FAULT Magazine Reviews: Bulldog Skincare for Men

Bulldog Skincare for Men

 

In the last couple of years, Bulldog skincare for men has surged in popularity, especially within the young gentleman’s market which has been notoriously hard to crack for other brands. As a brand, Bulldog believe profoundly in natural ingredients, and most importantly, they are cruelty-free – so we wanted to test out their range of products to see if there’s substance behind and hype.

Bulldog offers a wide range of gift boxes for the Christmas season making them an excellent choice if you’re looking for a stocking filler or more of an all-encompassing gift box. As I had to travel quite a bit within December, I opted to try the Skincare Kit for Men for the main advantage that it comes in a neat travel bag that I was also in the market for.

The Skincare for Men gift set contains, Original Face Wash, Original Face Scrub and an Original Moisturiser, but there is enough space within the wash bag for additional toiletries if it’s going to be used for travel or gym use. After an incredibly long 12 hours in the air, it was time to put the product to the test.

 

Bulldog Original Face Scrub

After a long flight, tough gym session or just whenever my skin is feeling a little greasy I like to start my cleanse with a face scrub. These are great for removing dead skin cells and on reducing the face’s rough and tired look. It’s good to note that scrubs aren’t for everyday use, I would use them once every two weeks as more of a skin refresh as opposed to a daily essential. I’ve tried many over my time, some good and some not so good but I can say with confidence that the Bulldog iteration falls within the former. I decided to test out the scrub fresh of a 12-hour flight, and it worked wonders. After just one use my skin was noticeably smoother to the touch, and that greasy dewy shine that resulted from clogged pore was vanquished. It’s safe to say; we’re off to a good start.

Bulldog Original Face Wash

The Face Wash is what I use for everyday use – best used after shaving or in the shower, this is your all round facial cleanser that’ll rid you of the ordinary imperfections that life likes to throw at us. As a face wash, I’m happy to say it worked wonders! Enriched with essential oils and green tea which has been hailed for centuries as a skincare godsend, one use in the morning and my skin has a healthy glow. While some facewashes strip the face of all its natural beneficial oils leading to dryness (not ideal for the winter), I didn’t experience that from Bulldog what so ever. The product is enriched with ingredients to promote natural-looking moisturised skin and removes only the excess grime and grease which can lead to redness and spots if left uncleansed.

 

Original Moisturiser

I always finish my routine with a good moisturiser, winter will do a number on your skin and leave it dry and chapped, so it’s great that this pack includes everything you need to battle against this. Many men turn away from moisturisers as they can leave the skin feeling greasy but I didn’t experience this at all with Bulldogs’. The moisturiser is light and applying a thin layer post wash helps to rid the skin of any dryness some might experience. For men with dry skin like myself, it’ll also be good to note that unlike other products which require multiple applications throughout the day, I only found myself applying a thing layer every morning and once again in the evening.

All in all, I’m happy to recommend the Bulldog Kit as an excellent gift for any gentleman looking for an all-round skincare range. The kit acts as an essentials giftbox, especially for men who aren’t too familiar or interested in full-scale grooming kits. I’ve taken the pack on holiday with me three times now, and it’s great just to have a bag with precisely what I need for short business trips not to mention the bonus of the washbag that I can throw my toothbrush and shampoo in whenever I go away. It retails at a very affordable £15 in the UK and is readily available on the high street for a quick and easy Christmas purchase.

For more information, head over to https://www.bulldogskincare.com/

FAULT In Conversation with Seth Travis – the man behind Man Of Metropolis

Seth Travis has a myriad of experience within the creative industry, working with names such as Ralph Lauren NBC and Bloomingdale’s to name but a few. Previous experience aside, Seth somehow found the time to create MAN of METROPOLIS Magazine, a publication centred around fashion, grooming, travel and all things of interest to the modern man. Now in their third year of publication, we caught up with Seth to discuss his career, motivations and meet the man behind MAN of METROPOLIS.

 

You’ve been in this industry for over 15 years, for you what’s been the most positive change within the fashion industry for you?

I think a lot of people think Fashion is supposed to be this cool elite group that very few get access to. But I would say technology with the use of social media and other web platforms has empowered entrepreneurs like myself to combat that notion head on; not a great change for rule makers but an awesome change for the rule breakers like me. You don’t need an ivy league education, or need to know somebody at a massive brand or publishing house to break into this industry anymore. It’s all about talent again. The will to succeed is the ultimate equalizer.

