Fine Print was an idea born out of opportunity really. An incredible offer to exhibit something novel in the heart of London's Soho. Wanting to express "why we do what we do" and not simply "what we do," we stepped outside our comfort zones and embarked on an journey of learning and creative thinking...


"Working across a variety of themes including fashion, beauty, food and farming, the installations encourage us to investigate our own values and to ask: what is really important to us, as individuals and as part of a global community? Is it personal health and the health of our children? Is it the working and living conditions of those who make our products? Is it animal and environmental welfare? In a sea of well-meaning intentions, how do we make the best possible choices for ourselves and for the world we live in?

Each installation was accompanied by fine print inspiring the viewer to look past the surface beauty of the piece and engage with the real information behind the sum of its parts. Using various methods of magnification in order to read the words, we focus on the idea that the fine print is often more important than we are led to believe.

In those small letters, we may uncover hidden truths to change our perceptions, what we purchase, what we put on our skin, what we ingest into our bodies and - ultimately - how we help to shape the world around us."

Forward by Bel Jacobs


Here you can find further facts and resources around our themes, and we hope this exhibition encourages you to spend a little time reading the fine print of the things that you value.


The materials used to make the installations were carefully considered to reflect the environmental undertone of the exhibition, as well as our ongoing commitment to engage best practice in all the work that we do.

 

 

Concept 

This piece was designed to begin the journey of the five installations, with a focus on what our considerations are when purchasing. The viewer was able to interact with the artwork, and define their own values and personal consumer habits.

 

The fine print

“If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything” Irene Dunne

As consumers we have the ability to affect great change.

But it can be overwhelming even knowing where to start. Our favourite shampoo may be cruelty free, but is it organic? We finally find an organic and cruelty free brand, but is their packaging recycle-able, and does it meet our performance expectations?

By reaffirming the issues and ethics that are important to us, and our families, we can use our set of values as a map to navigate the ever-expanding world of choice we face on a daily basis.

We can do this by asking right questions and digging a little deeper into the fine print of our consumer choices.

We have the right to expect clarity, explanation and evidence on claims from the brands and businesses we spend our hard-earned money with, and we do this by considering the connections, distinctions, alternatives and implications of making a purchase. 

 

Materials used

As the turn around time of the exhibition was very limited, Khandiz had to consider that the board was lightweight, easy to install and uninstall, as well as easy to transport so this is how the concertina fence came about. After completion of the show, the fence will be installed on her roof terrace at home to support some wild flowers. 

The string used was a mixture of naturally dyed hemp string from Hemptique, and embroidery thread already in her personal collection. The string will be repurposed to make jewellery and other artworks that Khandiz creates on an ongoing basis.

 


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Concept

Inspired by Alice's own journey of fashion and storytelling, ultimately driving her to become the ethical fashion stylist she is today. Alice wants to show that power of the stories behind fashion today.

By Alice Wilby

By Alice Wilby

The fine print

Who didn’t love playing dress up as a child? Swathing ourselves in sparkly 70’s disco dresses, copious strings of beads and oversized shoes…

Fashion’s ability to transform is a powerful one, as is evident in our childish musings. The ability to create character after character, willing the clothes to transform us into anything we could dream up. A prima ballerina in Swan Lake, a fairytale Princess or Prince Charming in a far off land, a swashbuckling pirate or a knight in shining armour, a Hollywood movie star, a 1920’s flapper from ‘The Boyfriend’.

Little did we know that when we grew up the clothes we wore wouldn’t tell such fantastical stories. Sewn into their linings and bursting from their seams are tales of exploitation, greed, fear and even death.

Discovering that your favorite High Street stores manufacture in sweatshops is a shock to the soul. That the beautiful embellishments and low prices isn’t a miracle sent from sartorial heaven, but is in fact a sign of someone else’s poverty and exploitation, of children with no childhood, is sobering to say the least.

How we dress has always been a powerful statement. Now it can be a positive statement too. Ethical fashion has progressed to the stuff of dreams, as you can see on the many layers that grace these mannequins.

There are lots of ways to use your consumer power with more integrity.

Here are some of them:

MEET YOUR MAKER. Age of Reason designer, Ali Taylor Mapletoft challenges herself to spend a year only buying from brands if she could directly meet the person who made the item. Or try going straight to the designer. Book a studio visit with Nicola Woods at Beautiful Soul and discover your perfect frock and provenance of the brand at the same time.

