Local Music: Cloakroom Q

Photo by Carrie Davenport

Cloakroom Q are a Belfast based band that have been on the scene since late 2016. In the past four years they have built up a signature art-rock/ neo psychedelia sound, and they have just released their new single ‘Nowhere to Spit’. Cloakroom Q spoke to The Jumble Magazine about finding their sound, their upcoming debut album, and working through the lock down. 

We would describe our music as Instinctive, theatrical and occasionally tongue-in-cheek.

Each of us have our own unique inspirations when it comes to songwriting, but when we put them all together it’s this unspoken language; we improvise and bat ideas off one another for hours on end, and that keeps us going. Plus it’s just incredibly fun to make music with your close friends.

Our upcoming debut album is what we’re most proud of right now, we feel it represents us well as songwriters and are very excited for everyone else to hear it. Listeners should start out with our brand-new single ‘Nowhere To Spit’ to get into our music, it’s a hint towards new sonic directions for us than people have heard before (on earlier favourites such as ‘Leave Me At Lusk’ or ‘People With Energy’)

This is an exciting time for us, we’ve got a lot of announcements coming very soon. Our new single is kicking off a cycle of releases that will continue on for the rest of the year: a video for ‘Nowhere To Spit’ will be dropping on the 7th of August, followed by another single shortly after, all of course pointing towards our forthcoming debut album ‘Yes, Again’ (coming soon).

Photo by Carrie Davenport

We’re so glad to have been working with three fantastic filmmakers: Our own Conall Coulter/Ken Dubuc has outdone himself yet again with two raw, beautiful music videos; Eanna Mac Cana, who has created a series of truly spectacular visualisations of the album that we can’t wait to share. Also coming will be a spellbinding and harrowing video from James Morrison. Each of these guys have, in their own unique way, captured the soul of the music and have really helped the music on the album spread its wings.

During the lock down, there’ve been so many great live-streamed concerts to tide the gig goers and artists over, but it’s terrible that people whose livelihood comes from the live music industry have had to suffer. Like everyone else, we were all separated for months this year, but we’ve been doing anything we can at home: side-projects, home demos and sending each other files back and forth to make an unplugged version of a song for the NI Unplugged compilation back in May.  We’ve actually managed to become quite prolific being left to our own devices this long

Review of ‘Nowhere to Spit’

‘Nowhere To Spit’ starts off soothing and slow, but builds up to create a more tense feeling as the vocals come in. The track is cinematic and dramatic, but takes a surprising turn into something more uplifting about halfway through with bursts of horns bouncing off of sombre vocals. Fans of early Arcade Fire, Bright Eyes, and Neutral Milk Hotel will enjoy this track and its offbeat sound.

You can keep up with Cloakroom Q on Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, and Bandcamp.

You can also listen to ‘Nowhere to Spit’ on The Jumble Magazine Local Music Playlist.

Review by Sam Dineen

Snapping into a New Reality

Photo by Nigel McDowell

By Caoimhe Clements

Hearing the vibrate and seeing my phone screen light upAn email appeared; My university lectures were going online. A million thoughts and emotions were running through not just my head, but the heads of hundreds of students like me. Challenges were being created and we had to overcome them.

I’m Caoimhe Clements, a 22-year-old Photographer from Co. Down. I’m studying Photography with Video at Ulster University Belfast. In September I will be embarking on my Final Year as an Undergraduate. The last few months have been interesting. I’ve had to find new ways to adapt. But I’m  grateful that I get to do what I love, even during a pandemic. 

I want to share with YOU how I turned this negative experience into a positive growth!

  1. Archive Photography

Being a photographer always thrills me. I love documenting the world and the issues in it; Educating people through a camera. Photography is powerful.  It was not so easy back in March – when it was announced that we were going into lock down. It made me question how I was going to continue my Projects for University and Personal Projects. The answer was Archive Photography. 

And no, not the type of archives that you are thinking off – my own Personal Archive Photographs. This changed the way I saw Photography. It was about digging up my experiences, reliving memories and giving my work that depth that it deserves. 