 

When and why did you decide to set up Man of Metropolis Magazine?

I was working on the Ralph Lauren brand in New York in 2010, it was a dream company; but not a dream job. So I started blogging under the name MAN of METROPOLIS, a few years later we turned it into a MAG and now we are 8 issues in ending the year with 3 huge celebrity covers; Edgar Ramirez, Gregg Sulkin, and Brittany Snow.

 

Where do you go to find inspiration?

Growing up it was music videos and films. I think those formative years were really critical in how I develop my taste. I know everyone thinks their generation was the best for one reason or another, but man the 1980’s and 1990’s were the golden age of music video making. And the movies! Top Gun, Indiana Jones, Red Dawn, The Karate Kid, Footloose, etc. Those characters really meant something and were iconic. So I think movies and music will always be the first places I go for inspiration.

 

What makes a person a Man of Metropolis?

We do a lot of fashion editorials. So the MAN of METROPOLIS has to have a strong sense of style while being open to taking a fashion risk or two. That said he’s also one of the good guys. He is relentless in the pursuit of the best version of himself, always. He wants to look great, free great, be great. So this should permeate in the way he treats others, his impact should be positively felt throughout his daily interactions from work to his personal life. He is MAN ELEVATED.

 

What do you look for in the editorials you feature and the talents you interview?

I am always going to look for a well-produced project from start to finish; this starts with great communication and ends with impeccable execution. In terms of the look and feel of the story that varies we produce with a lot of talented people and there is no reason to ask them to all shoot like Mario Testino or whoever; we want their point of view because our reader isn’t always in New York, he may be in Nashville, or Chicago, or Miami. So the stories have to be interesting and applicable to several kinds of guys. For interviews, it really is about the timing of our issues. We try really hard at building content around a theme for any given issue. Our NEW Hollywood Issue is a wonderful way to close 2017 for us. It comes out December 4th. I am very proud of it and very grateful to the incredible team of people who helped on it.

 

You wear many hats within the creative industry, what keeps you motivated to stay active with Man of Metropolis when you already have an established career?

Ya know the American Dream is to be your own boss, right? Or at least that is what my American Dream is. I am motivated by the freedom to create. Every issue we have challenges me, but ultimately I think overcoming these challenges and bringing life to new ideas with other talented people is extremely rewarding.

What’s next for the magazine?

2018 looks really big for us, especially now that HQ is in New York. MAN of METROPOLIS has really hit it’s stride back in New York and we continue to get the right attention from all sides.

 

What is your FAULT?

At my core, I’m an artist, but I also have a very strong entrepreneurial side. That said I am super sensitive. The great part of that is I connect really well with creatives and the talent we feature; the other side of that coin is if you don’t come through on a commitment it can really take a toll for a few days. I think our words should hold more weight more value. The kinds of promises people break in this industry can be remarkable. So I sift through that group quickly as possible, dust myself off and move on; but yeah I am a sensitive guy. It hurts my feelings when people don’t come through.

Shaving With The Force With Philips’ Star Wars inspired Razors

 

Many of us share the childhood Christmas memory of us rushing to the tree to see what newfangled toy Father Christmas had placed there. Sadly, we all also share the memory of watching those toys turn into the dreaded “practical gift” territory as the years went by. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for the suitcase, umbrella, fountain pen and notebooks I have received in my adult years, they’re practical, and I did need them; they just failed to conjure up the same level of excitement as years gone by. This Christmas, I was setting up for very much the same experience, but then I discovered that Philips has teamed up with Star Wars: The Last Jedi with a new range of electric razors, and trust me, these ARE the droids you’ve been looking for.

The range of shavers fuses Philips high tech innovation with Star Wars creative vision to release five different shavers based on characters from the franchise. Choose between The Dark Side, The Light Side, Poe Dameron, BB-8 or franchise favourite R2-D2 inspired designs!

 

I went for the Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac in the movie) model otherwise known as the Philips SW6700, and it’s a beauty. I’ve bought film inspired grooming products from other brands before, and the visual design has never been to this high standard. The attention to detail which I’ll go into later is astounding, and it’s great to see a brand which is synonymous for it’s visual and graphic design on screen, implementing their same high design quality into their products off-screen.