FIND IT YOURSELF. Go straight to one of the many brands that bring their makers to you, like Studio Jux. A name and number in the item of clothing takes you to their website where you can meet your tailor and find out a little about them and their life, giving you a truly personal experience and removing the disconnect that the majority of brands suffer from.

SLOW DOWN. We have lost our understanding of the whole process of our clothes, the skill behind each seam and hours of development behind each garment. Enter designer Jodie Ruffle, whose intricate hand embellished pieces can take up to 100 hours to craft.

RECYCLE. We don't realize the scale of waste produced in search of the perfect pattern. Michelle Lowe-Holder transforms this so-called trash into exquisite treasures, completely turning the idea of ‘waste’ on its head. As has designer Maxjenny’s, whose outerwear is crafted from recycled plastic bottles, so you can literally wear your waste.

BUY VINTAGE AND SECONDHAND. Breathe new life into pre-loved clothes that might have been destined for the landfill.

Materials

All items used to create these pieces were from ethical and sustainable designers and sources. All the items were borrowed and returned to their rightful owners on completion of the exhibition.


Concept

Through a series of images we explore the make up of beauty and personal care products from a different point of view. From ingredients to common bacteria, to the marketing terminology used to engage us. By defining the facts, making a choice as to which products best suit your needs becomes a whole lot easier. It is no longer just down to what skin type you have…

The viewer became part of collection of images on the wall, by having to look into the mirror to read the fine print.


The fine print

Micro in Macro

A macroscopic photograph of methyl-paraben under ultraviolet light is certainly a striking sight and yet it is another controversial ingredient consumers are trying desperately to avoid.

What is a paraben? It is a synthetic preservative used for product longevity as well as our health and safety. Parabens have been found to be oestrogenic from a number of studies and have been detected intact in the breast tissue of women diagnosed with breast cancer; a clear indication that parabens are indeed absorbed through the skin. Methyl-paraben and n-propyl parabens have been detected in 96% of human urine samples assessed in research in the USA.

Preservatives are a necessary evil for skin care products, especially those containing water to keep bacteria in check. Organic certification authorities provide exemptions for a few synthetic preservatives but disallow the more controversial ones and those with proven negative side effects.

 Mix media. Ink & digital collage

 

 

 

 

From the Earth

From a series of images entitled “Strata”, this image demonstrates the relationship between ingredients mined from the earth and how they come to be present in our colour cosmetics.

 There are two main types of pigments.  In-organic (mineral); which are mined from transition metals or organic pigments which can be derived from animal or vegetable sources to synthetic organic pigments which are carbon based and often made from petroleum compounds.

There is still a great deal of confusion surrounding the term “natural makeup” because the assumption is that natural cosmetic ingredients are simply extracted directly from nature and are ready to be used as a cosmetic ingredient. However this is not the case. Take titanium dioxide for instance, a mineral makeup mainstay that starts out with natural titanium. It then undergoes an extraction and purification process in the lab because in its pure form it is contaminated with substances such as mercury and lead. Once the titanium dioxide is free from heavy metals, it is an excellent ingredient used as a colour pigment (white) and it is a well-documented UV protection. Zinc oxide is another great mineral used in numerous cosmetics but it too needs to be synthesized in a lab.

Photography by Betina du Toit, Concept and makeup by Khandiz Joni

 

The Empty Promises (of beauty marketing)

The beauty industry is worth approximately £17 billion in the UK alone. 

With the rise in consumer demand for more natural beauty products big name brands have cottoned on and are “selling” you the idea that their products are natural, even when very small and insignificant amounts of natural ingredients are actually present in their products. This is called “green washing.”

Since the early 1900’s the cosmetic industry has developed into the multi-billion pound industry it is today, selling the idea of beauty as the promise for eternal youth. Convincing us to believe that only expensive looking packaging and price tags would guarantee quality and results. Often these creams are made up of cheap synthetic chemicals that are either inactive or have been proven to have adverse health effects. While it is fair to say that none of the chemicals used in cosmetics are necessarily harmful in the small dosages indicated in their formulations, the issues arise when these ingredients accumulate in the body over time, which they have been proven to do. There are also a number of natural ingredients that are commonly found in cosmetics that can cause irritation.

