Spotlight on JPD

SPOTLIGHT ON JPD
Reflective lyrics and an upbeat energy characterise rapper Julian Philipp David’s ‘JPD’ deutsch-rap, laying down a directness and hip-hop realness, but not being afraid to embrace his own formative pop and jazz influences.

Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER
Text MADELEINE ARCHER

For his laidback style, JPD, formally known as Julian Philipp David, has significant musical acumen. Moving to Mannheim at the age of 24 to pursue a music degree, a small village upbringing was no obstacle to musical experience, but his passion was always for German hip-hop. This is celebrated through a self-described ‘songwriter-rap’ style, taking cues (and vocal samplings) of established German Rapper Prince Pi and earning comparisons to fellow German rapper Casper. Previously playing in the successful band Tonomat 3000, JPD experienced the festival circuit, opening for major acts such as Marteria.

Stepping away from his band after a 3-year run, a solo career was a natural progression for the rapper-songwriter, recording under JPD and recently releasing the debut album “Auf den großen Knall”, packed with his colourful and versatile13 songs.

JPD makes German hip-hop/rap that is honest and accessible; reflecting on universal themes of moving away from home, early love, and change, but never losing its ‘kick’.

Interview: 12/2019 with JPD

Spotlight on JPD
Spotlight on JPD
Photography by Bert Spangemacher

Artist Name JPD
Genre Pop/Hip Hop
Based in  Leipzig
Playing since Always
First album released “Herbst“ EP 2016
Freshest album “Auf den großen Knall“, recently released.
Listen to me on Spotify

Describe your band / music / style in three words.
Headstrong, honest, heartfelt.

What did you listen to when growing up?
Private radio in southern Baden: 80s, 90s and today’s top hits. And a lot of ads. Then there was Eminem—the “Lose Yourself” maxi. And then there was hiphop.

Music icon(s) and the reason why.
All artists who managed to make a living out of their creative drive. Who stay true to themselves and keep on going. Even when things don’t go well, when you want to just give up. Who keep being warm and kind to others. I really appreciate those kinds of people.

Spotlight on JPD
Spotlight on JPD
Eyewear by EYEVAN Lubin
Photography by Bert Spangemacher

Who are you listening to right now?
Warhouse, Papooz, Phools

What is the craziest / funniest thing that’s happened on tour?
The time we spend together as a crew. That really is the craziest part. Such great people, such great musicians. We drive through Germany in an awesome black bus, play an awesome show every night and let the fog machine go wild quite often.

Favorite performance venues or music festivals? And why?
I like small clubs, feel comfortable in concert halls, small indie festivals are great and I won’t say no to a really big stage.

Three words to describe your fans.
Pretty cool people.

Spotlight on JPD
Spotlight on JPD
Eyewear by COBLENS Nachtflug
Photography by Bert Spangemacher

Favorite eyewear brand?
Flea market.

What is next for you, an immediately upcoming tour or EP/Album?
My debut album “Auf den großen Knall” was released on 29.11. It was and still is a big project. I don’t have a label anymore, but a tight-knit, small, creative team and a supportive circle of friends instead. We do everything ourselves, we are pressing the upcoming album vinyl ourselves, shoot elaborate music videos on a low budget and program the light show on our own. I’ll be on tour in December. Berlin today, then Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart and Freiburg. I am going to perform the whole album. And it will be loud.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, where would you like to see your band / music and at what scale?
Still doing, making. Working and living with my closest friends. And by the fifth album, everyone will know what we are doing here.

Foremost - Julie Bourgeois, Founder of Fashion Label TATA CHRISTIANE

4SEE’S FOREMOST. – JULIE BOURGEOIS 

Impact and innovation are the driving forces behind revolutionary ideas in fashion. And when style meets substance, a reaction occurs—creating powerful forces for change and trends that can be seen and felt all around the world. 4SEE talks with the foremost innovators from fashion’s ever-evolving world, questioning the sources of style and culture and drawing out answers about their inspiration and impact in 4SEE’s FOREMOST.

