Saturday, 31 March 2007

Caricatures of Pets

I've come across a number of artists who paint portraits of pets, but never caricatures. Look at this daft mutt. It's brilliant. The artist is Georg Williams. CLICK to visit his excellent website and view more of his caricatures of people's pets. Best laugh I've had in weeks! And a strong candidate for a CASSF Award.

Another Murder in Ilford

Knife Attack (showing Kung Fu defence)My local council claims that crime is down and Redbridge is "a better place to live". Oh yeah? Early this morning, police were called to a bus stop in Chapel Road, Ilford, where a young man had been stabbed. The attacker - described as tall, slim, black and aged in his 20's - escaped along Clements Road, home of Central Library and the Redbridge Museum. The victim died in King George Hospital, which is due to close thanks to the insanity of the Redbridge Primary Care Trust and the doctrinaire, couldn't-care-less attitude of Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt. A save-our-hospital petition has gained 20,000 signatures. If you haven't signed it, CLICK. Last week, two people were stabbed in a shop in Ilford Lane at lunchtime, allegedly by Abdul Rashid. One of the victims was taken to King George Hospital. If this hospital is closed, the Council will need to change its slogan to "Redbridge, a better place to die".

The Art of E.H. Shepard

E.H. Shepard - Pooh and Christopher RobinAs part of the Redbridge Book and Media Festival 2007, Redbridge Museum in Central Library, Ilford, will present a special exhibition of the art of E.H. Shepard, one of England's favourite illustrators, from 1 May to 23 June. Not only will there be illustrations from Winnie-the-Pooh and The Wind In the Willows, but also lesser-known artworks from Shepard's long career. To coincide with this exhibition, Wanstead Library has organized an evening talk on Shepard by Angelo Rossetti, former archivist of the E.H. Shepard collection at Surrey University, on Thursday 17 May at 7pm. Ticket price of £3 includes a glass of wine. For bookings and details telephone 020 8708 2317 or click the title link.

Denver Art Museum

Denver Art Museum extension designed by Daniel Libeskind, photo © Jeff Goldberg/EstoBuildings that look as though a ship has just smashed through a warehouse are all the rage. The Denver Art Museum has just been named one of five New Wonders of the World by Condé Nast Traveler magazine (April 2007 issue). The titanium-clad Frederic C. Hamilton Building, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, opened in October 2006 to rave reviews. It looks a bit passé to me, like squashed Cubism gone wrong. Triangularism?

Friday, 30 March 2007

New Light For Barking

Raphael Daden - Light Waves in Wakering Road underpass, Barking (2006)Today's ArtDaily has an ambiguous story about Raphael Daden's Light Waves installation for the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham (title link). In January 2007, BBC London News published a story entitled Barking Artscape: One year on (CLICK). I guess B&D has commissioned Raphael (or "Rafael" as the B&D website spells it) to knock up a new artscape in Barking Town Centre (CLICK). Not only can't they spell in B&D, but they don't care about saving electricity. Barking also has the highest average number of dog owners in the UK. One in ten households owns a mutt (CLICK). Its working-class denizens like their pit bull terriers and other vicious breeds, with which they can prove how butch they are and terrorize Muslim invaders. (B&D voters elected 11 British National Party candidates last year!)

US Mail Posts Star Wars

Star Wars Express Mail Desktop Picture (2007)The United States Postal Service has gone overboard in celebrating 30 years of Star Wars movies. Not only is it introducing about 400 R2-D2 post boxes (CLICK), but also a set of 15 stamps showing Star Wars characters, such as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. The stamps go on sale on 25 May. There are also Star Wars envelopes and, if you click the title link, you can download a Star Wars desktop piccie (illustration showing Darth Vader). You can also vote for your favourite stamp from the new collection. Hint: post your first day covers somewhere in the Galactic Empire or in the Rebel Alliance. And may the force be with you.

Wandsworth Museum

Wandsworth MuseumIn February, the crass twerps of Wandsworth Council voted to close Wandsworth Museum and two local libraries, due to a shortfall in Government handouts. (Gordon Brown, the most loathed fat-cat Tory Chancellor ever, is determined not only to make the poor poorer and the rich richer, but also to axe anything the poor might enjoy.) However, philanthropists Michael and Dorothy Hintze have written to Wandsworth Council pledging £2m to keep the museum open. The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation proposes that the museum be run by an independent trust with support from local volunteers. Will councillors accept this idea or carry on doing Gordon's dirty work?

