A Populist Façade: “Make America Great Again”

As stated by Wikipedia, Populism is a mode of political communication that appeals to the “common man,” often contrasted with the enemy of the “privileged elite.”‘ In other words, populism is a style or strategy used by politicians to appeal to the majority of the population, by addressing significant grievances in society and broadening their demographic. An accessible example is UKIP; by utilising the concern of immigration throughout the UK, the party were able to advocate the Vote Leave campaign and succeed in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. There is growing debate as to whether US President Donald Trump is a Populist: with his inclusive attitude to a common goal to “make America great again” juxtaposed with his extreme anti- immigration, low taxation and deregulation, it blurs the lines between Trump’s populist and elitist essence.

trump 2The famous line “make America great again” gave the common voter a buzz. Fuelled by the significant patriotism in the USA, this tagline resonated heavily with the common man and essentially won Trump the election. In my opinion, this phrase is one of the greatest examples of populist propaganda in recent years. Through the vague language, the approach to making America great is malleable and morphs to suit each voter accordingly, without actually unveiling Trump’s approach to the endeavour. Greatness differs from person to person, but manages to blur the lines between each minority group and create a society with an inclusive façade. I am sure that when just under 30% of Hispanic voters voted for Trump, they did not anticipate the President to attempt to build a wall between the US and Mexico. That’s just the genius of it; no one actually knew how Trump would make America great again, but still believed he would.

At a glance, Trump seems to favour the social elite with significant tax cuts and deregulation policies. This being said, other groups in society have been addressed amongst Trump’s policies through the protection for entitlements for the elderly and a claimed promise of a free- market system to universal healthcare in response to repealing Obamacare. Instead of taking a traditional populist approach by being a centrist solution to popular grievances, Trump has taken extreme pledges to appeal to a broad range of societal groups, to once again give a populist façade. The reality is that it is near impossible to appease both the working class and elite simultaneously and completely, especially with harshly Conservative policies the Republican Party present

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Moreover, it cannot be ignored that Trump did not actually gain the popular vote in the 2016 Presidential Election. This arouses the debate whether Trump attempted populism and abandoned it when he did not obtain support from the majority, or whether he never had the intention of appealing to the “common man” in the first place.

To conclude: Trump is not a populist and he never was. The endorsement of hatred from celebrities, demonstrations throughout the world against his Presidency, it seems to me he has more enemies than friends. Furthermore, it is one thing making claims and advocating the interests of the working class, but has the President actually done anything to help? With his tactical “make America great again”, Trump has injected the West with an elitist hunger, far from populism.

Angel Witney

@angelxwitney

Life So Far Volume 01

Much like many other young adults my early life was a blur, but not for the same reasons. All of my experiences as a young child have been verbally passed on second hand, told by my parents. It is through these vision-like memories, seeming more like movie scenes than actual memories, that I have accumulated an identity for my past and heritage.

My Mum was engaged to my Dad when she was 16; a common wedding gift in my culture being gold and golden jewellery. She gave birth to my sister at 18 years old and had me a year later. It was at this time my Mum was forced to sell all of her golden wedding gifts to fund a full-fledged immigration attempt, completely uprooting her life at an age almost identical to mine. That was when the life familiar to me now began, being brought to the UK at a measly 30 days old.

I remind myself of this tale as I try to reconnect to my home country’s culture, and as I try to claw through the mist and establish my ethnic identity. In both the country my family found refuge, and the land I am native to, I am deemed a ‘foreigner’. I struggled with the acceptance of my cultural persona, provoking me to reject my heritage at a younger age; telling people England was my birthplace, totally in denial of my true ethnicity. I am still unsure whether this attitude was motivated by the repeated racism I encountered or simply the disconnection I felt towards my parents’ culture.

I was constantly surrounded by racism. Digesting racist slurs and even multiple physical attacks became a normality, and all due to my Middle Eastern origin. I began to hate where I was from, and refused to converse with my parents in their native language. This proved divisive due to both my parents’ weak grasp of English and the hurtful truth that their son did not embrace his Arabic culture. Alternatively, my sisters exercised their Arabic origins with pride, widening the divide and lack of cohesion between myself, my parents and their heritage. I was poisoned by the racism I had endured and immersed myself in the false reality that my Middle Eastern culture was wrong because it was ‘un-British’. It is still on my guilty conscience that I had attacked and blamed my parents for simply being who they are.

