Hi all! Trusting all is well with you and yours! The last few months have been eventful, working on new pieces, participating in the BEAT and exploring opportunities with a new US-based project. Moreover, I’m becoming more involved in Occhi Magazine’s management. We’ve covered a number of independent film releases, NY’s Comic-Con, and featured some truly gifted actors, singers and visual artists including singer-songwriters, Danielle Todd and Renee Wynter, and actress Kathy Kolla. If you are an artist or know of someone who should feature please let me know. It’s great sharing and supporting fresh talent!
For those unfamiliar with the magazine, we cover arts and entertainment, as well as fashion and beauty. It is a digital platform based in New York, with reporters in Arizona, California, Canada, Illinois, Ohio, and New York. I invite you to visit us at www.occhimagazine.com
Now the summer is coming to the end, I will no doubt spend more time painting in a warm studio. Of course, I’ll be happy to share the results with you! Have a great day all!
It’s always a pleasure to touch base with artists I’ve interviewed and can call friends to see what they’re currently up to. In 2012 I wrote a blog about the talented vocalist Nancy Goudinaki (aka Nancy G) and reviewed her first album entitled ‘I Wanna Be Your Star.’ I’m happy to say she’s been back in the studio, recording her second album. The first track to be released is ‘Ariadne’s Lullaby.’ Check out my recent interview with her for Occhi Magazine where she talks about the track and inspiration for the new album entitled ‘ I Can Play.’ Wishing you all a great day!
Trusting all is well with you and yours! As a Director and Trustee of OPEN Ealing, I’m happy to share news of the organisation’s new pop up shop in the heart of Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre.
OPEN Ealing was founded in July 2010 by a group of local artists and residents of the London borough of Ealing, with the support of local organisations such as Pathways, A2Dominion and community groups West Ealing Neighbours and Ealing Arts + Leisure. The aim is to provide cultural space and exciting arts programmes to the community by bringing artists, performers, art groups and residents together, promoting creativity, providing education and creating new opportunities. In recent years, OPEN Ealing has been looking for a new permanent physical space to call home. However, during the months of September and August, OPEN Ealing will host artwork and workshops by local artist at its pop up shop on Oak Road at the Entrance of the Shopping Centre. If you live in the Ealing area please drop by. For further information on OPEN Ealing and its future programmes please visit https://www.openealing.com
‘Children of the Snow Land’ is an extraordinarily moving, inspirational and absorbing documentary, filmed from the ‘roof of the world’ where families struggle and sacrifice everything to help their children.
From the age of 4 years old, children are sent to school in the city, hoping education means a better life. Unfortunately, this comes with the likelihood they will not see their parents and families again for 12 years. Children of the Snow Land documents the life experiences of children born in the High Himalayas of Nepal and follows the journey of three students as they embark on a perilous trek back to their respective villages.
One of the directors is Zara Balfour. Zara is an award-winning director, producer and writer with 18 years experience in all forms of documentary, film and content, specialising in films about the world we live in and people and cultures worldwide. She has filmed in over 20 countries, often documenting community projects in developing countries.
She began her career as an actress before moving behind the camera as producer and director. Zara set up Picture on the Wall Productions and has won awards at film festivals including Berlin Film Festival (winner of the Prix UIP for Best European Short Film), London Film Festival, European Film Awards, Telluride, Warp Records v Creative Review Awards and Cannes Lions. I was fortunate to catch up with her ahead of the film’s general release and ask a few questions.
What support did you get from the Nepalese Government or national agencies?
We didn’t ask for support in the beginning but the school organised a fundraising gala screening in Kathmandu after we completed the film. The Mayor of Kathmandu and the Vice President of Nepal attended. Now we have their support and we hope we can facilitate further fundraising events.
Was the filming of the documentary much of a logistical challenge?
The villages are off the grid. It was only ever two film crew plus a guide, porters and the children. Half the time it was me and co-director Marcus Stephenson or I was accompanied by our cameraman/photographer Mark Hakansson.