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Harry Potter Cover Art

Jason Cockcroft - Harry Potter Cover Art, junior version (2007)Here's the one every Potter fan is waiting for: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - the final episode - to be published on 21 July. In a bid to stir the fans into a fever-pitch of excitement, publisher Bloomsbury has released the cover art by Jason Cockcroft. For a larger image paired with the adult cover art, click the title link. So far, author J.K.Rowling's wonder works have sold 325 million copies, despite attempts by US Christian and Muslim killjoys to ban them.

The Face of the Tate

Artist's impression of Tate Modern extensionI take it you've all seen yesterday's grim news that Southwark Council has approved plans for the Tate Modern extension as envisaged by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron. More space for overpriced elephant dung, helter-skelters and other "contemporary-art" rubbish. But have you noticed that monstrous Easter-Island face leering down at the tasteless punters as they surge into the new building? Could it be a portrait of that doyen of bad taste Sir Nicholas Serota?

US Teacher's Bum Art

Stan Murmur - Bum FlowersHere we go again. Officials at Monacan High School in Chesterfield County, Virginia, USA, have suspended art teacher Stephen Murmer after they discovered he had posted a video on YouTube demonstrating his way of using his buttocks and other nether bits to paint flowers! Despite disguising himself with Groucho Marx glasses and moustache and using the nom-de-bum "Stan Murmur", he was identified and put on paid leave. Believe it or not, he has the cheeks to charge up to £450 for this tosh. To view his Butt-art Gallery - and videos! - CLICK.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

William Morris Update

BBC London News has finally published its article on Saturday's William Morris birthday party in Lloyd Park, written by Ramaa Sharma (title link). Ignore the BBC Local Network petition URL that I posted recently, because it's lost in the confusion of the BBC's website and few people have found it. The main petition (CLICK) has reached 3000 signatures. For more information, visit the Keep Our Museum Open website (CLICK). To read what I've already written on this subject, copy and paste William Morris Gallery into the Blogger search box (top left corner) and click SEARCH BLOG. I've illustrated this post with another of Morris's beautiful stained-glass windows: Hope!

Somerset House Easter

Guercino drawing + Seduction + Rembrandt DrawingOnce again, Somerset House will be offering an Easter Three Day Pass, from 6 to 9 April, available at admission desks. Prices £12.00 for an adult, £11.00 for concessions, seem expensive - especially for silver surfers -, but the pass allows you into all the exhibitions for three days, including Guercino: Mind to Paper at the Courtauld, The Triumph of Eros at the Hermitage Rooms (extended to Easter Monday) and Rembrandt Drawings at the Courtauld, all of which normally have separate admission charges. So the pass is a bargain, even if you use it for only one day. And the fountains in the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court are now on.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Whitechapel Art Gallery

Whitechapel Art GalleryDue to expansion of the Whitechapel Art Gallery into the former library next door, a temporary entrance has been set up in Angel Alley to the left of the building. For some reason best known to its curator, the Gallery will be called the Whitechapel Laboratory for the time being. The Whitechapel - Art/Lab - has been inflicting modern art on the huddled masses of the East End of London for a century and boasts that it introduced Pablo Picasso to England! If you're tasteless enough and rich enough to want to collect this stuff, the Whitechapel is offering a five-week course - 24 May to 19 June 2007 - on navigating the contemporary art market. Cost? £595. A snip (CLICK).

The Queen of Slaves

John Hawkins' Coat of Arms (note the bound, naked, female slave above the shield)At today's service in Westminster Abbey to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the English slave trade, Toyin Agbetu enlivened the proceedings by shouting "This is an insult to us!" Security guards converged on him while the Queen and Tony Blair looked on. He angrily told African Christians they should be ashamed for attending the service. Outside, he told media the Queen had to say sorry for her ancestors. "The monarch and the Government and the church are all in there patting themselves on the back," he said (CLICK). Did you know that Queen Elizabeth I financed the start of the English slave trade? In 1561 she supplied ships and provisions to merchant adventurers who wished to trade along the African coast. In 1562, John Hawkins shipped ivory, wax and hundreds of Africans for sale, from the coast of Guinea to the West Indies. His venture was so profitable that he was made Freeman of the City of Plymouth and in 1564 Queen Elizabeth lent him her own ship, Jesus of Lubeck, for the purpose of capturing Africans to be sold into slavery. Click the title to read more on a website that won the Coxsoft Art Silver Surfer Friendly Award.