The truly stand-alone designs of Julie Bourgeois and Gabriel Santini, with Tata Christiane unflinchingly bordering both elegance and bad-taste, de-structuring whilst upcycling, theatrically expressing an attitude of independence free from expectation.

Name Julie Bourgeois
Age 39
Nationality French
Based in Berlin
Website www.tatachristiane.com
Instagram @tatachristiane

4SEE's Foremost - Julie Bourgeois, Founder of Fashion Label TATA CHRISTIANE
4SEE’s Foremost – Julie Bourgeois, Founder of Fashion Label TATA CHRISTIANE
Eyewear by Vintage Ray-Ban // Photography by Bert Spangemacher

Tata Christiane is a fashion label founded in 2007 by Julie Bourgeois and Gabriel Santini. Hailing from Marseille, the two designers studied in Paris (Literature and Philosophy for Bourgeois and Architecture for Santini) before moving to Berlin with their music project Aniaetleprogrammeur.

While by no means a side-project, the duo’s creative energies take form quite literally in their eponymous label Tata Christiane. As bold as it is polarising, Tata Christiane produces two collections per year, with hand-made and locally-produced pieces, recycled materials, and upcycled vintage fabrics. Expressing a concept of ‘costume streetwear’, Tata Christiane’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection (‘CADAVRE EXQUIS #1’) features disproportionate form and silhouettes, garishly garnished with frill and crochet details, layered materials, tassels, and see-through mesh panels. Bold colours and clashing patterns collide with deconstructed elements, cartoonish caricature figures and animal prints. Tata Christiane is fashion for another kind.

4SEE Foremost spoke with co-founder Julie Bourgeois, and were reminded why we mustn’t be afraid to mix the different colours.’

Describe yourself in three words.
I’m Tata Christiane.

Style Icon(s) and the reason why.
It’s quite diffuse. To be honest, I don’t feel like I’m really thinking in that direction. I know that in my life I have been more influenced by a kaleidoscope, a constellation of people and attitudes, mostly strangers, people on the street or in clubs or whatever, in fact. It’s like an impressive overall that comes from everywhere; also, from reading, TV series, movies, etc., but nothing of a specific icon.

What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?
Managing to make our label work so far by doing it our way and at our own pace. By maintaining a state of mind and remaining independent.

What is next for you, an immediately upcoming project?
For me, the whole year is a constant succession of projects to come. It’s quite cyclical and regular, next collection, next collection of unique pieces, next production, with meteors of projects coming in – an exhibition, a fashion show, but in a way the vision is very day-to-day, over a short period. There is always a lot to do.

Favorite eyewear brand?
I need to wear glasses and I’m wearing Ray–Bans right now.

Your fashion philosophy / Styling tips.
The colors, do not be afraid to mix the different colors. Do not be afraid of the result. Let yourself be surprised. Don’t be afraid to also have different phases, different days for the style. Be flexible and open to your own mood.

Three words to describe your customer.
Passionate, with a sense of humour and great sensitivity

Spotlight on Madsius Ovanda Pia wears LINDBERG 8416 // Carina wears DOLCE & GABANNA DG6125

SPOTLIGHT ON MADSIUS OVANDA
Indie R&B/Dream Pop duo Carina Madsius and Pia Ovanda navigate ‘the spaces between’; where words are said or unsaid, giving their unique voice to capture the unexplainable.

Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER
Text MADELEINE ARCHER

In music and in life, Madsius Ovanda share a deep desire for connection and expression. As long-time friends and musical collaborators, the German multi-instrumentalist duo sing from a shared belief in the beauty of vulnerability, honesty, and the complexities of human connection. Introspective and sonorous, duality is a common thread that ties the band and their music together. 

Their recently released EP ‘Moving Forward’ is a dreamy, low-fi-flavoured single with a touch of autotune that achieves a rare finesse and appropriability, carrying a melody that is both classic and experimental in nature. Citing Little Dragon and James Blake as influential contemporaries, Carina Madsius and Pia Ovanda are proof that heart and soul still have a place in the often hyper-commercialised and over-produced world of indie/r&b/pop music.

