Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Blake's Donation

Two days ago Quentin Blake unveiled his Cambridge 800; An Informal Panorama in Addenbrooke's Hospital, a 70-foot-long mural he donated to the hospital to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Cambridge University. It begins with this cartoon showing Fleeing Scholars seeking a site for a new university in 1209 (there were riots in Oxford at the time). BBC News has posted an audio slideshow in which Quentin Blake talks us through his designs and the Cambridge University alumni he depicts (title link).

Kseniya Simonova

I am very cynical about "performance art", which usually has nothing to do with art and everything to do with some untalented egotist showing off, but lovely young Kseniya Simonova from the Ukraine has changed my mind. She recently won the TV talent show Ukraine's Got Talent with her explosive sand drawings projected from a light table. If you haven't already seen her performance on YouTube, click the title link. For the BBC News' explanation as to why her performance was a tear-jerker for the audience CLICK.

Van Dyck for Sale

Remember this Self-portrait by Anthony van Dyck, recently shown at Tate Britain's Van Dyck and Britain exhibition (CLICK). It's up for sale in Sotheby's Old Masters sale in December and is expected to fetch £3m. The same family has owned this painting for nearly 300 years. Where will it end up? In the bank vault of a private investor, lost to the nation?

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Happy In Galapagos

The latest painting from Fizza Abdulrasul is more cheerful than her shark protests, probably thanks to the Republic of Palau for creating the world's first "shark sanctuary" (CLICK). Fizza's The End (CLICK) did very well in Saatchi's Showdown with more than 1500 visitors voting for it, but it got pipped at the post on the last day, possibly due to some strategic voting. Naughty! Click the title link to see this beautiful painting GALAPAGOS: So Happy To Be In My Sanctuary (2009) in the next Showdown. Voting opens on 5 October. To visit Fizza's website CLICK.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Cartoon News

Two animated cartoons made news recently. Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, based on a 1978 children's book by Judi Barrett, topped the North American box office at the weekend. And US TV cartoon series Family Guy has been virtually banned in Venezuela, because in a recent episode Brian the talking dog started a campaign to legalise marijuana. Venezuelan TV stations face a hefty fine if they continue to screen the show (title link).

Sunday, 27 September 2009

London Tattoo Show

For those of you who missed The 5th International London Tattoo Convention at Tobacco Dock, London, this weekend, hard cheese. You would have been entranced by the delicate artwork on these delightful buttocks belonging to Rie Gomita from Osaka, Japan. Rie is 29 years old and wins the Coxsoft Art Bum Of The Month Award. No money involved, Rie, just the honour. To see more tattoos from this year's convention, click the title link. For a gallery of last year's entries on the official website, CLICK. Warning: piercings too. Yuk!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Taylor Wessing Prize

Paul Floyd Blake's photographic portrait of teenage swimmer Rosie Bancroft is one of four entries shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2009, worth £12,000 to the winner. The other finalists are Michal Chelbin, Mirjana Virbaski and Vanessa Winship. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on 3 November. The exhibition of 60 best entries opens at the National Portrait Gallery on 5 November and runs until 14 February 2010.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Magritte Nude Heist

Car-boot-sale time again, folks. Rene Magritte's nude painting Olympia (1948) was stolen from the Rene Magritte Museum in Belgium at gunpoint yesterday. The painting shows the artist's wife Georgette lying on her back with a shell on her stomach. And there's me thinking Alien strikes again! It's worth an estimated £675,000 (750,000 of those euro thingies). Click the title link for more information.

Good News For Sharks

Regular readers will know I've been supporting Fizza Abdulrasul's campaign to stop the slaughter of sharks. Her paintings have really brought the message home: CLICK, CLICK, CLICK. Now here's the good news for sharks. The Republic of Palau - an island nation in the Pacific Ocean - is to create the world's first "shark sanctuary", banning all commercial shark fishing in its waters, which cover roughly 230,000 square miles of ocean. President Toribiong will also call for a global ban on shark-finning. Nice one, Palau. (Above is a hammerhead shark, photo the Shark Alliance.)

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Pop Stars Art

The newly renovated London Scream Gallery (title link) reopened to the public today with Popular Culture Artists Exhibition, a selection from the Symbolic Collection of artworks by pop and rock stars. This excellent Self-portrait is by Ronnie Wood of Rolling Stones fame. There are also some delicate drawings by Joni Mitchell as well as artworks by Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. CLICK for an online gallery.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Bird Feeder?

