Culture

‘Switched’ on. 07 February 2017

If you can’t get enough of bold uncompromising architectural structures, concrete floors, walls and sweeping staircases, minimalist features, simple signage, beautiful lighting and stunning views, then you’ll love the newly built and freshly set Switch House; Tate Modern’s ‘power pyramid’ extension.

Designed by Herzog & de Meuron – a swiss based architectural firm – it’s 11 floors high, and expands the museum by 60%, housing art exhibitions, restaurants and bars.

Tate’s director Sir Nicholas Serota told a press briefing in London that the aim was to create “a new museum for the 21st century that reflects a truly international view of art”.

The views from the balcony are breathtaking. Definitely an ‘I Love London’ moment. That view is worth a visit alone.

Oh, but ‘please respect your neighbour’s privacy’. All will become clear!

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Rauschenberg at Tate Modern 01 February 2017

Rarely does an artist whose work defies all conventions conquer the mainstream and seldom do artists who’ve achieved enormous financial success gamble it all on non profit socio-political projects. Robert Rauschenberg however, did both. 

The current retrospective of Rauschenberg’s work at Tate Modern takes you on an immersive journey throughout his career. Beginning with early experimental works carried out at Black Mountain College where he was tutored by the renown Bauhaus teacher Josef Albers who encouraged students to work with everyday materials. (An influence that clearly motivated Rauschenberg throughout his working life.) 

This raw early work shown in the first room is truly compelling. To see the human body photograms on blue print paper and the abstraction of the tire print is quite a privilege as few artist’s formative work is ever shown. The next room takes you into Rauschenberg’s experimental work of the 1950’s. Here you can see the ‘Combine’ work where he added real objects (often found discarded on the streets of Manhattan) into visceral paintings. There’s a palpable energy in the work at this stage of the show which is rough, honest and unapologetic. You really get a sense of an artist who is creating work free from a commercial agenda.

The show moves swiftly onto Rauschenberg’s more famous works created in the 1960’s dominated by his explorations into screen printing. These works really absorb the viewer’s attention into the multi image layers, overlays of incidental typography and gestural brushwork. There’s a wonderful depth to the silkscreens not only visually but also in terms of subject matter. Of all his contemporaries Rauschenberg was clearly bolder in addressing the political events of the 60’s.

A rather unexpected addition to Rauschenberg’s work in the 60’s are props, sets and footage from his lesser known performance art. Becoming one of the founders of the Judson Dance Theater Rauschenberg not only designed and created the sets and lighting but was also credited with choreographing performances.

This really is a show which keeps giving. Just when you think you’ve recovered from the revelation of Rauschenberg as a master of dance you’re thrown into his experimentation with technology. ‘Mud Muse’ is a wonderfully playful installation of a large metal tank containing a 1000 gallons of bentonite clay mixed with water. The tank is pumped with air which causes the mud to pop and bubble, the sound of which causes the air to be re-injected into the tank. 

The end of the show takes you through the collaborative of the ROCI ‘Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange’ foundation where Rauschenberg travelled to countries behind the global iron curtain producing works inspired by each location visited. One work produced in the series was donated to national museum of the host country. This work sees Rauschenberg leveraging photography, print and new techniques to create artworks that sought to communicate across cultural and political divides.

The Rauschenberg retrospective really does deliver a compelling visual and sensory journey through an intrepid lifetime’s work by an artist who acknowledged no boundaries in his artistic expression.

The show runs until 2 April at the Tate Modern. Don’t miss out.

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/robert-rauschenberg

Andy Richards

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The Farm Agricultural Park 06 December 2016

Sicily, at the toe of Italy’s boot remains a charming time capsule distinct from its modernised other half. The Greek and Roman ruins, ancient necropolis’, ranging lofty landscapes that calve gorges and dramatic slopes to the Mediterranean and misty Mt Etna provide a timeless backdrop for a relaxing holiday.

In the province of Agrigento 10km in-land, is the old dusty town of Favara. It was once a great fortified settlement of the Greeks and in modern times was and still is known for its agricultural trade and sulphur (among other) mines. ‘It is regionally famous for the Easter Lamb, a local pastry produced there from almonds and pistachios’ of which I sampled and can validate its quality. Not to mention the orange tart. It was sad to see that final bite disappear!

In the last 80 years, quite possibly as an effect of Mussolini’s Agricultural policy of fascism in the 1930s, the region suffered from drastic levels of unemployment that still grips the town today. In light of seeing their home town become little more than old brick, wood and clay shells, ‘Andrea Bartoli and his wife Florinda Saieva bought several buildings in the semi-abandoned city center’ and from it, created an oasis of life. The Farm Cultural Park opened in 2010 and has since drawn in tourists from around the world to view its exhibits, screenings, talks, cultural events cafes and shops.

The area itself is pleasing to the eye and almost a little bizarre. Boldly coloured playful murals depict local life, old chairs and cupboards are suspended from the flaking building walls and politically charged statements hide playfully within the natural landscape of buildings. All the while the stray cats and dogs play their endless game of hide and seek between the narrow baking streets of old cafes re-furbished restaurants and a-top craggy stairways.

The main exhibit at TFCP was a photographic exploration titled ‘The Commonality of Strangers’ by Mahtab Hussain. I was surprised to find that it was in fact a Britain-centric exhibition; a collection of portraits and interviews of immigrants both new and old, that set about ‘demystifying who these individuals are, while confronting the viewer with the reality of their experience and why they came to live in the UK’.  

The accounts of the individuals are highly personal, sometimes shocking and always surprising. You cannot help but notice the stereotypes you lazily accept being wiped away before your eyes. Their opinions on subjects and the eloquence and the depth that they understand, leaves you with a clear impression that they obviously know more about these issues than the everyday Britain born Caucasian. Yet they are not necessarily angry or bitter. They are grateful, rational, concerned and in many cases have lived with the changing of policy on immigration first hand. They have seen the benefits when it works and also mourned the effects of its failures.

If you find yourself in Sicily it is no mean feat to drive to Favara. Spend an afternoon walking around The Farm Cultural Park and buy a local pastry or two. It is only very small, but it leaves a big impression.

You can view the exhibition online here:

http://www.mahtabhussain.com/work/the-commonality-of-strangers/


http://www.farmculturalpark.com/place.html

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You Say You Want a Revolution? 03 November 2016

The V&A is well known for its awe inspiring curations. From the old to the new, clothing to engineering, tangible to the intangible, it never ceases to encapsulate the essence of its subject’s source and influence. However, every now and then it tackles a subject that is so hard to define by a single medium that it must resort to an eclectic mélange that will require you to spend a whole day ambling through its many artefacts. Its latest exhibit is just this. 