Usability wise, it’s up there with the best of them. Its 8-direction head works well both wet or dry shaving, and as someone with sensitive skin I was a little apprehensive before using the razor dry, but I’m happy to report that it didn’t irritate or feel uncomfortable. A brief look through its various settings and I found the Turbo+ mode. Activated by pressing the X-wing symbol (which is an excellent easter-egg to Star Wars fans), you’ll be able to cut through thicker stubble and achieve a closer shave in less time – something to remember if you’re buying for someone with thick facial hair.

Each design delivers its own unique shaving experience. For example, if destroying planets and building massive clone armies is more “your thing” (and who are we to judge), opting for the ‘Dark Side’ razor might be more suitable. The battery level metre is ingeniously displayed using Kylo Ren’s unique lightsaber design, but there’s more to this than merely visual design. A SmartClick Precision Trimmer allows for the user to shape their moustache, sideburns or perform shape ups which is something which isn’t available on the R2-D2 model, so it’s well worth having a read through all the specific designs on their website below if buying as a gift.

With the Darkside, Lightside and Poe model, you’ll also receive a hard case within the box making them perfect gifts for people who find themselves needing to travel a lot. On the R2D2 model, the lights flicker on and off in the same manner as the sassy droid to which it gains inspiration from.

All in all, I couldn’t recommend these shavers enough not only as a great gift for movie fans but also for as a gift for someone after a top of the range electric razor. Using the Poe Model, I was able to shave the closest and most comfortable shave compared to any other electric razor that I’ve tried. As a Star Wars fan, it’s a well designed and thoroughly considered homage to the franchise; it’s clear that they are developed by a team who understand the franchise and its favourite characters. The collection is an excellent example of practical and well-constructed gifts not having to be boring; a great shaver made better by expert creativity.

Click here to find out more

FAULT Magazine 10 year anniversary @ UNIT London with Bulldog Gin & Snog

FAULT Magazine 10 year anniversary event & Issue 27 launch

FAULT Magazine 10 year anniversary: FAULT Magazine director Nick Artsruni (left) with Issue 27 front cover photographer Jack Alexander (right)

FAULT Magazine director Nick Artsruni (left) with Issue 27 front cover photographer Jack Alexander (right)

We celebrated the FAULT Magazine 10 year anniversary in style with the likes of Rizzle Kicks’ Jordan Stephens, Rae Morris, Felicity Hayward, GIRLI, Dakota Blue Richards, Jonny Nelson and Sascha & Mimi Bailey at UNIT London gallery last week.

While the BULLDOG Gin sponsored bar served their signature gin & tonics (with a slice of crisp grapefruit on the rim) downstairs, guests enjoyed an exhibition of some of our favourite-ever FAULT shoots with the likes of Kylie Jenner, Usher, Ellie Goulding, Ben Barnes, Big Sean, Nick Jonas and Gary Numan. Well, we hope they enjoyed them, anyway!

Pride of place, of course, was our latest cover with Liam Gallagher. Shot by Jack Alexander, the front cover for FAULT 27: the Best of British Issue was the focal point for our showcase event that was catered exclusively by stupendous fro-yo trailblazers Snog and their brilliant new brand, Beltane & Pop.

The official ‘FAULT Magazine 10 year anniversary afterparty’ took place at Mahiki Mayfair…we think. To be honest, we weren’t quite sure where we were once our private section started overflowing with bottles of vodka and Mahiki’s trademark treasure chests!

Nick Artsruni with Jordan Stephens of Rizzle Kicks

 

FAULT Magazine editor Miles Holder with women’s fashion editor Rachel Holland

 

TV presenter Jonny Nelson

 

Felicity Hayward and Rome Fortune with Nick Artsruni

 

Presenter James Stewart at FAULT Magazine 10 Year anniversary event

 

Rae Morris

 

Dakota Blue Richards

Mimi Nishikawa-Bailey, Sascha Bailey, Nick Artsruni (l-r)

 

FAULT Magazine contributor Adina Ilie

 

GIRLI and friend (l-r)

 

Guests enjoy SNOG

 

 

Lucy Chappell with photographer Jack Alexander

 

Roxxxan with Nick Artsruni

 

Sophie Hopkins with Jack Alexander

 

Miles Holder with Melisa Whiskey

 

Model Alexander James

 

Model Chad Kuzyk

 

FAULT Magazine contributor Olivia Pinnock (centre, red hair) and guests

 

FAULT Magazine contributor Aimee Phillips

 

Some of the prints on display at the exhibition are available for sale.

