Monday, 30 June 2008


Disney/Pixar - WALL-E (2008)If you haven't already done so, meet WALL-E, the latest animated superhero from Disney/Pixar. Released only three days ago, WALL-E shot straight to the top of the North American box office chart with takings of £31.3m ($62.5m), which isn't bad going for a trash-compacting robot in a post-apocalyptic world devoid of people. This is Pixar's ninth consecutive number one hit film, so it can safely claim to have cornered the market in popular art. Pixar shows up the Brit. Anti-art Establishment as pathetically corny, clueless and out of date.

Tube's XTP Displays

XTP Screen (2006)London Underground has installed high-definition colour projections and LCD screens in five of its tube stations - Piccadilly Circus, Euston, Bank, Liverpool Street and Bond Street - following a successful trial at Euston Station. This new XTP technology will be rolled out across another 30 stations at least, replacing old advertising posters. Yes. You didn't think London Underground was doing this to keep its punters happy, did you? It will get its share of the advertising revenue. Meanwhile, something as low-tech as air-conditioning won't be introduced for another decade - if then -, leaving passengers to swelter and faint!

Tate Britain Fiasco

I.C. - Whooooosh (2008) over Atkinson Grimshaw's Liverpool Quay by Moonlight (1887)The latest nonsense at Tate Britain - Work No 850 - is a runner sprinting through the Neoclassical Gallery every 30 seconds. I refuse to name the non-artist who claims this daft arrangement as his "art installation". Hint: he's a former winner of the Turner Prize. Groan! Twerps who claim to be artists and who produce tripe like this should be prosecuted under the Trades Descriptions Act, not given costly awards. It's a disgrace.

Coxsoft Art Wins Award

Dave - A Winner Smiley (Third) 2008Coxsoft Art's website has won another award: the Carpe Diem Award Bronze (CLICK). As the award comes from foreign parts - Brazil, which I'm told speaks Portuguese - and my carefully centred English text looks a mess whenever the AltaVista Babel Fish translator is used, I'm pleased to have won a bronze. The criteria are tough, almost as tough as those for a Coxsoft Art Silver Surfer Friendly Award (CLICK). Carpe Diem? It's a Latin phrase from Horace in Odes Book I, translated as "seize the day":

"While we're talking, envious time is fleeing: seize the day, put no trust in the future" (CLICK).

I must admit my philosophy tends toward planned procrastination, which is the thinking man's "When I get a round tuit". Somebody gave me a round tuit yonks ago, but I still haven't used it....

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Dalí at MoMA

Salvador Dalí - Illuminated Pleasures (1929)How's this for a visionary glimpse of the future back in 1929? It's Salvador Dalí's Illuminated Pleasures, with TV/computer screens everywhere! Dalí: Painting and Film, an exhibition organised by Tate Modern in collaboration with The Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation and first shown in London, opened today at MoMA in New York. As this is the most interesting exhibition Tate Modern has put on in years, it should go well in the Big Apple. Find it in the Joan and Preston Robert Tisch Exhibition Gallery, on the 6th floor, until 15 September. CLICK for my preview of this exhibition at Tate Modern.

GreenPix Lights Up

Simone Giostra & Partners Architects - GreenPix (2008)As the technical aspects of contemporary art become more demanding, architects are muscling in on the world of visual artists. This is GreenPix, a zero-energy media wall designed by Simone Giostra & Partners Architects for the Xicui Entertainment Complex in Beijing. By day it harvests whatever solar energy breaks through the Beijing smog; by night it uses that energy to illuminate a huge LED display which can show digital art. GreenPix is a "photovoltaic system". It's planet-friendly, but how good is the art: Space Invaders or The Rokeby Venus? And will her bum be censored?

Syd Barrett Tribute

Syd Barrett - Vase of FlowersPress release today: The City Wakes is the first official tribute to Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett, who died in 2006 from diabetic complications. A series of events, including an art exhibition, a concert, guided tours and workshops, will take place in Syd's home town of Cambridge in October before moving to London. Click the title link to visit The City Wakes website. Be warned, it attempts to invade your PC with a ridiculously high number of cookies, all of which I rejected. Tickets for the concert will be available soon.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Frampton's Peter Pan

Sir George Frampton - Peter Pan (1912)Sir George Frampton's bronze statue of Peter Pan was commissioned by J.M. Barrie in 1912 and secretly installed in Kensington Gardens at night. Barrie's announcement appeared in The Times the following morning. "There is a surprise in store for the children who go to Kensington Gardens to feed the ducks in the Serpentine this morning. Down by the little bay on the south-western side of the tail of the Serpentine they will find a May-day gift by Mr J.M. Barrie, a figure of Peter Pan blowing his pipe on the stump of a tree, with fairies and mice and squirrels all around. It is the work of Sir George Frampton, and the bronze figure of the boy who would never grow up is delightfully conceived."

