Interview: Lo & Vee, An Other World

Leeds based artists Lo & Vee have been taking the city by storm this summer with their stunning exhibition ‘An Other World’, a mixture of illustrative murals, framed works, and interactive video work inspired by folklore.

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The exhibition, which takes place in Leeds Central Library’s excellent space, Room 700, takes us on a journey through a world of fantasy and magic, of mystical beings and fairy tales.

The installation is heavily inspired by readings that the library holds; books detailing mythical creatures, legendary tribes, deep sea creatures, rare artefacts and antiques. Their collaborative murals not only reflect their appreciation of nature, dream worlds and pattern, but also their bizarre ability to make the familiar unfamiliar.

Since opening at the end of July, hundreds of people have fully immersed themselves in this fanatical world of myths and monsters. However, I wanted to dig a little deeper, to find out exactly what makes both Lo & Vee tick. I caught up with them to ask them about the exhibition, humble origins, and dreams for the future.

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1. A lot of your work focuses on nature running wild, what is it about nature that inspires you to create?

We are definitely both constantly intrigued by nature. We watch a lot of David Attenborough and I think the intelligence of nature inspires us, we enjoy drawing from the organic patterns and fluid movements of plant life and sea creatures.

2. What kind of artistic backgrounds do you come from?

We have both studied art at a degree level, Lo at Glasgow School of Art and Vee at Leeds College of Art. They have always been interested in art and creativity, Vee’s parents are both very artistic.

3. How did you start getting into painting murals? What was the first mural you painted?

After a boozy night of discussing our potential futures we had a bit of a brainwave and decided to set up our own company creating drawing classes for people who didn’t think they could draw. We had a lucky break when a friend at Whites Deli contacted us to ask if we’d be interested in drawing on their 8ft Chalk Board. From there it all snowballed. House Of Koko got in touch with us through twitter and asked us if we’d be interested in running workshops from their coffee shop. The shop was still being set up at the time and after meeting with them they asked us about designing some murals for them, which we jumped at the chance to do. We’ve being building our repetoire ever since.

4. How did you meet each other?

We met at high school. We probably formed our bond in Art Class, where we actually weren’t very good. We spent a lot of time drawing still lives and I think our joint hatred of that really solidfied our friendship.

5. Do you read a lot? What are your favourite fictional novels and why?

We probably dont spend as much time reading as we should. But we do listen to a lot of audiobooks. We’ve actually being listening to some Poirot whilst we draw on the walls.

6. Your work explores a lot of folklore, what is your favourite folklore tale?

I think one of our favourite folkore books from the exhibition has been the Water Babies.

7. Finally, what can we be expecting from you guys in the near future?

In the future we hope to get involved in some more residencies! We are looking forwards to resuming our Drawing Club in Chapel Allerton, as we’ve had to put it on hold during the residency.

You can see the exhibition until closing date 20th August. Check out @loandvee on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more information.

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Stollen 1930

This is perhaps one of the coolest places I have been to on earth. This hidden, and I mean really hidden, jewel of a bar resides underneath one of the original Tyrolean taverns, the 600 year old Auracher Löchl hotel in Kufstein.
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Think of a traditional Bavarian beer hall complete with random suits of armour, barrels everywhere, and large Gothic script adorning the outside walls, and you’re halfway to imagining the hotel. Now picture descending into what looks like a dark cave and feeling slightly unnerved, until realising that you are in a subterranean gin museum.
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Gins from every time period, location, and distillery are mounted behind protective wiring, steering you through a dimly lit passageway to the bar. The man bar area is vast, considering it’s in 600 year old cave. Small alcoves with tables adjoin the main area, so you can claim your own booth in which to enjoy the vast and impressive cocktail menu.

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The gin menu alone is the size of a small novella, but you can also order rum, gin, alcohol-free drinks. For those who prefer a brew, there is an excellent selection of beer from Belgium, Ireland and England. The staff are friendly and extensively informed about their alcohol, so feel free to ask for recommendations.

Personally, I recommend the ‘Smokey Gin Pipe’. It tastes like Christmas and it comes in this cool as hell glass.

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Römerhofgasse 4, 6330 Kufstein | www.auracher-loechl.at/stollen1930 | Mon to Sun 6pm-2am | Tel +43.5372.62138

 

Top UK Ghost Girl Hauntings

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You would have to have been living under a rock  for the last few months if you weren’t aware that the Ghostbusters blockbuster movie has made a triumphant return. This classic remake boasts a star-studded all-female team including Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Kate McCinnon. It’s been getting us all thinking a lot more about what the paranormal, especially paranormal women.

A recent study compiled by money-saving website Voucherbox.co.uk ranked the spookiest destinations in the UK, haunted by female ghosts. This ‘spook scale’ indicates the scare factor levels based on previous encounters with the spirits. Results from the study show that the South East has the most traumatised souls in the country.