To Sir Ian Blair

Banksy - Ban The BombWriting the next post down reminded me that two months ago I sent the Metropolitan Police an email requesting information under The Freedom of Information Act 2000. I wanted to know what had happened to that Banksy which the Met. unlawfully confiscated from Brian Haw. Did I get a reply? Of course not. Come clean, Commissioner. What have you done with it?

Another Banksy Theft

Banksy Bridge, Brick LaneThis Banksy thing is becoming ridiculous. Thieves, presumably with learning difficulties, are stripping London of its Banksy artwork in hopes of making a quick profit on eBay. The latest theft was at "Banksy Bridge" in Brick Lane, east London, where Banksy had posted the message TO ADVERTISE HERE CALL 0800 BANKSY on boards above a wall mural. Over two nights, the thieving twits stole most of this message, leaving only TO ADVE. What idiot is going to pay good money for a load of boards with an incomplete message? Maybe I shouldn't ask. The art market is insane. See the Top Ten "artists" on Art News Blog (CLICK).

Monday, 26 March 2007

William Morris Party

Inside the William Morris Gallery (24/3/2007)Despite an Arctic wind last Saturday, hundreds of people gathered for the party in Lloyd Park in support of the William Morris Gallery. Click the title link to read about it under News. I saw no mention of this event on BBC TV London News, despite being informed that its local correspondent would attend. While searching the BBC website, which is a nightmare to navigate, I discovered that the Friends of William Morris have set up a petition on the BBC Action Network (CLICK) last updated on 20 February 2007. So there are two petitions!

More of Martina's Balls

Juraj Králik & Martina Navratilova - Er...Balls? has finally caught up with that daft Art Grand Slam exhibition by Juraj Králik and Martina Navratilova at Roland-Garros in Paris, which I posted last Saturday 24 March. It has a great quotation from Martina: "What I like is that you hit the ball but you don't exactly know what you're doing." Michelangelo she ain't.

Jane Austen Up For Grabs

Ozias Humphry - Jane Austen (1788 or 1789) known as The Rice PortraitOn 19 April, Christie’s New York is to auction the controversial Rice Portrait of Jane Austen (named after a previous owner: Henry Rice, a great-great nephew of Jane Austin). It is expected to fetch between $400,000 and $800,000, but Coxsoft Art's guess is that it could go higher than this, due to its historical importance and the controversy surrounding it. Jane was probably 14 when this portrait was painted, an idea supported by her lack of bust (don't think of plump modern schoolgirls, who are reaching puberty two or three years earlier than did previous generations). Click the title link for details.

Nanny & The Art of War

Ms Dynamite (Coxsoft Art enhanced graphic)Thanks to Sunday evening's charming history lesson from Ms Dynamite (title link) I can reveal that the Imperial War Museum has got it wrong: camouflage didn't begin during World War I, but much earlier. In the 1730's, Nanny Maroon led a slave revolt in Jamaica's Blue Mountains and defeated the British Army, using guerrilla tactics with foliage as camouflage. And what about Shakespeare's brilliant use of camouflage? "Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him". Going even further into the past - some 2,400 years ago! - Sun Tzu hinted at camouflage in his The Art of War: "...when hidden, be unfathomable as the clouds...".

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Hypocritical Church

So Sorry?Did you see Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, swaggering at the head of a procession with his sidekick Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, on yesterday's Walk of Witness through London to mark the 200th anniversary of Britain's abolition of the slave trade? Did you also see his symbolically freeing a slave from a yoke? What a sickening display of hypocrisy! So sorry indeed! Not only did the Anglican Church condone slavery, preach in favour of it, own slaves and make money out of their sweated labour, but also it demanded their souls. It forced them to believe in the white man's god. According to BBC News, "the average London church-goer is now black". This is the legacy of slavery. Will Dr Williams set their minds free to believe in whatever African gods their forebears worshipped? Of course not. He'll keep them on bended knee to his white god. So sorry? Pull the other leg, Archbishop.