 

Please contact us if you would like to inquire about any of the works listed below:

From left-right:

  • ‘Kylie Jenner for FAULT Magazine Issue 20’ – photographed by Lionel Deluy (black and white A0 canvas print)
  • ‘Ben Barnes for FAULT Issue 15’ – by Sinisha Nisevic (black and white A0 canvas print)
  • ‘Ellie Goulding for FAULT Issue 15’ – by Louie Banks (full colour A2 canvas print) – not for sale
  • ‘Usher for FAULT Issue 19’ – by Sinisha Nisevic (black and white A0 canvas print)
  • ‘Liam Gallagher for FAULT Issue 27 cover’ – by Jack Alexander (full colour foam board print)

 

  • ‘Nick Jonas for FAULT Issue 21’ – by Matt Holyoak (full colour A2 canvas print) – not for sale
  • ‘Kylie Jenner for FAULT Magazine Issue 20’ – photographed by Lionel Deluy (black and white A0 canvas print)
  • ‘Gary Numan for FAULT Issue 27’ – by David Richardson (full colour A0 canvas print)
  • ‘Big Sean for FAULT Issue 15’ – by Steven Gomillion & Dennis Leupold (full colour A2 canvas print) – not for sale

N.B: Where the works are not available for sale, we encourage you to contact the photographer directly!

 Special Thanks:

UNIT London Gallery

BULLDOG Gin

Outer Insight

Snog and Beltane & Pop

Mahiki Mayfair

Photographers on display: Lionel Deluy, Sinisha Nisevic, David Richardson, Matt Holyoak, Louie Banks, Jack Alexander

Amazing people who went above & beyond for us: Hermione Benest, Tim Lucas Allen, Vassilissa Conway

FAULT Team on the night: Miles Holder, Rachel Holland, Adina Ilie

This is your FAULT

 

FAULT Magazine Reviews: The Trading House

Summer has finally landed in London, and as promised, FAULT Magazine is putting together our very own ‘Where To Dine Summer 2017’ guide to let you know of all about London’s best restaurants.

We recently visited Trading House to see what it had to offer and despite being in banker central, on entering, we were amazed to discover so much life and soul within the venue. With a live performer and marvellously rich décor, we were off to a good start so let’s dive into the meal!

We began where all good meals should, at the bar, where they have an extensive wine list and even larger (and more fun) cocktail menu. From the offset, the bar staff were ready to make our experience as unique with their cocktail menu which boasts original twists on old English classics. To put this into perspective, they can make five different variations of the world famous mojito from a Spiced Pineapple to a softer tasting Peach & Cardamom variation. It being summer, we opted for their Elderflower Gin Coolers and Karma’s A Bitch cocktail; the latter mixes gin, apricot, homemade karma tea-infused syrup and while I have no idea what karma tea is, it’s certainly delicious.

Their nibbles menu is also sufficient enough if you’re only planning on visiting for a few drinks after work too. Start your evening with crispy whitebait, salt and pepper onion petals, pork crackling and or olives if you’re only popping in for a short amount of time.

For our starters, we were spoiled for choice with Trading House offering scotch eggs, calamari, truffle mushrooms, smoked haddock fondue and many other restaurant favourites. We went for the classic dishes to use as a point of reference and compare them to what we’re used to from another restaurant. With that in mind, we tried the crispy calamari and wings in barbeque sauce which were both to die for. The calamari was coated in Piri Piri salt, and I don’t believe I’ll be able to eat them any other way from now on – a great start!

Moving on to the mains and again, we were very impressed by the comprehensive menu. Don’t be put off if you’ll be dining with less adventurous dinner guests as The Trading House caters for everybody. While the lure of the unknown and adventure might take your fancy, The Trading House also features classic dishes such as fish and chips, flat iron steak sandwiches and pan-fried seabass for those with a less adventurous tongue. We thought it’d make for a better review to go with the more out-there offerings however and lucky for us the menu is a playground for the adventurous diner.

Choosing a main course was difficult, and quite frankly, it begs for a second visit because everything sounds delectable. From the new Orleans inspired, prawn and chicken gumbo to lamb kofta or their selection of pies, all of it looked amazing but what The Trading House is famous for is their Hanging Kebabs so it’d be rude not to!

