See other posts:

FRANK BOWLING

KELVYN SMITH

DAVID & BARBARA

To visit the studios, which open twice a year, see more here:
pullensopen.org

11.02.2019

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One of a series of profiles of our neighbours, here in Pullens Yards. We love craft: the creative process that involves turning a vision into reality. We craft brands and sign systems. Our neighbours craft pots and buildings, chairs and lutes, paintings and beeswax candles, eaux de cologne and hats.

DAVID COWLEY & BARBARA WAKEFIELD

David looks up over his glasses, and hesitates, that pause that comes when you want to impart significance. "Sculpture in clay can be all about technique and process and painting on canvas can rely too heavily on expressive freedom. What is crucial to both my sculpture and my painting is structure". It is hard, at first, to see how his paintings show this idea of structure, how they can be seen as anything other than free, they first strike you as swirling and meshing globs and slabs of colour. But when you understand that they are paintings of space, cathedrals and concert halls, and people, and the music that they are playing, you can start to pick out what might be an arch, a pillar. You realise the paintings are depictions of space, time, activity, an attempt to capture the complexity of experience.

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Barbara, David's co-inhabitor of the neatly divided ground floor studio, works with ceramics. Ranks of coloured discs, soft blue and raspberry, putty and cobalt, all to test the amount of colour the porcelain can support, are displayed in a case. Experiments in form and testing the capacities of materials are key parts of her work, this will to invent produces some genuine marvels. Little undulating bowls shaped around passion fruit. Liquid bone china poured into moulds to resemble tall paper bags, the china thin with crisp edges.

Music is essential to both of them. They go to recitals together, listening, looking harder and longer than anyone else there, sketching. And then they bring this fullness and lyricism back to their studio. It's not just the music that these two otherwise quite distinct artists have in common. An idea derived from music pervades their work, of things working together. Things judged and balanced and orchestrated. Sometimes in sympathy, sometimes as counterpoint. As I leave, I turn, and see them, David looking through a stack of watercolours, the stiff paper scuffling, Barbara scoring a pattern into something, scratching and shuffling. Quiet human music.

See other posts:

FRANK BOWLING

KELVYN SMITH

KATTY JANNEH

To visit the studios, which open twice a year, see more here:
pullensopen.org

Contact us

ATELIER WORKS
21a Iliffe Yard
London SE17 3QA

020 7284 2215
020 7703 8979
info@atelierworks.co.uk