I have been trying to put together a blog post about my holiday to the Orkney’s for some weeks now, but I’ve never quite got what I wanted to say right on paper. It may possibly be because I have not quite got what I wanted to say right in my head first.

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The Orkney’s are a fascinating and beautiful group of islands, they are steeped in history, a history that physically manifests itself wherever you go. The history of man in Britain (and parts of Norway) over 5000 years is physically laid out across the islands.

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To be standing where it is obvious that someone else stood 5000 years ago, and to look into a landscape that still has all the principal features of that time is a huge concept to take in. This is the position you find yourself in when standing at the at the Neolithic Dwarfi Stane on Hoy looking into the glacial landscape.

Throughout the islands there are structures, monuments, stone circles, and the remains of villages that go back literally thousands of years to Neolithic and Bronze Age times. There is a wealth of more modern history too, be it the grave of Betty Corrigall from 1770’s to the block ships, the scuttling of the German fleet at Scarpa Flow in 1919, through to the war grave of HMS Royal Oak, and derelict buildings from WW2.

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I was amid the beauty of the landscape and wildlife, on small island with a unique character, where in June where night is approximately 50 minutes of semi darkness I found my mind boggling at what I was seeing, it is an incredible place.

But the thing I could not get my head around was the minimal impact those responsible for the Dwarfi Stane, the Ring of Brodgar and Scara Brae made on their environment compared to the utter devastation taking place today.

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One has to wonder at the complexity of man’s relationship with the planet now, and the extent to which it has changed over 5000 years. What is clear is our ability to destroy the place now and out inability to control population, compared to the early Orkney settlers minimal impact of any form on their environment. At that time man could not impact on the environment in any meaningful way, today we are at the opposite end of the scale.

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It has left me wondering looking at that distance, how much more may be left, and if by the time we have worked out that things are out of hand we may have already gone too far and it would be, or is in fact too late.

 

 

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I’m a Kyla La Grange fan, I bought her first album as soon as it came out and now she’s back with her second, as part of this she’s doing many of the festivals this year. I don’t understand why someone with a voice with such range and feeling to it was not on the BBC ‘Introducing Stage’ or the ‘In New Music We Trust’ stage in Glasgow this weekend.

 

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With 30 minute set at Dot To Dot, she was one of the few where you had to be at the front of the stage 20 minutes before the set started to get the last space at the rail. There was a clear affection for her from the audience, and she clearly loved being on stage with a smile never far from her face for most of the set.

I’ve said before her voice is somewhere between Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush and I don’t know why more people have not heard this – but I do remember Nigel Kennedy saying a few years ago that many people listen but don’t hear.

 

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Playing all new material she was great, her voice has lost none of it’s power or passion whist she’s been writing and recording her new album that is out in early June.

When I saw her a few years ago in Leicester I got the impression that she is a warm and sensitive creative, last night and by pure chance after the set I met her on the steps of Rock City as I was going to see another act. I now have no doubt she is a warm and sensitive creative, and I hope her new album does well for her because her voice is special and she has the qualities I value in an artist.

 

 

 

 

 

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This was my 3rd Dot to Dot, and this year more so than any other I had a list of bands to see. Having checked out their videos and soundcloud before hand – there were a few must sees, some nice to sees, some probably avoids and a few that just I happened to see.

Top of the list of must see’s was Kyla la Grange, but if you have got this far you will know that!

Having caught Gallery 47 the first full set I saw was April Towers a Nottingham Band, it was a shame that Indiana had gone to Glasgow and was not performing in her home town this time having done the Bristol and Manchester dates, although she is back in June. We have some good artists coming from Notts at the moment, a bit more depth and April Towers will be good to go it’s all there now.

 

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After April towers it was the first of many visits to the Sub Culture stage and one of the surprises; Southern, Lucy and Thom a Belfast brother and sister were brilliant, talented with a great set and a pleasure to see live.

