End On

The West End is known to be the most glamourous area where some of the biggest theatrical performances take place. Although looking behind the curtain, we find out that actors are being paid less in theatrical performances than movie ones. On average, theatre actors make £518 to £633 a week, whereas film extras can get up to £600 a day. With interviews with actors, teachers and theatre management, this observational documentary attempts to find out why theatre actors are moving into the film industry. We also talk to the actors about how they cope with trying to succeed in the theatre industry while living in London.

I was the producer and helped with the filming and editing of the documentary. 

 

 

The Pillow Talk Cause

IMG_9287

Artists are now creating thought provoking pieces for the least expected locations, your couch. The Pillow Talk Cause project launched in September 2017 to start discussions on issues part of our society.

Founder Saliah Bryan used cushions because she believes that they are the centre piece of a room. “I imagined this space where somebody would walk into a room and see these really big and colourful illustrations and think wow, what a positive image. Instantly, you would think it’s a positive thing but actually it reflects something that’s really quite serious and something we should be caring quite more, raising money and awareness. So each artists produce a limited edition series of cushions to reflect a cause they care about.

DSC_0017

– Saliah Bryan and her serie of cushions –

Half Lebanese, half English, Bryan moved to the UK at the age of seven. The Pillow Talk Cause project was created after the designer respond to the theme of transition for an art exhibition curated by Reconnecting Arts, a platform that supports emerging Middle Eastern artists. Bryan said that she had to design something with purpose because at that time the refugee crisis was at its peak. Since the beginning of the war in Syria in 2011, 5.2 million Syrian refugees are displaced in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, according to the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), 2017 progress report. The designer said that moving to the UK from the Middle East was difficult. “So I can’t imagine having to deal with the transition whilst dealing with trauma of knowing my home was being destroyed.

Saliah Bryan designed 6 cushions, each with a different name and meaning.

 

After researching charities, the designer decided to collaborate with the charity Human Care Syria because she said “it would make a huge difference because they’re such a small
charity and they really focus on specifics objectives within a charity organisation.”

“Of course, it helps” is what Sarah from Human Care Syria who worked with the designer said. Bryan brought to the charity a new way of raising funds. She also introduced them to a new platform, as am ambassador for the charity. Through this project, the charity has been able to reach a new audience, the creative community. The designer’s series for the PillowTalkCause supports mainly refugees from Syria in camps in Europe and especially Turkey. On November 16th, 2017, the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees registered 3,320,814 Syrian refugees in Turkey. Three issues Bryan could raise the most awareness and money for are, orphans, women’s sanitation and a starting initiative which was art therapy for the people in these camps. “I really wanted from this cause is so the money creates a huge amount of impact. It’s not a case of we’re just donating money and it only affects a couple of people. I wanted it to make a real change and prove that design and creativity can be a cause for difference and it can really create an impact.”, is what the designer created this project for.

Bryan introduces herself as a designer on a mission to highlight the power of design for social change. When asking her what should people take away from the cushions, she answered that everyone has the power to make progress, not just creatives. “We all have a responsibility, and we can all do better. Sharing awareness, reading about what’s happening, expanding your knowledge in order to pass that onto others is still progress.”

 

Beiroot: when vegan Lebanese cuisine meets refugees

admin-ajax

 

“It’s to showcase Lebanese food at its finest, because if you go to a Lebanese restaurant, you’re not getting proper Lebanese food.” Law graduate, half-Lebanese, half-Pakistani, Eman Al-Sibassi, founded Beiroot, a vegan homemade Lebanese food business. “I just want people to eat real, homemade food because that’s the best food.”

We discussed the importance eating homemade food: https://soundcloud.com/nour-hassaine/beiroot

 

untitled-1

Eman Al-Sibassi

Vegan herself, Eman is a firm believer in energy transfer. She apparently did not realise that she was vegan. “I think slowly, slowly, once you start to educate yourself on nutrition and what you actually really need and don’t need, it becomes clearer.” After receiving her law degree, she started actively brainstorming what she wanted to do. “Sat down with my parents, kind of pitched it to them, and see what they think.” It is quite unusual for a cuisine from the Levantine and Arabic region to be vegan, a lot if it is either based on fish or meat/chicken. “I made shawarma for them, and they really liked it.”

But Beiroot is not just a vegan Lebanese business. When creating it, the founder wanted it to have a social impact. “I have the social side of it using dates which are from Palestine”. Another social aspect to it is that she prepares energy balls made of cacao, orange blossoms and dates. Ten percent of what is made from the sale of these goes directly to a medical charity called Kitrinos Healthcare. “I just thought if I’m doing anything with proceeds, I would want it to help in some other way. If a business doesn’t have a kind of social responsibility, I think you’re doing something wrong.”