4SEE put the spotlight on the girls as their latest single ‘Who Are You’.

Band / Artist Name Madsius Ovanda
Genre(s) IndieRnB / Dream Pop
Member(s) and Instrument(s) Carina Madsius: Synthesizer, Keys, Vocals, Songwriting, Producing // Pia Ovanda: Vocals, Gitarre, Keys, Songwriting
Based in  Berlin
Playing together since The two of us have been making music together since 2009 (so this year is our 10 year anniversary). We have been writing songs and making songs together ever since we got to know each other. Madsius Ovanda has been our project for about two years now.
First album released Our first EP “Into The Stars“ was published in May 2018.
Freshest album Our debut album “Talking Underwater” will be published Spring 2020.
Listen to us on Linktree / Spotify

Spotlight on Madsius Ovanda - Pia Ovanda: Vocals, Gitarre, Keys, Songwriting // Carina Madsius: Synthesizer, Keys, Vocals, Songwriting, Producing // 
Spotlight on Madsius Ovanda – Pia Ovanda: Vocals, Gitarre, Keys, Songwriting // Carina Madsius: Synthesizer, Keys, Vocals, Songwriting, Producing //

Describe your band / music / style in three words.
Indie-R‘n‘B – Dream Pop – Freaky

What did you listen to when growing up?
Bach, Prince, Wayne Shorter, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Zawinul, Eric Clapton, Marvin Gaye…

Music icon(s) and the reason why.
Stevie Wonder – He is an incredible legend and his music is simply timeless.
Laura Mvula – Stylistically and musically, she has created her own soundscape.
Nai Palm – Just saw her perform and met her, an incredible musician!
Glenn Gould – Nobody does Bach like him.
Tame Impala – Have been delivering tasteful, good indie music for years.

Spotlight on Madsius Ovanda Carina wears BARTON PERREIRA Solstress / Pia wears EYEVAN Lubin
Spotlight on Madsius Ovanda
Carina wears BARTON PERREIRA Solstress / Pia wears EYEVAN Lubin

Who are you listening to right now?
Laura Mvula, Mansur Brown, Bon Iver, Tame Impala, Prince, Amber Mark, The Japanese House, Khruangbin, Kurt Veil, Tom Misch, Phoebe Bridgers…

What is the craziest / funniest thing that’s happened on tour?
Ohh, we have a lot in store for that. One remarkable moment was definitely a show in 2017. It was a show with the whole band, so all four of us traveled together. Great venue, awesome hotel, great pay, and a very good afterparty. So we thought: Treat yo‘self! And so we treated ourselves to four separate rooms in the hotel.

After our show, we went to the afterparty. Gin Tonic (our traditional band drink), and then we partied until we were the only ones left dominating the dance floor. Sometime in the morning during our trip back to the hotel we all realized how much more fun it would be to have everyone sleep in the same room. So in the middle of the night we started a new project and carried all the mattresses from the other rooms into one of the single rooms.

During all the dragging around, we realized what we were actually doing and just broke down laughing right there in the hotel hallway. One mattress was packed next to the other in this one room and all the other ones were left empty. Theoretically we were instantly asleep anyway, but at least we were together! Haha… #crewlove

Favorite performance venues or music festivals? And why?
Fusion Festival → because we had a goooood time there, on and off the stage.
Milla Club in Munich → it is always nice to have the „home advantage“
Häkken in Hamburg → because we had one of our best afterparties ever #candyman
Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld in Cologne → because we had the pleasure of experiencing and playing
some great shows there.
Knust Hamburg and SO 36→ because we had two of the best audiences ever there as a supporting
act for Akua Naru

