Thursday, 28 August 2014

Cumberbatch in Wax

Quick as a flash after Benedict Cumberbatch won an Emmy for best actor in a mini-series, awarded by the US Primetime Emmys in Los Angeles, Madame Tussauds in London has released photos of the Sherlock star inspecting his likeness in clay. Looks impressive. His completed waxwork will be unveiled at the Baker Street tourist trap later this year. The artist is Louis Wiltshire (CLICK).

Bullets & Burgers

From Gothic horror to modern American horror. In an Arizona shooting range called Bullets and Burgers, a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot her instructor in the head when she lost control of the Uzi submachine gun she was firing. Her parents filmed the accident, a shortened version of which has been released by the Mojave County Sheriff's office. The girl successfully fired a single shot at the target, then her instructor sets the Uzi to automatic and the film cuts. He died after being airlifted to a hospital in Las Vegas (CLICK). Thomas Jefferson, who enshrined the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution in 1791, would turn in his grave if he saw the murderous military firepower being put in the hands of American children. In Jefferson's day the guns were muzzle-loaders: muskets, duelling pistols, blunderbusses and cannon.

Google Goes Gothic

Only yesterday I posted news that the British Library and the BBC were going Gothic this autumn. Today's Google Doodle has gone Gothic too with this graphic celebrating the 200th birthday of Gothic horror writer Sheridan Le Fanu, who was Irish despite his French-sounding name. He was a pioneer of Gothic horror literature, with stories such as Uncle Silas and Carmilla (CLICK).

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Wildlife Photos 2014

The Natural History Museum in London has released 4 photos as teasers for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition 2014, which opens on 24 October and runs until 30 August 2015, when it will go on tour. Shown is young photographer Marc Montes's winning Snake-eyes, which he took while trekking through the forest in the Val d’Aran, Northern Spain. The 100 best photos (out of over 40,000 submitted from 96 countries) will be selected for the 50th anniversary exhibition (CLICK).

Mobile Lovers Sale

The sale of Banksy's Mobile Lovers (2014) was announced yesterday, but the price remained a mystery until the artwork was handed to its buyer at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery this afternoon: £403,000 (CLICK). Thanks to a letter from Banksy, the work was sold by Broad Plain Boys Club in Bristol. It will keep the cash-strapped club going for a few years to come. A portion of the cash will be shared with other youth clubs in the area. The Private Treaty sale was handled by MM Contemporary Arts (CLICK).


This autumn BBC Two and BBC Four in partnership with the British Library are going Gothic with a season of programmes that celebrate the literature, architecture, music and art that strongly influence British culture. On 3 October the British Library opens the UK’s biggest ever Gothic exhibition: Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination. Two hundred rare objects trace 250 years of the Gothic tradition. Beginning with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) the exhibition traces Gothic horror through Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) to modern films by Clive Barker, Stanley Kubrick and the Twilight series (CLICK). The BBC has produced a range of TV programmes to explore Gothic art and architecture (CLICK).

Frank Auerbach

The inspiration behind Lucian Freud appears to have been Frank Auerbach. Freud collected Auerbach's daubs and doodles over many years and created the most important private collection of his works. Shown is Auerbach's Rebuilding the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square (1962). Earlier this year the Lucian Freud Estate palmed off this collection on the nation under Government's in lieu of inheritance tax scheme. On Monday, Tate Britain in London opened the collection to free public viewing: BP Spotlight: Frank Auerbach: Paintings and Drawings from the Lucian Freud Estate (CLICK). It gives the public the opportunity to ask Why on earth is Auerbach regarded as "one of Britain’s most celebrated living painters"?

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Sherlock wins Emmys

BBC One's melodrama Sherlock picked up three awards at the US Primetime Emmys in Los Angeles. Benedict Cumberbatch won best actor in a mini-series and Martin Freeman won best supporting actor. Steven Moffat won best writing in a mini-series for the final episode of Sherlock's third season (CLICK). I can't recall much about it. The series was becoming too daft and convoluted for me. Have you noticed the spikes on an Emmy? Wave that about and you're likely to put somebody's eye out.

