Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Body Mosaics

Here is the sort of body painting I really admire. Imagine the work that went into the Body Mosaics painted on these two models. The artist or artists aren't named. My guess is a commission for a glossy magazine. Click the title link to see more of this collection. CLICK for a video of bikinis being painted on naked models who then disport themselves on a beach for a photo shoot. It's the best antidote to the chill misery of British Summer Time I can find.

Alexa Meade

Is it my imagination or are artists becoming prettier? Alexa Meade (on the right) is clearly a strong candidate for Arty Crumpet of The Week. She's a 23-year-old from Washington DC who has created her own style of body painting. She paints her models to look as though they are images in bad artwork. It's a technique that works best in a gallery, giving the visitors a start when they realise the subject in the painting is alive. Click the title link to see a collection of photos of Alexa's body art. CLICK for her website.

Brit Summer Time 2

My internal clock is screwed up to hell. I'm waking up an hour early since British Summer Time started, in the dark and to a cold house because the central heating hasn't come on. It's even too early for the dawn chorus. All I could hear this morning was the swishing of car tyres on a wet road. My stomach keeps rumbling long before meal times. I still haven't got round to adjusting all my clocks. And I've lost the manual for my video recorder. For God's sake, what moron decided we should suffer like this and when will somebody put a stop to it? Think of the person-hours involved in this nonsense. How much does it cost us every six months?

Monday, 29 March 2010

MoMA Adds @

Iconic is one of those fashionable words which irritate me because people use them without thinking. The @ symbol shown is truly iconic. Millions of people use it daily when writing emails. It has become the icon for electronic communication. It dates from the 6th Century and has other meanings in different countries: a dog for Russians, a cat for Finns. What makes it newsworthy is that last Monday the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New york added the @ symbol to its architecture and design collection. (I've been saving this item for a rainy day.)

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Art Prize for Women

Arty Crumpet of the Week is Andrea Büttner. It must be very difficult not to look smug when you've just won the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, and here we see Andrea Büttner failing prettily. She was awarded top prize at the Whitechapel Gallery in London last Tuesday. This will allow her to take a six months residency in Italy to cobble together her award-winning plan. The Max Mara Fashion Group awards this prize to female artists resident in the UK. Andrea has studios in East London and in Frankfurt.

Turner For Sale

Why not put off buying that Lamborghini and lash out on this Turner instead? Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino (1839) will cost you an estimated £18m when it comes up for auction at Sotheby's evening sale of Old Master and early British paintings in London on 7 July. The Turner will appreciate; the Lamborghini won't, and it burns fossil fuel. Yuk! Can't afford either of them? Never mind. Pop along to Sotheby's nearer the auction date and gaze upon this masterpiece, which hasn't been seen in public since the 5th Earl of Rosebery and his wife Hannah Rothschild bought it in 1878.

Brit Summer Time

Have you all put your clocks forward by one hour to coincide with what some joker calls British Summer Time? What a palaver! And what for? So World War II blackout curtains can be drawn earlier? So that farmers can milk their cows in the sunshine? So that more children can be killed on our roads? The reason for this twice-yearly lunacy of changing the clocks is lost in the mists of time, but we still do it, like some obsolete religious ritual. Which of our political parties will pledge to stop this colossal waste of time? Or don't we get to vote on anything that impinges on our lives?

Saturday, 27 March 2010

John Hicklenton RIP

Sad news: yesterday it was revealed that British artist John Hicklenton died at the Swiss suicide centre Dignitas on 19 March. He was only 42, but had been suffering from multiple sclerosis for 10 years. His work includes illustrating the cult British comic 2000AD, which stars the indomitable Judge Dredd. The television documentary of his battle with MS, Here's Johnny, won Grierson awards for Best Newcomer and Best Arts Documentary in 2008. A true professional, he completed his last book 100 Months the day before he travelled to Zurich to die. (Note: I can't guarantee that the dramatic image of Judge Dredd I selected was by John Hicklenton.)

Moore Bronze Found

This bronze sculpture by Henry Moore - Three Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No. 4 (1975) - was stolen from the James Goodman Gallery in New York City in 2001. Last Wednesday it turned up in Toronto, Canada. A man brought it into Miriam Shiell Fine Art, presumably hoping to sell it. A search of the Art Loss Register revealed it had been stolen! A Christmas pressie from my mother-in-law, officer."

