Studio Theolin
A design studio specialising in events and experiences promoting human interaction and serendipitous moments.

Alien Nation Copy


LONDON, 2011

A 6-week long event series including art, music and literature, which took place in March 2011 at Great Western Studios.

Inspired by George Mikes’s book How to be an Alien, Alien Nation was a one-off group show by a collective of london-based artists, photographers, writers and musicians.

Alien Nation celebrated the way George Mikes brilliantly captures the extraordinary transition that many people experience when first moving to London. From the weather to the incomprehensible social niceties, there’s a lot to adjust to; in spite of these things, foreigners and other ‘aliens’ continue to flock here. 

The collection included: painting, photography, poetry, murals, furniture, music, poetry readins – and a unique collection of illustrations from the Central Illustration Agency (CIA).

Collaborators: PIKY & Turid Weingartz

March 16 – April 29th, 2011
23 Artists, 3 Bands, 5 Poets

Private View (200 attendees)
2. Poetry Night (100 attendees)
3. Gig Night (200 attendees)

Sponsored by: The Hungarian Cultural Institute, Tierry Mugler, London Tea CompanyMuirhoward and Brownhill Art Insurance

About the book

How to be an Alien (1946) was the second book by George Mikes and is the most famous of the 44 he wrote.[1] It is a classic of British humour and by its 32nd impression in 1966 had sold over 300,000 copies.[2] It pokes gentle fun at the English and their relationship with foreigners, "alien" meaning in this context any non-English person. The book is characterised by much humour, affection and a total lack of rancour or bitterness. Mikes, an immigrant from Hungary, demonstrated not only his knowledge of English society but an insight into the English language.

It is in two parts. The first part, "How to be a General Alien", deals with such important English topics as the weather, tea, how not to be clever (since it is considered bad manners), how to compromise, and queueing (according to Mikes, the national passion). The chapter entitled "Sex" is in its entirety as follows.

Continental people have sex lives: the English have hot water bottles.

The second part, "How to be a Particular Alien", describes particular occupations from Bloomsbury intellectual to bus driver, finishing with how to be a naturalised citizen, which includes the eating of porridge for breakfast, and alleging that you like it.

Source: Wikipedia

Jenny has a vibrant energy and great vision, a creative person who also has a responsible and practical approach which helps her in engaging people and ultimately deliver great projects.
— NATALIA NAGY Head of Communications and Programming at Hungarian Cultural Centre London

The Exhibition

Literary Evening

A swanky literary soiree, with wine and good company, for wise words about moving to, learning about, coping with, loving, hating or just plain living the Big Smoke, and most importantly, help us celebrate the cultural diversity of our shared stomping ground.

Poets Isobel Dixon (South Africa – author of A Fold in the Map) and Dzifa Benson (Ghana), Alien Nation artist Reg Starkey, and New York Times journalist Sarah Lyall (USA – author of The Anglo Files).

The Travel Bookshop – Notting Hill were selling books on the night so our guests didn’t miss out on their chance to snap up copies of Sarah Lyall’s The Anglo Files, Isobel Dixon’s A Fold in the Map, or even the seed of inspiration for the Alien Nation exhibition, George Mikes’s How to be an Alien, as well as other alien related titles. And of course: got them signed by the authors!

Music on the night performed by Duo Mondane, a marimba and harp duo formed byharpist Monika Markovich and Daniel Bolgar.


Collaborating with rising artist PIKY we curated  gig in a gallery which brought ‘alien entertainers’ to London – and the ‘Alien Nation’ event to a fitting climax.

To round off the Alien Nation exhibition, which explored the way London’s new visitors experience the capital and its traditions and tribes, artist PIKY invited a new set of ‘aliens’ to come to town for this one-off event.

Sheffield bands The Tivoli and The Cartels left the steel city for the big smoke – migrating south to perform live at the Great Western Studios venue itself, in front of a backdrop of art pieces specially created for the show by PIKY.

An experiment fusing underground music and underground art, M1GRATION was an exciting collaboration that brought a fresh, outsiders’ perspective to ordinary gallery shows, and a whole new sound to the London scene.

The Cartels

Since playing to over 800 people at only their second gig, and headlining an Oasis aftershow party at The Roundhouse in Camden, The Cartels have gone from strength to strength developing their own highly charged brand of heartfelt rock n' soul.

The four-piece from Sheffield have appeared on BBC's Raw Talent, picked up rave reviews for their performances at Tramlines Festival and Weston Party, and have secured a highly coveted slot supporting Detroit Social Club.

They're now busy songwriting again, and can currently be found recording at Sheffield's prestigious Club 60 studios.

The Tivoli

Named after the 'kop end' at Rotherham United's now defunct Millmoor ground, Sheffield-based foursome The Tivoli are beginning to make waves with their epic mix of electro-dance and stadium rock, and have been turning the heads of an ever-growing following that includes Steve Lamacq, Cabaret Voltaire, and Richard Hawley.

"The most requested band on the show this month" - Steve Lamacq, BBC Radio 1

"An excellent band…powerful songs" - Iain Hodgson, BBC Raw Talent

"Go and see this band at the earliest opportunity!" Sheffield Scenester


Are you a venue or artists in need for a PR and/or event expert? Or are you a creative with an idea you need help realised, get in touch!

If you enjoyed this case study, have a look at Comic Sans for Cancer as well – another art & design exhibition I put together.

For more information, send me an email and I will tell you all about this event, or chat to you about yours!

/ Jenny Theolin