Spotlight on Madsius Ovanda - Pia Ovanda: Vocals, Gitarre, Keys, Songwriting // Carina Madsius: Synthesizer, Keys, Vocals, Songwriting, Producing //  Pia wears EMPORIA ARMANI EA2092 // Carina wears LINDBERG Spirit 2386W
Spotlight on Madsius Ovanda – Pia Ovanda: Vocals, Gitarre, Keys, Songwriting // Carina Madsius: Synthesizer, Keys, Vocals, Songwriting, Producing // 
Pia wears EMPORIA ARMANI EA2092 // Carina wears LINDBERG Spirit 2386W

Three words to describe your fans.
loyal, art-lovers and freaks like us

Favorite eyewear brand?
Fielmann‘s zero-cost-plans :DDDDD

What is next for you, an immediately upcoming tour or EP/Album?
We are going to release three more singles in the coming months before our album release in Spring 2020. In April we will go on an album release tour all over Germany.

Spotlight on Madsius Ovanda
Spotlight on Madsius Ovanda

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, where would you like to see your band / music and at what scale?
In 10 years we will still be tweaking our sound, still producing, researching, writing songs. We want to keep re-discovering ourselves in sound and music. Being just as passionate about music as we are now, playing international festivals, participating in exciting collaborations and shaping the music scene with innovation and creativity … it would be cool to spread LOVE and bring people joy and touch them.

Spotlight on Madsius Ovanda Pia wears LINDBERG 8416 // Carina wears DOLCE & GABANNA DG6125
Spotlight on Madsius Ovanda
Pia wears LINDBERG 8416 // Carina wears DOLCE & GABANNA DG6125
4SEE Interview with Tom Wlaschiha, Photography by Bert Spangemacher, Eyewear by Blackfin

IN CONVERSATION with Game of Thrones Actor TOM WLASCHIHA

On top of his game, the breakout German star, TOM WLASCHIHA describes life after Game of Thrones, and his top reasons for living in the capital of cool, Berlin.

Tom Wlaschiha has uncovered a lot of truths in his riveting career as an actor for stage and screen but his sudden stardom international stardom following his breakout international role on Game of Thrones hasn’t changed his pragmatic lease on life. A minimalist at heart, he finds pleasure in simplicity and the casual pace of life in Berlin, his chosen home of almost twenty years. And despite amassing throngs of adoring fans, he considers himself lucky to have been given the opportunities that came his way.

4SEE Interview with Tom Wlaschiha, Photography by Bert Spangemacher, Eyewear by Eyevan
Tom Wlaschiha by Bert Spangemacher
Glasses by EYEVAN 7285 215 9010
Jacket by George Patrick, Pullover by Forét

Adventurous yet unassuming, Wlaschiha grew up near Dresden in the former East Germany until the fall of the wall led to instantaneous opportunities for personal growth. Mastering perfect English, while studying abroad as a teenager, his penchant for travel and experiencing new things has led to a series of accomplished roles both in Germany and in international productions. But growing up in communist East Germany, he didn’t always have his sights set on international fame and celebrity.

Reminiscing about this not-so-distant past, he recalls how “it was completely different than it is today. We only had one television channel, so I didn’t watch much TV when I grew up. So, for some reason, when I decided to become an actor, I was only thinking about stage, I didn’t think of becoming a TV and film actor.”

International audiences might have first fallen in love with Tom’s mysterious character as Jaqen H’ghar Game of Thrones and thanks to his part on the global megahit he has landed a number of juicy new roles that bring him back to both TV and film in Europe and abroad. “Initially, I did German television and the roles became bigger and bigger. I would say my first major break was Game of Thrones. Or at least everything has pretty much changed since I got that part.”

4SEE Interview with Tom Wlaschiha, Photography by Bert Spangemacher, Eyewear by Eyevan
Tom Wlaschiha by Bert Spangemacher
Sunglasses by EYEVAN Franz
Jacket by George Patrick, Pullover and Shoes by Scotch and Soda, Pants by George Patrick

Despite having throngs of adoring fans and being one of the most sought-after German actors today, Wlaschiha has a humble attitude when it comes to his success. “I don’t know what a celebrity is other than that you get recognized on the street sometimes and you get some things for free (which is nice!). I’m quite okay with my career going the way it did. I started out in theatre and success didn’t hit me immediately. I’m very thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given but I also know that luck is playing a very important part.”