A current project of mine is called ‘A Global Crisis’, the journey of how Climate Change will be a health issue in the future. From plastic pollution entering into our food chains to extreme weather threatens our cities and wellbeing of people. I am using my archive images from my travels around the world to tell these stories and issues. 

This approach has also made me re-think my experiences. I have older images from Venice that actually showcase rising sea levels – water rushing into buildings. I would never have thought to include this if I didn’t rethink the way I approach this project. 

While I am a discovering new strengths and new ways to continue my photography practice here are things YOU can do with ‘Archive Photography’:

  • Making Scrapbooks

To ease feelings of anxiety that may come with these bizarre times, I recommend creating scrapbooks of your memories, they can be filled with anything from travels to better days with your friends and family. This will give you an opportunity to go through old images, maybe find photos you didn’t realise you had, which can help us to keep in mind that better days are  yet to come in the future. 

  • Then vs Now Shots 

Believe it or not, we are living through history. Fifty years  down the line people will be learning about what we are experiencing right now! The world has transformed with signs that read ‘Stay 2 metres apart’ or ‘Wash your hands’.  Why not photograph places and environments now that you have in the past, to show the change in the world? 

Why do this? It could be the archives of the future! These images could potentially show people in the future how our lives changed because of this pandemic. 

  • Printing Photos

I always think everyone should print their photos – believe me when I say printed photos will always look better than just looking at  photos on a screen. Celebrate your photography skills, frame your photos and display them as wall art. 

At the end of the day – be proud of your photos, they hold memories and memories deserve to be printed whether it is in a book or on your walls. 

  • Online Courses

As an artist, I am never done learning. Even when I graduate next summer with my photography degree – there will still be new things to learn. Isn’t that the beauty of life?

So, I challenge you to think of one thing you are curious about, or something you always wanted to learn.  I challenge you not to say things like  ‘I’m too busy’ or ‘I’m too old for that’ – you are never too busy or too old to unlock your true potential. Believe in yourself. 

  • The Open University

The Open University is a brilliant platform that offers over 700 free courses in 8 different subject areas. I am currently doing one of the free courses about Renewable Energy – this has linked in with my research for my project ‘A Global Crisis’.  This platform has helped me add depth to my research, making my time in lock down more beneficial and that will help my future self. 

  • Reimagine Remake Replay

Reimagine Remake Replay is a programme based in NI which has the purpose of connecting young people with museums and heritage through writing, technology and social media. 

I first met this lovely team at Belfast Design Week in 2019. During lock down I completed their creative writing course and it gave me the confidence in my writing to start my own blog which will be launching later in the summer. Their courses are completely free and at the end you get a digital badge as evidence that you completed the course. This badge you can put on your C.V or on your Linkedln. If you are an artist or interested in art, please go check out their free courses. It might just help you to develop a new skill or improve one you already have! 

This pandemic experience can be really hard at times, but it is possible to take that negative energy and make it into something positive. Set yourself a challenge and learn something new, feed your curiosity and expand your knowledge. It can be as little as reading more or doing an online course. Use this time wisely and I hope you find your true potential!

Check out more of Caoimhe’s work on Instagram .

Artist Profile: Zoe McSparron

Zoe McSparron is an artist and recent graduate from the BA Fine Art course at Ulster University, Zoe is currently based in Derry/Londonderry and her practice primarily specialises in painting, consisting of both works on canvas and on paper. The parallel relationship between place and self becomes a key theme throughout her work. Zoe chatted to The Jumble Magazine about graduating in lock down, her local art scene, and finding inspiration in experience.

I would describe my art as vibrant, playful and ambiguous; I like to use painting as a mode to share my passions, excitements and feelings with others in a way that I think can be even more powerful than storytelling. 

“I am always looking for new and unique experiences; for different places to see and explore.”

Even during an experience, my mind is racing with countless possible ideas about how this could be evoked through my art. I get so excited by the idea of sharing these experiences with people.

I’m intrigued by how we can install ourselves in different places and how a place can affect our personal and emotional consciousness. Some places are familiar and comfortable to us, and others are new and foreign. Ironically, some places can be a combination of both. It is those contrasting and confusing feelings associated with an experience of comfort yet dis-belonging that I am focused on at the moment.