Damien Hirst's Pills

Damien Hirst - The Fate of ManIt's all going topsy-turvy lately, with art in the Imperial War Museum and Damien Hirst in church. His latest piffle extravaganza is New Religion, displayed in Wallspace, All Hallows on the Wall, an Anglican church in the City of London. The display consists of two skulls, two crosses, some gruesome stigmata, a butterfly and a load of pills. Click the title link for an online gallery. New Religion continues until 4 April 2007. Damien, don't call us; we'll call you. Hope you feel better soon.


Camouflage: Imperial War Museum Shoes Poster (2007)You don't expect to find art exhibitions at London's Imperial War Museum, but its latest show explores the modern art of military disguise, starting during World War I with a group of second-rate French cubists. (Were there ever any first-rate cubists?) Camouflage opened on Friday and continues until 18 November 2007. "The first major exhibition to explore the impact of camouflage on modern warfare and its adoption into popular culture." From battlefield to catwalk, from soldiers to flouncing models, from Cubism to contemporary art: camouflage. Why did it take us so long to appreciate the value of what Nature had been telling us long before we swung down from the trees?

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Martina's Art Balls

Martina Navratilova - A Load of BallsSoon or later, somebody, somewhere, is going to say that Martina Navratilova's art is a load of balls, so it might as well be me. This load of spotty nonsense opened in Paris yesterday: the Art Grand Slam show at Roland-Garros, home of the French Open. The 60 canvases took four years to create, with Martina hitting paint-soaked balls under the supervision of Slovak "artist" Juraj Kralik. Looks like a great copy-cat project for Damien Hirst.

Jane Austen Makeover

Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen (left) and the Wordsworth makeoverPublisher Wordsworth has decided that Jane Austen is too ugly for its latest book cover, so it's given her a makeover. The original portrait, by her sister Cassandra, shows her looking like the Wicked Witch of the North and helps explain why she wrote romantic tosh. Sorry, English feminists; I know you regard her as our finest novelist, but to me her novels are merely upper-class Mills & Boon. Wordsworth should have left her as the sad and lonely figure she was.

Lloyd Park Party Update

Transport for London - Journey Planner logoWouldn't you know it? The Victoria Line is closed on Saturday between Kings Cross and Walthamstow Central. Click the title link for Transport for London's Journey Planner. If you're coming from Central London, you need to go to Wood Green Station on the Chingford Line. Trains run every 15 minutes. Turn turn right out of Wood Green Station, follow Wood Street and turn left down Forest Road. The William Morris Gallery is on the right.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Do You Know This Droid?

R2-D2 Post Box (2007)Approximately 400 US post boxes are to be given this R2-D2 look to celebrate 30 years of Star Wars. I think that was the last time I went to the movies. No, I took my five-year-old son to see Basil, The Great Mouse Detective for his birthday treat (his choice) 20 years ago. It scared the life out him! He ended up sitting on my lap, sucking his thumb. They won't drag me back until cinemas are cloudy with tobacco smoke again; it adds to the ambiance. Remember Shaft - the Richard Rowntree original - with that daft villain trying to look tough with his eyes watering from the smoke of his fat cigars? Sneers from a befogged audience. If they could hack it, why couldn't he?

Party in the Park News

Coxsoft Art - Newsflash (2007)I heard today that BBC London TV News intends to cover the Party in Lloyd Park, Walthamstow, on Saturday 24 March, from noon to 3pm. This is part picnic and celebration of William Morris's birthday, part protest against the Council's plans for the William Morris Gallery. The weather forecast promises a return of Spring for the weekend. Click the title link for more details.