One of the new venues this year was Spanky Van Dykes and being between Rock City and the Rescue Rooms I saw or popped into see a number of bands en route, Love Zombie, The Minutes and Gavin James were ‘drop ins’ and all have something, Love Zombie rebellious punk, The Minutes I still don’t know what to make of them, loud and trash the hotel room stuff but they have something to say, and Gavin James brought a sense of balance to the afternoon as a solo singer song writer and comes over a natural talent. The deliberate visit was at 10pm to see Fickle Friends (rather than see the headliner in Rock City) again a band I did not know but it was a really nice sound and a good choice. In passing I also dropped into the acoustic stage and whilst not staying long Cheshire and the Cat stood out, it’s just a shame you can’t be everywhere at once.

 

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I called into Rock City a couple of times, I wanted to see Wolf Alice and they did not disappoint, the place was full and they rocked the place for their 30 minute set, opening with their previous single, and working through to their new one, there was no doubt that the good bands were on early this time (it’s only 2 years ago that Bastille had the 3pm slot at Rock City) .

 

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There were 2 other surprises – again both on the Sub Culture stage (that had the best line up by far this year), and one on my list to avoid was ‘Slaves’ but as the act I planned to see did not quite cut it I found myself staying for Slaves whole set. It was not what I was expecting to enjoy – but punk is alive and well and doing it with vigour, loud, fast and generally offensive this two piece garage punk band from Kent were huge fun. They can clear out any cobwebs, but what I was not expecting was the banter, witty, amusing, with a very dry and self deprecating streak these guys were funny too, at one point slowing the gig to tell a story telling pace sat on the front of the stage it still lost non of its energy, odd as it seems everything that should not go together these guys made work – respect!

 

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The other surprise and on my list of maybes and also on the Subculture stage was Norma Jean Martine, she rocked the joint and how, she plays with a passion and power found in few artists and she can do things with a keyboard that gives it a life of it’s own, today I’ve been looking to see where she plays next, what she’s got out and adding her on twitter, I defiantly want to see her again.

 

There was a noticeable mix of artists this year with a strong representation from both Ireland and the US, plus Stonefield, an Australian band who should have had an hour rather than just 30 minutes. A girl band made up of 4 sisters – their brand of rock comes from the stage, through the floor and you feel in your chest, it was huge, it was old school rock at it’s very best and they could easily have been the headline act and done it justice, this band was definitely a treasure to be found on one of the smaller stages, and you could tell that from the fact that a smaller stage at 4pm in the afternoon was absolutely packed.

 

To conclude, this years Dot to Dot was more mixed than in the past, you could go to all stages and find some great acts, there were some horrors too and one car crash act, plus the noticeable absence of Indiana. Pick carefully, keep an open mind, try a few things you may not expect to like and it’s a great festival. I have come away having heard new work from artists I know and I’m fond of, found some new artists to follow and hopefully see again, and one I may never see again but it was great to enjoy in the moment!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My  Laburnum is in flower, it is a beautiful tree,  seeing it flower every year is a simple pleasure  bringing with it masses of colour and optimism.  Each year this exquisite bright yellow tree announces its here in spectacular style, and reminds me that summer is coming, a simple and beautiful pleasure.  

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Has anyone seen April?

In all honesty I don’t know where April gone, it’s well known that as you mature time goes so fast that July and August vanish and you are left with a 10 month year, but this is starting way to early!!

In the bits of April I can find; I did make it to the first day of the Ursula von Rydingsvard exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park – I am a huge fan of that place, her work mostly in timber is fascinating, and being the first day the Artist was around during the day.

These are big sculptures, and being timber they smell of wood and that brings a life to them not found in most other work.

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The following weekend I was in London, and saw 2 very good shows, that seen on the same day juxtapose each other and providing a sense of balance. One was Hockney’s prints at Dulwich Picture House, this was a detailed and in part an intimate collection of his print making work, from his very early work exploring and discovering his sexuality, early visits to the US through to his cubist later works that are stunning. Sit against this the Richard Hamilton at the Tate that is an outward looking show, where Hamilton comments on the world as he found it and you have a couple of shows that together leave you wide eyed, excited and enthused.

At the end of the month I found one of the films I almost saw on screen at Christmas is now on DVD so that was bought and watched immediately. This was ‘All is Lost’ starring Robert Redford, this is an unusual film with a solo actor and very few words, and no conversations. However the story is compelling and it holds you from beginning to end. All you need is an unspoken connection and masterful story telling, if you have that you need nothing else.