We used solar charger kits and backpacks, enabling us to film in difficult and remote areas. We did have porters and donkeys to aid our travel but the journey was treacherous. At times the donkeys would panic in the face of treacherous river crossings. All the rivers start in Nepal and head down towards southern Asia. Some of the dangerous moments aren’t on film and I am scared for the children going back home this year because they won’t be accompanied. It isn’t an easy journey and it’s tougher than it’s shown on film.
What about a sequel and is there anything you would do differently?
I would like to revisit the children in future to see how their lives have changed. Perhaps film them in a similar style to Michael Apted’s ‘Seven Up’ series, which followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964. On a technical level, a bigger crew and more resources would have been nice.
So what are the next steps?
The documentary will be streaming on demand and on general release from 14thMarch 2019 at Curzon Cinemas in the UK, Ireland and Malta.
The aims of Children of the Snow Land are:
To show a global audience what some young people have to do for an education – and allow the Children of the Snow Land to inspire people around the world with their tenacity, grace, courage and wisdom.
To increase awareness and help improve the lives of Himalayan children attending school far from home by helping them to stay connected with their families, and to ensure they make full use of the education for which they have made such a sacrifice. The film has already inspired donations of over $30,000 to directly help the children.
To encourage development of the Himalayan villages so that eventually children won’t have to be separated from their families to achieve an education.
Last year I attended the Elizabeth James Gallery’s second anniversary event and met an extraordinarily talented, humble and interesting artist by the name of Andre Dane Parchment. Andre is originally from Jamaica where he studied printmaking, graphics and drawing. Showing entrepreneurial flare, he started an arts and graphic business but, after a particularly difficult period concluding in the loss of his business, he made significant changes in life, including migrating to the UK to become a British soldier deployed in Iraq.
Since becoming a civilian, he has exhibited at the London Battersea Affordable Art fair (exhibiting with the Army Art Society), Charlton House and the Canary Wharf Window Gallery. Andre kindly agreed to answer a few questions, share his ideas and tell me about his current projects. I’m genuinely excited for him and look forward to following his career. The full interview is featured on Occhi Magazine.
How did you get involved in the arts?
I got involved with the arts from an early age. Maybe it was the beautiful sceneries of the Caribbean island of Jamaica that squeeze the artistic juice out of me. In fourth grade, I would look out from the classroom sketching the sea, birds and fishermen boats passing inside my lesson book with my 2hb pencil. I then moved on to higher education at St. Elizabeth Technical High School specializing in the arts during the last three years of secondary schooling. It was art class that help to fund apart of my bus fare and school meals doing commission works when times were financially challenging.
You were in the armed forces. Can you share some of your experiences and did your art provide therapy during this time?
I served in the British Armed Forces for over six years. When I first joined it was a total culture shock, the treatment for Commonwealth soldiers were different in many ways even though we were all in the same army to protect and serve. But being an immigrant comes with its struggles and stigma, on the other hand it gave me great opportunities and experience which I have no regrets, for each trial encounter made me a better and stronger person.
I was deployed in Iraq in 2006 as an infantry soldier, served alongside other regiments and nationalities. We had near misses of mortar rounds exploding just a few feet away, snipers shooting at random to kill, the fear of not knowing when or if we would walk or drive on explosive devices that can either kill or cause fragmentation.
I wanted to find a distraction that would keep my mind occupied from what was happening in Iraq, something to build my morale on, this was where art became a therapy, in the midst of the madness of war It made me found peace, something beautiful amongst the devastation and destruction, art was my calming influence.
You’re currently working on a series of work and an accompanying publication. What’s the project and what we should expect?
I am writing a book with a series of paintings in accordance with the title Blind Vision Possible Dreams.
It is a semi-autobiography depicting memories of youthfulness, love, failures and success. In it, I am writing my dreams of being a songwriter, an author, and an artist having exhibitions in London and around the world. Secondly, I have also been inspired to write a number of short poems that will be illustrated through sketches. At present, a publisher is having a look at some of them, but I’m still not sure what form of publication I will be using.
For 2019 I will be hoping to have a book launch and art exhibitions which include a series of paintings titled Street Sleepers, with the aim to give back to charities that support the homeless.