Premium-rate Nos Scam

Premium-rate number, anyone?Due to the scandal over TV phone-ins, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell feels obliged to make threatening noises at TV companies. What she ignores is that the sole purpose of premium-rate telephone numbers is to rip off the punters. TV phone-ins are the least of the problem. What about all those leaflets that claim you may have won a new car? Just phone this number to find out what you've won. In microscopic print at the bottom, you're warned that calls cost £1.50 a minute and it will take at least 6 minutes to process your call! And what did you win? A plastic carrot worth 20p! It is a disgrace that such scams are legal, but it gets worse than this. Criminal gangs lurking in cyberspace are ready to insert software into your PC that will divert it from your ISP's telephone number to a premium-rate number. If your PC is unprotected, the first you know of this invasion is a massive telephone bill. I know two victims of this crime. Tessa, if you have a scrap of honesty, you will outlaw premium-rate numbers.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Party in Lloyd Park

Since my last blog on the threat to the William Morris Gallery (CLICK) local residents have set up their own campaign website (title link). They've organized a party and picnic in Lloyd Park, where the Gallery stands, to celebrate the birthday of William Morris on Saturday 24 March, from noon until 3pm. The more people who attend the better. I've also received replies to the emails I sent Neil Gerrard MP and a number of officials. Mr Gerrard is "very concerned" and will express his concerns to the Council. The emails from officials support the Council's point of view about a beloved local attraction, but fail to acknowledge Morris as the leading light of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which was the most important artistic revolution in England since the Italian Renaissance reached our shores. They seem to view Morris as a rather nice wallpaper designer! The Yanks know more about Morris! The USA has its own William Morris Society (CLICK). For an excellent potted history of Morris and links to other websites, visit Legends (CLICK). To see more of his beautiful stained-glass windows, CLICK. One correction to my original post: the Gallery will be open Saturdays and Sundays.

Imagination at The Mall

Valentin Georgiev - UntitledThe 9 days from Wednesday 11 April to 19 Thursday April 2007 inclusive look like good ones for visiting the Mall Galleries near London's Trafalgar Square, because it will have two interesting art exhibitions running side by side, both free. The Society for Art of Imagination is showcasing what it claims is "a growing movement of visionary art", which includes the example shown: Valentin Georgiev's perspective-twisting illusion Untitled. Meanwhile, Danusha Fine Arts will be presenting the impressionistic landscapes of Oleksa Zacharchuk from the Ukraine. Two art shows for free must be worth a look.

The Art of Italy

Caravaggio - A Boy Peeling Fruit (c.1592-93) The Royal Collection © 2007, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth IIA major new exhibition opens at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, on 30 March and continues until 20 January 2008: The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection: Renaissance and Baroque. For this first exhibition of the Royal Collection's Italian art in 40 years, over 90 paintings and 85 drawings by Renaissance and Baroque masters are being brought together from royal palaces and residences across Britain. Caravaggio's A Boy Peeling Fruit - recently confirmed as having been painted by Caravaggio - is one of these masterpieces. Adults £8, silver surfers £7. Hey, why should youngsters under 17 gain admission for £4 and the over 60's be forced to pay 87.5% of the adult rate? Appalling! With respect, Ma'am, silver surfers expect 50%.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

V&A Friday Late Animate

V&A Friday Late Animate poster (2007)London's V&A Museum invites you to celebrate the art of the moving image with screenings, workshops, installations and discussion at its Late Night Animate evening on 30 March 2007, 18.30 to 22.00 hours ... er ... 6.30pm to ... er ... 10pm. Call that "late"? Don't quibble, Coxsoft; the price is right: free! Click the title link for details.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Kids101-art Competition

Kids101-art LogoKids101-art is a virtual gallery designed by art teachers and children to celebrate the creativity of British kids and to act as a classroom resource. Its latest competition for schoolchildren is Cartoon Fun & Madness, sponsored by Letraset. The deadline is 14 April 2007. You can vote online for your favourite. This website (title link) taught me something. Did you know that "manga" is the Japanese word for cartoon or comic and its literal translation is comic or whimsical drawing? Warning to teachers: the age of consent in Japan is 13 years and a lot of manga art is sexually explicit.

Book Sale

Book SaleThe next sale of books, videos and CDs at Central Library, Ilford, is on this Saturday 24 March, from 10am to 3pm. Take the kids: lots of good quality children's books at only 50p each.

