Here are our most inspiring, moving, honest, funny, memorable moments from Nicer Tuesdays 2019
Before we kick off the new year and another run of Nicer Tuesdays, we wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who took to the stage or sat in the audience across 2019’s 12 events, and to reflect on some of our highlights.
Month after month, throughout 2019, we gathered in east London’s Oval Space on the last Tuesday of the month. Every time, four speakers took to stage to tell us about their practice and what makes it unique, whether they were a photographer, a filmmaker, graphic designer, artist, illustrator, editor, art director, animator or anything else in-between. We are, of course, talking about our monthly creative talks event, Nicer Tuesdays.
As the year draws to an end, we wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who took to the stage or sat in the audience and give you a run-down of some of our favourite moments. See you in 2020!
Taking to the stage for the first talk of the year, back in January, was London-based illustrator Joey Yu. A talk packed full of the charm we’ve come to love from the young creative’s work, Joey spoke through her impressively prolific career to date – despite having only graduated from Kingston School of Art in 2017. For her talk, Joey focussed on drawings from her travels around Korea, Brazil and Greece, as well as dishing out some vital advice for those embarking on a freelance career for this first time. It was ten minutes of enthusiasm for her craft, and it left us excited for what she would go on to create next.
“I want to keep my work consistently inconsistent”Joey Yu
At February’s event, revered designer Craig Oldham told us about his then-recently-released publication, the first in a series titled Epiphany Editions. The project was part of his work as creative director of Rough Trade Books and was based on John Carpenter’s 1980s classic, They Live. Talking through his own personal favourite moments in the film which formed the inspiration for the book, Craig testified to the benefit of amalgamating alternate areas of creativity with a graphic design practice. Craig’s Nicer Tuesday talk was a characteristically pernickety one which let us inside his fanatic brain; a must-watch for anyone who also obsesses over the details.
“Every decision in the design has to have a reason, I can't work any other way”Craig Oldham
In March, Yumna Al-Arashi shared her opinions on representation within photography, how she’s attempting to better it, but also how she struggles with the authenticity of the subject. This touched on how, as someone who contains multitudes, it’s only natural that her portfolio does too, meaning she works across several different media. However, she also spoke to us about how, as a person from a marginalised background, she and others like her have to use corporations and commercial work cleverly, both to further their position within the creative world but also to better representation within the commercial world. Despite concluding that she didn’t have all the answers, it was an eloquent, intelligent and challenging talk that left everyone with a lot to think about.
“I am protesting the media's representation of people like me”Yumna Al-Arashi
Confirming off the bat that her name is Yushi and she does like sushi at April’s event was London-based photographer Yushi Li. In her own words, she’s a Chinese woman who takes photos of Western UK men, and her Nicer Tuesdays talk focussed on two projects completed during her studies at the Royal College of Art. The first, My Tinder Boys is simply “naked men eating in their own kitchens” for which Yushi reached out to over 300 possible models on Tinder. The second, Your Reservation is Confirmed continued this theme and saw Yushi reaching out to life drawing models and photographing them, alongside herself, in AirBnb’s around London. A speaker with brilliant comedic timing, Yushi hid academic insight and intelligent observations within her jokes – it’s one you’ll want to rewatch a few times.
“I photograph men from Tinder eating naked in their kitchens”Yushi Li
When he closed the evening at May’s event, director Johnny Kelly left everyone smiling from ear-to-ear. His talk, which provided “a look behind the smelly curtains of puppetry,” focussed on a series of charming adverts he made for Cheerios. The project saw Johnny working with illustrators Nous Vous and puppet designer Andy Gent to bring to life several prompts for discussions about weighty topics for children. It was one of those rare opportunities to fully understand how a project of this scale comes to life, from bringing the right team together, to letting the music inspire the narratives, and finally the particularities of turning 2D digital characters into four separate animated films in just three days. We now know a lot more about making puppets kick down toilet doors, and how you can cut corners when you don’t have enough time to make characters blink.