You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 - 1970is a minefield of distractions. From the moment you walk in you are greeted with the sounds of the sixties, quotes from Bob Dylan and the likes, seminal works of art and hand written lyrics by Lennon and McCartney that align you with the vivid history of London’s cultural upheaval. You drift from music to fashion, then film and design, literature and of course recreational drug use, through the Middle Earth movement and into vast swathes of psychedelic album and gig poster artworks. The UFO and Grateful Dead posters with their mixed mediums are strikingly evocative. More so than in the decades that followed, this period of musical artwork clearly reflected current ideas and now exist as works of art that still have relevance in the 21st Century. This section of the exhibition is almost library like, with real texts for you to pick up and read. Unfortunately, there are no bean bags.

The second of the five rooms picks out key events and movements: second wave feminism, gay liberation, Black Panthers and Martin Luther King with Cassius Clay days before he changed his name after a religious awakening, Nazis and police brutality in the face of social unrest and resistance, cases of self-immolation in objection to war and other extreme acts of defiance flying in the face of the half-truth the media pedals. Meanwhile collage-style audio playlist of helicopters, TV static, crowds yelling and screaming helps set the scene and to an extent assaults the senses. The third and fourth rooms explore the new world of advertising and selling lifestyles – then futurism, the World Fair and space travel.

On the whole the journey is visually stimulating, grasping at your imagination with sounds and layers of texture, making you long to be there in the late sixties feeling the waves of the free love era and genre defining music coursing through your veins. Then it shocks you and again makes you feel the pain and the struggle at the violence and intolerance - dispelling romantic visions a golden era on the road to utopia.

The last room is dedicated solely to Woodstock. I will not ruin the surprise, but I suggest you leave ten minutes of your time for it alone as you can relax and experience the festival in vivid colour, again with a smattering of artefacts from some of histories best loved musicians. While this room is a slightly odd pastiche to the era in a very un V&A manner it does allow us time to reflect on the experience before returning to the present day.

Woodstock:

Day 1: Friday, August 15 1969:

Richie Havens, Sweetwater, Bert Sommer, Tim, Hardin, Ravi shankar, Melanie, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez 

Day 2: Saturday, August 16 1969
Quill, Country Joe McDonald, John B. Sebastian, Keef Hartley Band, Santana, Incredible String Band, Canned Heat, Grateful Dead, Leslie West & Mountain, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Sly & The Family Stone, The Who, Jefferson Airplane 

Day 3: Sunday, August 17 1969
Joe Cocker, Country Joe & The Fish, Ten Years After, Johnny Winter, Blood Sweat And Tears, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 

Day 4: Monday, August 18 1969
Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Sha Na Na, Jimi Hendrix 


Here’s a link to the exhibition.

Also on at the V&A is the Engineering of the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design.

‘Ove Arup (1895-1988) was the most influential engineer of the 20th century and the pioneer of a multidisciplinary approach to design that has defined the way engineering is understood and practiced today.’

Edward Webb, Middleweight Digital Designer

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Chris Baker Sunday Football - A visual love letter 05 September 2016

If you’re in the Kingsland Road area this week I’d heartily suggest that you nip into The Print Space and feast your eyes on the excellent photographs from Chris Baker’s Sunday Football series. Chris is a very interesting photographer whose work is clearly inspired by the people he meets in London and around the world. A refreshingly intrepid talent Chris has travelled extensively in South and North America immersing himself in different communities where he’s captured fascinating portraits of the people he’s met along the way. 

The Sunday Football series shows a reality that many of us are familiar with but also one that many of us pay little or no thought to. The images that Chris has captured are both honest and compelling, showing us the rawer edge of a game played by somewhat unconventional characters who clearly do things on their own terms. The series is a refreshing view into the antics of everyday guys simply wanting to have a kick about with their mates and parking life’s stresses for 90 minutes. 

So if you’d like to escape the day’s pressures for a short while check out Chris’s show and I guarantee you’ll be charmed and amused.

The show runs until 12th September, at The Print Space, 74 Kingsland Road, London E2 8DL. Don’t miss out.

http://bakerworld.co.uk/

https://www.theprintspace.co.uk/

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Mona Hatoum at Tate Modern 12 August 2016

Much of the Southbank buzz in the past couple of months has centred around the Tate Modern’s new extension by Herzog & de Meuron and rightly so, its a wonderful addition to the area’s architecture. However looking further inside the original structure you’ll find the wonderfully compelling work of installation artist Mona Hatoum.

Hatoum is renown for her large scale installations and sculptures that challenge the aesthetics of minimalism and surrealism to expose a world shaped by conflict and contradiction. Themes of human vulnerability are central to her work a focus evolved from her time spent at the Slade School of Art in the 70’s and early 80’s. By the late 80’s her focus had shifted to installation and sculpture employing the use of a diverse range of materials to create geometric, systematic concepts. Her explorations into the conflicting states of order and chaos yielded a range of juxtaposed work that really challenges our perceptions of our reality.

The exhibition doesn’t deliver the usual linear chronological experience instead it amplifies the contrast of conflicting emotions and perceptions that her work exposes. Each room presents a visual and sensory experience that is both compelling and unexpected.

There’s only one week left to catch this excellent show so don’t hesitate.

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/mona-hatoum

Andy Richards

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Mentoring at Living 08 July 2016

For the last week, in the creative team we’ve had the fantastic Brayan from St. Thomas the Apostle College in Peckham join us here on his work experience. It’s always nice to see a young person come in with a great attitude, work ethic and a fantastic personality. Brayan is really into his anime and animation, we've given him some guidance and hopefully some pearls of wisdom. He’s been working on projects involving stop frame animation, retouching images in Photoshop, creating animated Gif’s and animating in HTML with the help of our F/E developer Marina as well as an introduction to After Effects with our Senior Designer Tim. All of which he has done very well in and produced some great work. Brayan has kindly written a few words for us about his experience:

"Throughout the time that I have attended my work experience at Living Group, I have felt very welcomed by everyone that worked around me. The team have helped me develop new skills on the field that I really enjoyed by teaching me how to work on Photoshop, animate with coding and working on layouts for different projects like magazines and comic books. I really enjoyed my time doing my work experience here because I learnt valuable life skills for the future, not only did I learn this but I also learned how it is to work in an office environment. This experience also taught me the process that takes place behind many of the logos and adverts you see on a daily basis, which takes a lot of work and skill to complete effectively. Thank you to everyone in the Living Group that helped me and thank you to Jim Campbell who went out of his way to help me develop and understand the skills needed to succeed."

Brayan has shown enough this week to make me think he’s going to have a long and successful career in the creative industry – if that’s the career path he wants to follow. 

Everyone at Living Group wishes Brayan all the best for his future!

Jim Campbell

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Another captivating Chinese festival coming soon! 06 June 2016

In the Chinese lunar calendar, the fifth day of the fifth month is Tuen Ng, or Dragon Boat Festival, which this year falls on Thursday 9th June. Tuen Ng is best known for delicious rice dumplings and, of course, the thrilling dragon boat races.