This racist reality began to fade as I found more accepting friends, and those exercising the racism were expelled from my life through school exclusion, prison sentences, leg tags- that kind of thing. It had become apparent that all of the people who had been intolerant of mine and my family’s ethnicity had ultimately become failures; this being an extremely self- expressive symbol in my life.

It was finally with my new group of friends and the eradication of the root cause of my racist trauma that I actually started enjoying life. I played drums in a band, fell in love with writing poetry and became interested in pursuing girls for the first time in my life. I am not sure whether these things were a catalyst for my new-found self confidence, or vice versa, but I know that it was at this point, between the ages of 14 and 16, that I made the most progress in moulding myself into the person I am today. My whole life revolved around partying and having sex with girls, whilst trying to build some sort of subliminal self-image and persona that I desired to project. It may seem dull that these were my main priorities, but in actuality, they were the best years of my life.

Whilst I was growing this self-mastered persona, my home life consisted of debating Middle Eastern politics with my Dad, deeply interested in the implications of the war in our native country. This is when my undying love for politics and foreign affairs was birthed; a love that has stayed with me throughout the rest of my life.

After achieving good GCSE results and making bonds with lifelong friends, it seemed that my life was thriving, and I finally had a feeling of belonging that I had never really experienced in my life. Contrarily, my family life began to slowly deteriorate, as my parents fought daily over my Dad’s actions and their financial situation.

As the failure of my parents’ relationship became more apparent to me, I began to rewrite the hazy naïve memoirs of my Mum and Dad as loving soulmates, that one conjures up as a young child, and realised the true nature of their relationship. When my family first immigrated to the UK, my Dad studied English followed by a vocation as a chef, which he later used to open his own restaurant. Meanwhile, my Mum, in her late 20s had to grasp English from next door neighbours and her own children, the only money she had was what was Dad gave access to her, and she did not know how to drive. With a more mature mind, I can recognise that my Mum felt trapped; being with a man that cheated on her, being responsible for three children with no job or money of her own.

It seemed like mine and my sisters’ independence and maturity correlated with that of my Mum’s, as she rose from the ashes and worked to pay for herself to study at college, made new friends and saved up to purchase her own car. My Mum is my lifelong role model without a doubt, overcoming so many hardships and eventually finding a job as a newscaster and moving me and my sisters to London. This was where my life as I come to know it now, truly began.

As discussed before, my life previous to moving to London revolved simply around going to gigs and parties with friends and talking to girls. It was not until after I moved down South that I truly learnt what struggle meant, not only from experiencing it myself, but also by seeing those around me struggle. To exacerbate my position, I was in a terribly abusive relationship for 4 months just after I moved to London and attended one of the worst colleges in the city.

My confident nature stuck with me from my previous home, and I started college wide eyed and seeking friends instantly. I planned to stick by the first people to show friendliness, and these people just so happened to be drug dealers, killers and fraudsters. They would stare me down every time I got lunch, their eyes following me until I left. This was a usual occurrence until one day I answered a phone call from my Mum in Arabic, to which one of the boys interrupted with arms outstretched exclaiming “Ahhhh you’re one of us brother I didn’t know you were Arab! We were planning on robbing you we thought you were some white boy”. Despite being scarily backhanded, this was one of the first experiences where my Arabic heritage had been viewed as a positive, which gave me a comforting warmth and made me ardently stick with these people.

I changed a lot in the next few months; my style altered, my music taste differed, I began to try drugs (something I was always starkly against), even the way I spoke became more typically ‘London-ised’. Spending every day with my newfound friends soon revealed their true selves. I would remark that I was hungry and they’d buy pizza for the entire class. I would express my dislike for someone and they would all threaten to attack them on their way home. I’d be invited to what I thought was a house party, which actually proved to be held at huge apartments in central London, rented for two nights for nonstop parties and then abandoned. People were genuinely afraid of us and would attempt to join our ‘friendship group’, which I soon realised was a gang.