We opted for the salt and pepper pork belly which arrived on your very own spit with the chips at the bottom ready to soak up any rich and flavoursome sauces which drip upon them. Accompanies with sweet chilli and ginger sauce, the meal was oozing with different flavours not often put together but ones which blend surprisingly well.
Non-meat eaters looking to enjoy Trading House’s hanging kebabs can opt for the halloumi, and falafel kebab alongside garlic butter and cauliflower couscous and if you’re a fish lover, Jerk Salmon alongside rice and peas sounds and looked amazing.

If by chance you can still manage dessert, the white chocolate and peanut butter mousse with chocolate and ginger crumb are as great as it sounds. If you don’t share our sweet tooth, we can with real confidence recommend the cheese board.

We admit when we first heard of the Trading House and it’s location in Bank we were a little worried that we’d find nothing but a tourist trap filled with false charm and unnecessary theatrics but we, in fact, found the complete opposite. The Trading House isn’t a themed restaurant, nor one that tries too hard to force a feeling of exclusivity despite its high-end level of customer service. Their cocktails all come at a fair price and in London, it’s not often you’ll be able to get a three-course meal of this quality at under £30 per head.

The Trading House is a great location for laid back date nights with or casual drinks. What that area of London has been missing for too long is a restaurant that provides excellent customer service without compromising the human touch and charm required. For us, Trading House is the perfect example of how to strike the right balance.

Trading House – one of the finest examples of fresh ideas and exciting cuisine in a part of London that sorely needs it. For us, this is one of 2017’s must visits!

 

 

Gurls Talk Premiere Event in Partnership w/ Coach & Dazed

While in recent months the times have been trying, sometimes it’s good to be reminded of all the positive and empowering vibes still around us. On July 1st, Gurls Talk will be hosting their first event with a day-long festival of female empowerment. Gurls Talk in partnership with New York fashion house Coach and supported by Dazed will kick off their free and open to the public event with a talk by activist and model Adwoa Aboah.

While you might recognise Adwoa for her accomplishments as a model, working with fashion powerhouses Versace, Alexander Wang and Kenzo to name a few; what you’ll no doubt grow to admire her for is her work as an activist and founder of Gurls Talk. As explained in the video below above (which is worth watching in full), Adwoa explains the reasons she founded Gurls Talk as the safe place she needed as a young woman but was not able to find.

 

“Having such a hard time when I was at school I think there should really be a space where girls can talk about these certain things that maybe people don’t see as so important like insecurities and boyfriends”

“At school, I didn’t have this place – I idolised people who had a life I thought I wanted”

A safe space to discuss ideas of sexuality, body image, mental heath and so much more – Gurls Talk is an unfiltered platform full of articles and stories which educate as much as they inspire and we can expect the very same from their event this Saturday.

Speakers confirmed so far include US Vogue contributor and relationship expert Karley Sciortino, activist, actress and model Hari Nef, intersex advocate and model Hanne Gaby Odiele, feminist columnist and author Laurie Penny, and Professor KM Abel. Alongside panel talks, there will be a programme of workshops including a movement workshop hosted by British choreographer Wayne

McGregor; a bonding and healing workshop hosted by Dr Lauren Hazzouri in addition to a Claire De Rouen library, a Coach Dream Station, a photo studio and much more.

The event is free and open to the public and of course, we wouldn’t miss it for the world and will be down there front centre of every talk, workshop and photo booth.

Free Admission

To secure your place RSVP at rsvp@gurlstalk.com

Location: 180 The Strand, London WC2R 1EA – Time: 12:00pm-6:00pm

FAULT Focus: How e-cigarettes have changed pop culture

In years gone by, it used to be the rule that if you wanted to create a  cool, rock n roll, brooding character, then they had to smoke. Be it James Dean’s breakthrough role as Jim Stark in Rebel Without A Cause, John Travolta’s swooning and charismatic portrayal of Danny Zuko in 1978’s Grease or Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in 1999’s Fight Club – if you want to portray a badass, they had to be seen with a  cigarette.

Of course, it wasn’t just male brooders of yesteryear who had to always be seen dragging from cigarettes on screen, a demur example of its female counterpart can be seen in the legend that is Audrey Hepburn. Even her most famous photograph taken from Breakfast at Tiffany’s shows her irradiating natural beauty but in her hand, the famous cigarette holder clenched so delicately.