Rice dumplings

Known as joong in Cantonese, these are made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. There are many fillings ranging from shredded pork, salted egg, and chicken to red bean paste. Traditionally, every home makes dumplings and shares them at family gatherings.

Dragon boat races

Teams of paddlers row narrow boats with a dragon’s head on the prow to a finish line. A drummer sits at the front and uses the drumbeat to keep everyone in time and push the pace. In Hong Kong, the races are held at Stanley (and other places), where teams from many large corporates fiercely compete against each other – it’s an impressive festive ‘team-building’ activity!  

The legend

These two seemingly unconnected customs originate from the same legend; that of Qu Yuan, a talented poet and minister during the Zhou Dynasty, who became so disillusioned with the King that he drowned himself in the Milo River.

The local people so admired Qu Yuan that they raced out in boats to save him – and from this dragon boat racing was born. Unable to find him, to honour his soul and to ensure it did not go hungry in the afterlife, as well as to ward off fish, they scattered balls of sticky rice into the river – and from this the tradition of rice dumplings started.

Fast forward to today and Tuen Ng is one of the most popular Chinese festivals. Everyone should really try rice dumplings – they’re delicious – and watch dragon boat racing – it’s exhilarating. 

At Living, we plan to enjoy some savoury and sweet dumplings. Guess what the fillings are?

Hayley Lai, Account Manager, Hong Kong

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Developing a relationship 26 May 2016

For years we have struggled on either sides of the room, making awkward eye contact and sending desperate notes in the wanton hope that electricity will be created. There seemed no way for us to physically connect, to be unified in a single moment that meant something more than a tired rite of passage. So many missed opportunities… 

But no more. Designers and developers have at long last begun to work in harmony on projects requiring precise considered design, delivered with effective development and to tight deadlines. Two core factors have steered us to this joyous end. 

One is the knowledge that, worldwide, roughly 52% of users are browsing on their mobile devices. The implications of this are huge and run deeply into the dynamic of any design studio. On the face of it the solution is simple – design for mobile, first. This is a wonderful result for all as the problem of foreseeing how large-scale desktop content will condense to mobile is eliminated. Also no content need be omitted due to feasibility. It encourages clean considered design, avoiding complexity at all costs. The crux often occurs at the point at which the company needs to express this shift in the web design paradigm to their client. Clients feel uneasy about this change and often push back. In their view an initial mobile design alone will not give them the substance to take back to their superiors or perhaps give the vision of how it will translate to desktop. Somehow it lacks weight. Therefore the importance of filtering the confidence and solidarity within the design studio to the client is paramount (along with some wireframes). This allows us to begin designing in the most effective manner.

Factor two addresses the efficiency of design and development in a much more hands on manner.  Web designs have been created in either Photoshop or Illustrator for decades. They have been irreplaceable tools, engrained into the hearts and minds of every agency. Now there is a new name that is growing in popularity simply due to its success. The programme is called Sketch; an open source piece of software that has all-the vector based precision of Illustrator with the fluidity of Photoshop. Ithas all the tools one needs to create a website or app, and being open source has allowed for endless plug-ins to be developed. Ranging from meaningful placeholder content pulled from the web of a folder (Craft), keyboard shortcuts to avoid scouring menus (Sketch Runner) and most brilliantly a packaging tool called Zeplin. This tool allows you to export your entire website dissected as css, assets, typography and colour palette style guides. You can either view a webpage as a design, click to inspect an element or use the ‘style guide’ feature. Probing deep into layers and groups is a thing of the past. Drawing rectangles to measure distances between design elements is in the wind. Clicking on every piece of type to check its specifications is dead in the water. 

As a designer there are three things that sets Sketch apart. Simply holding down the ‘alt’ key measures the distance between any two or more design elements. The ‘round to nearest pixel’ button avoids blurred edges on any line or solid vector. To cap it all every page design for all devices is visible within the same document. Allowing you to rapidly create alternative device layouts and also free your brain from worrying about consistencies. I have only scratched the surface – Sketch is going to explode. Already animation is being built in via plug-ins as well as fully interactive designs with transitions and button states being exportable straight from Sketch to device (a crowd pleaser). Have no fear, Sketch is here!

At Living Group we have only recently made the Sketch switch and we are just two websites in to our adventure. I can honestly say that design and development have never been happier to meet up over lunch or a game of pool and get that quality time we all so longed for.

 

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Time to give something back 05 May 2016

As a young design student back in the 90’s I always found it a bit frustrating trying to contact design agencies to get work experience, internships or insight into how design in the real world worked. Subsequently on graduating I found myself at the low end of a steep learning curve which would take some seriously hard graft to ascend. 

Perseverance and tenacity saw me through but I’ve always thought of the agencies who wouldn’t call me back (no email or Linkedin sadly in those days) or even answer the phone in a pretty poor light for not taking the time to help a fledgling designer out. 

At Living we’re committed to our community both in terms of pro bono work and supporting education whether it be through our partnership with INSPIRE - http://www.inspire-ebp.org.uk/ or through the annual design internships we offer. So when I had the chance to spend a day at Sheffield Hallam University taking part in the visual communication department’s portfolio surgery day I naturally leapt at it.

The day was spent at the newly refurbished and I must say excellent design studios at Sheffield’s old central post office in Fitzalan Square and began with a number of professional creatives sat at desks in one of the larger studios like design GPs waiting for a swathe of keen 2nd year students to present their portfolios in a 10 minute window. One by one the students showed their work and were advised on how to improve their books to get the best out of professional interviews either for internships or when they graduate.

It was encouraging to see so much good work and listen to young designers speak passionately about their ideas and experiences on the course. Clearly many students had put real effort into making their books standout by approaching the task from a conceptual angle.

What was most apparent at Sheffield Hallam was that the students were very serious about future careers in design. This is evidently a perspective that has been shaped by the dedication and efforts of the lecturing staff. Their commitment to the student’s development as creative thinkers was inspiring and left me with a real sense of positivity for the future of this industry that we all put so much of ourselves into. 

Perhaps in the future one of the second years from Hallam will walk through the doors at Living with a razor sharp book and convince me that they are right for our team.

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If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me 07 April 2016

If you're looking for a combination of theatre, dance and live music, then look no further than the Young Vic where Jane Horrocks is currently performing her show If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me.

The show features music from the late 70s and early 80s from eponymous bands such as The Smiths, Joy Division, The Human League, The Buzzcocks, and Soft Cell to name a few.  The staging and live band makes you really feel like you are at a music gig and the addition of contemporary dance is visually striking.  Horrocks is part Debbie Harry and part Ian Curtis and moves from song to song with style and vigour.  In a recent interview she mentions that the lyrics to Joy Division songs are often not clear and she wanted to make them so, showing how poetic they truly are.

What it certainly shows is how creative, talented and brave Jane Horrocks is in putting together a show which could attract an abundance of criticism.  Though ultimately the show is so impressive that I doubt it will.