Dr. Siyana Shaffi. Credit @teamkitrinos on facebook

Dr. Siyana Shaffi. Credit @teamkitrinos on facebook

Founded by Dr. Siyana Shaffi in 2015, Kitrinos Healthcare is a medical charity based in Greece. They’ve recently moved to Edomenie (the northern border with Fyrom) in a small town called Polykastro. When Dr. Shaffi started volunteering a couple of years ago in Greece, she realised that a lot of the big organisations were present but all the services that were deemed necessary were not provided. “There was space for a small organisation to form and grow and fill out the gaps. I was actually quite shocked how little they were doing despite their ressources.”

 

 

 

 

The founder of Beiroot started to think about this business starting February 2017. “It’s slowly picking up and I’ve catered for a couple of events.” Small funds from Beiroot are still beneficial for the medical charity. “As a doctor, I was approached a lot by charities asking for money”, said Shaffi. It helped her to effectively run Kitrinos Healthcare since her experiences as medic and volunteer helped her find ways to save money. “I can give you an example. With £2, I can get fish skin to help treat burned victims.”

“I just wanted to make sure I was doing my part and feel like I’m making some kind of small change even if it’s small.” Even if veganism is considered to be a trend, the business owner thinks Lebanese food is always loved no matter what. “I also think the social side of having a purpose behind it is what kind of attracts people like conscious people.”

#Metoo

In the last months, there has been an increasing amount of sexual harassment claims coming out against American film producer, Harvey Weinstein. Actresses such as Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd and many others were part the list of actresses who came forward. This wave of women sharing their stories led to the use of the hashtag #Metoo.

Twitter’s statistics showed that over 1.7 million tweets included the #metoo and people in eighty-five countries tweeted using the same hashtag. Facebook released their statistics which show that in less than twenty-four hours, 4.7 million users around the world used the hashtag.

According to the Opium Research report, 2.5 million women in the UK have been harassed in the workplace, in 2017. Fifty-eight of these women haven’t reported incidents to their company.

On social media, the response to these stories led to the use of new hashtag, #HowWillIChange. From a male side, the opinion was really divided into two sides. On the one hand, a group of men were being supportive and fighting alongside women. On the other hand, groups of men believed they have no role to play in the situation, so they don’t need or want to take part.

I’ve curated a podcast with three different women who have a story to share in order to discuss the male debates following recent events.

 

24740618_10214703663884846_1605444185_n

Lama El Khamy: 21 – Egyptian – Student

23406047_10214250600596584_4916043625720596763_o-768x927

Kirsty Fiona Boag: 23 – Scottish – Student

IMG_9130-768x768

Desiree Diaz Garcia: 29 – Spanish – Actress

Tower of Babel 2.0.

The Tower of Babel, the mythological tower tall enough to reach heaven, just became real. The 69 year-old Brazilian conceptual artist, Cildo Meireles, created a 21st century version of the myth. The large-scale installation featuring hundreds of radios with models from the 1920s to the 1990s, is on display in Tate Modern’s Switch House. Located in this former power station, you will find this robot-like sculpture in a secret room with low blue lighting.

The piece composed of 800 radios is overwhelming due its size. The radios are all almost playing, at a level which the human ear can perceive different voices but not the actual words. Meireles described Babel as ‘an archaeological sample of events’.

The artist explained that it took over ten years to complete the work:

“Babel began in 1990 on Canal Street, in New York. There were eleven years of notes before I finally realised the work in 2001, in Helsinki, at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. Upon observing the quantity and diversity of radios and all the different types of sound objects that were sold around Canal Street, I thought of making a work with radios. Radios are interesting because they are physically similar and at the same time each radio is unique”. (Quoted in Tate Modern 2008, p.168.)

Some play news stations and some play music. If you don’t focus too hard on the words, you can hear this buzzing sound. This peculiar art installation makes you question your place in the world, and the sounds creating this sense of distortion makes you feel tiny.

IMG_5564

The installation is relevant because it represents today’s society in many different ways. It depicts how we live in a loud environment that is constantly buzzing. The base of the piece is made with the oldest and largest radios. As you the tower grows, the radios become more and more modern and smaller.  Babel also portrays how the young generation still needs the support and foundation of the old one.

It’s ironic if the artist was inspired by the religious mythological tower, since a lot of the modern art is not inspired by religion as much as the classical era used to. It is believed that God looked down and saw that people were speaking one language, therefore they would think that nothing is out of their reach. So, God went down and confounded their speech. They could not understand each other and were scattered over the face of the earth.

