10 Minutes with Actor and Writer Tom Ratcliffe


Following a critically acclaimed run at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018 and an even successful UK tour Tom Ratcliffe’s award winning play has found a new home at Above The Stag Theatre.

Set against the events that took place when he was performing at the Fringe in 2017, Velvet is a play that examines sexual harassment against a young gay man, and with #MeToo gaining attention at the same time, he knew his play, and his story, had to be part of that movement. 

Hi Tom, tell us a little bit about your show and what inspired you to write it?                               VELVET is a one person show about the complex realities of harassment within the entertainment industry. The play isn’t solely about the abuse of power but looks at our need for recognition as a society and how the struggles of being in a highly competitive industry can lead someone down a path they would not expect to take.; how far is someone willing to go in order to achieve their dreams.

I would be lying if I sat here and said that the show wasn’t derived from some of my personal experiences I’ve had whilst working within the industry. Of course, the prospect of turning something I’m essentially incredibly embarrassed and ashamed of into a huge positive and fantastic opportunity for my career was a significant part of what empowered me to write VELVET. Turning negative experiences into positive influences is a philosophy I like to think I go by and I’ve really enjoyed writing and performing this play.

What do you hope that the audience will experience when watching this show?                                          

I think they will be very uncomfortable (in the best possible way) as they should be! It isn’t a subject matter that is in any way comfortable and the show reflects that (although there certainly are lots of elements of humour in the show). The audience will hopefully take away a broader understanding of how these situations arise; with much more depth and colour than simply good and evil or victim and perpetrator. As well as this, I hope they’ll empathise with the emotional and psychological damage that impacts those directly involved. Finally, I’d like to think that their perception as the general public will be challenged in the way different people, depending on their standing (i.e. celebrity or unknown trying to make it) are perceived in situations such as these when all is revealed.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?                                                                

I think performance is the BEST place for a public discussion of ideas. For me, the best way to reach the hearts of people is through stories, whether based on a true story or not. There is only so much depth you can get out of a two-minute TV news package or words on a screen. The theatre has historically been a place to be outspoken and to generate discussion and I certainly believe it still serves this purpose and I hope so more than ever.

Obviously, the way to reach a greater number of people is through film, TV or web series these days but that is still performance; and that doesn’t take anything away from live performance either.   

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

I think the funniest, and definitely most embarrassing, thing that has ever happened to me on stage occurred during the run of Sketat the Park Theatre. I was playing JC who was a volatile, if not misunderstood, teenager and I had a scene where I grabbed one of the other actors and threw them around the stage. The play was in a 90-seat space and was very intimate. So one night I grabbed the other actor ready to throw, and as I did I let out a very loud (plastic chair in school style) fart – and as I felt this happening I just shouted over it! It was very embarrassing (and let’s face it; hilarious). I had to carry on being angry for the rest of the scene. That was really hard.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?    

As an actor and writer, especially as someone with a one-person show, it’s hard to look past the likes of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. I’m a big believer in creating your own opportunities and she is an exceptionally talented example of what it’s possible to achieve.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?      

Nothing fancy here. I always make sure I do some sort of warm up before I go on. I don’t tend to take things too seriously before I get on stage as I’m trying to keep as playful as possible! However, that’s going to be far less fun being the only actor this time around.

Lastly, who would you recommend comes to see the show?      

I always find these questions hard as a writer because I always feel that there is something different for everyone to take away. Maybe that’s because subconsciously I want bums on seats, but I do think it’s true! I think those that have taken an interest in the events and revelations of the couple of years (in reference to the #metoo movement) should certainly come. Those that work within the theatre/television/film industry will connect to the material, but the play certainly does not exclude those outside of that realm and it is a story everyone can follow. I think those that have been in similar situations or have a close personal relationship with the #MeToo movement should do what is best for them mentally.

On a simpler level if you love a piece of theatre that will make you laugh before emotionally challenging you, this is one for you!

Velvet will run at Above The Stage Theatre from October 2nduntil 27th. Tickets and more information at the website: http://www.abovethestag.com/vxl/whatson/velvet/





You don’t listen to music, you absorb it.

With a successful career as a violinist cut short due to a hand injury, Ros Gilman refused to give up his love for music and instead cultivated a highly successful career as an award-winning music composer. He tells the Quintessential Gent how music is part of his DNA.

I arranged to meet Ros at the Reverend JW Simpson, and I immediately recognised him from his 6-part documentary detailing the process of making the Soundtrack for the critically acclaimed short film ‘Johanne’. A short film for which Ros has since gone on to win the Audience Award for the Best Music at the British Animation Film Festival.

As we settled down and ordered our drinks, the conversation inevitably turned to music and it Ros’ love for music quickly shone through. Both his parents are professional musicians, and growing up in a household where he was surrounded by music, it was inevitable that music would be a big part of his life. A naturally gifted musician, he started playing the piano before moving on to the violin from the age of 5. Ros believes he was is lucky to have performed across three continents including radio and television appearances in Australia. Having met him, I can assert that he wasn’t lucky; his natural talent and strict routine carved the path for this promising young violinist to perform around the world.  He was destined for a great musical career.