A great way to spend an evening and a handful of tickets still available. Running till the 16th April.

http://www.youngvic.org/whats-on/if-you-kiss-me-kiss-me

 

Helen Tejedor

 

 

 

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Vogue 100: A Century of Style 29 March 2016

Last Thursday, the Living London team enjoyed a night of high fashion, culture and stunning photography at Vogue 100: A Century of Style exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery.  

The exhibition, celebrating the amazing photography commissioned by British Vogue since it was founded in 1916, featured British icons such as Twiggy, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and of course, the ever-beautiful Kate Moss, among many, many other striking Vogue covers and spreads.

The covers are by some of the best-known photographers of the day - David Bailey to Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier to Nick Knight - are all visually stunning. It was also good to see the early Kate Moss shots from Corrine Day make an appearance from the 1993 shoot for Vogue entitled “Under Exposed”. 

Particularly interesting were the covers from the 1920’s. Using art deco-esque illustration, the covers are simple, bold and striking which seemed to perfectly capture the essence of what was to become the most influential fashion magazine in the world. 

On until the 22nd May and highly recommended - http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/vogue/exhibition.php

 

Suzie Snell

 

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Black Hole Focus 09 March 2016

It's rare that I read motivational literature but I do enjoy books that challenge the way we think as individuals. I was recently recommended Isaiah Hankel’s ‘Black Hole Focus’ and after devouring a series of novels decided that it was high time I looked at something a bit more informative and potentially beneficial to improving thought process.

Hankel’s writing style is very matter of fact which helps articulate his process simply and the inclusion of very honest, personal stories along with case studies from others who’ve transformed their professional lives certainly helps to build trust with the readership. 

Split into three parts which tackle succinctly why people need focus, how to create it and how an improved focus can help better negotiate those tricky situations we all face from time to time. I think where this book succeeds is in its honest and practical way of conveying a clear strategy for improving personal and professional trajectories. Give it a read and see what happens!

 

Andy Richards, Creative Director

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Illustrations by Michelle Thompson 29 February 2016

Making new creative discoveries are certainly one of life’s magic moments and last weekend I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a pop-up exhibition of Michelle Thompson’s work at her house in Saffron Walden.

The space was shared with Lily Charmed a hand crafted jewellery brand but as I ventured into the backroom I was met with walls adorned in Michelle’s work. A mix of Giclée prints created from original montage artwork Michelle’s work uses shocks of colour, layers of different printed images, type and patterns to create a strata of different textures and compositions.

What I really liked was the instantaneousness and freedom in the work as if the mind is left to drift creatively along the thread of an idea, shifting and changing with every move.

Naturally I couldn’t resist buying something so I picked up one of the prints from the White Stuff Spring campaign.

If you’d like to see Michelle’s work and treat yourself to something wonderful here’s her website.

www.michelle-thompson.com

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The year of the monkey is coming... 03 February 2016

The Year of the Monkey is swinging in shortly. Yes, Chinese New Year (CNY), the most anticipated annual festival in the Chinese community, is here again! We have prepared a CNY dos and don’ts checklist for all of you.

Just before we start, here’s a quick test to check your understanding. 

- Why do people give red packets during Chinese New Year?

- What colour should you include in your CNY outfit? What should you avoid?

- What lucky foods should you eat at CNY?

Would you like to know the answers? Scroll down to read some of our tips!

 

CNY Do's

Giving Lai See

Giving red envelopes (lai see) containing money is one of the most popular customs, and married couples hand these to single people. Considered very lucky, the colour red also wards off evil spirits.

Lucky Foods

Certain foods which sound or look lucky are traditionally eaten. Fish, for example, sounds like the Chinese word for receiving money. Other good fortune foods include tangerines, dumplings, sweets and rice cakes.

Hanging “Fu” signs

The Chinese character 'Fu' means good fortune and 'Fu' signs can be seen everywhere during the festivities. Printed on paper squares which are hung upside down, they are believed to usher in good luck.

 

CNY Don’ts

No washing hair

Chinese believe that washing one's hair during the first three days of Chinese New Year also washes away good luck. The Chinese words for 'hair' and 'wealth' sounds similar, hence this belief.

No frayed, black or white clothes

Tatty clothes should not be worn as they bring bad luck. Avoid black or white garments too as they are associated with mourning. Wearing red is strongly recommended as it symbolises good luck. 

No buying shoes

'Hai', the Chinese word for shoes, sounds like someone sighing and is considered unlucky. So Chinese traditionally wait until a month after the first day of the New Year before buying new shoes. 

 

We hope these little tips will be useful for everyone who’s experiencing this festival in Asia or Chinese communities in the West. Our ultimate tip is to enjoy the festival and don’t be too shy to ask for red packets!

Last but not least, Living Group, with our 'Tray of Togetherness' in the photo, wishes all of you a healthy, prosperous, and happy Year of the Monkey!

Gong Hei Fat Choy!

 

Hayley Lai - Account Manager

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Remix the internet to make art – MTV Bump 22 January 2016

"What did you do at the weekend?" "Played a bit of He-Man". Jim Campbell age 6.

"What did you do at the weekend?" "Created an animation on my dads laptop". Ralph Campbell, aged 6.

Such is the modern world!

We were watching MTV one Saturday morning, when a garish advert came on for a website called MTV Bump Canvas. An inquisitive Ralph said: "Shall we have a look at that Dad?" After making sure there was nothing dodgy, we decided to give it a go.

It's a great little website that allows you to drag and drop pre-animated assets onto a canvas to create a weird and wacky scene which you can then share on Instagram or Twitter. You don't need much instruction to get going – choose your background (we love the exploding Rover 216), then some tunes, then go mad with all the assets – from dancing babies to blinking eye balls.

It’s great fun and a fantastic way to introduce your kids to creating animations – fun for the adults too. The best bit though – your kids can be creative without you having to tidy up after! 

Check it out:

http://www.mtvbump.com/canvas

Jim Campbell, Senior Artworker.

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May the Force.... 13 January 2016

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last few weeks then you won’t have missed all the Star Wars hype that’s been populating the galaxy.

Star Wars is finally taken back to it’s roots with the seventh episode of the Shakespearean opera set in space. We are deliriously greeted by all the old cast, rhetorics and melodies. Many are calling it a soft reboot of the seventies original but director J.J Abrams has all too accurately (and somewhat deviously) calculated the right about of old and new to give us fresh story-lines, dialogue, and cliffhangers (quite literally!) while still giving us the familiar fan fares and family feuds that makes Star Wars, well… Star Wars. “Chewie, we’re home.”

Go and see it. And may the force be with you!

Tim Phelan, Midweight Designer

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The World of Charles and Ray Eames at Barbican 03 December 2015

Who among us doesn’t long to stretch out in the seminal Eames recliner? Perhaps some of us already do (you lucky people). The combined talents of the Eameses has given the 20th and 21st centuries possibly the most progressive furniture design to date. Their unique collaboration yielded a vast body of pioneering design and their vision for how people could live was as relevant in the 1940’s as it is now. 