Wlaschiha just wrapped filming in Prague for his role on season two of Das Boot, where he plays Hagen Forster, Gestapo Chief and Criminal Commisioner in La Rochelle, a troubling and conflicted character who is tasked with quelling the resistance in the small but strategically important French town. Speaking about the nearly 40-degree heatwave that he had to endure, “Last week, I was still in full winter uniform. I just finished filming in Prague for Das Boot season two. Winter clothes in summer is still better than summer clothes in winter, though, so I’m not complaining.”

We put this theory to the test, asking Tom to join us for a fall/winter photoshoot at our studios in Berlin. Luckily for us all, Berlin turned out to be giving us nothing other than a moody overcast day to fit the relaxed and dapper styles that make up the editorial.

This tracks quite well with his own approach to clothing and to design in general: “I’m quite minimamalistic. I like clear colors, straight lines. The things you surround yourself with should bring out your character, rather than cover it up,” he says, referring to both his individual sense of style and his personal philosophy of living an uncluttered life in his apartment in Berlin.

4SEE Interview with Tom Wlaschiha, Photography by Bert Spangemacher, Eyewear by SALT
Sunglasses by SALT. + NORTH SAILS VMGLeather Jacket and Pants by George Patrick, Shirt by Helmut Lang via Gate, Shoes by Scotch and Soda

And when it comes to eyewear, it’s no surprise that Tom Wlaschiha’s great taste and eye for the finer things is apparent here as well. Not having yet had the need to wear reading glasses, he refers to his go-to sunglasses for the summer. “I’ve got a few pairs. Some of my favorite pairs are from Prada. And Barton Perreira, they are really great.”

With his busy schedule that keeps him away much of the time, Wlaschiha enjoys the casual nature of his neighborhood here in Berlin, a neighborhood that he has seen change around him in the nearly twenty years that he has lived there. “I really like the area I live in, Kreuzberg, because of all the water and the canals and all the little cafes and the general atmosphere. I really enjoy Berlin in good weather. Since I travel a lot with my job, whenever I’m in Berlin I’m really enjoying the city. I think it’s a great place to be based.” And that’s something we can all agree on.

Tom Wlaschiha is Hagen Forster on Sky TV’s Das Boot, one of Germany’s most successful recent TV shows with a second season due this fall and appears for the first time as Max Schenkel on Amazon Prime’s hit actions series Jack Ryan, also with its second season expected soon.

Context is important and when it comes to accessories there is no better way put yourself in a whole new frame of mind with a style upgrade for your bags and glasses. Be bold, mix and match, try out new patterns and color combinations until you find the perfect fit for you.

4SEE Interview with Tom Wlaschiha, Photography by Bert Spangemacher, Eyewear by Lindberg
Tom Wlaschiha by Bert Spangemacher
Sunglasses by LINDBERG Air Titanium Rim 8205
Jacket Knitwear Cardigan by C.P. Company, T-Shirt by Forét, Ring by Jane Kønig

Interview JUSTIN ROSS
Fotograf BERT SPANGEMACHER
Fashion Director DEVON KAYLOR
Hair & Makeup CATRIN VON PABRUTZKI
Stylist JANA HOEFT
Assistant Stylist JESSICA BIASTOCH

Artist Profile 14 – Emily Thomas 

Informed by our urban environment, sculptor Emily Thomas is a young emerging artist reimagining our sense of place.

Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER
Interview JUSTIN ROSS

Our pick for the Artist Profile this time is Emily Thomas who recently graduated from the prestigious Chelsea College of Arts in London and in just over a year since then has been touring the world, incorporating influences from many different cultures into her colorful, geometric sculptures. Her research-based practice takes architecture, history, and our urban environment as a starting point—basically the built objects that make up our sense of place—and through a process of abstraction and metamorphosis, turns these ideas into new gestures, colors, and geometries, that still retain a signature sense of space and place.

