Ice Cube Celebrates The Eames House

22 Jan , 2012  

O’Shea Jackson, bet­ter known as rap­per Ice Cube, who star­ted his career with gang­sta rap group NWA and col­lab­or­ated with Dr Dre and Public Enemy, takes a quick tour around the archi­tec­tural whim­seys of South LA and an insight­ful look at the Eames House in the Pacific Palisades. I liked what Mr Cube has to say and I would love to see him do more of these. The video was made for Pacific Standard Time.

Ice Cube in The New York Times


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New Year Resolution: Bennison Calendar 2012 [printed matter]

10 Jan , 2012   Gallery

November - Bennsion 2012 calendar by Ken Sparkes

The Bennison Fabrics 2012 cal­en­dar has just been released and it looks ter­rific. Like the pre­vi­ous cal­en­dar we wanted to show­case the fab­rics in an eye-catch­ing way and cre­ate images that would be remembered. So, we thought a child­hood theme would do the trick, nos­tal­gic but with a twist. Jude Massie-Taylor sug­ges­ted Fairy Stories, I liked the idea of Nursery Crimes. We com­bined the two themes, went to our desks and began to sketch.

Skip down the page to the calendar photos where you can also view slideshows and download a PDF.

Bo Peep sketch
It star­ted inno­cently enough with Bo Peep wear­ing a weird bon­net and a volu­min­ous skirt shaped like a bulb of gar­lic. No idea why a shep­herd­ess would wear a skirt like that, but it all seemed to make sense at the time. Our fin­ished BoPeep, modeled by Holly, with a linen back­ground and a very nice sun­tan. Here’s what Jude says: ‘Holly was fant­astic and a dream in front of the cam­eras. She was our Showgirl, our Dancer and our Clown in the pre­vi­ous cal­en­dar and she’s been a star in this one.’

April - Bennsion 2012 Calendar by Ken Sparkes
‘This year she is our Queen of Hearts, Little Bo Peep, and Princess; she’s been painted white, pulled and tweaked, back-combed and wigged up and still she did it (Thank you Holly).’ More…

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Graham Ford’s B&H Goldfish [advertising]

21 Dec , 2011   Gallery

Benson & Hedges 'Goldfish' advert

It was one of those great advert­ising briefs where all the ele­ments are there, but noth­ing was set in stone. I don’t have the ori­ginal lay­out from Nigel Rose, art dir­ector at CDP, but I think it showed a shadow of a cat, a bowl and maybe the sug­ges­tion of a win­dow.’

SPRKS: You were work­ing on sev­eral cam­paigns at the same time: did you and Nigel dis­cuss the look of the shot in detail? Or were you both pretty much on the same wavelength?

Graham Ford: ‘That sum­mer of ’85 I was also work­ing on Benson & Hedges with Graham Fink, Silk Cut for Paul Arden, Volvo for John Horton, Atora and Clarkes for Nigel, Hennessy for Guy Moore, BMW for Kathy Heng and Citroen for Dennis Lewis. I was very busy!

Nigel would have drawn a loose lay­out which the agency and cli­ent would have approved in prin­ciple — art dir­ect­ors could actu­ally draw in those days — and we’d dis­cuss the detail with the styl­ist and mod­el­maker. When we had everything ready on the set we would pro­gress together, a pro­cess of dis­cov­ery using lots of Polaroid.

One of the best art dir­ect­ors of his era, Nigel knew what he wanted, and he under­stood pho­to­graphy. There is a long jour­ney from sketch to bill­board, as everything had to be made by hand, assembled, lit, brought into focus, and dis­tilled onto one sheet of film. Nigel knew my style, we trus­ted each other and knew we could make this work.’