The Barbican’s current exhibition explores both designer’s creative journey’s along a time line which saw their initial meeting and subsequent relationship, through to their innovations while working at the Evans Products Company, the shift to mass production with The Herman Miller Furniture Company, the design and build of their Case Study No.9 house and right up to their prominence as leading contemporary designers in the 1960s and their film making careers of the 1970s.

The show brings together important examples of the most famous Eames office designs along with experimental prototypes and rarely seen works in film, photography, architecture and installation design.

Bet you didn’t know that Charles Eames designed a groundbreaking plywood leg splint for the US Navy in 1943. Imagine owning one of those.

The exhibition runs until 14 February 2016. Tickets are £14.50 and well worth every penny.

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The world goes pop at Tate modern 20 November 2015

One of the main factors that drew me into a career in Graphic Design was the pop art movement of the 50’s and 60’s. I’d always been intrigued by artists who drew inspiration from the commercial world around them and who saw the beauty and power in the aesthetics of products, film, fashion and technology. 

I’m sure most people regardless of their passion for art will know some big names in the pop art world: Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Richard Hamilton and Peter Blake to mention a few. The Pop art scene seemed to be dominated by American artists partly because of the renaissance in continuous that happened in America during the sixties but the movement spread much further than Warhol’s factory walls with amazing work coming from artists world wide.

The latest EY Exhibition, ‘The World Goes Pop’ really expands the notion of Pop art into a wider geographical context, showing how artists from different cultures and countries contributed to the movement during the sixties and seventies. After seeing a significant amount of pop art in various exhibitions over the past 25 years I think this show really evolves the concept showing work from relatively unsung european, asian and north african pop artists who explored issues beyond consumerism, addressing social dynamics, censorship, gender equality, sexuality, tradition, war and the political establishment.

The exhibition runs until the 24th of January. Don’t miss out.  

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'Design is a job' by Mike Monteiro 15 October 2015

I know what you’re thinking…another design book polluting our bookshelves; a preachy ‘How To’ guide on improving your life in the creative sector. But have no fear, this book is a world away from the usual rantings of a man in his pants bemoaning how the skills of design have gone from craft to computer.

‘Design is a job’ is by Mike Monterio. It’s one of a series called ‘A book apart’ written by a bunch of design professionals. Monterio, a San Francisco based designer, has a refreshingly honest approach when reflecting upon his career to date and tells you how he sees it; frankly and candidly.

His book takes you on a journey through a world of clients, contracts, processes and presentations. And although it’s a world viewed through a web designer’s eye, it applies to the whole creative playing field…and no there’s not a line of code anywhere.

At a time when the internet is saturated with opinion I can safely say I have succeeded in sifting through the coals to find a true diamond of a book.

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Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window 09 October 2015

Those of you well versed with Nordic narratives will no doubt have a preconception that they will involve a fair amount of either grizzly homicides or celestial overlords pummelling each other for control over us mere mortals. Jonas Jonasson however breaks the mould in his debut novel ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared’. Catchy title isn’t it! 

Jonasson’s tale centres around the unlikely hero of Allan Karlsson who on his hundredth birthday escapes his residential care home seemingly with no plan other to obtain a bottle of his beloved Vodka and embarks upon a mad adventure involving scrapes with drug barons, gangland hoodlums, insane spinsters and eternal academics. The story is wonderfully told through parallel timelines giving the reader the background to Allan’s life told through his random involvement with major 20th century figures and events. 

Johnson’s highly visual  storytelling reads like a Wes Anderson film with vivid characterisation and multi dimensional plots that sway between the unlikely and the bizarre. 

So if you’re rummaging through Amazon for your next commute read do consider popping this one into your basket. You’ll be thoroughly amused and charmed from cover to cover.

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Barbara Hepworth at Tate Britain 26 August 2015

So, what to do on dull rainy days such as we’re all experiencing these days in London? Take advantage of some amazing art of course. One such fascinating exhibition can currently be found at the Tate Britain, namely Barbara Hepworth, ’Sculpture for a modern world’. 

This truly compelling retrospective show is well worth a visit. Showcasing the revered British sculptor’s most significant and beautiful sculptures created between the 1920s and 1970s. The works transcend materials including bronze, wood and stone and are truly captivating in the way that they present multiple aesthetics within every aspect of their form. Hepworth’s exploration of space and dynamic in her work really establishes her unique perspective as an artist and positions her as one of the 20th century’s most accomplished and progressive artists. 

The show also extends beyond Hepworth’s sculpture showing documentary photographs and films of the artist at work in her various studios alongside selected works from Henry Moore, Jacob Epstein and Ben Nicholson. Rest assured this show delivers the audience with a utterly compelling visual experience.

The exhibition runs from 24 June – 25 October 2015

£18.00 adults

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Agnes Martin at Tate Modern 03 August 2015

If you find yourself strolling along the South Bank this summer then I’d highly recommend that you you pop into The Tate Modern and check out the Agnes Martin retrospective that’s currently showing. 

Its a rare event indeed when I’m actually moved by minimalist art but there’s really something quite thought provoking about Agnes Martin’s work. The seemingly sparse light canvases are almost reminiscent of school exercise books or pre scrawl draughtsman’s paper. The rigidity and and order overwhelms the senses particularly when one considered that these systematic images are authored by a human being. Painting during the same era as more expressive artists like Pollock, Rothko and Rauschenberg Agnes Martin’s work seemed to represent an internal existential odyssey into creating order out of the chaos within. Suffering from schizophrenia and frequent debilitating psychosis for much of her adult life, its evident in many of her works that there’s a struggle to maintain an ordered structure and direction.

The intricate grids and linear compositions are almost soothing in their spartan aesthetic. I couldn’t help thinking about the digital world we now live in and how the works appeared like a premonition of things to come. The seemingly cold strictures that give form and order to the richer experiences we all now enjoy online. 

This is the first retrospective of Martin’s work since 1994 and if you’d like a more compelling after seeing the Sonia Delaunay show then stroll across the landing and immerse yourself. The exhibition runs from 3 June – 11 October 2015 and tickets are priced at £12.00 for adults. Find out more at www.tate.org.uk

Image copyright of Agnes Martin.

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Celebrating Eid al-Fitr 23 July 2015

"O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint." – al-Baqarah 2:183

Last week, followers of Islam around the world celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, a time where Muslim devotees abstain from food for 30 consecutive days between dawn and sunset.

And with this year’s fast falling in the height of summer, it’s a challenge by any measure.

People around the globe poured onto the streets to pray, eat and jubilantly commemorate the passing of this holy month. It’s honored with feasts, family gatherings and is a time to give back to the community.

Each day of Ramadan is called Roza, with literally translates into ‘fasting daily’. Traditionally the breaks in the day-long fast emulate prophet Muhammad, who also broke fast in this fashion. The early morning meal is called Sehri, which is a time for nutrition and sustenance for the whole day. Sundown denotes the evening meal called Iftar, where the daylong fast is temporally broken.

