“Plenty of people come to shop, but it’s expensive, and Bond street and Sloane street are pretty much what you’d find at home. It won’t have escaped your notice that the avaricious first world has become a branded and cloned airport lounge.”
Sylver Tongue - hook you up : Sylver Tongue is the newest project of the ever restless Charlotte Hatherley, once a journeywoman guitarist in 90’s indie prodigies Ash, she went solo in the early 00’s and hit home with second album ‘the deep blue’ a densely layered art rock classic that has been one of my most played albums of the last couple years, she followed this with 'New Worlds' which tightened the arrangements up with echoes of Bowie and Roxy Music and now brings us Sylver Tongue, another change in direction that hints at the synth-driven sophistication of Prefab Sprout, Prince and Japan (the band).
This is music for people who cherish music, melodies that work for the attention.
Kilkenny Design Work Shop was apparently the first state-created design agency, a top down response to the lack of competitiveness in Irish exports (Ireland was very much behind the rest of post-war Europe at the time, highlighted by a survey by leading Scandinavian designers published in 1961) that lasted from 1963-1988.
KDWS was a strange fish, a combination of training center for various crafts and disciplines, a braintrust for commercial manufacturers (students and faculty would receive royalties for works that were produced) and retailer (it had several shops, including in its final years a flagship on London’s famed Bond st.) Although its focus would move further away from craft towards industrial design, Ireland had no strong factory base and the best of Kilkenny design is the work anchored in the traditional irish strengths: textiles, ceramics and graphic work.
The Ireland of the late 1980’s was a different one entirely to the insular, statist one of the 1960s, it was now an EU member with an open economy based on competition and the KDWS a relic of protectionism and central planning, which had been losing money for several years had its government funding cut, closing down shortly afterwards.
KDWS legacy for me is more personal, my parents have a large selection of their work throughout their home, many inherited from my grandparents and their warmth, creativity and distinct Irishness appealed to me long before I knew where they came from: Blankets, tea sets, ceramic decorations, all great examples of a streak of ingenuity and quality that the workshop cultivated throughout the 1960’s and 70’s.
I’ve long admired the Lithuanian-American artist and photographer Ben Shahn and his work, but I just recently stumbled across this portrait of Scott Fitzgerald (second from the left I’m guessing) it seems to capture that subdued, introverted side of Fitzgerald that comes through in his writing, a man alone in a group.