Richard Prince in UK

Richard Prince - Dude Ranch Nurse (2008)Bad news, punters: a limited edition of 96 prints of Richard Prince's Dude Ranch Nurse (above) is already sold out, and his show opened only yesterday at the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, London. Richard Prince: Continuation ... er ... carries on until 7 September. The best time to visit this show would be after 20 July, the day Frank Gehry's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2008 opens. Then you can sneer at both on the same visit. Two sneers for the price of one can't be bad. Don't forget to visit the bronze statue of Peter Pan sculpted in 1912 by Sir George Frampton, a real artist.

The Courtauld Cézannes

Paul Cézanne - Still Life With Plaster Cast (1894) © The Samuel Courtauld TrustIn the Somerset House e-newsletter for July, the Courtauld Institute of Art proclaims "75 years opening minds to art" with an arrogance which only the Brit. Anti-art Establishment could assume. To celebrate 75 years of patronizing the masses in London, it is displaying for the first time its entire collection of works by Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) including rarely seen drawings and watercolours. The Courtauld Cézannes opened yesterday and continues until 5 October. Running in tandem is French Prints From Manet to Picasso. Admission is steep for third-rate art.

Kung Fu Whoopsie!

DreamWorks Animation - Shifu from Kung Fu Panda (2008)Whoops! Another cock-up from Coxsoft. Earlier in June I posted this graphic from DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda and referred to the little fellow cocking his leg as Po (title link). The animation movie had its UK premiere in London yesterday evening. So I found out that this is Shifu, Po's comedy sidekick. Po is a giant panda, not a red. (I did have my doubts about a US company making a film starring a red panda!) By the way, the delectable Lucy Liu did some origami at the premiere (CLICK). Wow! Wish I'd been there.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Vilhelm Hammershøi

Vilhelm Hammershøi - Double Portrait (1898)On 28 June the Royal Academy of Arts opens the first ever UK retrospective of Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) with over 60 paintings gathered from around the world: Vilhelm Hammershøi: The Poetry of Silence. The fanciful title refers to the quietude of his works with their empty spaces and sombre tones, evocative of silence. You can't help wondering if a dose of anti-depressants would have perked up his pallet. The RA's pricing structure is ridiculously complex. So I'll just type "adults £8 and silver surfers £7" and leave you to click the title link. If any mum fancies dragging a 6-year-old child round this sombre show, the kid gets in free. Aw, thanks, RA.

Baby's Bum Censored!

Asda Birthday Cake: 21 Today (2008) I.C. enhancedI'm not posting this as a work of art, although it's arguably more artistic than a lot of the tripe in Tate Modern, but as a work of censorship. When Gail Jordan gave this old photo of her son David to staff at Asda to print on David's 21st birthday cake, she was shocked when they refused to process it because of David's bare bottom, which they claimed was pornographic! So a star had to be placed on his bum to hide it. Note the sexism of the decorations: booze and a football on blue icing. (Pink for girls and no football?) It's no wonder so many young people in the UK think it's normal to get drunk. If we need censorship, let's ban Asda from promoting booze on its birthday cakes. Alcoholism and drunken disorder pose a far graver threat to our society than babies' bare bums.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Art Forgery Book

Book Cover Art - The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegeren by Jonathan Lopez (2008)This book is so new it hasn't been released yet, but an advert for it appeared on my blog and is taking orders already (title link). The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegeren by Jonathan Lopez looks a must for curators of museums and art galleries. For the rest of us it might be worth ordering a copy from our local library. As the only prices I can find are in US dollars, it looks as though it will be published in the USA first and, according to public response, may be released in the UK later.