“The smaller, the cuter is the formula”Johnny Kelly
Olivia Rose is a photographer who’s been involved in the music industry since working on her collaborative book This is Grime with writer Hattie Collins. Giving a run-through of her career before and after that moment, her Nicer Tuesdays talk stands out for its honesty. After producing the book, Olivia, who is from a white, middle-class background, found herself in a crisis. “I was so consumed with what my place was in coming into this scene and shooting these people and ultimately putting something together that we could profit from (although we didn’t make a single penny from the book),” she told us, it led her to ask the question: “Am I problematic?” While she still can’t really answer that question, she concluded that all she can do is be aware and constantly question, especially when it comes to understanding if she is the right person for a job.
“You need to be constantly asking yourself questions”Olivia Rose
Despite the fact that it was her first time talking about her work on stage, Deepa Keshvala delivered a moving and incredibly open talk at July’s Nicer Tuesdays. A filmmaker and DOP based in London, Deepa has always been fascinated by the human condition, and it’s this that led her to study at London College of Communication. Her Nicer Tuesdays talk focussed on a film titled Kara which initially started during her studies and which tells the story of a young woman meeting her father again for the first time in 13 years, a narrative which mirrors Deepa’s own experiences. Her statement that truth and emotion are the references points for work certainly rang true as Deepa spoke candidly about her relationship with her father, and her feelings after finding out he had passed away. It’s a story we won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
“Truth and emotion are the two reference points in my work”Deepa Keshvala
Melissa Kitty Jaram
At Nicer Tuesdays in August, what we took away from artist Melissa Kitty Jaram’s talk, was an appreciation for good old fashioned perseverance. During her ten minutes (or so) on stage, she told us about a recent work made in collaboration with Anna Ginsburg, titled Ugly. A short film visualising a poem of the same name by Warsan Shire whose work largely focusses on the refugee experience, the result is a process-heavy and incredibly beautiful film which brings to life Warsan’s words and Melissa’s paintings through Anna’s animations. Something we’ll really hold onto from Melissa’s talk is her sentiments around the role art can play in society. “I feel like art is really at the heart of culture and a really useful tool to communicate different perspectives,” she stated. “At the risk of sounding cliche, helping people understand things better might ultimately help us all treat one another better.”
“Art is at the heart of culture and a really useful tool to communicate different perspectives”Melissa Kitty Jaram
In September, London-based illustrator Alec Doherty gave us an overview of his practice and some recent developments in his portfolio which had seen him recreating his own, and his friends’ childhood memories. Originally from Darlington, Alec’s talk focused on a common theme of his work: adolescence and the restless creativity which comes out of this. “Like a teenager, I’ve got a short attention span,” he explained. This means he’s worked digitally and on paper, he’s made sculptures and even produces his own line of jewellery and all of it allows him to constantly redefine who people think he is as a creative, leading to more exciting and wide-ranging commissions. So embrace this adolescent, fidgety approach to making work he encouraged because you can only learn from it, and your work will only develop faster in turn.
“In my style and approach, there's a sense of mischief and rebellion”Alec Doherty
The final talk we’re going to mention in our round-up of Nicer Tuesdays 2019’s highlights is one that certainly made an impression on us all. Enda Bowe is an Irish photographer who recently was a runner up at the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, and whose talk at October’s Nicer Tuesdays focussed on the series which earned him that accolade: Love’s Fire Song. He charmed us all with stories of his time in Belfast shooting the series which documents youth culture on either side of the Peace Wall. There was one of Jim who owns the budgie shop; Rocket, a young fella who made sure no one gave Enda any hassle; and countless other portraits of strangers who are now friends of Enda’s. The major takeaway, however, was Enda’s genuine love and appreciation of the photographic medium. He reminded us all that it’s “a gift, a blessing,” and a format which introduces us to those we never would have met otherwise. It allows us to see the beauty in our own lives and in the lives of others and, ultimately, reminds us that we’re all human.
“My biggest inspiration is the ordinary things we do”Enda Bowe
Tomorrow, we’ll be uploading the first of the talks from November’s event and next week, on 17 December, we’ll be hosting our final Nicer Tuesdays of the year. If you’re coming, see you there, as Mona Chalabi, Mother’s Hermeti Balarin, Anna Ridler and Martin Parr take to the stage. And if you’re not coming, keep your eyes glued to the site to find out what happens.