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“Most of us have grown up hearing ghost stories and tales, something which the UK, brimming with history, has an abundance of. Inspired by the release of Ghostbusters, we’ve discovered a lot of these tales star a female protagonist,” said Shane Forster, Voucherbox UK Country Manager.

 The great thing for budding Ghostbusters is that all these places are easily accessible to visit. If you fancy yourself as a Ghostbuster, you can seek out these female spirits and tick off this extensive list, at your own risk.

 Spine-Chilling South East

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 Amongst the tranquil South East scenery lurks a number of terrifying tales. The Screaming Lady of Hampton Court Palace, more familiarly known as Catherine Howard, really brings history to life with her piercing screams regaled in the gallery. While no less than four female ghosts will keep you on your toes in Pluckley village in Kent, leaving no place to hide for those who scare easily.

 Visit Hampton Court Palace, Richmond, Surrey £21/£19.80 (on the gate/online purchase)

 Creepy Capital

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 Venturing towards the cackling capital will not leave budding ghostbusters disappointed. The Tower of London is a good place to start, where you may meet the headless spirit of Anne Boleyn, or the notorious Arabella Stuart in the Queen’s House. Plus you’ll get more than a Thames view when you get in the lift at The Savoy, London, which is manned by the spirit of a little girl.

 Visit the Tower of London £23.£21.30 (on the gate/online purchase)

A night in the Savoy costs between £381-£671

 Nightmarish North West

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 The Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool seems to have the most mischievous resident spirits. One ghoul may be caught ruthlessly rooting through your belongings in the early hours, while another may spell-bindingly stroke your hair.

 A night in The Adelphi Hotel costs between £41 and £82

 Night Terror North East

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 Many of these legends will bring a tear to your eye, with several of these spirits meeting their end after being mistreated by loved ones. One of the saddest tales is that of Constance de Beverly, a nun at Whitby Abbey who, after falling in love, subsequently broke the sacred vows she made to her religious order. Bricked up alive in a dungeon as punishment, her ghost has been spotted in the stairwell cowering and begging for freedom.

 Visit Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire, for £7.90

 Spooky South-West

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 If you’re visiting Devon this summer, Berry Pomeroy Castle is certainly not for the faint hearted. The castle is inhabited by at least two tormented souls. The more notorious is that of Margaret Pomeroy, known since her death as the White Lady, whose sister imprisoned and starved her to death over jealousy of her beauty. The second is the Blue Lady, believed to be the daughter of one of the Norman castle lords. She was raped and impregnated by her father, and when she gave birth, strangled the baby. Her spirit lures visitors into different parts of the castle in order to get them lost from their group.

 Visit the Berry Pomeroy Castle in South Devon for £6.20

See more essential haunted locations below:

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Flappers & Gentlemen

Aside from Leicester’s official cultural quarter, I would say that St Martin’s Square is the place to be for students, hipsters, musicians, foodies, and anyone else who knows what’s up. Boasting vintage clothing shops, independent luxury ethnic restaurants, a gig venue, and popular tattoo parlour Black Market Tattoos, the square is also home to one of the most fascinating barbers I have ever seen, Flappers  & Gentlemen.

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As the name suggests, this hairdressers imitates the vibe and aesthetics of a roaring 1920s establishment, complete with the ‘speakeasy’ element (an array of cocktails and whiskies are on offer while waiting for your session).

Decoration and furniture are picked out individually by Director Blake Edwards; pieces on display include vintage button tufted chairs, regal looking portraits of chivalrous dandies with animal heads, a collection of small deer skulls mounted on wooden plaques, and an antique camera obscura.

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Prices are reasonable and are ranked depending on stylist, with a full cut and finish starting from £25. The money is completely wort it, not only for the fantastic service but for the overall experience of getting a haircut in this unique establishment. It really does feel like stepping into a plush, exclusive club, like something straight from the pages of The Great Gatsby.

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They offer both a Corporate Discount of 20% off as well as a Student Discount of 15% off from Tuesdays to Fridays. There is even an adorable salon pooch to pet while you get a sweet hairdo. To be honest, I don’t know what else I can say to temp you.

8 Silver Walk, Leicester LE1 |  Tel 0116 2629840 | Tuesday to Saturday 10am-8pm

The Last Tuesday Society/The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities

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On the outside it looks like a gimmicky goth bar, small enough to house maybe a couple of people before getting uncomfortable. Step inside however and you will find yourself in a world of nightmarish fantasy and macabre magic unlike anything you have seen before.

The Last Tuesday Society, which originated in 1873’s Harward University as a means of preserving rare specimens, was brought to London in 2006 by Viktor Wynd. Wynd and his associates remain the benefactors for this small but exquisite Wunderkabinett, the first to open in London since the Horniman in 1901.