Having recently completed artistic residencies at both GlogauAIR in Kreuzberg, Berlin and Soulangh Cultural Park in Tainan, Taiwan, Emily Thomas will set off to Barcelona in early 2020, winning an award for a residency at La Escocesa from La Memoria Artistica Chema Alvargonzalez.

In 4SEE Artist Profile, we were able to meet up with Emily Thomas to see where she previously worked and was inspired during her residency at GlogauAIR, Berlin.

Name Emily Thomas
Age 23
Nationality British
Medium Multidisciplinary (Sculpture, Painting, Photography, Collage, Installation)
Based in Somerset, UK
Recent/upcoming exhibition (projects)
Shapeshifter (9 July – 31 August) Soulangh Cultural Park, Taiwan
Birthday Exhibition (27 June – 3 August) La peau de l’ours, Brussels
London is Open (31 August) Global 12 Festival, London
Find more at www.ethomasart.com / instagram / Facebook

Interview from October 2019

4SEE Artist Profile, Emily Thomas, photographed by Bert Spangemacher
4SEE Artist Profile – Emily Thomas
Photography by Bert Spangemacher

Did you always know that you were going to be an artist?

Not exactly, although I was exposed to creativity from a young age. After I was born, my mum became a child minder so she could spend more time at home. She is a very creative lady herself, and although she was never exposed to the ‘artworld’ as such, she spent most of her professional career as a primary school teacher where her natural artistic talents came out in art lessons and displays at school. We spent a lot of time painting and drawing together and with other children at home. We covered the kitchen walls with the artwork that we made. This included drawings, paintings and prints done with vegetables and polystyrene shapes!

I was always fascinated with colour, and building things out of wooden blocks and lego. There are actually a few visual similarities to be seen in things I made as a child and my sculptures now! My parents built and designed a lot of their house themselves. I grew up with this, and I think it definitely inspired a certain way of thinking. It showed me how to be resourceful and to solve problems through building and inventing. Although I wasn’t exposed to any art exhibitions from a young age, I was immersed by a different kind of creative practice through my parents. I think this was a genuine way to develop creative skills and interests, and this is something that I really value.

Both my parents are also classical musicians, and my father works mainly as an instrumental brass teacher. When I was nine years old, he set up a sort of music exchange with a close friend of his who was a woodwind player. The deal was that my dad taught his friend’s son the trumpet, and my dad’s friend taught me the clarinet. I began learning classical music very seriously, and was awarded a bursary to study the clarinet at a specialist music school at the age of fourteen.

At this point, I thought I would probably become a musician. However, the school I attended was very high pressured and rigorously structured, and it sadly sucked the fun out of music for me.
Meanwhile, I adored my art lessons and visited my first art exhibition with school in 2012: David Hockney’s A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of Arts London. This was an amazing experience for me as I had only ever been in a city a handful of times, and never before had I stepped into an art gallery. Hockney’s exhibition definitely nurtured my love of colour and inspired me to take this further in my practice.

At the age of seventeen, I found myself skiving lessons and skipping music practice to go and paint. It was at this point that I knew I wanted to be an artist. I switched my focus from preparing for music college auditions to building my portfolio for art school.

Do you find the art world (creative world) cutthroat and competitive, or is it also supportive and community-minded, or something in between?

I think you have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of common comforts and everyday social norms to be an emerging artist, but this allows you to be more genuine and less materialistic as you naturally discover what is important to you and in life. For me, it is the people that I surround myself with that make my own ‘art bubble’ so wonderful. Meeting and working with like-minded artists and practitioners with similar questions and curiosities removes the competitive side of the artworld from my immediate experience and everyday life. In this sense, the artworld can be what you make of it. I love that feeling of who/what/when/where/why in relation to my future, it’s exciting.