ImageIt is well known that in business we are always at the sharp end and to share something personal for a change, about 10 months ago and having been looking for something (for some time) that would change my work life balance to include at least something non work, I took up fencing – and there is a story in there too!

I started in April 2013 and as an unfit, dyslexic and definitely uncoordinated dancer initially I saw my own shortcomings. However the club I joined (Chilwell Blades) have a plan and for all newcomers in their first term they aim to get all who make it to the end of term through their bronze proficiency and in July I was excited to get my award!

ImageFencing is huge fun, and for a dyslexic who struggles to make any form of contact on a regular basis between an approaching ball and a racquet it offers an entirely new proposition.

Thanks to my peers and many other patient club members it’s gone well, so much so that a week ago I took part in the local beginners and intermediates  regional competition, to my amazement and delight I took the bronze in the beginners, and having learnt as I took part in the pools for the intermediates and worked out where I went wrong in the beginners  I took gold in the male intermediates competition, as I write this I am the East Midlands Regional Intermediate Male Champion……Yahoo!!

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And thank you to Oscar for the pictures that prove it – I am fencer on the left in the top 2!!

Westfield Stratford City, the shopping centre on the Olympic Park site in London is one of UK’s largest and most prestigious shopping locations.

You can imagine my delight to see model images shot for a client earlier in the year being used for a major outdoor retail campaign over the 2013 Christmas period.  

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The model images from this shoot have been used extensively, this has included online, advertising, point of sale (POS) and outdoor retail.  I have deliberately obscured the brand names and the product photography purely to be discrete.

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If you say ‘the Benetton images’ to many people under 35 years old they don’t have a clue what you are talking about,  yet in the late 80’s and early 90’s  these  advertising images were some of the most iconic and controversial ever produced. In those campaigns the focus was race, aids and religion, for this work we chose diversity as the theme. The creative team for the shoot being  2 exceptional models  Kelly Knox and Labonya Siddiqui, make up artist Robyn Skinner and myself.

The models at the centre of the project each brought a unique perspective, Kelly was born without her lower left arm and Labonya who whilst in a child Bangladesh became a burns survivor.  Both women have had to overcome individual challenges,  and both model and have become role models to many other women and girls.

The set of 10 images speak for themselves both in tone and context,  some present a normality everyone can recognise and carry the diversity argument almost unrecognised into everyday life, whist others are stark and unambiguous.  

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All 10 images can be found here  http://gavinkemp.net/html/new_work_-_diversity.html

The New Year is always a time for change, and a few things will be changing on the blog. In the past it has supported my websites with details of what I have been up to primarily gigs, galleries and personal work just to give a slightly different perspective.  However this has meant  some bits of news on other work and what’s being going on in the business have been missed, so for 2014 this is going to change and what is here is going to broaden out slightly.     

The  first 2 entries this year one is about a piece of personal work shot towards the end of 2013, the second being some high profile client work.  

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Bastille were are Rock City last night (November 2nd) and they have changed beyond recognition.  From the 3pm slot at Dot to Dot in 2012 and then the first shows in the Bad Blood tour earlier this year  they were a  great band, and  had the Bad Blood download for some time and knew what to expect.  But before they took to the stage last night Rag’N Bone man was first up singing a cross between blues and hip hop, his voice is incredible, Clean Bandit were good but it feels as if they are still finding their way.  And then who we had come to see,  Bastille were simply too big for the stage,  their presence filled the entire building and then some, the pace was measured, it was in the bands time, there was no set to get through…… there was just one hell of  a show to put on. This was a whole new ball game, no longer an up coming band, they have arrived, big style and it shows!

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The old A made in lights had gone, and a huge projection screen behind the band replaced it – the set list included most of Bad Blood, plus some new songs and the forthcoming single.  The atmosphere was unlike any I’ve come across at Rock City and I’ve been many times, it was a mix of excitement, anticipation, energy, it tingled, the place was alive it was something you could not describe, but you could just feel  was there!  The band were on stage about 90 minutes including the encore, that was about half the entire 3 hour gig. It was a great gig!

I hope  Rock City will be big enough for Bastille’s next tour and I will be at the front of the que!

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