Simply put, there is no turning back the hands of time and prevention is still your best bet in the quest for youthful skin.

Digital collage

The Truth About Alcohol

There is still a common misconception about the term ‘alcohol’ when it comes to cosmetics and personal care products. Alcohol, or more accurately in this context ethanol, is in fact the chemical compound that causes the notorious skin irritation, dryness and cell damage. Common names indicating its presence are listed as “alcohol”, “alcohol denat”, “ethanol” and “ethyl alcohol”.

 There are also a number of other natural and synthetic ingredients that contain the word “alcohol” but despite their name are completely different chemicals and have a very different set of functions. Cetyl, Stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol are in fact fatty alcohols that do not contain ethanol and you may come across these ingredients on products that are claimed to be ‘alcohol free.’ These chemicals can be animal or vegetable derived. Similarly Phenoxyethanol appears on ‘alcohol free’ labels and once again it does not contain ethanol. It is an aromatic ether alcohol. Starting out as phenol, a toxic white crystalline powder created from benzene, it is then treated with ethylene oxide and an alkali. It is often used as a substitute preservative for paraben-free formulas and it too is a contentious ingredient.

Mixed media. Pencil on paper & digital collage

 

Inspired by the macroscopic image of cometic ingredients, Khandiz came across a beautiful image of a methyl-paraben. Using ink on water colour paper, she created a free-hand art work and overlaid the original image, blending together to two pieces to create the image you see here.

Inspired by the macroscopic image of cometic ingredients, Khandiz came across a beautiful image of a methyl-paraben. Using ink on water colour paper, she created a free-hand art work and overlaid the original image, blending together to two pieces to create the image you see here.

 

Growth

The “flowers” in this image are in fact a microscopic photograph of one the most common bacteria present on our skin: Staphylococcus Aureus. It is frequently found in the nose, respiratory tract and on the skin, and although it is not always pathogenic it can lead to detrimental infections, from relatively minor skin infections such as boils, to more serious infections of the blood, lungs and heart.

This bacterium is also present on dirty makeup brushes and makeup products that you may use your fingers to apply.  This highlights the importance of using appropriate apparatuses such as spatulas or spoons and to decant small amounts of product rather than sticking your fingers in the jar, as well as adhering to the advised shelf life of a product.

Digital collage. Beauty image courtesy of Amanda Fordyce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nano Flowers

This is what the controlled growth of a Zinc Oxide nano flower actually looks like.

Nanoparticles have come under scrutiny in recent years. The deathly pallor that Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide leave in their regular particle size has prompted many cosmetic houses to explore nanoparticles in their formulations. Skincare products are about performance therefore formulators have to pay attention to sensorial properties as well as the functionality of a product.

 The health concern with nanoparticles is that the molecules are small enough to penetrate the skin when they’re not intended to do so. There is still very little known about how nanoparticles could adversely affect us.

Zinc oxide for instance, which is considered the safest sunscreen and has been recommended for use in children because of its outstanding safety record, when present in nanoparticles was found in this study to produce free radicals, which are known to damage DNA and lead to disease. The other concern is that nanoparticles may accumulate in tissue over time leading to more serious potential health issues.

Digital reimaging

Take the time to read the labels of your products, and let your choices reflect your personal needs.

Concept and execution by Khandiz Joni


Concept

This was the first piece Khandiz saw in her mind when she first went to visit the gallery. The idea was always to create something visual, engaging and evocative. It needed to draw the viewer in enough to want to know more. This was the most abstract of the five installations, but was also the one that tied them all together, because it highlighted the integral part that nature plays in our lives, our consumer choices and the sustainability of the planet.

By Khandiz Joni

By Khandiz Joni

The fine print

You must have heard the expression “spring has come early this year?” Well, as it turns out, the beautiful verges and village greens in full bloom may not be as wild as you would expect. In fact, those unseasonal spring flowers could actually be non-native species brought over from warmer climates.

The definition of a wild flower is “a flower that is uncultivated or a flower growing freely without human intervention”.

Many local garden centers will provide flower seeds and plugs that look like these beautiful wild flowers, but they are actually bred to be different colours and serve other purposes, but they are not in fact, the real McCoy.

If you wish to plant flowers, it is important that you identify why. If, for instance, you decide to plant flowers with the idea of making a difference to the ailing bee population, it is crucial that the flowers you select are actually beneficial to the bees.