Found: Ben Wilson

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has contacted the Chewing Gum Artist Ben Wilson and has offered him a commission to paint miniature depictions of each of the 118 known elements on discarded gum. Note: another element seems to have been discovered since my previous post on this subject (CLICK). Why Ben decided to call this miniature dinosaur William Norfolk (2006) is beyond me. And who is Zoe? Send me a comment if you know the answer.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Wanted: Ben Wilson

The Royal Society of Chemistry is offering a reward of £117 to the first person to put it in touch with London artist Ben Wilson, known as the Chewing Gum Artist. Yes, folks, he's put a new twist on pavement art. He paints unbelievable miniatures on blobs of discarded chewing gum. The Royal Society of Chemistry wants him to paint the 117 known elements on gum to promote conservation (hence the reward of £117). CLICK for a gallery of his gum.

Home and Away

Fizza Abdulrasul's latest entry in the Saatchi Gallery Showdown competition is this tranquil moonlit seascape Home and Away (2006), which is in a private collection. Click the title link to vote for this painting and to view other works by Fizza.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Lord In Space

Lord Drayson Takes Off.
I couldn't resist it. (See next post down.)

Latest Logo

Meet the latest logo. Have they finally decided to get rid of that ghastly mess designed for the London Olympiad? This logo certainly conjures up images of British athletes vaulting high. But no. This is the brand new logo for the UK Space Agency, unveiled yesterday by British astronaut Major Tim Peake at London's QEII Centre. Mm. Does it say to you "Brits in Outer Space"? Not to me it doesn't. More like "UK rocket on the wrong trajectory"! Why didn't Science Minister Lord Drayson use his loaf and organise a competition for the new logo? Jobs for the boys, I suppose. Or the girls.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Helen Bradley Record

Helen Bradley's naive painting Blackpool Beach sold for £144,000 at a recent Bonhams' auction, setting a new world record for this British artist. What I find intriguing is the artist's text for this painting.

‘Children,’ said Father and Mother, ‘You’ve had enough donkey rides for today, Tom wants to take them home, the tide is coming in quickly’ so George and I said goodbye to our favourite donkeys and joined Grandma, the Aunts, Miss Carter (who wore pink) and Mr. Taylor (the Bank Manager), who had just arrived to walk back with Miss Carter. But Mrs. Hope-Ainsworth insisted on walking with Mr. Taylor all the way home, which made Miss Carter very cross, and the year was 1906.

Better than your average blurb, Boo-Boo.

Salon Culinaire

Regular readers will know that I often claim that there is more art outside of contemporary art galleries than there is inside them. Here's a perfect example from Vipula Athukorale, who works with butter, chocolate, royal icing, fruit, vegetables or ice to create edible fantasies. He recently won two gold medals in the Salon Culinaire awards. Click the title link to see more of his art, including delicate sculptures in butter and a polystyrene dinosaur.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Quilts: 1700 - 2010

If, like me, you thought that Britons shivered under piles of blankets until the continental quilt arrived on the bedroom scene, here's an exhibition that will change your mind. The V&A Museum in London presents its first ever exhibition of British quilts (title link). Quilts: 1700 - 2010 continues until 4 July, admission £10 adults, £8 silver surfers (80%). Not at those prices, Sunshine! Watch Caroline Briggs' excellent video instead (CLICK). The Rajah Quilt shown here was made by convicts on board HMS Rajah in 1841, presumably during their transportation to Australia. Ah, those were the days, when we could ship our felons to foreign parts, instead of importing criminals from all over the world, as we do now!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Arkham Asylum Wins

I can't help thinking that these two art news items go together. Firstly Batman: Arkham Asylum has won best game at the Bafta 2010 awards (title link). Above is an excellent graphic from the game. Secondly photographer Simon Roberts has been selected as the nation's official artist for the forthcoming general election, commissioned by the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art (CLICK). Groan! Yes, folks, it's time for Asylum UK to dust off its polling booths and choose which of the blinkered fatheads we want to run the asylum for the next few years. My vote goes to Batman. He and Judge Dredd are the only ones who could possibly rid London's streets of crime.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Philip de László

From 27 March to 5 September the National Portrait Gallery in London will be displaying some of the finest paintings by Philip de László (1869-1937) including this portrait of Mrs Philip de László (nee Lucy Guinness) from 1918. The display is in Room 33. On Thursday 22 April, beginning at 1.15pm, Sandra de Laszlo will talk about the artist’s life and work in the context of the paintings that are on view: Phillip de László: ‘An Air of Nobility, a Spirit of Humanity’. Admission to the display is free, as is the talk. Click the title link for details.