Biofuel Crime

Starving African Child in Sudan (photographer unknown)To put Freddie's toast-popping success into perspective and to complete today's trilogy of posts on the alimentary canal (loosely speaking), here's another headline from BBC News: Biofuel use 'increasing poverty'. In a new report, Oxfam calls on the EU to scrap its biofuel targets (title link). A year ago, Coxsoft Art pointed out "There isn't enough arable land on our planet to grow crops for both machines and people" (CLICK). And see my Gordon Brown Wanted poster (CLICK). It is now estimated that the criminally irresponsible rush to produce biofuels has pushed an extra 30 million people worldwide into poverty and potential starvation. The aid agencies can't cope. And here in the UK we're gaily popping food into the air to win a Guinness record!

The New Damien Hirst?

I.C. - Freddie Yauner and a Slice of Toast (2008)Suspend your disbelief again! This is what they teach them at art college in the UK. To open the Royal College of Art graduate show, art student Freddie Yauner set a new Guinness World Record for popping toast into the air from a toaster! One of his slices of toast attained a height of 8 feet six inches (2.6 of those Euro metre thingies). Coxsoft Art can safely predict a bright future for Mr Yawner ... whoops! ... Yauner. At the tender age of 26 he has twigged what the art lark is all about: novelty, gimmicks, publicity, bullshit and doing daft things that media editors think will amuse the populace. His talent for headline-grabbing toast-popping virtually guarantees his acceptance as a Royal Academician. You can see the rest of the tripe at the Royal College of Art in London until 5 July.

Enema Monument

Svetlana Avakina - Monument To The Enema (2008) with nurses at the ready!If you missed this news last week, prepare to suspend your disbelief yet again. The Mashuk Akva-Term Sanatorium in Zheleznovodsk, southern Russia, commissioned sculptress Svetlana Avakina to create the world's first Monument To The Enema (2008) at a cost of $42,000. The bronze syringe bulb weighs 800 pounds. Rather you than me, squire. If the cherubs look rather good, it's because Svetlana based them on Botticelli cherubs. At the unveiling on Wednesday, a banner on the spa wall proclaimed "Let's beat constipation and sloppiness with enemas". I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried! Click the title link to read China Post's version of the story.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Monet Breaks Record

Claude Monet - Le bassin aux nymphéas (1919)This evening, at auction at Christie's in London, Claude Monet's Le Bassin Aux Nympheas (1919) fetched a new world record for a Monet: £40.9m. That's £36.5m top bid plus tax. Ho hum. Into a vault for another 80 years?

Huang Yong Ping: Frolic

Huang Yong Ping - Dragon Boat (2003) in ParisIt has been claimed that the art of writing fiction lies in winning the suspension of the reader's disbelief. I'm beginning to think that this applies to art reviews as well! Take Huang Yong Ping's Frolic, which opens tomorrow in The Curve at The Barbican, London. The title comes from the name of an opium ship, and Ping's installation focuses on the 19th Century Opium Wars between Britain and China. The centrepiece is a statue of Lord Palmerston - the Prime Minister credited with starting the Opium Wars - on an opium bed smoking a huge opium pipe. Can you believe all this tosh? Even the names don't ring true. You have until 21 September to establish the truth for yourself. Admission is free.

National Insect Week

National Insect Week LogoHere's one of the most artistic and effective logos I've seen in yonks: the National Insect Week logo, artist unknown. The Royal Entomological Society's National Insect Week 2008 began yesterday, launched at London's Chelsea Physic Garden. The week-long programme of events continues until Sunday 29 June. Click the title link to find a bug near you. And take a look at a first-class website. There's a photo competition too.

Barnaby Furnas

Barnaby Furnas - Rock Concert (Slayer) 2007 © the artistHow's this for garish? It's by US artist Barnaby Furnas - Rock Concert (Slayer) 2007 - one of his ongoing Rock Concerts series. You'll find his latest solo exhibition in the East End of London at Stuart Shave/Modern Art. Its new website was "under construction" at the time of writing. Why do they do it? Keep the old website running until the new pages are finished, for Goodness' sake. And construct your web pages offline. The Furnas show is on until 27 July. Try the title link. No? Then CLICK.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Fourth Plinth Lunacy

Yinka Shonibare - Nelson's Ship in a Bottle (2008)Today new London Mayor Bouncy Boris had fun at City Hall trying to unveil the winning proposals for something or somebody to mount the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. The joint winners are Yinka Shonibare for his Nelson's Ship in a Bottle and Antony Gormley for his daft idea of having volunteers stand on the plinth for one hour at a time. "Living artwork" indeed! He'll need 2,400 volunteers. Both winners are full of bull and neither of their proposals is art. Yinka claims his ship in a bottle shows the "ethnic" wealth of London. Oh yeah? Where's the gun and knife crime then, the crack houses and cannabis farms, the white slave trade and the bear-bile products? As for Gormley, click the title link to read his bull. I can't be bothered with it. "Art is what you can get away with" (Rodney Pople 2008, CLICK). No kidding.