This, of course, was simply a sign of the times, while now we might discern the cigarette, smoking tobacco has been a way of life worldwide for centuries. In 1974, over 50% of men in England smoked but by 2015 that number had fallen to 19.1%. Thanks to a number of different factors namely, vaping, nicotine gum and nicotine patches, the number of cigarettes smoked has fallen but not the ingrained cultural connotations that come from mood caused by smoking haven’t. So where has pop culture turned to I hear you ask – e-cigarettes.

Watching an actor on screen blowing out plumes of smoke, whiskey in hand as they act out whatever dramatic scene is asked of them still implies a level of drama, seeing a cigarette in hand also brings the negative connotations of stale smoke soaked furniture and blackened teeth but luckily for producers, e-cigarette smoking does not share the same negative connotations.

 

 

Take for instance ‘The Tourist’ which stars Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie sees Depp’s character Frank puffing away on his e-cigarette on a train (not something we’d advise). Notice how Depp is able to keep the same brooding, sexual prowess of the gentleman above without the uncomfortable and culturally out of touch sentiment of cigarette smoking.

Even small screen characters who are famous for their cigarette smoking have now moved onto e-cigarettes even Eastenders’s own mainstay Dot Cotton. For years, Dot could be seen on the show smoking, pre-UK smoking ban there are even clips of Dot smoking inside her place of work but fast forward to today and Dot Cotton is in the famous Queen Victoria Pub puffing away on her Vapestick.

On screen isn’t the only place that the vision of smoke is required, however, even we have participated in the switch over in our shoot with Angel Haze. On the 2014 Online Cover shoot, we depict Angel blowing out plumes of smoke but without a cigarette in sight. On set, we used an e-cigarette filled with e-liquid from Vape Club which we then removed before taking the photo.

As the popularity of cigarette smoking continues to fall, we’ll no doubt see e-cigarettes fill the void for years to come.

 

FAULT Focus: Khadija Saye: Remembering The Artist Through Her Photography

 

Early Thursday morning, the reality of London’s Grenfell Tower blaze hit home for myself and my fellow UCA alumni as we read the final Facebook update from our once classmate, Khadija Saye. Trapped within the burning building, Khadija reached out for prayers from her loved ones, and they rushed to the streets and social media in hopes of finding her. Sadly, the next day Khadija’s family would confirm that what we feared the most had come to fruition, Khadija had tragically perished in the blaze.

While we did share a class throughout university, myself and Khadija were not close friends. Remembering my panic as I scrolled Google and social media desperately looking for an update on her condition, I feel compelled to help ensure that her captivating body of work and not the tragedy of her passing, form her lasting legacy.

As an artist, her work cast a light on Gambian culture, the collective unity within “the other” and her journey into self. In memorial of Khadija and the conclusion of her photographic portfolio, FAULT takes a dive into the work of the late great artist – Khadija Saye.

 

‘Crowned’

In 2013, Khadija took her seat at the proverbial table and unveiled her centrepiece in the form of her photographic project entitled, ‘Crowned’. This series of photographs is one of the projects that our class was able to observe as it developed from inception to completion as Khadija’s final degree show series. ‘Crowned’ is made up of eight portraits showcasing the different ways in which black woman close to Khadija styled their hair. From woven braids, extensions, dreaded and natural afro, the viewer is given a glimpse into the diverse range of hair styling possibilities open to black women.

Entitled ‘Crowned’, Saye references the physical and the symbolic idea that black hair is something to be prized and adorned and not ashamed of. The words of Ingrid Banks taken from her book entitled ‘Hair Matters: Beauty, Power, and Black Women’s Consciousness’ echoes in my mind when I reflect upon Khadija’s title choice. In the book, Banks writes:

“Crown suggests a source of power, excellence or beauty…Therefore, a notion of power is embedded in the idea of hair as a black woman’s crowning glory. Hair has the ability to become a foundation for understanding how black woman view power and its relationship to self-esteem” –  Ingrid Banks 2000.

More contemporary references to black hair as something of brilliance can also be seen in Solange Knowles’ critically acclaimed 2016 release ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’, where within the opening verse Solange exclaims:

“Don’t touch my crown, They say the vision I’ve found”

“They don’t understand, What it means to me”.