What’s the motivation behind your current theme of work?
The motivation behind my current theme of work comes from wanting to view life from a different perspective through painting and writing, taking on new challenges that would help me grow and develop in order to encourage and motivate others not to limit themselves or live in the land of procrastination, but to be the best they can be.
You’re involved in local mentoring initiatives focusing on youth development. Are any of these related to the arts?
I do training and mentoring at my workplace a supervisor and at Refuge Temple in South East London, especially with young men. Apart of the mentoring and development I include art, music, and poetry, working with instruments and art materials that help them to be more creative and think differently, not to be conformed to the bad influence and negativity of their environment, but to try a make a positive change.
As we begin another year of resolutions and a desire to fulfil creative ambitions, it’s great to gain inspiration from talented artists such as Kileza. Kileza is an indie-pop singer, songwriter and producer who calls the world home. Born and raised in South Africa, she’s lived and performed in Argentina, Canada and Germany. Her music reflects the influences of her travels, which now include London. I recently met her at a music industry event and she agreed to discuss her album ‘A Berlin Winter’ and share career aspirations. The full interview is featured on Occhi Magazine.
Your music is vocally enticing, impressive and winningly authentic. Congratulations on the completion of your album. What can you tell listeners about ‘ A Berlin Winter?’
Thank you, for the kind words. I’m pleased to hear that. Well, A Berlin Winter is a passion project of mine. I wrote it during one of Berlin’s longest and coldest winters
in 50 years (in 2013), my aim was purely to make music that soothed the listener, through the cold and through a difficult time whether it be heartbreak or an isolated period.
What inspired you to write this album?
Earlier that year I had bought an 88 key digital piano. I was inspired by Debussy and James Blake. I was coming to terms with a painful breakup from a few years before. I finally felt ready to write about it.
Loneliness, isolation, heart ache, self reflection, and winter were the main inspirations. I think being in a different country and somehow musically materialising my surroundings and feelings into musical form, inspired me to write this album.
Tell us about your song writing process. How do you choose the topic to sing about?
Every song starts differently, but generally speaking, I had just bought a new piano, I was fiddling with it, and melodies and ideas just started flowing to my mind.
I wanted to articulate the pain I had been feeling from a few years prior; due to a very intense love I had found and lost in Toronto a few years earlier. Sometimes a melody just rattles around in my brain, and sometimes I have an idea to write a certain kind of song, whether catchy or melancholic, and then a feeling sort of materialises in me.
What are your musical icons/influences?
I would say Mariah Carey is probably my biggest musical influence. I also take inspiration from artists like Nina Simone, James Blake, Lauren Hill and Damien Rice.
What’s the ultimate direction of your music?
This album is not so commercial, it’s a little bit more avant garde and niche, but going forward it will be more solidly R&B/Pop. I love catchy melodies and big ballads.
You call the world home so where are you based now?
As of 6 months ago, I’m based in London, and I’m absolutely loving it, I love to move around, I love to learn languages, I feel a little Caribbean and a little Latin American at heart, so that’s where I hope to move in the next few years. Either Mexico, or Portugal, or Argentina, where I’ve lived before, we’ll have to see if my partner gets on board!
How do potential listeners find out more about you and your music?
I think instagram is probably the best as it is de rigeur at the moment.
I wish her the very best for 2019! For further information on Kileza please visit
It’s always such a pleasure to meet inspiring artists and be exposed to their wonderful work. Amber Henry is one of those artists who, aside from being an excellent painter, has highly admirable aspirations to assist charities and agencies supporting those affected by cancer. A former Laguna Beach gallery owner, she relocated from Southern California to Salt Lake City in 2011 to take care of her mother who was suffering from breast cancer.
Amber graduated from Laguna College of Art + Design with a BFA in Fine Arts and Illustration. She went on to show in local Laguna art galleries such as Fingerhut and Orange County Creatives. While in California, she was a leader in the Laguna Beach art community, served on various committees such as First Thursday’s Art Walk, and Laguna College of Art + Design’s mentoring and alumni committees. She recently featured in a solo exhibition at Alpine Art Gallery in Salt Lake City. Amber kindly agreed to talk further about her art, career and future objectives.