It brings the best of Muslim values to the foreground - where people think of others - and inspires charity among many. The act of Zakat is also performed during Ramadan, where Muslims who meet a minimum threshold donate 2.5% of their total savings, income and wealth to poorer communities.

This week our London team celebrated with a banquet of traditional food, drinks and sweetmeats to mark the passing of this special time. Our festivities are a testament to the coming together of a whole community, and a time to admire the successes of our fellow colleagues.
 
Our lead Front End Developer Usman Afzal commented on this year's celebrations, saying: “I was humbled by the experience knowing I had the privilege of breaking my fast with an abundance of choice in food”

Wishing you peaceful, prosperity and happy Eid from all the team at Living Group.

Eid Mubarak

 

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Go Go Goat! 18 February 2015

This year is the Year of Goat – well, what does that mean?

Basically, there are 12 zodiac animal signs in the Chinese calendar, each year relates to one animal in a regular sequence along the way. So it takes a 12-year cycle to reach all zodiac signs.

Going past 2014, the Year of Horse, this year we are heading to the Year of Goat which officially starts from Feb 19, 2015 to Feb 7, 2016 according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Working out the addition and subtraction of 12, you should come up with this: the previous years of Goat include 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, and the next will be 2027.

Since it was said that people born in years of the same animal sign would share certain characteristics attributed to that animal’s personality, for all ‘Mr Goat’ and ‘Miss Goat’ born in the above years, you should be artistic, tender, sympathetic, sensitive and sweet, concluded by the Chinese’s belief that goat is the most creative and elegant sign among all the zodiacs.

So in general, does Year of Goat itself say something?

Yes, it does! A goat is commonly regarded as an auspicious animal in the Chinese culture, this means it's a promising and prosperous year ahead for everyone. Apart from that, goats are symbolic of peace and harmony as they’re gentle and soft so this coming year should also herald a more calm atmosphere, and most importantly, it also means something for us in the creative industry – given the innovative and inventive characteristic of goats, we expect 2015 will be a year of high creativity where our creative minds on various areas and multiple channels can be unleashed and maximized! Look forward to inspiring and interesting projects – stay tuned!

Last but not least, Living Group wish everyone a happy, prosperous and creative Year of Goat!

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A tribute to the Neon Man 23 January 2015

The late, great Chris Bracey was known as the Neon Man for 37 years, having created iconic art pieces for David la Chappelle, Martin Creed and many other luminaries of the British art scene, sadly passed away late last year aged 59 .

Chris produced a custom piece in his iconic florescent style for our London studio in Shoreditch, East London. Opting for the words: ‘Living Forever’, incorporating Living’s heart inspired logo into the design was a perfect match to Chris’s aesthetic, which famously featured lively fusions of imagery and fun typography that represented his louche Soho beginnings.

Starting out as a graphic designer in the 1980’s, Chris saw an opportunity to move into the neon business and help shape West London’s burgeoning sex industry, by creating signs that have helped shape the Soho that we know today.

Throughout his 40-year career, Chris commissioned numerous neon tube pieces for a wide mix of commercial and residential projects. Fondly known as ‘The Neon Man’, Chris went on to produce work for movie blockbusters such as Blade Runner, Batman and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

Our HR manager Helen Tejedor commented: "After having discussed with Chris our ideas for a neon sign for our studio, we had the pleasure of visiting his team at God Own Junkyard to pick the materials.  Wow what an experience.  A heady mix of neon signs, from small and understated to full on Soho showgirl, larger than life pieces.  Could have stayed in there all day!  It was a pleasure to be able to work with Chris, a truly talented individual."

A skilled process that involves bending and shaping glass by hand, and then adding vibrant optical tints, Chris’s unrivalled craftsmanship is revered by socialites, politicians and designs lovers alike.

Our “ Living Forever” piece is a true testament to how Chris Bracey’s work will have an eternal legacy and continues to be a source of joy to the offices, homes and lives of many people.

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Sigmar Polke - Tate Modern 14 January 2015

Currently exhibiting at the Tate Modern is a retrospective of Sigmar Polke's five-decade career.  Considered one of the most insatiably experimental artists of the twentieth century, Polke's work ranges across a broad range of media and is not at all easy to categorise.  His use of unusual materials such as soot and uranium makes for some striking pieces of work.  

Exhibition runs to the 8th Feb.

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/alibis-sigmar-polke-1963-2010

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Shakespeare in Shoreditch 01 October 2014

Shoreditch: an area heralded as East London’s rejuvenated crown jewel. Synonymous for its achingly cool reputation and ever changing landscape, it is safe to say Shoreditch has cemented itself as London’s HQ for all things ‘now’. But did you know that the area is steeped in history and was once home to one of the greatest historical figures of all time? 

Shakespeare in Shoreditch is a Festival, which reconnects the historical Shoreditch that the young William Shakespeare once lived and worked in, with its vibrant 21st Century counterpart.  The festival aims to celebrate the connection between Britain’s best-known playwright and East London’s most creative neighborhood, a link that is often forgotten.

For 10 days, plays, films, talks and workshops will populate the streets of Shoreditch to celebrate how Shakespeare can inspire our busy lives today. Audiences are taken on either one of two routes around the local area where attendees are exposed to street performances, talks and monologues along the way.  

Produced by theatre group RIFT, the Festival aims to create a lasting legacy in the local community with many events taking place on residential estates and busy focal points. New writers and local talent present newly commissioned interpretations of Shakespeare’s finest work, broadening its reach to new audiences.

The Festival is deep rooted in something very true to modern day Shoreditch: a place that thrives with innovation and creativity. The festival runs from Wednesday 1st October – Sunday 12th October, with shows nightly at 7pm.

To find our more, visit: www.newdiorama.com/whats-on/shakespeare-in-shoreditch  

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Medea at The National Theatre 26 August 2014

Medea is currently running at the National Theatre until early September and if you fancy experiencing a modern production of a Greek tragedy, then this is really worth a visit.  Brilliant acting, especially Helen McCrory in the lead role, as well as a beautiful score by Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp makes for a compelling adaptation.  Take advantage of the cheapest seats when visiting the Olivier theatre at the National as you are in a modern venue so the circle seats have amazing views and you are never far from the stage. 

http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/medea

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Creative Pioneers 2014 25 July 2014

The advertising industry celebrated the successful apprentices from the IPA/Metro Creative Pioneers Challenge at a congratulatory lunch at the Metro Offices last Monday.  

The event honoured the successful 2013 Pioneers in-take and welcomed the successful 2014 candidates.

Our man on the ground reported back, that "it was a really nice afternoon and beneficial to meet the organisers, and the 2013 colleagues".

We are proud to have been able to offer our 2013 apprentice Chloe Ward a permanent role within the marketing communications team and excited to be welcoming another apprentice, Kieran Haddock to the Living team this September.