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Full of bizarre artefacts, dead things, and gruesome erotica, this museum is not for the faint hearted. What stops it from becoming horrific is the tongue-in-cheek nature of the exhibits; they are obviously intended as a bit of fun and not to offend. Among them you can find remnants of David Bowie’s stolen mullet in a glass bottle, a sex manual for Irish farmers, a ‘mermonkey’, and the glittering Savile Row suit that once belonged to ‘Bright Young Thing’ Stephen Tennant.

There are some truly beautiful things in this museum, like an impressive array of stunning pinned butterflies and insects from around the world. The presence of such rare beauties elevates all of the junk to the same level of mysticism, so that every pickled spider, two-headed teddy bear, and vintage Happy Meal toy bears the same air of magic and wonder.

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Particularly of interest to me was the exhibit showcasing Tennant’s photographs, suit, and books, as Tennant was a childhood idol of mine. Like many hella gay writers before me, he has been a model for a lot of my fictional characters. There was also an exhibit showcasing multiple portraits by occultist Austin Osman Sprare, again a figure who intrigued me in my teenaged years (we all go through that Thelema phase at 17, right?).

If all of this seems too morbid, there is one aspect of the museum that is guaranteed to warm your heart. You can pet a bunch of friendly reptiles, co-erced and comforted by two lovely professional animal handlers. Among these scaly sweeties are a chameleon, a small bearded dragon, a young and playful snake, and a wonderful african toad named Bob. They are all completely docile and will let you pick them up and stroke them for hours on end.

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If you’re still exhausted and want to forget everything you have seen, fret not, as the bar serves some delicious classic and original cocktails, which you can enjoy by candle light and the incandescent glow from the large in-house aquarium. I recommend ‘Bloody Bitters’, a decedent mixture of absinthe, raspberry chambord, and other red ingredients which have since slipped my mind.

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11 Mare Street, London, E8 4RP | Wednesday to Sunday 12pm – 10:30pm | Entry £5

Roses Bar

Berlin has long had a prosperous and progressive queer scene. From the roaring 20s gay bars like ‘Eldorardo’, where Marlene Dietrich and Christopher Isherwood regularly whiled away their nights in lavish company, to today’s infamous Berghain club, a hot spot for Berliners and hopeful tourists alike.

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Nowadays, the diversity in Berlin’s queer scene extends to venues and events that steer away from the stereotypical and aim to include all members of the LGBTQIA community. However, Roses Bar is sadly not one of these places. Although highly recommended on many Berlin queer essentials websites and regarded as one of the most popular bars in the queer scene, the atmosphere in Roses leaves much to be desired. Due to it being a small bar, there is no space to move around inside and in order to get a drink you must awkwardly lean over others sitting at the bar trying to converse. The crowd is mainly older cisgendered white men, with a fair few creepy looking guys sitting alone in corner tables. The staff are obviously not keen on tourists, and in response to asking for a Hemingway you will be told that they ‘don’t serve fucking cocktails’, with emphasis on the ‘fucking’ bit. Although they only serve long drinks, these long drinks are very strong, so at least you will be getting your money’s worth.

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The only redeeming part of Roses is the interior design- a fantastic amalgamation of fetish-themed artworks, disco balls and rainbow coloured chandeliers, huge dildos amusingly tacked onto the walls becoming somehow tasteful coat hangers, and walls covered in vibrant magenta fur. It is a shame that this bar suffers for its bad attitude, because it has the potential to be a fabulous start to a night out, but instead leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. Onward to other bars like Silver Future…

Kit Kat Club

From its origins in 1994 to the present day, the Kit Kat Club has been the crowning glory of Berlin’s thriving fetish scene. The lovechild of Austrian pornographic film maker Simon Thaur and his partner Kristen Kruger, who have been running the club ever since, it is infamous for bringing aspects from the trance scene into its sex parties. Every year it attracts thousands of people from all walks of life to its dance floor, from hardcore BDSM lovers to curious tourist spectators.

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Named after the risqué burlesque bar from Harold’s Prince’s Cabaret musical, you can expect to see similar sights to those fictionalized ones portrayed via show tune; women (and men) walking around in suspenders and corsets, outrageous theatrical costumes, leather, silk, and satin flowing past you in all directions. Although many websites will tell you that in order to get into the club you must be wearing little to no clothes, in recent years regulations have relaxed. You will see a couple of people dotted around in jeans and a t-shirt looking slightly bewildered, next to those decked out in full latex gimp suits. Although beware that wandering bouncers may advise that you remove an article of clothing if you don’t quite look the part.

Comprised of three dance floors, a pool area, and various private nooks and crannies, there are many opportunities to go exploring, even if you don’t fancy getting intimate with anyone in public. The interior of the club is interesting enough: walls adorned with fluorescent colour murals of people in various stages of copulation (by Berlin-based artist Der Träumer), random cages dotted about that you are free to dance in, and strange halloween-esque decorations adorning the bar areas.

Ultimately, this club is exciting and interesting regardless of whether or not you are actually a kinkster yourself, and will always be a huge part of Berlin’s image and notorious reputation as a city of rebellion and sexual decadence.