Iced Dockery

Believe it or not, this is the lovely Michelle Dockery having a bad hair day. Who would have imagined that the divine Lady Mary of Downton Abbey had such a big mouth? Michelle took the Ice Bucket Challenge, which is all the rage at the moment. I know it's done for charity, but sooner or later it's going to cause somebody to have a heart attack. CLICK to hear Michelle scream.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Fighting Fantasy

For one day only, Sunday 7 September, the first ever Fighting Fantasy Fest is to be held at The Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Ealing, London. The event has been organized by Jonathan Green to publicize his Kickstarter-funded You are the Hero - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks (2014). Tickets are probably sold out (CLICK). The creators of Fighting Fantasy, Games Workshop founders Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, will be at the Fest. It is more than 30 years since they published their first FF book: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (Puffin 1982). For those of you who haven't a clue what I'm writing about, the FF books are basically role-playing dungeons and dragons computer games in book form. Having selected a role to play, the reader rolls dice to see what page to go to next, according to the choice of options made. The continuing success of FF owes much to its spine-tingling cover art. To find out more, CLICK for BBC News.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Richard Attenborough RIP

Breaking news: Oscar-winning film director and character actor Lord Richard Attenborough died today, aged 90, five days short of his 91st birthday. He and his wife Sheila Sim have been living in the same nursing home for a few years, since a fall down the stairs left him severely weakened. They wed in 1945 and enjoyed one of the longest showbiz marriages. They have three children. Shown is a recent portrait of Lord Attenborough - cropped - by Ian McPherson (CLICK). Note the wedding ring. To read the BBC's obituary of one of our greats CLICK.

Demolition Art

Yesterday crowds thronged to watch the demolition of the Wellington Hotel Annex in New York. Since the advent of videos on the Internet, I guess most of us have viewed explosive (or implosive) demolitions of major buildings and admired the technical skill that allows a building to be dropped onto its foundations without a loose brick flying off to damage neighbouring structures. But this demolition raises it to an art form. A combination of real fireworks by Grucci Fireworks of Long Island and the dynamite and careful preparation of Controlled Demolition Inc (CDI) created an awe-inspiring spectacle for the crowds to gasp at. CLICK for the BBC News video or, if that doesn't work outside the UK, CLICK for Albany News and expand the video. By the way, the J & J stands for the project developer Joe Nicolla and his wife Jessica.

Norfolk & Amiens

Regular readers will know that I tend to give short shrift to gimmicky art installations. Here's one I like: In Praise of Slow by landscapes designers group NineteenEightyOne. This traditional folly has an air of mystery about it that makes me want to explore. It's part of the hortillonnages (floating gardens) of Amiens in northern France, one of those hands-across-the-sea projects. This example is called Art, Cities and Landscape and is organised by the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk in England and the Maison de la Culture d’Amiens in France. The idea is to create "alternative tourism" (CLICK).

Bronze Tiger Skull

British sculptor Simon Gudgeon, who created the park Sculpture by the Lakes to showcase his work. is launching his latest series Skulls across the USA this autumn. Shown is his Bronze Tiger Skull, a limited edition of 9 (2014). The series began with a bronze tiger skull created to raise funds for the Born Free Foundation. He has since created life-sized bronze skulls of cats including Leopard, Cougar and Bobcat and is now working on enlarged skulls of birds, such as the American Bald Eagle (CLICK).

Saturday, 23 August 2014

JMW Turner Show

On 10 September Tate Britain opens The EY Exhibition: Late Turner – Painting Set Free. The exhibition brings together the impressionistic paintings J.M.W. Turner created between 1835 and his death in 1851. Shown is Turner's Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus (1839). The exhibition is far too expensive at £15 for adults and £13.10 for silver surfers (CLICK).

The Five of Us

On 4 September the Tate gallery will publish the latest book by Sir Quentin Blake: The Five of Us. The five friends have disabilities, but also each of them has an unusual ability. Combining their individual powers allows them to save the day when disaster strikes (CLICK).

Notting Hill

Shops are boarded up. The police are rounding up known troublemakers, some found with knives and at least one with a gun. Yes, the Notting Hill Carnival, the largest street party in Europe with a million people expected to attend, is back again. Sunday is Children's Day, the best day for families. All hell breaks loose on Monday. Whatever you think of Carnival, you've got to admit the costumes are works of art (CLICK). Shown is a sulky-looking member of the Paraiso Samba Troupe from last year.

Deep Breath

My TV set gave up the ghost some weeks ago and, being an impoverished blogger, I haven't replaced it. So I won't be watching Deep Breath, the new Doctor Who episode starring Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor and the delectable Jenna Coleman as ... er ... his impossible companion. The show is back on BBC One this evening at 7.50pm (CLICK). Maybe I'll catch it on iPlayer. Update: watched it on my PC. Silly as ever, but great fun.