This group of boys saw each other as a family, something that really gelled with me due to my previous difficulties feeling like I belonged to a family. This is when I was ‘brought in’ to make money with them. The dealers of the gang offered me drugs to sell with them on a weekly basis. It was the fraudsters who I had become closest with due to a mutual love of fashion; they offered to teach me how to execute fraud in order to make money, which was the path I chose. A brief summary of it was that everyone had a ‘line’ which often meant people would call me asking me to buy things for them at a drastically cheaper price, in return I got paid by them for committing the fraud. This uncomplicated, unfatiguing service bought me anything I wanted: the best nights out, coolest clothes and food whenever and wherever I wanted. However, the most significant outcome for me was that I got to pay my Mum’s rent under the guise of a bar job I had quit after a month. Everything seemed to be going well, until the reality of these crimes started to become apparent.

One of the fraudsters I was friends with got caught and imprisoned for 7 years. I witnessed another boy I knew get stabbed as I was waving him goodbye on a bus in Acton. I went from being bullied every day and being seen as weak, to viewing true weakness. 19 year old boys from estates losing their entire futures over money and conflicts. It was after one of my closest friends was stabbed in a barbershop in West London the other boys in the gang sat me down, gave me a knife and said “he was your boy you have to do it or they’ll fuck you too”. That was when it all hit me. The life I had been living and loving for the past year was sugar coated with the money and parties, providing a veil from this reality. My reality. By default, I had immersed myself in crime and murder despite my innocent intentions. I don’t think that feeling will ever leave me, and has provoked me to develop a deeply rooted scepticism of everyone I meet. Even people I know in my heart are good, I struggle not to distance myself slightly. It might be due to the shock realisation that my so called friends were in fact criminals, or the experience of true cold-blooded murder that has moulded me this way, or maybe both, or perhaps I’m still dealing with it. My intentions were merely to make money and have fun. I left that knife on the chicken shop table and haven’t spoken to most of those boys since that day.

I am now moving out to my own place, was the only one in my entire group of friends that has made it to university, I’ve revitalised old relationships and worked in a challenging, interesting job all summer. Life is moving fast, I’m growing up, but new experiences shape you for the better, and that’s my life so far.

Artist of the Week: Liv Jarman

I feel that photography is an escape from the real world for me. I can capture people through the beauty I see them in.”

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Liv Jarman is an inspiring young portrait photographer from Birmingham that is currently exploring different aspects of photography. At the age of 17, Liv has done photography around 6 years in and outside school, as well as currently studying art.

“The one thing that I truly value about photography or any art form is that there are no boundaries for what you can do with it.”

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Liv was surprisingly inspired by the modelling industry to start photography.

“I found it compelling and captivating how photographers such as David Bailey and Corinne Day captured the purity and gracefulness of the models.”

Liv hopes to study photography at Manchester university next year.

Find Liv on twitter @livv4everr for more of her work.

Nolan’s Dunkirk

I sat down in the cinema on a dreary afternoon with a tube of Pringles and Dr Pepper from Tesco, because as if I am going to spend a fiver on popcorn and diluted Pespsi. I was surprised that my friend and I were the only audience members under the age of 50; it then struck me that not everyone had come to see Dunkirk for the beautiful young male cast, but in fact for the infamous story.

The film explores the evacuation of soldiers during World War II from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, in the north of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940. Christopher Nolan adopts this heroic tale and intertwines all attributes to this tremendous success by showing the evacuation from the point of view of the Air force, British civilians and soldiers. The fluid interchange between each narrative voice was beautiful, and portrayed the cohesive efforts of the evacuation perfectly. Furthermore, the various storylines mirrored each other in their emotional journey by having everything go sour crescendo into a universal triumph. This embellished the audience’s emotional journey and created the intense atmosphere.