NZ Body Art Update

Levi's Tongue (2008)For those of you who don't bother to read the comments on my posts, this tongue is real. Carmel McCormick's model Levi kindly e-mailed me to answer my question (title link). He used blue food colouring on his tongue. Talk about suffering for your art! A very well deserved award for best performance by a model. Thanks, Levi. Congratulations.


Artist's Impression - Two Views of Aspire (2008)What will be Britain's tallest free-standing public work of art is taking shape on the Jubilee Campus of the University of Nottingham: Aspire (a spire, to aspire; get it?). The red and orange steel girder tube will tower 60 Euro metre thingies above the campus when completed, taller than Nelson's Column (52 Euro metre thingies) and Tyneside's Flasher of the North (a mere 20 EMT). Its £800,000 cost has been donated by an anonymous benefactor. It strikes me that England has been going through a period akin to the Italian Renaissance, when merchants were flush with spare cash and city states vied to own their own unique works of art. With recession starting to bite and the European Union jackboot poised over our necks, I wonder how much longer the English Renaissance will last.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Artlaw & Artquest

Did you know that if you're a professional visual artist or craftsperson living and working in London you can obtain free legal advice from Artlaw? This is an e-mail service only. Subjects include: copyright, contracts, licensing, moral rights, image rights, censorship, import and export, health and safety and any other element relating to a professional artist's or craftsperson's career. But first check out the Artlaw website (title link) which contains over 200 legal articles written by Henry Lydiate - barrister and art law specialist - for Art Monthly magazine. As these articles are freely available online, they could be of help to UK artists who don't qualify for the e-mail service. Artlaw is part of Artquest (CLICK) the online advice centre for London artists, covering everything from seminars to studio space. If you're an art graduate embarking on your professional career, Artquest is a must.

Matthew Carr

If you like monochrome, Marlborough Fine Art (London) will be showing Matthew Carr: New Works from 24 June to 19 July. This artist works with conté pencil on prepared charcoal paper, as in his Nude (2008) shown here. The title link takes you to an online gallery of Carr's exhibits. Despite his obvious talent, I must admit I find it all rather grey and depressing.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

London Architecture Fest

London Festival of Architecture Logo (2008)The London Festival of Architecture 2008 also began yesterday and runs until 20 July, one month filled with over 600 exhibitions, lectures, public space installations, guided walks, bicycle rides, boat tours of the city's river and canals, parties, design workshops, street dances and debates. Click the title link to see if you can find anything of interest. For the opening installation, hauled into place today, CLICK.

60s British Pop Art

Colin Self - Orange Car from Power and Beauty (1969)Another exhibition which opened yesterday is a retrospective of Brit. pop artist Colin Self: works from the 60s at Delaye Saltoun in Saville Row, London (title link). Isn't it amazing how old-fashioned Pop Art looks nowadays? Yet it's influence is still with us. The exhibition continues until 2 August. If you fancy a blast from the past....

Turmoil and Tranquillity

Simon de Vlieger - The Beach at ScheveningenThe latest exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in London is Turmoil and Tranquillity, which opened yesterday in the Queen's House and continues until 11 January 2009, admission free. Seascapes by masters Jan Porcellis, Simon de Vlieger, Ludolf Backhuysen and Jacob van Ruisdael, all from the museum's huge collection of 16th- and 17th-century Dutch and Flemish maritime paintings, will be on display, ranging from tranquil coastal scenes to dramatic battles at sea. This is a must for any budding sea scout over the summer holidays.

Koons in St James's

Jeff Koons - Balloon Flower (Magenta) 1995-1999 in St James's Park, London (19/6/08)Google UK reminds me that today is the first day of the British summer. So it's on with the wellies, pullovers and plastic macs to see Jeff Koons’s 10ft high Balloon Flower (Magenta) worth about £12 million in St James's Park, London. Don't delay, because it goes under the hammer at Christie's on Monday 30 June. Click the title link for Coxsoft Art's preview.