Ask the supplier about the seed origin (the place in the wild from where the original seeds or plants were collected) and their provenance (the location of the nursery where the plants were grown) to ensure you getting what you really want and actually need. Pollen rich flowers are wonderful attractions for bees and butterflies, but if the seed you are purchasing is covered in harmful pesticides, they could do more harm than good, as pesticides are a huge factor in the decline of our bee population.

Although awareness about the situation is on the increase, sadly there is still a grave disassociation with how integral bees are to our very survival. They help produce at least 75% of our vital crops and without bees and insects it would cost UK farmers £1.8 billion per year to pollinate crops synthetically, and that will no doubt hike food prices beyond consumers reach.

People are taking action but unfortunately, as in so many other areas of conservation, often with little effect, because they have neglected to read the fine print; to just dig a little deeper into the things that really matter.

As the proverb goes “The road to hell is paved with the good intentions.”

Like the bees, wild flowers are essential to biodiversity and the longevity of our planet.

Materials 

All the materials used were repurposed after the show. The flowers and meadow mat were planted.The jars were used for candle making, and the copper pipe will be  used or donated for further artworks.

Meadow Mat kindly sponsored by Harrowden Turf Ltd

Copper pipe

Pickiling jars

Wild Flower plugs from British Wild Flower Plants


Concept

This installation was jointly created by Khandiz and Alice. With both of them being incredibly passionate about the state of the environment, it was an excellent opportunity to combine ideas to create an inspiring piece that demonstrated the enormity of the problem and the disconnect we have with single use plastics, this piece was designed to demonstrate that plastics can indeed have a second life, but we need to reengage our relationship with this incredible product. Let us not standby and simply watch the sea change to nothing more than an ocean of plastic waste. The sounds of the crashing ocean was used to add impact to the piece.

The fine print

Plastic. What once began as a revolutionary product has become ubiquitous and throwaway, with devastating impact.

With nearly 300 million tons of plastic produced worldwide each year, and of that staggering figure, 50% of it is only used once, either ending up in landfill or choking up the Ocean. Plastic simply doesn’t bio degrade; it just breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces leaking dangerous toxins into the earth and slowly killing wild life, and eventually we end up ingesting it too.

If we consider that a plastic bag has an average ‘working life’ of 15 minutes, and that in 2014 retailers handed out a staggering 7.6 billion bags, it certainly starts putting things into a little more perspective. When the 5p charge for branded plastic bags was introduced in late 2015, there was a reported 78% drop in usage in the first month alone. Proving that if it hits the pocket, it hits home.

Plastic straws in our cocktail or smoothie or the cling film that covers our fruit and vegetables are some of the worst offenders. They are also more often than not totally unnecessary and are unrecyclable.

Speaking of recycling, while the concept is becoming second nature in our homes, few of us really investigate our local borough’s recycling parameters. Sadly this can often render entire bins destined for landfill anyway, because if your recycling is “contaminated” it cannot be recycled.

It takes 75% less energy to recycle plastic than it does to make it from raw ingredients, yet only 5% of plastic is recovered (reused and/or recycled). Carrying water around with us isn’t a new concept. But containing it in plastic is. Reusing a plastic water bottle is one of the easiest things we can do, yet 60 million bottles are discarded daily worldwide. Do you need more compelling reasons to simply start reusing more plastic?

The allure of convenience and the out-of-sight-out-of-mind nature of plastic’s negative impact has caused us to become lazy and complacent. But we the consumers, do have the power to effect change. Already demonstrating this are the growing number of innovative designers using upcycled and recycled plastics to make beautiful things for us to love and enjoy for years to come.

 Maria Papadimitriou’s label Plastic Seconds, upcycles the unrecyclable into colourful pieces of jewellery. Other forward thinking companies like Bionic Yarn turn plastic from the oceans into yarn, which finds it’s way into a myriad of products, from G-Star jeans to Adidas trainers.

Earrings by Plastic Seconds

Earrings by Plastic Seconds

Materials 

The structure of the wave was made from chicken wire. 

Khandiz and Alice collected plastics from their homes and several items were found along the shores of the Isle of Skye and around the streets of London.

Earrings supplied by Plastic Seconds.

All the plastic was disposed of responsibly after the exhibition and the chicken wire has been kept for repurposing.