A promising career which abruptly came to an end following a tragic hand injury. Ros says that when his violin professor retired, he found a new professor allowing him to complete his diploma. His new professor adjusted his hand position which irreparably injured his hand. The injury was so severe that he was unable hold a knife and fork. He saw several doctors but none could help him. A young man who had sacrificed 21 years of his life to playing the violin must have been heart-broken to have it snatched away; I asked him? Ros smiled contentedly and replied ‘I couldn’t go without music being part of my life, so I decided to study to become a composer instead.

He studied hard for a number of years to master his craft at a number of prestigious universities across the world including the University of Music in Vienna and then at the Royal College of Music in London.  Since completing his degrees he has been in constant demand as a composer and songwriter and has worked on a host of film and television projects, including most recently the short-animated film ‘Johanne’ directed by Anna-Ester Volozh. The film, inspired by Joan of Arc, follows a day in a life of the heroine.  Working with a talented director with such a deep knowledge of music was an honour, especially since Anna-Ester had a clear vision of the music score for ‘Johanne’.  She trusted Ros to be able to interpret her vision through music score. The entire process of creating the score was wonderful but Ros admitted, after further probing, that the real beauty lay when he conducted the finished score with F.A.M.E.’s Macedonian Symphonic Orchestra, an experience he describes as “a great privilege”. The film caught the attention of the industry and it has been nominated for a number of awards. Ros recently won the Audience Award for the Best music at the British Animation Film Festival, which will undoubtedly provide him the platform to write another beautiful score.

So, what’s next for Ros? Well he’s just finished composing music for a TV documentary for French TV channel ‘France 5’ called “Enfants De Daesh” (The Children of ISIS) and is working on his debut EP, ‘Fantasies’, due for release Spring 2018. Does he ever relax or unwind I ask? Ros laughed and replied “I enjoy running or working out; it’s an important part of my daily routine and I find my best musical ideas come to me when I’m working out”.  I laugh and think even when he’s meant to be relaxing music is always at the forefront of his mind.

Ros Gilman’s debut EP is Fantasies is out Spring 2018 and Enfants De Daesh will be broadcasted on October 4th at 8.50pm on France 5

10 Minutes with Artist Laurence Jones

Having spent the last two years exhibiting at prestigious international fairs like Seattle Art Fair, Art Toronto and Miami Project, UK based artist Laurence Jones is only now getting his first solo exhibition.  A relative newcomer to the art scene Laurence has been described by Saatchi as an artist to watch. His work features mostly scenes of architecture and interiors. Each painting incorporating elements of both fiction and reality. By varied means of production, Laurence is able to draw from a pool of collected images that are then digitally edited, and serve as a starting point for a process-based practice. So I sat down with Lawrence to find out more about his first solo exhibition. 

 What is your new work about?

My new show ‘Night Works’ brings together some recent large-scale paintings, which explore ideas about our psychological relationship to spaces and how we construct realities.

How do they differ from your earlier works?

I have been exploring different ways to heighten the psychological reading of the works, and they feel much more immersive and real than my previous work due to the larger scale and focus on the technical handling of paint.

Laurence Jones Liminal Framework, 2017 acrylic paint, acrylic ink, glazing medium, self-leveling medium and graphite on linen 140 x 180 cm 55 18

What are you trying to explore within your works?

I am trying to explore how to construct open-ended questions with the medium of paint. I am fascinated by the idea that a viewer of these works can come to any number of possible conclusions as to what the scene is about. The idea that the viewer has a sense of familiarity with the painted environment whether through first hand experience of being in a place, or perhaps more likely in this day and age, the second and third hand experience of shared imagery and video, is interesting to me, because it calls into question the nature of that familiarity, which can be read as being almost a symptom of ‘information overload’. It also questions where real meaning lies, and where to look for it if not to our instantly shareable modes of communication.

What/who influences your practice?

I have recently been quite interested in artists that manage to convey a visceral sense of meaning through their painting, such as Anselm Kiefer and Matthias Weischer. There are many early influences that resonate through my work taken from the fields of street art, graphic design, and illustration. I also look at a great number of artists who work within the expanded field of painting, as a means of creating new possibilities within my figurative work. Also: TV and film stills, books, staged photography, graphic design, skateboard graphics, tea, and alcohol (not combined).

Laurence Jones Black Palms 2, 2016 mixed media on medium-grain linen 140 x 180 cm

You have exhibited at a number of international Art fairs in major cities over the last two years, how would you describe the art scene in Seattle, Toronto, and Miami? And how do they compare with each other?

I have been exhibiting extensively over the last two years, but I feel it’s still early for me to describe the scenes in these cities, as I am yet to visit them! But they seem to be diverse art scenes, and Toronto has been exciting me from afar – lots of interesting art and music coming out of Canada at the moment.