Tracey Emin's Pussy

Tracey Emin Studio - Docket on Travel Card Wallet (2007)Now I've seen it all: Tracey Emin's pussy! His name is Docket and he features on a travel card wallet designed by Tracey Emin Studio to help celebrate 60 years of Arts Council England. (Originally it was the Arts Council of Great Britain. A joke by any other name.) What's to celebrate? Sixty years of wasting tax-payers' hard-earned money on trendy tripe. Has any vaguely competent artist been sponsored in all that time? And why does BBC News insist on calling Emin an "artist"? Her pussy is the best thing she's done so far, and I'm hardly overwhelmed by it. "Would-be artist" would be a better term. But I forget: she's got a diploma. Not an "ology", but still a diploma.

London's Other Rats

Brown RatEven London's rats cock a snoop at Authority. They're supposed to be shy, secretive and nocturnal; but I've just seen a large brown rat swagger across my lawn in broad daylight, bold as brass. It didn't give a damn who or what might be watching. It knows that hunting with dogs is now illegal in Britain. So its old nemesis the Jack Russell Terrier is now on a leash. Cats? No problem. Human exterminators? Try it, Sunshine. Nothing short of Judge Dredd will do. Are you sure you want to risk visiting Mega City One for the Olympic Games?

Another Schoolboy Slain

R.I.P. Adam (2007)Sunday was a dreadful Mother's Day for at least one east London family. Late on Saturday night, 15-year-old schoolboy Adam Regis was fatally stabbed while returning from an evening at the cinema. He died an hour and a half later in Newham General Hospital, from stab wounds to the chest and abdomen. Two black hoodies are being sought for his murder. With all due respect to the family, this sort of crime has become so common that Coxsoft Art will stop reporting it. My neighbourhood - not a ghetto - is regularly vandalised. Theft is committed in daylight and the thieves stroll on, joking among themselves. I've seen it. And where are our police? Tea break? Filling in forms? Foreigners, just take it as read that crime is out of control in Britain and that the slaughter of schoolboys is merely one aspect of it. Our politically correct society has raised a generation of psychopaths. And we're not even allowed to classify them as psychopaths until they become adult!

Sunday, 18 March 2007

World Ice Art Gems

Junichi Nakamura & Peter Slavin - Aiming Eyes (2007) edited from a photo by Rhonda KonickiThe World Ice Art Championships 2007 in Alaska are drawing to a close and the winners have been announced. This gobsmacking praying mantis - Aiming Eyes sculpted by Junichi Nakamura of Japan and Peter Slavin of the USA - won first prize in the Single Block Classic Realistic category. The People's Republic of China won first prize in the Multi-Block Classic Realistic category. To see this gem and many other magnificent works of ice sculpture, click the title link.

The Epitome of Cute

Steve & Heather Brice - A Little Help (2007) original photo by Rhonda Konicki, cut, sliced and combined by yours trulyHere's another masterpiece (sorry, Heather: mistresspiece? personpiece?) from the World Ice Art Championships 2007 in Alaska: Steve & Heather Brice's A Little Help, which gained joint second prize in the Single Block Classic Realistic category. I've enlarged the mice to give you a better view of this cute detail. And you must see what gained fourth place (Entry 16). Why is it that some of the world's finest sculptors are working with ice, instead of more permanent media? It leaves our museums to collect junk from inferior artists.

Hermitage Thefts Update

Nikolai ZavadskyThis is Nikolai Zavadsky, husband of Larisa Zavadskaya who was a curator of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg until she died of a heart attack when Russian Fuzz began an investigation into the theft of more than 200 treasures from the museum. Hubby was found guilty of colluding with his wife to steal the artifacts, estimated to be worth £2.67m ($5m), and was sentenced to five years in prison. He must also pay the Hermitage 7.4m roubles (£147,000, $283,000) as compensation for items he sold. And the moral of this tale? Cut down on the saturated fats.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Banksy Latest

Reg Smythe - Andy CappNetwork Rail has taken Coxsoft Art's advice. It has given art lessons to its employees who remove graffiti around stations and on trains, so they don't paint over any more Banksy artworks. Love it! Banksy is bringing art to the workers with the same lack of pretence as Reg Smythe's award-winning Andy Capp. And neither of them required any handouts of tax-payers' money from Arts Council England.