Komodo Dragon Wins

Model Levi painted by Carmel McCormick (2008)Meet Levi, modelling for a double x 3 win at the recent New Zealand Body Art Awards in Auckland, theme Welcome to the Jungle. Make-up artist Carmel McCormick won the top prize - the North Shore City Supreme Award - for the second year running (Double No 1) with her Komodo dragon, and her model Levi won an award for best performance by a model (Double No 2) after spending the evening on all fours with his tongue sticking out! Or is that a false tongue? Carmel, please let Coxsoft Art know. Carmel also tied with herself to win the New World Victoria Park Hand Painted Body Art Award (Double No 3). Congratulations. Click the title link for all the winners and an online gallery.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Monet's Waterlilies

Claude Monet - Le bassin aux nymphéas (1919)It's now Christie's turn to have one of its auctions advertised by BBC News. Claude Monet's Le bassin aux nymphéas (1919) has been shown in public only once in the last 80 years. It's now on display at Christie's in London as an appetizer for the auction on 24 June. Note that the photographer has taken Coxsoft Art's advice: when in doubt, stand a pretty girl in front of the painting. No wabbit? you quibble (CLICK). Come on, you can't expect Professor Wabbit every time (CLICK).

Rembrandt Laughing

Rembrandt - Rembrandt Laughing (ca 1628)This Rembrandt self-portrait Rembrandt Laughing (ca 1628) which was bought last year for £2.2m at the Moore Allen & Innocent auction house has been validated by Ernst van de Wetering, head of the Rembrandt Research Project, and is now estimated to be worth at least £15m. The auction house originally estimated it to be worth a mere £1,500. Whoops! Congratulations to the anonymous buyer. It just goes to show what bargains are to be had when somebody knows his art.

Honen Festival, Japan

Left: Giant Sacred Phallus in the Tagata Shrine, Komaki (2008)If you think this sculpture carved from the trunk of a Japanese cypress tree looks rude, you're right. It's a giant sacred phallus on display in the inner shrine of the Tagata Shinto Shrine in Komaki. It's there to be worshipped, ladies, as part of the annual Honen or Penis Festival. Quite right too. Pray to it if you want a baby. If not, do suggestive things with a willy-shaped hotdog sheathed in pancake as the young woman on the right is doing. (I'll leave you to figure out what that symbolizes!) Twelve men all aged 42 (don't ask) carry the phallus along the streets, through a Torii sacred Shinto gateway and into the shrine. Twelve older men carry a smaller upright phallus with a ribbon tied round its business end (don't ask). What rude fertility rites those Japanese have. Why don't they follow the English custom: get their prettiest children to dance round a phallic maypole and pretend it has nothing to do with sex or fertility? Click the title link for more photos. No? Prude!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

AFI Top 100 US Movies

Poster for Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954)Film buffs building a collection of all-time greats should check out the latest American Film Institute (AFI) list of Top 100 American movies (title link). It divided US feature films into 10 categories, then selected the best from each category to arrive at a Top 10. Not surprisingly, Walt Disney dominates the Animation category. Last year, a poll of 6,000 people in the UK named Walt Disney as one of the Top 5 "Art Heroes" of all time (CLICK). Looking at the other categories, British master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock comes out as top director with four movies in the Mystery category. Hitch even outguns the great John Ford, who has only two movies in the Western category. I didn't spot any other director with more than two movies in the top 100. Correct me if I'm wrong. Art critics who witter on about Picasso or Hirst being the greatest artist of the 20th Century show how narrow their view of art is. Top artists of the 20th Century in my book are Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford. As for actors, it looks to me as though James Stewart starred in more great movies than any other actor. This is my reason for illustrating this blog with a poster for Rear Window (1954), a Hitchcock/Stewart movie.

Boring 'Art' News

Pablo Picasso - Sylvette (1954)Boring "art" news in brief. Picasso's Sylvette (1954) fetches a record $6.9m Aussie dollars (£3.32m) in Sidney, making it the most exorbitant art rip-off ever to be perpetrated at auction in the Land of Oz (title link). Yawn. Back in Blighty, Moneybags Hirst is to flog his latest load of tosh at a Sotheby's London auction in September. The main lot is The Golden Calf. You guessed it: a calf in formaldehyde crowned by a solid gold disc. Yawn. (CLICK if you must.)