I hope to evoke the feelings related to each experience in consideration through my work, as I have always been very interested in the power of viewing a work of art.

I hope to create a particular experience for the viewer – may it be a similar experience to what I am visually reflecting upon, or one which is entirely personal to them. Somewhat connecting subjectively with the works, mentally and physically. I aim to do this through establishing a playful relationship between the ambiguous and idiosyncratic compositions, alongside a play of colour and paint density.

My work is more than often derived from a personal experience or the feelings associated with an experience. They become a sort of visual insight to my perception of a place. Through a deconstruction and abstraction of personal imagery and sketches, I am able to detach myself from the realistic structure of the image or place itself; exposing the forms, lines, shadows and shapes, allowing the function of the paint, colour, and new found composition, to reflect my emotional consciousness associated with the personal experience.

The lock down has significantly impacted my practice. I’m a 2020 graduate (that unfortunate bunch). Which meant we had to pack up and leave our lovely bright and airy Belfast School of art studios back in March. This was truly heartbreaking for all of us and significantly impacted my motivation to keep going and create. I tried to create in small amounts; little and often. That’s all I could manage for a while. My main focus was not to let the energy of final year dissolve; I wanted to maintain some sort of momentum, however minimal that may be. I am lucky enough to have a decent space to work in at home which I have been so grateful for.

Despite how hard this has been, I have had to look at the positives too; it has allowed me to simplify my outlook on the world and life, and really appreciate the small things. The lock down has inspired me to create, and consider aspects of my own home and how I am feeling throughout this.

Northern Ireland has a unique art scene which is filled with extremely driven and determined artists from all genres and disciplines. I feel it is quite hard to pursue a career as an artist in NI, but this makes artists here so much more hardworking and resilient. I think these traits become evident throughout the exhibitions and performances which take place all over NI. I find this particularly inspiring and motivating. The NI art scene is getting bigger, better and bolder every day. Belfast and Derry/Londonderry both have so much potential for further artistic growth and I am excited to see and be a part of what comes next.

You can find more of Zoe’s art on Instagram or at zoemcsparron.co.uk

Artist Profile: Hephee

Stephen Heffernan (who makes art under the name Hephee)  lives and works in Dublin as a designer, art director, and illustrator.  Stephen chatted to The Jumble about the Dublin art scene and finding inspiration in day to day communication. 

I feel that my art is based around the idea of communicating an immediate, accessible message – whether it’s a stupid joke or something more serious.

I find it hard to put my finger on what I find inspiring – I feel like a lot of the stuff I make is based around human interaction and how people communicate with each other, so I suppose people are a big inspiration! I also love looking at other people’s work and seeing people do well in their own craft, I think it’s so inspiring watching people do what they love and then seeing the public/brands love it back. In my spare time I love to create things and learn new ways of creating things. I’m a big fan of working with my hands, painting outdoors etc. but also spend a lot of time working digitally.

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This is something that people say to me a lot, but I find that generally everyone has a different idea about what makes the stuff I make personal to me, which is interesting. I never really tried to go for a specific style with my art, I more so try to communicate ideas in my head in a simple, comfortable way. I know I’m not reinventing the wheel with the work that I do but what makes me proud of it is that I do it the way I want.

To be honest, I’ve been making so much more work during lock down. I’ve found it useful to have all this extra time (not to say that there hasn’t been times where its been utter shite) but in general it’s made me slow down with a lot of life stuff; which has made me appreciate the incredibly lucky position I’m in and how much I love what I do.

The local art scene may seem intimidating at first,  but everyone is so friendly and helpful. It’s rare to meet someone in the creative scene in Dublin who isn’t.  Any time I’ve needed help with something/ been trying to learn something new I always find so many people who are ready and willing, which is amazing!

In terms of exhibitions; I’m currently in the Creatives Against Covid exhibition that’s running in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin until the end of August.

You can check out more of Stephen’s work here.

