Thursday, 26 November 2009

Stitch and Style @ Ten Square - 25/11/09

Stitch and Style aims to raise awareness of textile waste by encouraging people to restyle and recycle old clothing. This event held a Christmas-themed fashion show filled with party dresses, beautiful hats by Gráinne Maher and 'rain skirts.' It also hosted a workshop to provide customising advice and a recycled fashion fair (The Rusty Zip took part in the show and participated in the fair. I was helping on the stall and taking pics in between so this is just a snippet of the action!)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Monday, 2 November 2009

Fast Fashion Interviews Hugh Brown

The talented Hugh Brown aka Jitterbug Jackson of Circus Bone Idle shares his inspirations and dandy-meets-circus style. Photos taken at The Crown Liquor Saloon

What is your job and how did you get into it?

I work as an entertainer and have done so for 15 years. As a kid I used to do pantomime in a local church but I never really thought you could make a living. I tried the civil service and hated it then I heard about a performing arts course. Through that I met the circus community in Belfast and it opened up into the theatre world. Good points to mention is that I’m self-employed and I decide how much work to do and when. I also like using my imagination by creating new shows and performances and it is wonderful to travel and tour with a show. Bad points include the whole business side of it and it is hard to settle down, which can have a negative effect on relationships.

Favourite places to perform and worst gig?

Favourite place to perform is Cambodia I’ve been there 4 times.On one occasion I was lucky enough to perform in a village in the middle of nowhere. People there hadn’t seen westerners before never mind a couple of Irish clowns. I also taught circus to street children and continue to do so as much as possible with the organisation M'Lop Tapang ( The most rewarding and challenging work is bed-side theatre with the company Cahoots NI
( This involves touring hospitals with a flea circus and entertaining children and their families. Other places to mention include Australia at the Woodford Folk Festival (, Sardinia and most recently, a dream for me, to tread the boards of Belfast’s Grand Opera House. The worst gig I’ve experienced was this Summer in Portrush amphitheatre. It was a nightmare because it was the windiest day ever!

Who or what do you look to for inspiration?

The great silent clowns - Chaplin, Jacques Tati, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy. More recently- James Thiérrée (Chaplin’s grandson) and the Russian clown Slava Polunin.

Describe your personal style.

Vintage, dandy-esque, playful and eclectic. I love the colour turquoise.

What is your favourite item and do you collect anything?

My favourite item is my mustard trilby hat. I have a vast hat collection including pork pies and top hats, finding them in markets and specialist shops at home and abroad. My favourite shoe shops are located in London and Zurich... I also collect records, CDs, lamps, vintage suitcases and other props for my shows.

What music are you listening to?

Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Jamie T, King Creosote, Prefab Sprout, Talk Talk, The Acorn, The Blue Nile, The Decemberists, The Walkmen, Soft Machine and Sweet Billy Pilgrim. I'm also listening to local band Katie and the Carnival. I need to learn the songs as I am going to be drumming with them.

Favourite authors/books?

Haruki Murakami, George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, Irving Welsh, Ken Kesey. Books to recommend - The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami.

Describe your dream day off.

I’d wake-up to a champagne and Ulster Fry breakfast with a loved one. Go snorkelling in the warm waters of Sardinia. In the afternoon lunch at the Mourne Seafood restaurant in Dundrum and shopping in New York, then watch Spurs at White Hart Lane. I would dine at the Holy Cow in Sihanoukville Cambodia and take a scenic walk at Maghera Bay in Donegal. After a long trip I’d finish with a drink in Nancy’s Bar Ardara and sleep nearby at Woodhill House.

Where do you like to go in Belfast?

I love the QFT and I’d have a pint of Guinness in any of these haunts - The Crown, Lavery’s, The John Hewitt, The Pavillion, Roost and the Oak Lounge inside The Errigle Inn. Restaurants - The Ginger Tree (I love Japanese food), Graffiti, Bengal Brassiere and Cracaw City. I like to shop in The Rusty Zip, The Apple Store and charity shops.

Which do you prefer, circus or theatre?

I love both but sometimes they are such different worlds. Within circus there is a lot of support and skill-sharing. The theatre world seems to be more competitive and cut-throat but this brings its own important challenges. My company Circus Bone Idle( seeks to take inspiration from these two disciplines and also add to the mix carnival and music. My most recent work has been solo, performing as the character Jitterbug Jackson, and has led to me also performing in Cabaret alot more. All these different worlds hold an interest for me. There is a level of fitness you need to maintain and the fear is not being healthy enough to perform in later life. I’ve always wanted to perform and I hope to continue right up to when the time comes for my curtains to close!

Jitterbug Jackson Image by Richard Watson