I love your artwork. What’s your story and how did you become an artist?
I have always been consumed by imagination and creativity. Wandering, wondering, sensitive to unique patterns in everything and the many levels of colour and beauty these created. As long as I can remember, unique stories and ideas would play out within my imagination. It was as though these stories were so real I could reach out and touch them. As the creative environment travelled with me, so did my crayons, markers, pencils and torn pieces of paper. My pockets would overflow with drawing utensils and various “fascinating” objects which had been collected throughout the day. At one point, the discovery that I could create a world with paint and canvas lead to the realization that art has always lived within me and that I was destined to share this with the world and make my impression.
Do you specialize in portraits or do you work on different commissions?
Though I am passionate about portrait painting, I have and will work on any custom art. I tend to pour my soul in whatever I do, so creating custom art that will make a deep impact on anyone viewing the art, is an important to me and a large part of what I do. All of my art must evoke some sort of experience in the emotional sense. Otherwise, I feel as though my work is not complete.
I had the privilege of first seeing your work via Twitter. Can you provide further insight on how you managed to develop a theme of patient portraits?
I feel that people make an impression on the world. Every crease, wrinkle, scar and expression, tells a story and reveals pieces of a unique journey. Eyes reflect all kinds of emotion, from love, joy, pain, passion, and in many cases more than we can ever fathom. For me, to tell a story is to create a portrait and capture every one of those details in that moment. Storytelling in a single moment in time. A moment that can appear to be only what you see on the surface, yet gives a glimpse into what lies beneath the surface. I want my art to inspire people to use their imagination to interpret a particular piece and its story.
It all began with a portrait of my mother who passed away of cancer. I used this as healing process for myself. I wanted to capture the inner light and positive outlook she most often carried. From there, my hope was to capture likeness in a deeper sense. Yes, likeness can be captured by the artist in the physical sense. One can take a photo of a person and create a version that looks just like the person on the outside, but how many are able to successfully capture the inner person as well? It is the little nuances that matter. A certain depth and twinkle in the eye, a slight turn of the mouth, an eyebrow raised slightly higher than the other.
I don’t wish to only go skin deep when painting people. Capturing the soul is what I strive for whether it be painting a portrait of someone who has passed or one that is still physically with us.
An impression of the soul and capturing that moment in time…the essence of a person.
Are there any charities or agencies you would like to work with to develop this project further?
I would love to work with any non-profit organizations which promote healing for those affected by cancer in some way, survivors, caregivers and family of those afflicted. Currently, I am looking to raise money larger organizations like Komen as well as smaller, community based non-profits. Since giving back is such a big part of what I am trying to do, for those who mention this interview when ordering any of my artwork, I will donate 25% of the proceeds to a charity such as Komen or one of their choosing.
Progress has been made in how the health sector uses art as part of the healing process. Do you have any ideas how this can be furthered?
I’m no doctor, but I believe that by raising awareness on how utilizing the arts can promote healing and can bring hope and joy to so many. There is so much focus on treatments in the physical sense, like chemo, radiation and nutrition, and exercise. What about the fine arts, music and dance? Even if it provides a creative distraction from whatever treatment a person is going through, I do believe our emotional health and personal fulfilment directly reflects our outlook and physical wellbeing. If someone can get lost in imagining the story behind a piece of my art, it’s certainly better than thinking about their battle with whatever illness or challenge they are facing. I believe anyone affected by any sort of physical challenge can be positively uplifted by creativity whether it is through their own, or experiencing and enjoying the creativity of others.
What other projects and activities should we look out for?
I’d like to further examine people. People affected by a variety circumstances, like homelessness, poverty, etc. Based on their story, I would paint them, striving to re-create the moment in time in which their story was told. Even if is a painting of a space with no people, this would reflect a specific experience or story told.
I wish Amber the very best for the future. For further info Amber can be contacted via the following links