Oo-er! What is it? Well ... er ... hem ... it's a circular cage full of rocks. It could be a giant bird feeder. Whatever it is, it stands near Gants Hill Underground Station (on the Central Line, in case you have an overwhelming urge to gawk at the thing). And ... wait for it ... it's a work of public art! Wham! Zap! Poweeee! Yup, folks, this is the sort of litter which tax-payers' money is squandered on when it falls into the hands of arty twerps determined to enhance our environment, whether we like it or not. Wouldn't a tree have looked a lot better? A rowan, perhaps, covered in bright red berries at this time of year. That would have been worth looking at. This mess just gives 'art' a bad name.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

London Design

Mayor Bouncy Boris and actor Kevin Spacey visited the V&A Museum in London yesterday to plead for business investment in the arts (CLICK). Don't be suckers, city slickers! The only arts that need your cash are 1) unpopular art and 2) bad art. Neither is worth wasting money on. Look at the rubbish supported by Arts Council England (ACE) to see what I mean. I hope Bouncy noticed The London Design Festival, which is on at the V&A this week, until 27 September. This annual event showcases Ghetto London as the "creative capital of the world" (title link). Shame we can't create decent transport, clear the slums and rid the streets of gun and knife crime.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Elite is 25

Here's a blast from the past: Acorn Games' Elite for the BBC microcomputer. The game with its corny wire-frame graphics is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Designed by David Braben and Ian Bell, it was released on 20 September 1984. Although it looks dreadful by today's gaming standards, it marked a milestone in computer gaming (CLICK). I must admit I didn't like it. I got hooked on a similar game called Starion (1985) which gave you anagrams to unravel every time you exploded an enemy spaceship (CLICK).

Mazzolino Find

This painting, Madonna and Child with St Joseph (1522) by Renaissance artist Ludovico Mazzolino, has emerged from its packing case after nearly 60 years in storage! Records show that it was sold at public auction in London in 1812 for £20. The grandmother of the present owner bought it in Italy in 1862. It subsequently went into storage and was forgotten! This is a perfect example of the gross stupidity of allowing such treasures to fall into private hands. Auctioneer Guy Schwinge, from Duke's of Dorchester, spotted a photo of the painting when asked to value some glass and china. The work comes up for auction on 1 October and is expected to fetch at least £40,000.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Big Draw Campaign

If the V&A's Manga Day doesn't appeal to the cherubs, the National Portrait Gallery is holding a free drop-in event as part of the Big Draw Campaign 2009: Zoom In/Zoom Out. It's the same Saturday: 10 October. This is more a family thing, with no age restrictions that I've noticed. Professional artists Emma Middleton and Grace Adam will help families collaborate on a large drawing between 1pm and 4pm. Meet in the main hall. Click the title link for the V&A event or CLICK for The Campaign For Drawing website.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Manga Day at V&A

London's V&A Museum is having a Manga Day in the Hochhauser Auditorium of the Sackler Centre on Saturday 10 October for young artists aged 14–19 years. It's a free drop-in event. There will be Manga artists from Sweatdrop Manga Studios to give you advice on your own Manga drawings and to provide an insight into what it's like to be a comic artist. The day kicks off at 11 o'clock with an introduction to the history of Manga. At noon there's advice on storytelling, at 1.30pm careers in comics and at 2pm guidelines for creating your own Manga characters. Click the title link for details. I've illustrated this post with a detail from Barry Blair's Mowgli and Bagheera, a fine example of the Manga style.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Beyond Limits

Sotheby's is back at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire for Beyond Limits: A Selling Exhibition of Modern & Contemporary Sculpture. There's a life-size Maquette of Antony Gormely's Angel of the North, if anyone wants one, and what appears to be a giant orchid by Marc Quinn: Archaeology of Desire. The exhibition continues until 1 November. Worth a visit, if only to enjoy the autumnal trees in the parkland and to rub shoulders with recession-proof tycoons with money to burn on gigantic fripperies (title link).

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Sheila Wallis Wins

Congratulations to Sheila Wallis, who has won the 2009 Threadneedle Prize - the largest art prize awarded by the public in the UK - with this unusual Self-portrait. Sheila received a cheque for £25,000 from Simon Davies, Executive Chairman of Threadneedle Investments, at a special awards dinner at the Mall Galleries yesterday evening. For the first time the Threadneedle Prize has a worthy winner. I must admit my online vote went to another spectacular nude which also used perspective to powerful effect: Louis Smith's St Peter on the Cross. It was a difficult decision; I would have preferred to see the originals before making my choice. Louis and the other five runners-up each received £1,000.