Living Group are committed to supporting young people looking for a step into the creative industry and look forward to our continued involvement!

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Travel Photographer of the Year 2014 exhibition 14 July 2014

If you love travel and photography, then the Travel Photographer of the Year 2014 exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society in London is something you should attend.

From vast sweeping landscapes in the remotest parts of the planet, to the colourful hustle and bustle of New York City, many of the images on show are not only beautiful but thought-provoking and poignant. The exhibition runs from 11 July through to 17 August 2014 and is free!

You can find out more at www.tpoty.com/exhibitions and see some of the fantastic images on the BBC website.

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Citywire 10K charity run 02 July 2014

Continuing on with the running theme, our Marketing Manager Abigail took part in last Thursday's Citywire 10K charity run.  The annual run which is now into it's fourth year took place in Regent's Park and all proceeds raised this year will go towards a foundation established by Citywire that will support a range of local children’s and youth charities.   Well done Abi who was the 2nd lady in and overall 50 out of 200 runners!

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Crisis Square Mile 18 June 2014

Last week the Living running team took part in the Crisis Square Mile charity event. It was a hot balmy evening which made it hard for our runners but made slightly better by the amazing views along the embankment and celebratory pint at the end.

This annual event has been growing every year since the first one, now over 20 years ago. Crisis are a national charity for single homeless people and rely on events such as these to give them the funds to deliver life-changing services and continue to campaign for change.

This event is one of many that Crisis organise throughout the year so if running isn't your thing then check out all the other events on their site - http://www.crisis.org.uk/pages/events.html

Well done team and here's to next year!

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Living film club: Her 20 February 2014

This week, the Living Film Club took a trip to the Barbican Centre to see Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’. The film is about a man who falls in love with his operating system and it was really bizarre to see how real the relationship was. It’s strange to think that it could actually happen in the future!

Overall, everyone enjoyed the film and comments from our very own critics included:

"A beautifully shot and well-crafted film from a director who is at the top of his game. The attention-to-detail throughout was fantastic, as was the careful use of different filming locations to give the viewer a sense of the future. Even the fashion was subtly adjusted to show changes in how we dress in different decades. In summary I would highly recommend it."  Duncan

“I believe the adjective poignant does not do this movie justice. Beautifully shot and cleverly built around a simple story about being able to accept that we evolve through relationships. The not-so distant future setting helps us to feel less uncomfortable facing the theme of a romantic relationship between humans and artificial intelligence, which might be unavoidable but luckily is not quite here yet. Is it just our body that makes us human or is there more? Where is our need and desire for companionship taking us? For once is good to leave the cinema with so many questions unanswered.”  Daniele

"On paper the synopsis reads like a twenty-first century 'Mills & Boon'! … But actually having now seen the film, I would thoroughly recommend it. It's funny in the right places, artistically shot and an eye-opener for the what the future of technology holds! Go buy some pop-corn and slouch in your comfy cinema seat to watch it – you won't be disappointed!" Greg

I would definitely recommend the film and I can see why it was nominated for a Golden Globe. Chloe

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Welcoming the Chinese New Year! 30 January 2014

Chinese New Year or “CNY” as it is otherwise known is determined by the Lunar calendar. It falls on different dates every year, between mid-January and mid-February. The Chinese Zodiac runs in 12-year cycles with an animal representing each year. On 31st January this year we are ringing in the Year of the Horse.

Here’s a taste of some of the traditions around this highly anticipated festival:

Preparing the home

CNY decorations are an essential part of the celebrations. Beforehand though you need to clear out (or donate) any unwanted possessions and tidy up your home – literally sweeping away the bad luck. Make sure you prepare a candy box filled with a variety of snacks. Candies, chocolate coins and Chinese melon seeds are popular, not just for the family, but for relatives and friends who visit throughout the week. In keeping with long-held Chinese traditions some families stick red strips of paper with lucky greetings written in Chinese calligraphy on their doors.

 
Paint the town red

The days before CNY are an opportunity for guiltless shopping. It’s a time to buy new clothes before CNY officially arrives so you have new things to wear when visiting relatives or friends. CNY is overwhelmingly associated with the colour red – the ultimate symbol of joy, virtue and a bringer of good luck. So, wearing “as red as possible” is a must.

 
Things to eat

Tangerines are said to bring about wealth because they symbolise luck and prosperity in Chinese. If you don’t like these little treats, just having them on display will do – maybe in your candy box. Also on the food list are savoury turnip cakes and sweet glutinous rice cakes; normally fried or steamed for breakfast on New Year’s Day. The Chinese character for “cake” sounds like “tall” or “high”, hence it is traditionally eaten so children would grow taller, and businesses would reach greater heights.


Popular greetings

Now you know what to eat, wear and prepare, it’s time to learn what to say! The most popular greeting among the Chinese is “Kung Hei Fat Choi” (“wishing you prosperity and happiness”). To which the response is “Sun Tai Kin Hong” (“wishing you good health”). As it is the Year of the Horse, we can also expect to hear greetings with the Chinese character for “horse” to be popular. “Lung Ma Ching Sun” for example, means “energetic and strong as a horse and a dragon”.

Kung Hei Fat Choi from the Living Team!

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Art lovers! 20 January 2014

Last weekend some art lovers went to the Tate Modern. Helen and Abi independently visited the Paul Klee exhibition. He is considered one of the most important artists of the early twentieth century and this show traces his career chronologically up to his death in 1940. Amazing work produced in often politically charged times.

Both say you must try and visit before it finishes on the 9th March – for its pure inventiveness, individualism and beautiful colour palette.

Find our more at http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/ey-exhibition-paul-klee-making-visible

Abigail Vyner and Helen Tejedor

Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Formaggio e vino! 15 November 2013

The inaugural cheese and wine evening was held in the London office last night, with a focus on Italy.

One of our resident Italians in the team, Daniele De Blasio, took us on a journey through different regions where we sampled amazing cheeses that had been carefully paired with complimentary wines. Overall the evening was a huge success and we all learnt something new, plus enjoyed the cuisine of one of the finest countries in the world.

Forza Italia!

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A night out in space 13 November 2013

Living ventured out to the IMAX cinema last night to watch Gravity, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. What a great cinema to watch a film which I think should only really be seen on a screen of this size and in 3D.

Comments gathered from the rest of the team:

"I didn't read any of the hype about this film, I wanted to view it on face value, it doesn't disappoint. I thought the effects were amazing, if a little disorientating. In general, intense, gripping, a teeny bit cheesy. Remember when you were little and thought about becoming an astronaut? Clearly, some careers are best left as dreams!" Emma

"Made me feel claustrophobic at times, so a good achievement." Usman

"The movie succeeded in making me feel some of the 'absolute' loneliness astronauts are subject to while in space, together with claustrophobia, sense of exposure to cosmic danger. I suppose the best part was that made me feel humble, and reminded me of my place in the GRAND (not using this word lightly) scheme of things. A touching and intimate movie with a blockbuster budget, you don't see that often…" Daniele

"Visually nice, but over-hyped and otherwise poor!" Mark

"Fantastic special effects and a great movie to see in 3D, however there was little or no storyline and it was cheesy in parts!" Duncan

All in all a great evening and without a doubt the best place to see a 3D film.  A few tips: wait for the doors to open before buying food as the popcorn is sold upstairs, switch your phone off (I know that's obvious for most people) as if left on vibrate it could ruin the start of the film for whoever is sitting next to you and last but not least, be prepared to feel a bit queasy all the way home!