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

BBC Art Sale Pics

Claude Monet - La Plage a TrouvilleBBC News is promoting an Impressionist and Modern Art auction to be held by Sotheby's in London on 25 June. I'm not sure why Sotherby's has been favoured in this way; the corporation isn't supposed to advertise. Nine artworks up for grabs at insanely high prices are shown. Claude Monet's La Plage a Trouville (above) is the best of a bad bunch. An early Magritte and Cezanne's Verre et Poires are worth a look, but the rest are awful tosh for clueless fat cats (title link).

Snail Mail 'Art'

Snail Fitted With RFID (2008)British snails Muriel, Austin and Cecil are an integral part of Bournemouth University's "slow art" project called Real Snail Mail, which will be on show at the computer graphics conference Siggraph in Los Angeles from 11 to 15 August. Each of the three snails is fitted with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip that allows it to collect an e-mail from a transmitter and take it to a reader at the other end of its tank ... at a snail's pace. Great fun, it you're patient, but I fail to see where art comes into it, unless it's the tongue-in-cheek website. Click the title link to send an e-mail via Austin or Cecil. (Muriel is still tucking into her/his lettuce.)

Fresh Faced Friday

National Portrait Gallery - Fresh Faced Friday (2008)Somebody at the National Portrait Gallery enjoys alliteration: Fresh Faced Friday. This is an evening of fun and frolics to celebrate the BP Portrait Award 2008, coming up next Friday 20 June from 6.30pm to 10pm, admission free. (Note to foreign revellers: 10pm is considered "late" in London!) Arts pub quiz, speed-sketching Jason Atomic, whoever he is, and music from students of the BRIT school are all part of the fun. Look on the bright side: you might score with an arty type. Oo-er.

Simon Sainsbury Sale

Paul Signac - Collioure Les Balancelles (1887) © Christie's Images LtdGrab your cheque books, folks. Today's the day the late Simon Sainsbury's collection goes under the hammer at Christie’s in London: Simon Sainsbury: The Creation of an English Arcadia. This spotty effort by Paul Signac Collioure Les Balancelles (1887) will set you back £2m.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Craig Wylie Wins BP

Craig Wylie - K (2008) © the artistI must say the judges of the BP Portrait Award 2008 know what they're doing. They've selected Coxsoft Art's choice as the winner (CLICK). For his portrait K - partner Katherine Raw - Craig Wylie wins £25,000 and a £4,000 commission from the National Portrait Gallery. Student Peiyuan Jianga took the BP Young Artist Award for Untitled, an unusual portrait framed as landscape. Simon Davis's Amanda Smith gained the £8,000 second prize, and Robert O'Brien came third with granny Hannah O'Brien and receives £6,000. My one quibble is that the BP Young Artist Award won by Peiyuan Jianga is only £5,000. Financially the BP Young Artist is in fourth place, despite painting the second best portrait! Last year's inaugural BP Young Artist winner, Hynek Martinec, was outstanding (CLICK). Judging by the quality shown in its two-year history, I think the BP Young Artist Award should be ranked as second place financially.

Six Degrees Wins

Cover Art: Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas (2008)How's this for cataclysmic book-cover art: Big Ben washed aside by a giant tidal wave? Author Mark Lynas has just won this year's Royal Society prize for Science Books, worth £10,000, for his book on global warming: Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet. Mark explains how each degree rise in temperature (maximum 6, one assumes) will change our planet: droughts, floods, mass extinctions. It's "compelling and gripping" stuff, according to Professor Jonathan Ashmore, the chair of the judges. Why not send a copy to President Bush before he leaves office? On second thoughts, send him the National Geographic video. He can view it on TV while he's adding to global warming by jetting round the world.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Darwin Canopy Chosen

Tania Kovats - Tree (2008)A fortnight ago I posted news of Darwin's Canopy, project and exhibition (CLICK). You'll be pleased to learn that the Natural History Museum gave proposals by Turner Prize winners Mark Wallinger and Rachel Whiteread the bum's rush. The commissioned work is Tree by Tania Kovats. This 17-metre-long cross section of a 200-year-old tree will be installed in the ceiling of the mezzanine gallery in time for Darwin's 200th birthday on 12 February 2009. It will be one of the largest specimens in the museum. Great idea, inspired by a diagram in one of Darwin's transmutation notebooks. CLICK to see all 10 proposals.