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Atelier sul Mare art hotel: Obsessive But Compulsive [travel]

13 Dec , 2011  

Atelier sul Mare art hotel -

Atelier sul Mare art hotel -

About half way along the Sicily’s North Coast is Cefalu, and just a little fur­ther is the tiny vil­lage of Castel di Tusa which at first glance has little to offer; a bar emit­ting pop music and the whiff of a typ­ical café kit­chen, a few fish­ing boats pulled up on the har­bour front, a coach of school­chil­dren. Except it hap­pens to be home to one of the most extraordin­ary hotels you are ever likely to check into. Atelier sul Mare is the brainchild of Antonio Presti, who had the insane idea that guests would travel miles off the beaten track to a hotel that allowed you to stay and sleep inside a piece of art.

Atelier sul Mare art hotel -

Sixteen or so of its 40 rooms have been cre­ated by an inter­na­tional col­lec­tion of artists who have been given the free­dom to push the bound­ar­ies of what con­sti­tutes a hotel room to the very limit. We chose the Pasolini Room (also called the Prophet Room) by Dario Bellezza, Adele Camria and Antonio him­self. The black metal door is covered with Pier Paolo Pasolini’s poetry, can­ti­levered so we can knock it down should we want to, and opens into an impossibly nar­row, pitch-dark cor­ridor which requires us to turn our wheelie suit­cases side­ways. The room is large and all walls and ceil­ings are plastered with straw and mud. It shouldn’t work, but it does! The effect is at first per­plex­ing, then strangely com­fort­ing.

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Bennison Calendar 2009: Behind the Scenes [interview]

10 Nov , 2011   Gallery

Bennison Calendar 2009 - Jude Massie-Taylor interview

When Bennison Fabrics decided to pro­duce a fol­low-up to their suc­cess­ful 2008 cal­en­dar, we had to come up with some­thing spe­cial. A great deal of con­sidered thought goes into these things: demo­graph­ics, focus groups & brand­ing just for starters. Luckily, art dir­ector Jude Massie-Taylor saw a cir­cus photo and also bumped into a very nice cir­cus per­former, so we skipped all of that stuff and got straight on with dream­ing up the images. (You can view all the pho­tos at the bot­tom of the page)

Jude Massie Taylor, Bennison Fabrics, interviewed by Ken Sparkes.

Jude Massie-Taylor with umbrellas

(Jude Massie-Taylor fills Holbein Place with umbrel­las)

Ken: How did it all start?

Jude: ‘The first Bennison cal­en­dar had no real theme; I just used some of our favour­ite images that had already been pho­to­graphed. I wanted the new one to be quirky and have a sense of humour; our cli­ents are design­ers and I wanted give them a cre­at­ive land­scape, not just swatches. It began with an image of cir­cus tents I saw online and I thought if I could do a mock-up using one of our brightly col­oured stripes and then get a dra­matic sky super­im­posed in the back­ground, it would be a great shot; that’s when I thought we could do ‘Circus’. And just another 11 ideas to go!’



Desiree Kongerod - Stiltwalker on the Bennison 2009 calendar

(Desiree Kongerod shows Jude & Jules how to stilt­walk)

Ken: The tent shot doesn’t appear in the final cal­en­dar. What happened?

Jude:  ‘A series of acci­dents. One of my friends men­tioned that she knew a stilt-walker and then I spot­ted Kim Butteriss, always immacu­lately dressed in the most beau­ti­ful cou­ture clothes wear­ing large won­der­ful hats, beau­ti­ful tiny shoes and won­der­ful accessor­ies. I couldn’t miss the oppor­tun­ity and man­aged to per­suade them all to par­ti­cip­ate. So the per­formers became our focus, rather than the tent. I met Sophia Lovell Smith who lives right above our London shop and dis­covered that she was a designer for the theatre — she also made the stun­ning cos­tumes for our new 2012 cal­en­dar.

Ken: So, you recruited the right people to real­ise the images in your head?

Jude:  ‘Yes! The jug­gler and the stilt walker were from Missing Links Productions. Lizzie B Houston was ori­gin­ally there to do the hair with Terry Wilson, but she ended up doing the make-up on some of the shots. She was great, I loved her makeup, she made the shoot look more edgy, more spe­cial. The umbrel­las in our fab­rics were made up by James Ince who I found on the inter­net. I used our Director’s daugh­ter, Holly, for the show­girl, dan­cer and clown. Underneath the umbrel­las are Jules and myself try­ing to keep everything from fall­ing over.’