Helen Tejedor – HR Manager, London

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Sebastião Salgado: Genesis 30 August 2013

Sebastião Salgado's Genesis is the culmination of 8 years work exploring 32 countries. It is Salgado's 3rd long-term photographic exploration of global issues, following his previously acclaimed collections, Workers and Migrations.

About 216 of Sebastião Salgado's black-and-white documentary photographs are on show in Genesis. They capture some of the furthest and wildest corners of our world, portraying indigenous communities that continue to live in accordance with their ancestral traditions, and showing rare insights into their lands. During the 8 years in which Salgado travelled around the world to produce this collection of images, he often stayed with the people he photographed.

Salgado reflects: 'Many of us live in cities, cut off completely from the planet. My wish was to experience living with people with real links to nature... For me to go back to nature was a huge pleasure. I wished to present the planet in my language, photography. And so came Genesis.'

Beautiful breathtaking photography and well worth a visit to the Natural History Museum – running until the 8th September 2013.

http://www.nhm.ac.uk

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Bowie is.. 09 July 2013

So whilst most of the UK was transfixed with the Wimbledon final last Sunday I had pre booked tickets for the Bowie exhibition. Not very well planned I know, but as a massive fan all of things Bowie, not a sacrifice at all for me, my husband may have felt differently but he didn’t let on.

As you walk around the exhibition your headphones sync in to the area you are in and you are either listening and watching footage of Bowie being interviewed or listening to music relating to the costumes on display.  There is never a dull moment and a couple of hours easily flies by.  My 10yr old daughter was particularly amazed at some of the costumes and slightly outraged by some of the videos but notonce said “can we go to the gift shop now.” So that’s a first!  

It’s amazing to see someone’s entire back catalogue, with video footage, old interviews, concert footage, original costumes and much more, over a careerspanning more than 40 years. We all left knowing we had witnessed an amazing event and clutching a V&A bag full of goodies including a guitar book of Bowie classics. My daughter has promised to learn to play Rock and Roll Suicide over the next few weeks, doesn't get any better than that.

Whether a die hard fan or not you can't argue that Bowie is truly one of the greatest music and style icons of modern times! The exhibition runs to the 11th August.

Helen Tejedor, HR Manager, London

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Living it up in London this summer! 21 June 2013

Clients and friends of Living joined the team last night for an evening of cocktails, canapes and dancing (for those who were brave enough to strut their stuff!) for Living's summer party.

The weather was kind which enabled guests to relax in style on the balconies at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, which overlooks the prestigious Pall Mall, and soak up the atmosphere and glorious views. A big thank you goes to the Living entertainment committee who decorated the venue with detailed wall art and produced a captivating slide show made up of inspirations from each member of the Living team.

A great way to start the summer – long may it last!

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World Book Night 2013 23 April 2013

World Book Night is an annual celebration of reading and books. It is in it's third year and each year 20 popular titles are selected and half a million free copies of these books are handed out by volunteers across the country, on high streets, in shopping centres and in supermarkets. The idea being that you are passing on the gift of a wonderful book or story that you have loved in the hope that this might inspire someone else to read, when perhaps they wouldn't normally have done so.

Several World Book Night events are held across the country on the 23rd April and last night I attended one at the South Bank Centre. Not knowing quite what to expect from the evening, I was pleasantly surprised by what turned out be a very special two hours. The evening was hosted by the comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli who clearly has a passion for storytelling and great (if slightly irreverent!) respect for the writers. In turn, the authors of some of the titles from the 20 selected books, past and present, read excerpts from their stories.

It was fascinating to put faces and personalities to some of the authors that I love (Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Rose Tremain – Music and Silence & The Road Home, David Nicholls – One Day, to name a few), but also quite a privilege to hear them reading their own books. A highlight for me was an incredibly moving reading by poet Lemn Sissay of his beautiful poem, Invisible Kisses (Google it – it made me cry!!). It was a surprisingly entertaining night and a wonderful way to celebrate the joy that books, reading and storytelling bring.

For more details about World Book Night and the books that were included this year, please visit: www.worldbooknight.org

Katherine Jones, Finance Manager

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World Book Night 2013

Great entertainment is child’s play 17 January 2013

The house lights go down, a hushed silence descends on the packed audience. The curtain lifts, eyes widen and mouths gape in anticipation (and that’s just the grown-ups). Children are craning their necks, squirming in their seats or stretching tip-toe on shiny patent shoes, spilling their Maltesers to get a better view as the characters from the books of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (otherwise known as the Stickman and Room on the Broom) bound in larger-than-life, off the page and onto the stage before their very eyes.

Reactions vary; my daughter finds it all too much and buries her head in my shoulder, only to emerge blinking, seconds later, entranced by the sounds from the stage. Others leap to their feet squealing oft-repeated phrases from their favourite bedtime books; “I’m stick man, I’m stick man, I’m stick man, that’s me!” or “is there room on the broom for a dog like me?!”

After a 45-minute blur of happy chaos, colour and noise it’s over and a tangle of coats, scarves, toddlers and tottering aunts unwinds onto the street, smiling and united in a warm glow of agreement that they’ve enjoyed something together, truly together, as a family. And it’s not everyday that happens.

And the favourite DVD in our house this past Christmas? Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. As Kincade says in Skyfall, “Sometimes the old ways are best”.

Nick Smith – Copywriter


Image copyright of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

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Stick Man

Constellations 07 January 2013

Theatre lovers… I would recommend the play I saw last Saturday but sadly it was the last day. But I will mention it anyway for those interested in keeping an eye out for good productions and all involved in them for future reference.

So last Saturday afternoon I saw Constellations at the Duke of York theatre starring Rafe Spall, son of Timothy and hilarious lead in Pete Vs Life, and Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky, Made in Dagenham, Jayne Eyre, to name a few). A play by Nick Payne which uses advanced physics as a metaphor for life, sounds heavy but not the case.  

Payne shows a couple, after a chance encounter, going through the varying rituals of co-habitation, betrayal and separation. Each scene has 3 or 4 possible outcomes, with each conversation at some point skipping back to the beginning with another possible outcome taking place. A fast paced intelligent play, with 2 outrageously charismastic actors, which keeps you entertained throughout and wanting more at the end. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for what Nick Payne is up to next!

Helen Tejedor, HR Manager

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Constellationns Poster