One does wonder what significance Khadija’s perception of her own afro hair and its beauty played in her choosing to embark on the project and if I were to guess, producing ‘Crowned’ was a labour of love and presentation of self-pride. Indeed in March 2017, four years after the release of the series, Khadija reminisced on the making of the project in joy tweeting:

 

In the image, her young assistants observe possibly unaware of the importance their participation played in the construction of ‘Crowned’ or how it might affect their perceptions towards their afro hair and ideas of self in years to come; truly the impact of ‘Crowned’ will stretch on far further than even Khadija would have imagined.

As the only black male on our course, I once attempted to play up my “wokeness” and asked Khadija if she had seen “the Chris Brown documentary called ‘Good Hair’”, (misquoting Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary that focussed on the perception of natural hair within the African-American community.) Emblematic of her kind-hearted and gentle attitude, Khadija, of course, corrected my mistake letting out a light giggle; dropping my façade I listened to her thoughts on the documentary.

Earlier I referenced Solange Knowles’ ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’, a fiery anthem that highlights the resentment caused by patronising actions which decrease afro hair to a thing of play but observing ‘Crowned’, the same frustrated narrative does not confront me. My interpretation of ‘Crowned’ isn’t, “don’t touch my hair!” It is an inviting, “Don’t touch but do see. Bear witness to the beautiful ways black women can choose to style their crowns.” The viewer is invited to marvel at the intricacies of the different twists, curls and over-locking structures of the sitter’s hair and when printed and framed in a gallery, we’re disarmed and hypnotised by their sophisticated beauty.

It’s important we recognise the personal connection Saye shared with the women she photographed. The trust the sitters have placed in Khadija is unique; formed not just from a shared experience of blackness but through the confidence these women placed in Khadija’s skill as an artist to capture so much more than just hair. It is thanks to her affable character that Khadija was trusted to capture up-close the art within her subject and through her artistry and presentation nous, she allowed the viewer to appreciate black women’s hairstyles up close as something of splendour.

Khadija’s ‘Crowned’ might end here, but the project as a form of inspiration to a new generation of artists will continue. The eight sitters included on Saye’s website are but a drop in the ocean of the many different ways black woman can choose to style their hair; making ‘Crowned’ a gleaming seed from which the mightiest body of work can still grow.

 

Home.Coming

For her series entitled ‘Home.Coming’, Khadija travelled to The Gambia and documented her exploration of self through a series of portrait and landscape photographs.

Something I notice through all of Khadija’s work is her ability to find familiarity and gain trust within cultures sometimes seen as ‘the other’. ‘Home.Coming‘, ‘Crowned‘, ‘Eid‘, ‘Madame Jojo’s‘, all focus on different categories of the human experience yet notice how she has never been kept at arm’s length from her subject. I don’t feel the presence of a white tape that Saye is forced to photograph from behind when I observe her work. When capturing her subjects, for a time at least, Khadija is one with their environment and through her lens’ eye, the viewer is too.

For me, the unseen friendship-building and conversations Saye would have had with each person to earn their trust before the photo session conjures much intrigue. The above portraits arrest your gaze; the men’s eyes tell countless yet frustratingly unattainable stories. Khadija has stopped time but for a moment yet opened the door for myriads of questions – made sorrowfully more perplexing now they’ll go unanswered.

In another photograph from the series, a young girl smiles as she watches something out of the frame and in the below photograph a man leans on his prized Volkswagen, both beg a mountain of questions yet if we take a step back, we’ll find Khadija’s story told throughout the series.

Any second generation migrant knows all too well the conflicted notion of “home”, and from what I can only guess, Khadija travelled to The Gambia to find, explore and reflect on life in a home in which she did not live. While the content of Khadija’s photographs doesn’t answer the question of “did Khadija find self and the comfort of home while in The Gambia” but we need only look at her sitters to find our answer. As referenced previously, her subjects are unperturbed in front of the camera and this is likely because they were relaxed with their photographer. Any artist can tell you the anguish of requesting a portrait of a stranger only to watch their sudden discomfort when faced with the intrusive camera lenses flung in their face but notice the air of calm in Khadija’s work.

Yes, each photograph in the series contains countless untold stories, yet one is clear, and it’s the sitter’s tale of Khadija. As a photographer, she wasn’t a stranger in their midst nor a second generation displaced entity forcibly taking up shop in their domain; for that time if only for a moment, Khadija Saye was one with them – truly at home.