Has this always been the style you have painted in?

More or less – I have always painted with the idea of breaking up the surface and half-erasing it as I go. That way the painting has agency, a life of its own that I am able to respond to as I work.

What atmosphere is it that you are looking to create with your solo show?

I intend for the worlds created to feel real; familiar and immersive, but balanced with the idea that the normal rules don’t apply. I intend for the works to have a dialogue with each other, and wider ideas surrounding the gaze in the current age.

How long would you say it has taken you to prepare for this show?

It has taken around 4 months, along with some fairs in between.

How do you get started creating a painting?

I usually begin by making digital mockups when I have an idea for the work or some images which I would like to work from. Then I build the scene from the back to the front, starting with underpainting and initial washes. From there I get the initial forms drawn in and begin layering the work. However, I try not to have a set format and instead respond to each work based on the effects I would like to create.

Laurence Jones Infinity Pool 2, 2016 mixed media on medium-grain linen 180 cm diameter 71 in diameter

How do you add narrative to your painting?

Because the spaces I paint are highly realistic, I think the initial reaction is to look for a clearly visible narrative. The notion that you may have missed the moment, or are too early is something I want to play with. In this sense, the narrative is less something that is present in the work, but the works are about the nature of narrative itself.

How do you select a good subject for a painting in this style?

I spend a lot of time researching images and ideas pertaining to the work. Generally, I work with a combination of found images and my own photos of surfaces and textures. I try to make works that have motifs that are culturally tied to a sense of spectacle and imminent suspense: pools, cityscapes, and modernist architecture to name a few. Within that, I am able to layer in gestures that may, or may not, give a sense of narrative or presence. Ultimately, there has to be a space that the viewer can fill.

Laurence Jones solo exhibition Night Works will run from 4 – 28th May at Rebecca Hossack, Conway Street, London


Help! I Need Somebody

Reclaimed scrap metal sculptures may seem predictable to some, but when those sculptures question the division between urban materials and natural territories than the word predictable should be tossed out of the dictionary. This is the power that Iain Nutting, the former assistant to Turner Prize Winner Antony Gormely has.

Iain NuttingOrangutan, 2016reclaimed scrap metal71(h) x 64 x 60 cm

His latest exhibition at the Rebecca Hossack gallery focuses on endangered animals such as gorillas, orangutan, spix macaws, and a komodo dragon. Iain’s work manages to offer a poignant commentary on the way that technology encroaches upon the natural world. And yet, by utilising recycled materials, Nutting is also able to reflect on one way in which we can help these threatened creatures and care for the planet. Some of Iain’s earlier work from the 80s will also be featured at the exhibition.  

Iain NuttingSpix Macaws, 2016reclaimed scrap metal117 x 67 x 51 cm, 46 1/8 x 26 3/8 x 20 1/8 in


The exhibition is on between 2 – 26 November 2016 at Rebecca Hossack, Conway Street, London

To find out any more information on the exhibition please click on the images

Paolo Troilo … the artist who converted me to ‘Live Art’

I have never been fond of live art. To me it’s a gimmick and I find it highly distracting being pushed and shoved by people trying to get a better view. However my perception changed after I came across a video showing Italian artist  Paolo Troilo hard at work. What I saw was a phenomenal and curiosity drove me to attend his live show at The Ransom Gallery

Born in Taranto in 1972, Paolo is a self-taught artist. He started drawing by pencil at the age of 4, and has never stopped. In April 2005 he started his career as a professional artist, as a result of this long, unconscious stage of preparation towards a future change. Paolo started to paint with his fingers, after he forgot his brushes. Paolo abandoned the traditional “tools of the art” and now just dips his fingertips into jars of acrylic, black and ivory, and spreading colour on to a blank canvas.

“Faraglioni” Acrylic on canvas with fingers

I watched closely as he finished his painting; a painting that he had been working on since 10am, I watched him interact with visitors and all I saw was a remarkable man, who spoke with such passion and conviction, and a man who didn’t seem to lose focus with his art or with his rather busy and packed environment.


What I realised in that moment was that this was no ordinary artist, nor was this some ordinary ‘live art’. But it was a space, a collective, where every single person who had seen Paolo painting this wonderful piece had become part of the journey, part of the story, and most importantly they had become part of this painting. I mentioned this to Paolo who smiled and thanked me. However later on in the evening he came up to me and said what I said to him earlier was probably the most remarkable thing he had heard all day. He said I understood what he had created in that moment and I was the only one who described it the best. To a person who never enjoyed Live Art that was a compliment, which I would treasure.


For those who missed the live show, fear not. Paolo’s current exhibition is still being exhibited at The Ransom Gallery 105 Pimlico Rd, London SW1W 8LS


Once Upon A Time

Its been exactly 100 years since Chanel was first launched, and to celebrate it 100th Anniversary, creative director Karl Lagerfeld has released his short film about the infamous icon Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.   More …