Heritage At Risk

Lowther Castle (built 1806-1814)Lowther Castle, now derelict, is one of six additions to the English Heritage "at risk" register, published next month. The others are: Uxbridge Lido in west London, Birkrigg Stone Circle in Cumbria, Newbury Battlefield in Berkshire, Pindale lead mine in Derbyshire and Salcombe Cannon site off the Devon coast. For the first time the register will include monuments, archaeology, landscapes, places of worship and maritime wrecks, as well as Grade II listed buildings.

Bloggers Beware!

'Inflammatory' T-shirts: Stop Airport Expansion (2008)The annual World Information Access (WIA) briefing booklet for 2008, compiled by Philip N. Howard at the University of Washington, reports a growing trend to arrest bloggers. At least 64 people have been jailed for using blogs as a means of protest since 2003, but there could be hundreds more as sources cannot always be verified. More than half of all the arrests since 2003 have been made in China, Egypt and Iran, but in the last four years British, French, Canadian and American bloggers have also been arrested. The average prison sentence for politically incorrect blogging is 15 months, the longest sentence eight years! The good news is that repressive governments are scared of bloggers. The bad news for Brits is that the UK Government is one of those regimes. Note the graphic. At the weekend three pensioners wearing protest T-shirts with the message Stop Airport Expansion were cautioned by police at Heathrow Airport for wearing "inflammatory" garments and were escorted from the premises under threat of arrest if they returned. In State Britain, not only must bloggers beware, but also law-abiding pensioners!

War Reporters Memorial

Jaume Plensa - Breathing (2008) photo: BBC/Anna GordonShock statistic: on average over the last decade two war reporters have been killed each week. Spanish artist Jaume Plensa won an international competition to gain the BBC commission for this memorial to war reporters, including their drivers and translators, who are killed doing their job. It's called Breathing. Made of glass and steel, the 32ft (10m) high work of art on top of BBC Broadcasting House in central London will be illuminated every evening at 10pm, shining a beam of light and remembrance into the night sky. I'm not sure why the word GIN features on the memorial.

Emma For Coco

Emma Watson (2008)Recognize this beautiful young lady? Does tousled know-it-all Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films ring a bell? This is the new Emma Watson, groomed by Chanel to replace Keira Knightley as the face of Coco Mademoiselle. Emma has signed a two-year contract worth £3 million to promote the fragrance. Chanel certainly knows what it's doing. Care to name another 18-year-old actress who could sell perfume in buckets to young and old? Even this image smells good. An expert portrait photo.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Sao Paulo Heist Update

Picasso - Minotaur, Drinker And Women (1933) and The Painter And The Model (1963)Here are the two Picasso's stolen from the Estacao Pinacoteca gallery in Sao Paulo, Brazil (title link):
Left: Minotaur, Drinker And Women (1933)
Right: The Painter And The Model (1963).
The three robbers paid 4 reals (£1.25) to enter the gallery, promptly went to the second-floor gallery and overpowered three unarmed guards at gunpoint. They put the framed artworks they wanted into a bag and walked out of the gallery. A 10-minute job! Easy.

Che Guevara Statue

Andrés Zerneri - Statue of 'Che' Guevara (2008) I.C. enhancedYesterday thousands of people turned out in the Hipolito Irigoyen Park in Rosario, Argentina, for the unveiling of a four-tonne bronze statue of Ernesto "Che" Guevara by Andrés Zerneri. This is the first monument to "El Che" in Argentina, his country of origin. He was born in the city of Rosario and would have been 80 years old yesterday, had he not been killed. The statue faces northeast to link symbolically with a statue on the Santa Clara memorial in Cuba, where his mortal remains are kept. The plaza where the new statue stands has been renamed Plaza del Che.

David Shepherd CBE

David Shepherd - ElephantCongratulations to wildlife artist David Shepherd, who received a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to charity and wildlife conservation. By sheer coincidence, last Thursday I posted news of his latest exhibition in London: David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation: Wildlife Artist of the Year 2008 and Three Generations (CLICK). The title link takes you to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation website.