Babel is piece which will always convey a very important meaning: it accurately represents perfectly society, and history shows that it always evolves.

Plus, I’m pretty sure Ella Fitzgerald’s song Manhattan is playing on of the one radios.

Former rowing coach and geography teacher jailed for abusing young boys.

February 6, 2017, Patrick Marshall, 70, sentenced to seventeen years in prison.

In Southwark Crown Court, Mr. Marshall, father-of-three, was charged with indecent assault and indecency with a child between 1969 and 1981.

The former teacher at Windsor Grammar School and St Paul’s School had also carried out the sexual abuse of ten boys while working in both prestigious establishments. He faces 24 counts of indecent assault against nine boys. He also faces one count of indecency with a child.

Rowing coach and geography teacher had been arrested in 2014 after numerous accusations of historical sexual abuses were made by pupils against teachers of St Paul’s School, in south-west London.

One witness explained that he “lay there quietly” while he was assaulted by his teacher. He also said that Marshall attached him multiple times at a “secluded” building of the school. The offences allegedly locked in the defendant’s car and the alleged victims’ homes. According to this witness, Patrick Marshall is “a charismatic and charming” person who gave him support.

Crown Prosecution service spokesperson Samuel Main commented:

“We hope the conviction of Patrick Marshall today, along with the convictions of two other former St Paul’s teachers, will bring some sense of justice and closure for their many victims.These men groomed and abused vulnerable boys using their status as teachers, in Marshall’s case befriending their families before going on to abuse their sons and their trust. Each of the victims has shown great bravery in coming forward and but for their courage it would not have been possible to bring these prosecutions.”

Mr. Marshall is indeed the third person who worked at St Paul’s School to be charged with sexual abuse after ‘Operation Withorpe’ was launched. His parole eligibility date is set for June 2025.

When chai meets refugees

 

According to the UN’s refugee agency, the number of refugees who have fled Syria since the beginning of the war, six years ago, is equal to five million people. According to the International Rescue Committee, another “1.2 million people [are] seeking safety in Europe”.

Pranav Chopra, London-based consultant and founder of Chaigaram, found himself in search of a solution to help refugees to integrate them in their new society after watching a BBC HARDtalk program.

FullSizeRender

The TV documentary showed an Iraqi family going back to their country after spending two-three years to get to Germany. Pranav’s research led him to find that hate crime against refugees can be quite prominent and that there is a strong lack of integration.

In order to improve the integration base, there’s three key angles: “the education piece because a lot of migrants especially in the refugee status, are uneducated simply because they just had to leave whatever they had, and they left”, Pranav Chopra explains. Another one is language, we need to educate them with the local language to help them settle in. He states that the “one overall thing that ties it all is employment. If you provide employment to someone, they can practice their language”.

Potentially, when starting a new business, the idea comes first and then may you might link up with a social angle. Pranav tells me that “for chaigaram, it’s the other way around, it started with the social angle”. The word chai (tea) comes from the Persian چای chay, which originated from the Chinese word for tea 茶chá. Chaigaram sells chai, blends made by refugees in different food markets. They also sell chai syrup that you can use for ice teas, cocktails.

So the founder of this business is using chai in order to give jobs to refugees, to allow them to practice their english. Through Chaigaram, the refugees become more and more confident. For a lot of people in this situation, “the mindset tends to be no one wants me”. Pranav continues by saying that this is the case because “no one is letting you work, no one is giving you a visa to live, so your confidence is all time low”.

“Anwar (from Sudan), he’s quite confident. He’s a journalist, a highly skilled journalist. He worked like 30 years, and he’s looking for a job, because we’re quite small, we help each refugees at a personal level, like I asked him ‘hey you should write a blog entry, after TEDxUAL and take some photos. Write a blog entry, we’ll publish it on our website, or we can give you that blog, publish it here and link all the refugee bodies, all the magazine, so trying to link him up with a job to showcase his work.”

Chaigaram-1

 

Chaigaram is a case study for people to understand that you don’t need big ideas to make a social impact, it can be as simple as tea. As Pranav said: “I’m sort of just using the power of tea because I like simplicity ,I’m trying to change the world with tea and water.”

 

Chaigaram-4

Photo by Lidia Huerta

Share Some Skills

How do you meet new people in a city like London where there are 8.6 million inhabitants?  Also, how do you meet people in a city you’re visiting for a precise period?

French-Italian Londoner, Valentine del Giudice, co-founder of creative community ssshake, told me that the only option she had

@everythingart1998

was Tinder. This was in Finland during her Erasmus exchange. After studying fine art in Paris and Design Management & Culture at the London College of Communication, she said that she really wanted to meet local and creative people.  By using Tinder, her and friends “used it to match people, like musicians and started a group”. She realised ‘the need of a non-dating platform for the creative industries’.