Naomi Campbell in Hide

"Ten years ago Evans experienced an epiphany..." proclaims the Scream Gallery in London. Lucky lad. Oh for an epiphany! In this instance, Mark Evans' epiphany inspired him to start cutting portraits in animal hide. This portrait of model Naomi Campbell is one of his efforts: Skin Deep. Others include Muhammad Ali, President Putin and The Incredible Hulk. Believe it or not, people are prepared to pay up to £250,000 for his work. The exhibition opens today.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


A date for your diary: this year's Open House London weekend is 18/19 September. And note that its name has been changed to Open-City. If you're prepared to lash out £6.50 for the 2010 Programme, to be delivered in mid August, click the title link. The rest of us will find a free copy in our local library.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Folding Plug Wins

The overall winner of the Brit Insurance Design Awards 2010 is Royal College of Art student Min-Kyu Choi for his brilliant redesign of the standard British three-pin plug. Choi's plug folds for easy packing and storage. I can see it being a big hit with electronics manufacturers, who must supply a connected plug by law in the UK. You can see all the winning entries and shortlisted designs at the Design Centre in London until 31 October. Click the title link for a BBC TV interview with Choi.

Jewish Museum Reopens

London's Jewish Museum in Camden reopened today after a £10m refurbishment and expansion (title link). Curator Ricky Burman gave the BBC's Brenda Emmanus a guided tour of the museum yesterday; CLICK for the video.

Juan Gris FBI Collar

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has announced its recovery of this ghastly daub - "a still life cubist impressionist work valued at approximately $1 million" - by Juan Gris: Untitled (1926). So you can all stop searching for it in car boot sales. An undercover FBI agent posing as a buyer met the prospective seller in a hotel in Jupiter, Florida, and collared him. If found guilty, the silly villain faces up to 10 years in the clink. Nice one, FBI.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Stolen Bronze

This memorial bronze statue of schoolgirl and hockey captain Camilla Hamilton, who was killed in a car crash in 2003, was stolen from her old school in Felsted, Essex, last Thursday. Why does it take the police so long to get this information into the public arena? All they needed to do was send out a few emails and we would have been alerted on Friday!

Victoria & Albert

I first mentioned Victoria & Albert: Art & Love a month ago (CLICK). This major exhibition opens tomorrow at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace. To mark its opening, Fiona Bruce presents Victoria: A Royal Love Story on BBC One at 7pm today 14 March (CLICK). Look at this detail from Franz Xaver Winterhalter's The Family of Queen Victoria (1846), commissioned by Queen Victoria herself. What could have been merely a formal portrait of the royal family is transformed by Winterhalter's use of hands to show affection. There is the Queen's hand on the shoulder of her eldest son and his hand resting on her lap, then Prince Albert's hand reaching for, but not quite touching, his wife's hand. (His other hand points to his youngest child.) Albert's hands also indicate the royal succession.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Picturing Britain

Today the Royal Academy of Arts opened Paul Sandby RA: Picturing Britain, A Bicentenary Exhibition, which continues until 13 June. Sandby was a founding member of the Royal Academy in 1768 and is regarded as "the father of English watercolour". His landscapes and scenes across England, Scotland and Wales left an important record of social, economic and political change. The above painting shows The North Terrace, Windsor Castle, Looking West (ca 1765). Admission costs £9, silver surfers £8, which includes a free gallery guide worth £2.50.

Underwear at V&A

I can't say I'm into underwear in a big way, but if you are and you have £45 to spare (silver surfers £36) you can hear the secrets of corset and lingerie company FairyGothMother, investigate men’s underwear and generally explore the V&A’s collection of nether garments. Underwear: Craving, Collecting & Caring takes place in the Hochhauser Auditorium, Sackler Centre, from 11am to 4.30pm. Booking is essential. No? Please yourselves. Then why not meet artists and designers at V&A Connects on Tuesday evening 23 March, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, cost £8 (ss £6). The price includes drinks. Click the title link for details and to find out what else is going on at the V&A.

Wapping Group

From 15 to 20 March The Wapping Group of Artists will be holding its 64th Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. Its members meet and work together outdoors every week between April and September, painting London and its river. 100 works in various media will be on show in the East Gallery. Admission is free. Click the title link.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Antarctic Nonsense

I see UK publicity seeker Nasser Azam has been making a fool of himself in the Antarctic by creating a series of 13 large-scale paintings on the Antarctic tundra. Look at his delicate brushwork! He prepared for this nonsense with a series of trials in the freezers at Billingsgate Fish Market. Phew! Remember, this is the twerp who soared to a height of 23,000 feet in a "vomit comet" to experience painting in zero gravity for his Art In Space project in 2008 (CLICK). When will stupidity in the guise of Art ever end?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Indian Portrait

Today the National Portrait Gallery in London opened its latest biggy The Indian Portrait 1560-1860, which continues until 20 June. The exhibition brings together 60 portraits from the last three centuries, beginning with paintings from the Mughal Court. This picture shows a life-size portrait of the Emperor Jahangir holding a globe (1617) attributed to Abu’l-Hasan, the largest painting to come from the Mughal empire. The artwork looks primitive, but admission is free. Click the title link for more information. CLICK for a slide show.