Mega City One Update

Kodjo YengaThinking of ghettos (next post down) here's the latest victim of the teenage slaughter on London streets: Kodjo Yenga, a 16 year-old who was stabbed through the heart. Note his African name. I mentioned in an earlier post that there is no love lost between London's West Indians and its African immigrants. What makes this murder so shocking is that the gang chased Kodjo into a desirable middle-class avenue before killing him! The Fuzz have tried to reassure residents that there are no gangs in their area. "Oh yeah?" sneer black teenagers from the neighbouring ghettos. They're more street-wise than our cops! Here's a thought for the English bourgeoisie to chew on: Could its abolition-of-slave-trade commemorations be stirring strife in the ghettos?

Olaudah Equiano Stamp

Engraving of Olaudah EquianoRoyal Mail Group plc is commemorating the abolition of the slave trade with a set of six stamps to be issued on Thursday 22 March. One of the two first class stamps features Olaudah Equiano (CLICK), who was kidnapped and sold into slavery at the age of 11. Despite the trauma of his enslavement, he was extremely fortunate in becoming a seaman and a merchant while still a slave, and by trading with Quakers managed to save £40 to buy his freedom in only ten years. He also gained an education and became a best selling author with his autobiography, which revealed the horrors of the slave trade. His inspirational life makes you wonder. What's worse: being a smart, ambitious slave with an enlightened owner or being a no-hoper in a modern ghetto?

Friday, 16 March 2007

£350,000 Damages

A SkipTossed into a skip (not necessarily the one shown) and destroyed at a waste plant! A High Court judge has ordered Fine Art Logistics Ltd of London - an art storage company - to pay collector Ofir Scheps £350,000 for accidentally binning his sculpture by Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor: Hole and Vessel II (1984). An easy enough mistake to make!


Cryogenic Walt Disney (2007)Commission a bunch of anti-art trendies to come up with something controversial and the result is a blue-faced Walt Disney! I'll be surprised if the Disney Corporation doesn't sue. Hibernator: Prince of the Petrified Forest is the name of this tosh, which opened yesterday at Beaconsfield, 22 Newport Street, London, SE11 6AY. And you guessed it: part of the sponsorship money came from Arts Council England! Groan.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Commodore Resurrected

Arty Commodore Gaming PC (2007)Blast from the past! Remember the Commodore PET? the VIC 20? the C64? the Amiga? If not, ask Grandpa. He was waiting half an hour for a cassette tape of China Miner to load into his C64 before you were born. Believe it or not, the Commodore C64 remains the best-selling computer of all time, with 17 million units sold worldwide! Today, the Commodore brand was relaunched at Cebit. The new Commodores will be high-powered PC's configured for optimal games playing. And here's the art angle (if you need one): punters can have the cases of their machines painted with one of nearly 100 designs. Commodore hopes to encourage artists to submit more designs.

Restoration Demo

Vermeer - Girl With A Pearl EarringOn Sunday 18 March, from 2pm to 5pm, Julia Basirov - great-granddaughter of painter Charles West Cope - will be demonstrating restoration techniques on an 18th century oil painting in London's V&A Museum. This is a free drop-in event for families. Meet in the Grand Entrance. Vermeer's Girl With A Pearl Earring is one I restored myself (digitally): CLICK to see it.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Spooning Couple

Ron Mueck - Spooning Couple (2005)Here's another sculpture by Ron Mueck - Spooning Couple - which gives you a better idea of the quality of his art. This is an exhibit in the Ron Mueck show currently doing the international rounds. It appeared at The Brooklyn Museum of Art before moving to Canada (see next post down). Click the title link to view a larger version of this picture. By the way, the BBC claims Ron is British. He was actually born in Australia. I told you, yonks ago, that we Brits adopt foreigners with talent.

Scots buy Ron Mueck

Ron Mueck - A Girl (left) and Boy (right)From creating special effects for Muppets to exhibiting sculpture in London's National Gallery (2003) seems a bit far-fetched as plots go, but this is precisely what happened to Ron Mueck. You may recall his jumbo Boy in the Millennium Dome (the two small figures, bottom right, give you some idea of the scale). Boy later appeared at the Venice Biennale 2001. A Girl, on the left, attracted 130,000 visitors to an exhibition at Edinburgh last year. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art has just bought A Girl for £400,000. The Ron Mueck exhibition is now at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, until 6 May 2007.