Finding like-minded people to collaborate with can be a struggle. Ultimately, ssshake is all about ‘helping you to connect with nearby creatives’.

Every two months, and on the first Wednesday of the month, you can go to a ssshake gathering where you can meet the team and other creatives. They have also created a Facebook group called the ssshake creative community, where you can ask for people’s help on a project or you can just share opportunities you’ve heard around you. You can meet people from advertising to photography, but also dancers, designers, illustrators and many more. Basically, you will find ‘everything that can be useful on a creative project’.

The ssshake platform is available soon as a phone app (iOS & Android) where you will be able to ‘connect with your Facebook or Twitter and create a profile’. Then, you just have to look for people based on skills, industry and location.

18

@ssshake

If you can’t attend a ssshake event because you’re too busy partying (no judgements here), at least test out the app.

As Valentine realised on her trip to Finland, ssshake ‘needs to happen’. This is the future of networking in the creative industry.

 

He loves me, he loves me not.

In ‘Love Me’ by Gemma Weekes, you get to discover the story of this London girl named Eden, who’s in her mid-twenties, directionless and insecure. Eden is a girl who had the chance to fall in love with her best friend in her teenage years. I agree, her family situation is not ideal, and her professional one neither. But when Zed comes back into her young adult life in London, that’s when you discover a whole other chapter (pun intended) to Eden’s story. I’m sure we can all agree that ‘a first love shouldn’t bloom so fierce/It shouldn’t be like a fist forever clutched around the heart muscle…’

I won’t tell you that this is a boring love story because it’s not. I’m also not gonna tell you that the story is just another piece of prose, because again, it’s not.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetThe author/poet from East London wrote this story using a very simple and direct language.

The story itself is poetic and the structure of the plot is only going to leave you wanting more. After you follow Eden’s adventures throughout the summer in New York, you’ll want to know what happens next.

I am aware that when people comment about a movie or a book, they will all say the same thing: ‘everyone can relate to the story…’.

So, I’m going to tell you, why it’s particularly the case here. I read the book when I was a bit down. As it always happens at some point, my love life pretty much sucked. When Zed came back in Eden’s life, after ten years, their history was explained, bits by bits. It helped me to accept the fact that at some point, that things will not work out and that’s alright. When my brain focused on the complexity and beauty of Eden’s life, let me tell you that I did feel better. Their story brought me comfort.

At some point, in our lives we feel lonely and have this feeling that we don’t control anything anymore.  But even if Eden is a fictional character, it reminds you that life is not always going to be perfect. The best way to deal with it could be to talk about it with people you trust, bla bla bla.

You wanna know another way? On a sleepless night, just take your blanket, lay down on the couch in your kitchen and read the book. It’s a great way to just move on.

I’m going to leave you with the words of F.S. Fitzgerald which I believe resume the story: “And in the end, we were all just humans.. drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness.”

PS: when you’re reading the second part set in New York, listen to Fela Kuti.

 

IMG_5835.JPG

The Londoner 2.0

London, a city I’ve made my home now. As a photographer, you are always looking for the most unusual place to take photos in and find the right subjects which are visually interesting. On another Sunday afternoon, I managed to overcome these obstacles. (to see more photographs, check out @everythingart1998 on instagram)

 

Processed with VSCO with b5 presetdsc_0014dsc_0038Processed with VSCO with b5 preset

London vs. Trump:

 

Processed with VSCO with b5 preset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downing Street, January 30th, London unites against the executive order by President Trump. The 44th President of the United States banned arrivals on American soil, of people coming from seven Muslim countries.

I won’t give you any statistics to how many people gathered but I will tell you this: people of every age, of every religion and origins gathered on a Monday night, as human beings to fight for their fellow human beings’ rights across the Atlantic.

IMG_3774.JPG

Throughout the protest, harmoniously, people were chanting: ‘No ban, no registry, f*** white supremacy’ or‘Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here’. Some of them were addressed to President Trump: ‘Tiny hands, tiny man, f*** you and your muslim ban’.  Theresa May, Prime Minister, was portrayed on the signs, with caricatures.

IMG_3751.JPG

One thing which I found impressive were the signs; some of them were written in English and some in Arabic. Together, they made the message even more powerful.

IMG_3765.JPG

img_3753

The New Yorker 2.0.

Weve all listened to Frank Sinatras New York, New York’ or Jay Z & Alicia Keys’ ‘Empire State of mind. That is what these photographs represent, a non New Yorker living in the Big Apple for a week.