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Not only was the concept infamous, the cast was pretty impressive too. Britain’s much-loved Tom Hardy presents the role of a spitfire fighter, encompassing both the focus and fear of a World War Two pilot. These were the most aesthetic scenes to watch; with their extreme realism, I genuinely forgot it was not real flight footage. Mark Rylance is always a treat to see on the big screen. His portrayal of a humble Englishman sailing to Dunkirk beach was as moving as it was engaging, especially his scenes with Cilian Murphy’s washed up shell-shocked soldier, where we see the brutally honest repercussions of war. Harry Styles’ movie debut was more impressive than anticipated as he presents a British soldier alongside the film’s protagonist Fionn Whitehead,  where we see the youth of some of the war’s victims.

Nolan presented the atmosphere of war beautifully with lengthy silences and minimal dialogue between characters, contrasted with the overpowering sounds of gun shots and bombs. This dichotomy kept the audience engaged and on the edge of their seat throughout. My favourite aspect of the film was how the cinematics communicated the story without requiring copious amounts of speech; the dreary grey sky, rocky waters and vast open stretch of land presented the chill of isolation. Moreover, Harry Styles eating jam on toast was really a sight to behold.

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The soundtrack to the film mirrors the intensity perfectly. With rapid string overtures over the film’s energetic scenes, everything seemed so incredibly heightened and added to the realism of Dunkirk. The classic orchestral flavours mirrored the film’s context and immersed us into the historic quality of the storyline. Similarly, the simplicity of the background music did not overpower the picture at all, and complimented the ambiguous, tense vibe Dunkirk amplified.

My favourite part of the film had to be (and yes, spoiler alert) the end shot of Tom Hardy standing next to his ablaze spitfire, facing the German front as they dragged him away. It was honestly heart breaking to see the reality that the war’s heroes sacrificed themselves for their country.

By the time the movie had ended I was in awe. I really was not expecting the film to emotionally affect me as much as it did, not to mention those around me in the cinema. The whole audience was in floods of tears and applause, truly a breath taking piece of cinema and an insanely heroic story.

Angel Witney

@angelxwitney

 

Artist of the Week: Grace Patey

“In a nutshell my work is self obsessed and pretentious. I think it’s important to always think you’re the coolest person in the room and I’ve worked very hard at manifesting this because as all work is a form of self portraiture I can’t see why anyone would want to look at anything that wasn’t the hippest most happenin’ piece in the gallery.”
Sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll is a part of it, self discovery and personal growth is another but Grace’s main aim is to document his experiences as they happen in some kind of language that only resonates with himself, that no one else will ever fully understand.
“I’d be lying if I said I even knew the full extent of what my work means, not until months later at least.”
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“Manet’s painting of Olympia was a massive turning point for my work, the idea of this secret handshake that has passed from artist to artist for centuries which then in turn prompted the same running theme with The Kiss – and even more recently The Thinker, gave many, many works some elite high culture snobbery to them and I wanted in.”
Grace is quite the fan of Banksy’s Picasso slab which reads something along the lines of ‘the good artists borrow but the great artists steal.’
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“The universe likes to play with me, and I only entertain it. There’s a time and a place for heart wrenching work but I’m not one to dwell on negativity, but I’d like to think my work keeps people on their toes because I am the universe and I am laughing at you in the same way the universe is laughing at me.”
Find more of Grace’s work on her website https://youthpleasure.wixsite.com/gracepateyartist

Inside the Musical Brilliance of King Krule

Archy Marshall’s alternate musical persona King Krule has made an awe-consuming return to the music scene this past week. Following up his collaborative single ‘Blue Train Lines’ released earlier this year, King Krule has given fans another flavour of his bluesy electronic sound with ‘Czech One’.

The track itself begins with a chilling opening, mirroring the synth sounds of James Blake, with the distorted vocals. Archy Marshall’s hypnotic voice is complimented by the bluesy jazz piano accompaniment, contrasted with the electronic keyboard. This cleverly crafted dichotomy of jazz and synth is the basis to King Krule’s musical identity, similar to previous tracks like ‘Ceiling’ and ‘Will I Come’. The jazz influences in Marshall’s music is expressed in ‘Czech One’ through the melodic saxophone, as used in popular track ‘A Lizard State’. 