Darwin Centre Opens

Yesterday, Prince William opened the new Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum, London, with the help of Sir David Attenborough and a live tarantula named Sarah. Rather the royal personage than me. Tarantulas might look cute and cuddly, but they have serious fangs if they feel in the mood for a bite. This photo shows the elegant hi-tech "cocoon" at the heart of the Darwin Centre, which cost £78m. It opens to the public today. For some inexplicable reason, up to 200 scientists will be on display as well as the entomological exhibits. I mean, when you've seen one guy in a white coat fill a test tube, you've seen them all. Give me butterflies.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Space Butterfly

Have you seen any of the magnificent photos produced by the newly upgraded Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and released last week? They are awesome. The above image is planetary nebula NGC 6302, better known as the Butterfly Nebula. Click the title link for more information and CLICK for a slide show of images. (Note to a BBC editor: the above picture is a panorama, not a "vista". Just because Microsoft got it wrong doesn't mean you have to follow suit.)

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Wildlife Artists

The Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition opens at the Mall Galleries in London on 23 September and continues until 4 October. This terrific portrait of a Gentoo Penguin getting stroppy by Andrew Stock PSWLA gives you a taste of what to expect. Paintings by British ornithologist, conservationist and artist Sir Peter Scott will also be on display. Admission is £2.50 or £1.50 for silver surfers (title link).

The Threadneedle Prize Exhibition (CLICK) continues until 19 September, and you still have time to vote for one of the seven works selected by the judges. This year, there are three paintings worth voting for! Wow! Voting closes at 12 noon on 14 September (CLICK).

1$ Million Reward!

Okay, folks, it's time to start delving into car-boot sales again. Thieves have stolen a multi-million dollar Andy Warhol art collection from the home of US businessman Richard Weisman in Los Angeles. As far as I'm concerned this collection is worthless, but somebody is prepared to lash out $1 million for information leading to its recovery. The stolen works include these silkscreen portraits of famous athletes: Muhammad Ali, Chris Evert, Tom Seaver, Jack Nicklaus, OJ Simpson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Pele, Willie Shoemaker and Dorothy Hamill, all dating from the 1970's. Click the title link for bigger piccies at the Los Angeles Police Department website.

Friday, 11 September 2009


Pornography would appear to fill the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in Nicolas Ruston's installation-thingy Euphoria, which combines a vacant porno film-set with elements from the basement where Fritzl imprisoned his daughter for 24 years (title link). Shock! Horror! Yawn. If this tripe deters you from visiting the De$ire exhibition at London's Holster Projects gallery, remember that Daniel Edwards' statue of a haggard Angelina Jolie Landmark for Breastfeeding (2009) is also featured in the exhibition (CLICK).

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Free-range Chicks

Yesterday's post on free-range chickens reminded of this enticing photo of Hayley Cooper posing as Miss April in pink wellies. She's one of 11 young ladies from Young Farmers' Clubs (YFC) in North Devon who posed in nothing but their boots for the 2010 Cancer Research UK calendar, tastefully photographed by Owen Jones. You don't get chicks much more free-range than this! Yes, but is it art. Who cares? Click the title link to see more ... er ... girls in wellies. Cancer Research UK is strangely reticent about its new calendar (CLICK). Cost? Publication date? How to order? No mention at all. Christmas pressie for Coxsoft?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Chicken Out!

Here's a cute little graphic on the cover of Which Chicken Will You Buy?, a mini-guide to labelling on ... er ... dead chickens in food shops (title link). The message is to buy only those chickens bearing the labels free-range, organic or RSPCA Freedom Food. These birds had it good until the axe fell! The Chicken Out! Team will hit London next Saturday on the South Bank, near the Millennium Bridge, between 10am and 4pm. Take the family.

Isis in Hyde Park

This stylized bronze ibis, standing three Euro metre thingies tall, was unveiled in London's Hyde Park today, the first new statue in the park for 50 years. Simon Gudgeon created the sculpture and named it after the Egyptian goddess Isis. One thousand small plaques, set in the base of the sculpture, will be engraved with the names of donors who give £1,000 toward building a new wildlife education centre for children called Look Out, which will serve as a base for the Royal Parks' education team. The appeal was launched at the unveiling today by the Royal Parks Foundation and Halcyon Gallery. They hope to raise at least £1.8m toward the project.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Light Painting

No, it isn't a flying saucer. Regular readers will recall Rabbit's Illusions, a monthly online magazine that took a particular interest in light photography (CLICK, CLICK, CLICK). Well, Jan Wöllert and Jörg Miedza trump everything we've seen so far with their Light Art Performance Photography. They use a 21.1 megapixel Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera to take single-shot, long-exposure images which capture the movement of light. No funny business with Photoshop, folks. This is the real deal. The Mail Online has published a gallery of their stunning photographs (title link).