 

Dwelling: In This Space We Breathe

Khadija’s last exhibited work ‘Dwelling: In This Space We Breathe’ made with the help of artist, Almudena Romero, saw her once more exploring her heritage by investigating traditional Gambian spiritual practices and the comfort practitioners found in the arms of a higher power.

There is something remarkably poignant about her final project immortalised on such a physically existent format such as the tintype. By using tintypes, Khadija transformed her amorphous visual being, memory and legacy from a temporary state and gave it physical form. Unlike a digital file, memory or spoken recollection, her tintype image has weight, texture, smell and uniqueness the very same way our physical forms do; yet unlike us, her tintypes do not have an expiration date and will always remain.

The very idea of legacy and the pursuit of artists to leave a token in this world for after we pass, itself is a practice of spirituality. For all we know, there is no telling of what significance our life actions will play after our lives come to an end, yet we attempt to leave proofs of our existence to tell the future world “I was here and I existed.”

In the tintype images, Khadija is depicted in a ritual using sacred Gambian artefacts meant for the purpose of connecting with the spiritual world from the physical plane. Now with her passing, there is a spiritual awakening of ideas and ways of reflecting within the viewer. Now as we gaze upon the imagery, it is us the viewer who are being connected with Khadija and in turn, linked spiritually to the “once was”.It is through Khadija’s immortalisation of Gambian ritual that we now look upon her from this physical plane despite what would be considered by many religions as her soul ascending to a higher state of being.

I’ll admit that the above sounds somewhat of a stretch and likely not what the project was intended to symbolise, but it did cast a light on my scepticism towards schools of beliefs that I do not understand. In reflecting on the work, my own westernised perception of spiritual ritual has come into question. For myself at least, the actions depicted by Khadija provides a brand new outlook and way of seeing such ceremony.

For some of those raised in the UK, the idea of spirituality and non-conventional western religion is sometimes considered as something of myth or fantasy, not necessarily through conscious choice but through our conditioned view of pre-evangelised spirituality.

In Sir Edward Burnett Tylor’s 1887 book (now somewhat offensively entitled) ‘Primitive Culture’, he gave the broad belief that spirituality can be attributed to ritual and inanimate objects the name ‘Animisim’.

Note: ‘Animisim’ does not exclusively describe the Gambian ritual Khadija explored in her project but broadly refers to the school of similar beliefs held by people throughout Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia throughout history. Hopefully an anthropologist or practitioner of the specific belief Khadija explored can provide a more suitable title for us to use in this essay.

While coining the English term for the phrase, Tylor knew he was generalising a large number of people, but he did so out of frustration with writers of his day who saw such displays and dismissed them as illegitimate forms of spirituality.

“Short of the organised and established theology of the higher races as being a religion at all. They attribute irreligion to tribes whose doctrines are unlike theirs”. – Taylor 1887

The link between the photographic process and spirituality is also drawn upon in the accompanying text for ‘Diaspora Pavilion 2017’ where the works are currently held on display.

“The process of submerging the collodion covered plate into a tank of silver nitrate ignites memories of baptisms.” – Disapora Pavilion 2017

It is clear Khadija found a spiritual link at every step of this project even choosing herself as the subject when producing the tintypes but rather than theorising or projecting, it’s only right to let the words that accompany the project have the final word:

“This work is based on the search for what gives meaning to our lives and what we hold onto in times of despair and life changing challenges. We exist in the marriage of physical and spiritual remembrance. It is in these spaces that we identify with our physical and imagined bodies. Using herself as the subject, Saye felt it was necessary to physically explore how trauma is embodied in the black experience.” – Disapora Pavilion 2017

 

Notice how throughout Khadija’s entire body of work, there’s a level of thinking that transcends just the art of seeing. All three projects spoken about above are unique individual displays of artistry and wonderous displays of photography worth that of an artist far beyond Khadija’s years.

‘Crowned’, ‘Home.Coming’ and ‘Dwelling: In This Space We Breathe’, are all linked only by the artist of origin and much like Khadija, they mean and will continue to mean so much to so many different people. Reminiscent of the Khadija that I knew from across the lecture theatre, not a lot is shouted nor is it displayed with over-the-top performance – because work and artists with true substance donesn’t require such theatrics.

This week we sadly lost Khadija, but not her contribution to the artistic world.

 

See more from Khadija’s portfolio on www.sayephotography.co.uk