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King Krule also incorporates indie rock into his work, through enthralling guitar riffs and catchy lyrics, provoking the popularity of songs like ‘Easy Easy’, ‘Ocean Bed’ and ‘Border Line’, not to mention the enthralling instrumental of older track ‘363N63‘. The influence from various genres creates the authentic concoction of musical brilliance, and firms Marshall’s originality as a solo artist.

Archy Marshall has been a must-watch on the music scene for a number of years, receiving a nomination in the BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll as well as places on many “Artists to Watch” lists. After the release of his debut album 6 feet Beneath the Moon in 2013, listeners have been gagging for new material, and it looks like they finally have it.

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With the release of two new singles in 2017, fans of King Krule are hopeful of a new album in the forthcoming months; especially due to the announcement of a UK tour this Autumn. This tour is definitely a sign that something magical is to come from the London-based solo artist, due to the scarce amount of live shows he plays.

Angel Witney

@angelxwitney

 

Artist of the Week: Charlotte Grocutt

 “Conceptually, I’m interested in how discarded objects and materials can be used to create new narratives. My most recent project used a sociological approach to explore how discarded objects may or may not differ based on a socio-economic comparison of two locations”

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Charlotte Grocutt is a Fine Artist from Oxford. She works primarily with sculpture but more recently has begun to explore how three dimensional and two-dimensional art practices can be used in conjunction with each other.

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“The process of my practice is very methodical, I select a location, collect objects and photograph them in location and then take them home to study them. I record each object I collect, measuring, weighing and numbering them – it’s quite time consuming but I think this process is an important part of my work, I’m not just picking up rubbish – I’m creating my own taxonomy and beginning to understand the objects as art. Once in the studio I photograph the objects again with artificial light and plain backdrop.”  

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Charlotte’s approach to drawing and painting is very visceral and an immediate reaction to the subject. She likes to use discarded paper as a backdrop to create depth and texture. Her paintings are representative of an object found in its original location.

“I simplify the shape of the object to a single block line creating an easy recognisable similarity between all of my paintings; I use the photographs taken when collecting the objects to build my colour palettes and textures.

When displayed alongside each other the objects and paintings allow audiences to understand Charlotte’s process and also to see the beauty in the discarded.  

 “Fundamentally I aim to create work that encourages discussion and is accessible to everyone. I think people can be intimidated by art and I think its down to us to breakdown this high culture barrier and allow everyone to be educated and inspired by the visual arts.

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Charlotte is soon to be starting at Chelsea College of Art in London, studying Fine Art.

 

 

Why Grammar Schools are the Worst Thing Ever

As you may know, Theresa May loves Grammar schools and wants to introduce more as part of her 2017 manifesto pledge. I myself go to a Grammar School and live in a constituency where the 11+ is a huge make or break in a young person’s life (or it is perceived to be that way). Some may say it is hypocritical of me to attend a Grammar school whilst I’m sat here ready to bash them, but it is for that very essence that they are detrimental; by being the ‘better option’, Grammar schools are essentially destroying kids’ social mobility and chances to a great education.

Firstly, it is an extreme amount of pressure to put on children as young as 10 years old. I have been helping my little brother with tuition in preparation for his 11+ test this year, whereby he has gotten so upset and frustrated over the possibility of failing, due to the immense superiority Grammar schools appear to have over comprehensives. Similar to the SATs uproar earlier this year, it is unbelievably unfair to engrain the idea that if you do not pass the 11+ you have ‘failed’. This perception gives young children a negative view of education, making them less likely to reach their full potential. In conjunction with the SATs debate, children flourish at different rates, and it is hasty to section children off as ‘smart enough’ to attend Grammar schools and promotes a sense of educational elitism from a young age.

This essence of educational elitism withstands as you inspect pupils of Grammar Schools. Being a Grammar school student for the past 6 years, it must be said that remarks regarding local Comprehensive students as more poorly educated have circulated. The worst part about this is that it is true (which I will come to later), but the fact that students visually recognise this and in some cases, gives them a sense of self- aggrandisement, is inhibiting our young peoples’ tolerance.