Diamond Geezer

Last December I reported that hEyOkA mAgAzInE had chosen Cartrain as the most anti-establishment artist of 2008 (CLICK). To prove his credentials, the teenager annoyed Moneybags Hirst and got himself arrested (his father too, briefly). His jest was to borrow a box of pencils from Moneybags' alleged "sculpture" Pharmacy - shown at Tate Passé last July - and make a fake ransom demand: "For the safe return of Damien Hirst's pencils I would like my artworks back that DACS and Hirst took off me in November. It's not a large demand ... Hirst has until the end of this month to resolve this or on 31 July the pencils will be sharpened. He has been warned." Click the title link to read The Independent story and its reader's comments that suggest the Diamond Geezer lacks a sense of humour. Untrue, I'm sure. He's laughing all the way to the bank.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Sharks: The End

Here's the latest painting in Fizza Abdulrasul's campaign against shark fin soup: The End (2009). To waste a magnificent creature merely for its fins is appalling, but to cut off those fins while it is still alive and to toss it back into the sea to drown is even worse. Nothing new in this, of course. Human greed and cruelty know no bounds. Yesterday the Mail Online published an article on the annual capture and slaughter of dolphins by Japanese "fishermen" - dolphins are actually mammals - from the village of Taiji (CLICK). Ironically, the villagers are poisoning themselves with toxic dolphin meat, which contains mercury, cadmium, DDT and carcinogens! Humanity plunders the Earth as though its resources and its capacity to absorb and neutralize toxic waste were infinite. If only. And what's Officialdom's answer to all of this destruction? Carbon trading!

Hitler Art Auction

These three watercolours by aspiring artist Adolf Hitler have been sold at auction in Nuremberg, Germany, for a total of £37,000: from left to right, Haus mit Bruecke am Fluss (1910), which fetched £6,000, Weissenkirchen in der Wachau (1911), which fetched £21,000, and Zerschossene Muehle (1910), which made £10,000. Click the title link for the BBC News item. To view the Telegraph's gallery of Hitler's paintings and sketches, entitled Fine art and the Führer, CLICK. Young Adolf was twice rejected by the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and told he should study architecture, not painting. So he designed the Third Reich instead! Could this be why art schools accept so many mediocre artists and teach them how to peddle tripe? "Don't reject the clot, Principal, or he might start World War III!"

Friday, 4 September 2009

Banksy's Bristol Success

For some unknown reason the previous post reminded me of Banksy's hugely popular Bristol exhibition, which closed last weekend. More than 300,000 people queued for up to six hours to gain admission to the free show. Visitors donated more than £45,000 toward museum funds, approximately the sum normally donated in an entire year! And all it cost the museum to stage this highly successful exhibition was a nominal £1 paid to Banksy.

In Art's Name!

I've been trying to ignore all that gormless ... er ... Gormley nonsense on the fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square, but the editors of BBC News are fascinated by it. I give in, because yesterday's "living statue" takes the biscuit. A man called Gunter inflated two sex dolls and a crocodile, released a live chicken; stripped naked - the seventh exhibitionist to do so -, hurled himself into that safety net which surrounds the plinth and pattered off into the crowd. All this in the name of art! The British Anti-art Establishment really is taking the Mickey.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Threadneedle Open

The 2009 Threadneedle Prize exhibition opened yesterday at the Mall Galleries in London and continues until 19 September. There are 87 paintings and sculptures on show. You may vote for one of the seven artworks shortlisted by the judges. You can do so at the gallery or online (title link). The winner is awarded £25,000. Voting closes at 12 noon on 14 September.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Keith Jansz MFPA

Here's a perfectly composed backlit Nude, her skin tones warmed by reflected colour from the quilt she's sitting on. If her feminine curves aren't quite as smooth as you might expect, bear in mind that she was painted by a mouth artist. Keith Jansz is paralysed below the armpits and paints with his mouth, gripping his brush with something akin to a rugby player's gumshield. His paintings are on show in an exhibition by the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) which opened today in London's City Hall and continues until 24 September. To see more of his paintings without stirring from your seat, click the title link to visit his website. For an audio slideshow of his works with an interview by Caroline Briggs CLICK.


Meet Aluna. Is it a work of art or of science? Well, it's a bit of both actually. East London artist Laura Williams and David Rooney, curator of time at London's Science Museum, are members of a team hoping to build this lunar clock at East India Dock in London. Three large concentric rings made from recycled glass will show the lunar phase, the lunar day cycle and the rise and fall of tidal waters in the Thames (the "pull" of the moon). The team hope to have Aluna built by 2012, in ... er ... time for the Olympic Games.