Artwork by Emily Thomas // Construction in collaboration with 林林書杰 Lin Shu-Jie // Photography by Rich Matheson // Exhibition supported by the Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government // They Nailed the Colours to the Mast (2019) // Solo Exhibition Shapeshifters at Soulangh Cultural Park, Taiwan // Plywood, oil paint // 202 x 135 x 135cm
Artwork by Emily Thomas //
Construction in collaboration with 林林書杰 Lin Shu-Jie //
Photography by Rich Matheson //
Exhibition supported by the Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government //
They Nailed the Colours to the Mast (2019) //
Solo Exhibition Shapeshifters at Soulangh Cultural Park, Taiwan //
Plywood, oil paint //
202 x 135 x 135cm
Artwork and Photography by Emily Thomas
Artwork and Photography by Emily Thomas //
Exhibition coordinated by 林林書杰 Lin Shu-Jie //
Exhibition supported by the Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government //
Shapeshifters (2019) //
Solo Exhibition: Soulangh Cultural Park, Taiwan

What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

Earlier this year I participated in a three month artist residency program at Soulangh Cultural Park, Taiwan. With support from the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Tainan City Government, I was able to produce an outdoor solo exhibition for the first time. One of the most insightful moments of this experience was when young families gathered to watch me working with wood and power tools outside of my studio. It struck me that you don’t often see women working in construction, particularly outside of Europe, and I felt both honoured and empowered to be setting this example.

I also made valuable friendships with my neighbours. I visited many places with them whereby I felt fully immersed within Taiwanese culture. I met many local people and had enriching
conversations about their life experiences, as well as their knowledge and experiences of different architecture in Taiwan. I also had the opportunity to collaborate with 林 書 杰 Lin Shu-Jie, a very talented technician and maker who taught me many new and valuable skills.

Categorised somewhere between architecture, object, painting and sculpture, my final series of work presented a timeline of architectural history within Taiwan. I combined the variety of architectural styles I discovered there in order to demonstrate the cultural fusion within the country and it’s rich political history. The exhibition aimed to uncover how architecture has previously served and will continue to serve as a literal and metaphorical ‘Shapeshifter’ of place identity through time.

Whilst I consider this residency and exhibition to be my biggest professional accomplishment so far, it was also one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences I have ever had.

Does art always need to be relevant? Is there a place for aesthetic indulgence, or do politics come into play in your motivation?

I think that art can be anything. It is more the definition of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ art that is a constant point of controversy, as it is of course subjective. Even if you tried to make art that is irrelevant to our society, it would automatically become relevant through it’s opposition. So in response to this question, no I do not think that art needs to be relevant, although it is very difficult to achieve complete detachment from everything through art, as it is such a personal form of expression.

I am personally more interested in artwork that is conceptually intriguing and tells a story through its aesthetics, however I do think that there is also a place for pure aesthetic indulgence.

Growing up in a small village with a population of just 300 people, I became fascinated by the city when I moved to London in 2014. During my studies at the University of the Arts London I gained an interest in the current housing crisis and gentrification. This triggered many questions which I am still exploring in my work now.

My work is inspired by architecture as an indicator of historical, social and cultural characteristics of a place. I identify these aspects by analysing the thematic, repetitive features of buildings, as well as their structural forms and materiality. The process of walking as research in order to take photographs of buildings and discover new places is the underlying foundation of my work’s creation. I carefully select photographs to communicate my ideas, taking both conceptual and aesthetic concerns into consideration. Collage informs and aids these decisions, as I am able to visualise the possible outcomes of my photographs as three-dimensional abstract forms.

4SEE Artist Profile, Emily Thomas, photographed by Bert Spangemacher
4SEE Artist Profile – Emily Thomas
Photography by Bert Spangemacher

What topics have got you inspired at the moment?