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It has to be mentioned that the majority of Grammar School students are middle class, due to their ability to afford tuition in order for them to pass the 11+. This in itself separates those with and without money, and then brings in social elitism and class as an issue of Grammar Schools. The physical separation between classes promotes a lack of social mobility as working class and middle class pupils are less able to mix and are less likely to respect each other. Not only this but it literally puts a price on a better education; the fact is that families with money are more likely to have a child pass the 11+ than a family without money, with a child of the same ability. Is it me, or is that a bit fucked up? Having free schools seems all great on the surface but once again, nothing comes for free in good old Britain. This kind of thing stays with kids for the rest of their lives and will encourage a less cooperative and equality- driven nation. It has to be said that not all Grammar school students are middle class but it usually is the majority.

Now, to touch upon what I mentioned earlier; Grammar Schools do provide a better education, and this is what makes them the worst thing ever. Teachers are more attracted to work at schools with pupils who want to learn and would be easier to teach, which is the general case with Grammar School pupils. This means that better teaching staff are usually employed by Grammar Schools, and Comprehensives have the left overs. Bit shit isn’t it? So first of all these students ‘fail’ the 11+ and have a downgraded view of education and then they get the crappier teachers who hardly motivate them to find a love for learning. It is like the education system sets up anyone not in the top 10% (when they were 10 years old may I reiterate) for a poor education.

My sister who is 16, goes to a Comprehensive school and has virtually no student support system when it comes to her studies. I compared her school to mine in this aspect, whereby the Grammar school I attend offers subject drop-in sessions at lunch, revision workshops for exams and practically spoon-feeds how to get into university. My sister’s Comprehensive has none of this. I am not bashing Grammar Schools to sound ungrateful, believe me, my school has provided me with a great education, but I cannot ignore the fact that it is extremely unfair for this level of support for students to only be available to the ‘top 10%’, when there are so many pupils prevented from fulfilling their potential due to the UK’s schooling.

Now, I don’t want to make Grammar School kids look like the villain here, because they too suffer the side effects of our poisoned education system. The immense pressure put on students at my school is horrific; it is not even enforced in order to motivate students, it is purely for statistics. This year my school disabled all students who did not get a D grade in their AS exams to carry on the subject to A2. A levels are fucking hard so this rule affected around 20% of pupils. This meant that some girls had to retake the year at another school or only do 1 or 2 A levels, corrupting the future plans of many. This doesn’t sound too drastic but it is more the fact that the school only did this to obtain a high ranking and favourable grade statistics. Despite the fact my school has an immense support system in terms of academia, this is blatantly motivated by the idea of better results. This said pressure has resulted in mental health issues across the ages, mostly regarding stress and anxieties revolving around exams, soothed by the unhelpful voice of a single school councillor who simply reiterates to “take time to yourself”.

My solution: scrap them. Every single school should have the resources Grammar schools provide, and this should not be inhibited by class, money or a stupid exam that measures a 10 year old child’s intellect. Why enforce an ideology of educational elitism when it hinders both sides from flourishing, when equality is obviously a better solution.

Angel Witney

@angelxwitney

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist of the Week: Sophie Gottlieb

“I love to include social issues in my work such as gender, feminism and mental health. I’m keen to do this because I love to encourage conversation on these topics through my work”

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Sophie Gottlieb is 18 years old, has just finished art A level and is hopefully going on to study a BA in fine art.

Her inspirations include Hannah Hill and Laurie Vincent; both include social issues in their work. Hill particularly inspired Sophie’s A Level work through her embroidery that portrays feminist struggles.

“I love the way that Hill uses colour in her work and focuses on the issues of minorities. I look forward to including those ideas in some of the work that I will do at university”

Sophie hopes one day be an art therapist, where she will be using her art to encourage people with mental illness to create.

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“I’m so excited to do this, knowing I’d be improving these people’s lives. I’ve also just ordered some embroidery equipment, and am hoping to embroider clothes and pieces to sell, as I think it would be epic for people to wear my designs.”

Find Sophie on twitter @sophgottlieb