Ken: Lessons learned?

Without a sup­port­ive and enthu­si­astic team, your ideas are noth­ing. Everyone really worked hard, they were all gen­er­ous, they all went the extra mile, they all wanted it to work.’

Ken Sparkes, photographer, interviewed by Zilin Lee at Interphoto magazine.

Bennison Calendar 2009 interview with Ken Sparkes More…

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While London Sleeps: How some magazine photoshoots actually happen

30 Oct , 2011  

While London Sleeps

'London Lights' photoshoot, Borough Market, London by Ken Sparkes

22:39 Rohini: hello! hellO!
22:42 me: hi
22:43 Rohini: I am think­ing about our future big pho­toshoots on Spaces and i don’t think we will get to do any­thing amaz­ing with the budget but i really want to do a big light­ing shoot…

That’s how Rohini and I ended up pho­to­graph­ing in the debris of deep­est Camberwell in the middle of the night wait­ing for the break­down ser­vice to come and res­cue us. Our IM tran­scripts and the fin­ished images provide some reveal­ing insights into the cre­at­ive pro­cess. More…

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Flickr is Fading: 500px Mini Review

17 Oct , 2011  

Bennison Fabrics calendar by Ken Sparkes on

(Things have changed since I wrote this, so I’ve added updates at the bot­tom of the page…)

It never rains but it pours, or so it seems. I have used Flickr as an online scrap­book for many years but Yahoo, who own and run Flickr, seem to be have left their prime photo site out in the rain recently and recently refuses com­mu­nic­ate with PayPal for Pro account renew­als. That means all but the most recent pho­tos have dis­ap­peared, includ­ing pho­tos linked to Bennison email cam­paigns and any links to sets or col­lec­tions I’ve emailed to friends, col­leagues or cli­ents. Apparently they are still there, but we can only find them by search­ing for the right keywords. ‘Oh well, plenty more fish in the sea’, I hissed, and went in search of an altern­at­ive.


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Pecha Kucha at designjunction [LDF2011]

5 Oct , 2011   Gallery

Marcus Fairs at Pecha Kucha

Somewhere in the middle of 22,000 sq ft of designjunc­tion splend­our we sat down and listened to the 11 brave souls who stood between us and the free bar at Pecha Kucha. Actually, they did pretty well and we had our beers stashed away under a robust Vitra EA 105 chair any­how. A big audi­ence in a big space (lots more than can squeeze into Modus!) James Dyson watch­ing from son Jake’s stand near the front, dodgy acous­tics, video cam­eras all over the place. Enough to make even a pol­ished speaker nervous.

Pecha Kucha at LDF2011 poster
The format allows the speakers to use 20 slides for 20 seconds each played mecilessly on a laptop and projected on a large screen. Devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham to stop designers and architects from droning on for too long in front of their beautiful presentations. The first one was in 2003 and if you haven’t been to one yet, you should go. Pecha Kucha is Japanese for chit-chat.

We were enter­tained and edu­cated in equal meas­ure, from riot­ing pros­ti­tutes to over­spilled sand-cast­ing. Helen Parton kicked off with a whizzy tour of office interi­ors but I didn’t get to shoot her due to chat involve­ments. Sorry Helen. Here are the oth­ers:

:: Sam Johnson ::
Sam Johnson at Pecha Kucha
“From a speak­ers per­spect­ive it was a tough audi­ence! PK was designed to stop cre­at­ives talk­ing for hours on end and to keep the audi­ence engaged: it’s a resound­ing suc­cess. Next step — politi­cians?”


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Laura & Ben get married at Hever Castle

29 Aug , 2011  

Laura and Ben get married

It was a fab week­end, start­ing with a bbq the night before and end­ing with fire­works over the lake. I’m put­ting together an album and will post more pho­tos and details soon.
Via Flickr: Laura and Ben’s wed­ding at Hever Castle, Kent