Artist Profile: Ciaraíoch

Ciara, who works under the name Ciaraíoch, is an artist living in Kerry who specialises in illustration and cartoon work. Ciara also works with printmaking, sculpture, and craftwork that she  “foists upon unsuspecting friends and family as politely accepted but suspiciously regarded gifts”. Ciara spoke to The Jumble about creating art with a message of social justice and the recent lock down. 

I’d describe my art as a mix of the silly and the serious, with a splash of history, mythology, and wildlife.

For cartoon work, I’m inspired by anything that stokes my own emotions, particularly issues around social justice and feminism. For illustration work, inspiration comes from a mix of interesting people from history and mythology, and the landscape and wildlife that I’m lucky to be surrounded by. And often it’s just seeing other people make cool things and wanting to have a go, too – I’ll try pretty much anything.

It’s not unique to my own work, but I like to try and find something funny to highlight the serious.

“Most of my cartoon work is to do with social justice issues in Ireland, and I try to use them to inform with whatever bit of information I’ve learned from others, as well as to draw attention to issues I think are important.”

The illustration work is usually of people I personally find interesting or inspiring, and I’m often drawn to people who perhaps haven’t had the same level of recognition or fame as others.

I think the lock down has improved my ability to create, purely because I’ve had more time to read and learn and find things that make me want to put pencil to paper. It’s an escape from reality, even for a small while.

When it comes to the local art scene, I’m not personally involved, but in Tralee, the nearest town to me, the art scene always seems very inclusive and welcoming to everyone. There’s no sense of snobbery or exclusivity about it, and that’s the way it should be. There’s room for everyone.

You can find more of Ciara’s work on Twitter and Instagram.

Artist Profile: Ruairi McGoldrick

Ruairi McGoldrick is a student at Belfast School of Art who has just finished second year Graphic Design and Illustration. Ruairi chatted to The Jumble Magazine about drawing inspiration from media and franchises, creating characters, and the Belfast art scene. 

Describing my art can be so hard because I say my art is one way, then I go and create something that’s the complete opposite of what I said. I love colour, but my favourite pieces tend to be black and white sketches of people or characters. I’m very much a person who loves a character illustration. 

I’ve always said that my art is inspired by stories. When I look at any piece of art I imagine where it fits into a story or what’s being told by it. I love creating characters and making up backstories for them or thinking of a landscape that’s part of whatever tale I conjured up in my head while I was bored.

“So when I’m illustrating I usually like to have multiple artworks connected to each other, or as pieces of a bigger group that make the most sense when they’re together.”

I love books, comics, films and games, so that’s probably where my obsession with story building comes from. 

My work is normally based on something that I have a deep interest or knowledge in. It could be astrology or space themed, characters from my favourite games or films, or just an idea I came up with by combining things I’ve seen in the past. If it’s landscape or scene, it probably originated from the frame in a movie, and then after being combined with a few other scenes and artworks, I’ll most likely forget where all of it came from and be left with this vision in my mind that makes me think “that’s interesting, I should draw that!” I have a particular style of illustrating that I’ve worked on and like to use to give my art the feeling of it being ‘mine’. It’s sketchy and involves a lot of line work and cross hatching for the tones and shadows, but I’ve found I prefer it far better than any other kind of shading I’ve tried. 

At the start of the lock down, I couldn’t believe the amount of illustrating I was doing. I still had to finish my projects for class, but with all the free time I had from no job or travelling or visiting people, I just filled my time by creating all the art I had inside my head but never got to spend time thinking about. I honestly was loving it and I also noticed how I wasn’t as upset about being kept inside as my friends seemed to be, it was almost like the break from day to day life that I didn’t know I needed. Of course all that ended with my work opening back up and things starting to return to normal, but I’m glad I had that time to pause everything else and just create. 

When I think about all of the amazing local artist’s I’ve seen since moving to Belfast and starting university, it makes me smile because I never knew there was this much creativity and art in Northern Ireland. I hadn’t really given much thought back in school to what career I’d have or where I’d be when I was older, but I never would’ve guessed that Belfast would have so many options for an artist. I just love that there’s so much local talent to get to know and learn from.

You can check out more of Ruairi’s work on Instagram.