In January 2019 I began a three month artist residency at GlogauAIR, Berlin. It was here that I discovered the present housing tensions within the city. Walking as research around the local districts of Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Friedrichshain drew my attention to societal differences, indicated by contrasting building facades and gentrification. This led to my further studies of social housing and the history of Berlin’s urban infrastructure, whereby I discovered Bruno Taut’s Hufeisensiedlung, Neukölln (1925-1930). My final exhibition at GlogauAIR demonstrated my preliminary research of this housing estate.
I am currently developing my studies of the Hufeisensiedlung and five other Berlin Modernism housing estates built between 1919 and 1934. These include Gartenstadt Falkenberg (Treptow), Schillerpark-Siedlung (Wedding), Wohnstadt Carl Legien (Prenzlauer Berg), Weiße Stadt (Reinickendorf) and Großsiedlung Siemensstadt (Charlottenburg and Spandau). The aims of these building projects, including the Hufeisensiedlung, were to solve Berlin’s housing shortage after the industrial revolution. In 2008 they were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I would like to investigate what made these architectural projects so successful and whether similar ideologies and infrastructures could be used to improve contemporary urban development and society now that Berlin is once again a growing city. This idea was originally inspired by the designer and writer Ben Buschfeld.

Artwork and Photography by Emily Thomas // Project supported by European Cultural Foundation and Compagnia di San Paolo // Hufeisen (2019) // Glogauair Open Studios, Berlin // Emulsion paint on MDF // 200 x 400 x 70cm
Artwork and Photography by Emily Thomas //
Project supported by European Cultural Foundation and Compagnia di San Paolo //
Hufeisen (2019) //
Glogauair Open Studios, Berlin //
Emulsion paint on MDF //
200 x 400 x 70cm
Artwork and Photography by Emily Thomas
Artwork by Emily Thomas //
Photography by Juliette Szhw //
Project supported by European Cultural Foundation and Compagnia di San Paolo //
Hufeisen (2019) //
Glogauair Open Studios, Berlin //
Emulsion paint on MDF //
200 x 400 x 70cm

What is it like to be currently living and working between Somerset (UK) and Berlin?

I have spent most of this year living at artist residencies in different countries, where I have been developing my own projects. I am currently moving between the Somerset countryside (UK) and Berlin and hope that I will eventually be based in Berlin on a more permanent basis. Somerset is very quiet and I am mostly surrounded by fields. There is a really cosy local pub and small quirky characteristics such as a library telephone box and a friendly community shop. I enjoy seeing my family everyday and walking the dogs, and I am able to focus on my work without many distractions. I usually spend my time in Somerset catching up on admin, writing applications and collecting my thoughts. I lived in the countryside for 18 years growing up and it became a normalised way of life. I believe that I will come back to it in my practice and research for sure, it just doesn’t excite me to the same extent as the city right now.

Berlin is very different to Somerset and I enjoy this contrast. I am still discovering the city and it is always full of surprises.

What is next for you, an immediately upcoming project or chance to see your work?

I am very happy to announce that I will be heading to Barcelona for three months in January to begin an exciting new project and develop new research at La Escocesa. The exhibition dates for this project will be released on my website when they have been confirmed.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, where would you like to see your (art)work and at what scale?

Part of my love of being an artist is that I don’t know what is going to happen. I have many ideas and many dreams, but nothing is ever set in concrete. I am happy for my future career path to twist and turn – it keeps me on my toes. In that sense I don’t see myself anywhere in particular in ten years time. I have thought about the possibility of doing a masters degree, and I also like the idea of running my own artists residency program. One of my dreams from a very young age was to build my own house. I love the idea of creating a semi-transportable home just outside of the city. I sometimes get very excited about this and begin to imagine having on-site studios for artists, a co-working woodshop, a jazz club etc. Maybe I’m getting a bit carried away, but who knows what the future holds!

For me, it is not about where my artwork ends up or on what scale. I enjoy travelling and hope that I am able to visit as many countries as possible. Carrying out exhibitions abroad whilst being immersed within different cultures and collaborating with other artists and practitioners has been both inspiring and rewarding. I hope that I am able to continue doing this as much as possible in the future, and I am excited about the opportunities and collaborations that could emerge.

4SEE Artist Profile, Emily Thomas, photographed by Bert Spangemacher
4SEE Artist Profile – Emily Thomas
Photography by Bert Spangemacher
Eyewear by SALT.

 

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