Elephant Day

Since I first reported on the London Elephant Parade back in April 2009 (CLICK) three artists have contacted me about their contributions to this major charity event to help Asian elephants. So it's time for an Elephant Day. The parade itself begins in May (title link).

Above is Poppies Art Workshops' mosaic elle Kubella with snazzy footwear. CLICK to visit Poppies' blog.

Below is a very flowery elle by Karen Hollis of Art In Bloom. His name is Just Joey (CLICK).

Last, but not least, below is a toenail from Phoolan - a scary landmine victim elle from Carrie Reichardt and her partner - to show you the enormous amount of work that is going into these elles. CLICK for Carrie's website.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Horace Walpole at V&A

It is perhaps surprising that the V&A's latest exhibition Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill was first shown in the USA, at the Yale Center for British Art, but many of Walpole's paintings and artifacts ended up there when his collection was sold off. For the first time in over a century, many of these items have been brought together to recreate his pioneering collection in the context of the rooms at Strawberry Hill. The exhibition continues until 4 July. Click the title link to learn more about this fascinating man.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

London Eye is 10

The London Eye is 10 years old today. On the left is a thumbnail of the originally sketch submitted by architects David Marks and Julia Barfield to the millennium landmark competition run by the Architecture Foundation and The Sunday Times in 1993 (title link). The competition didn't pick a winner, but Marks and Barfield persevered. On the right is a New Year fireworks display illuminating the London Eye.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Another Last Supper

This, the latest version of Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, is by Lorna May Wadsworth, who sees Jesus as a soulful Nubian and his disciples as "...a rock and roll band or a group of deeply political idealistic young guys". All 12 feet of it is on show in the Crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square until 3 April. Then it moves to its permanent home: St George's Church, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire.

Oscars? Phooey!

Crumbs, Gromit. No Oscar!
Hard cheese, lads. Better luck next time. Click the title link to find out who won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Anna Keiller

Ceramic artist Anna Keiller will be exhibiting her latest works on the David Lilford Fine Art stand at The Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London, SW11 4NJ. Here is one of Anna's ceramic torsos which represent the Earth Mother, complete with fern motif. Hooks allow it to be hung on a wall. The fair is open to the public from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 March, opening times 11.00am to 6.00pm. Tickets are £10 (silver surfers £8) in advance or £12 (ss £10) on the door. Click the title link for details. Anna's website is in my sidebar links.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Mall Galleries

The Mall Galleries in London opens two new exhibitions on Wednesday 10 March. Firstly there's the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of British Artists, which continues until Sunday 21 March. Admission is £2.50, silver surfers £1.50. Secondly there's a retrospective: Gordon Hulson RBA (1937 –1999). The deadpan schoolgirl with droopy tufts of hair is one of Gordon's paintings. This exhibition ends on 13 March. Admission is free. Click the title link for more information.

Thames Tunnel

East is a six-day London festival which nearly passed me by. The first I knew of it was a footnote in an email this morning from the Whitechapel Art Gallery. So much for the publicity department! East started last Thursday and ends next Tuesday (title link). The high spot is a brief reopening of The Thames Tunnel with a Fancy Fair organised by The Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe. This will be the first time Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s tunnel has opened to the public for 145 years, then it closes forever. Tickets are supposedly available through the London Transport Museum (CLICK).

Hijab Arches Update

Plans by Tower Hamlets Council to build two hijab-shaped arches at either end of Brick Lane, as part of a £1.85m "cultural trail", prompted 128 objections and not a single message of support. So, does the Council scrap its plans? No, it intends to hold another “community consultation”. This is one of the ways in which councils waste our money. Once some smart-alec has sold councillors on a daft idea, they keep holding consultations until they get the answer they want! This is Democracy?

Friday, 5 March 2010

Serpent Revealed

Yesterday the National Portrait Gallery in London released this artist's impression of a serpent in the hand of Queen Elizabeth I, the outline of which was found under a posy of roses during cleaning. The original painting dates from the 1580s or early 1590s. The BBC and most of the newspapers have reported this item as a mystery snake without thinking about it (CLICK). This isn't a zoological specimen, but a mythological symbol and as such should be referred to as a serpent, as in the Garden of Eden. And what does a serpent symbolize in Christian mythology? Cunning, deceit, treachery, evil. So the Queen's grasp on the serpent serves as a warning against treachery, perhaps even a veiled threat to a great household under suspicion. After Elizabeth's death a more acceptable posy of roses could be substituted for the menacing serpent. Anyway, it's all good publicity for Concealed and Revealed: The Changing Faces of Elizabeth I, which opens on 13 March and continues until 26 September (title link).

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Rude Britannia

What gets me about Gerald Scarfe's cartoons is that no matter how outlandish they are, you know who he's lampooning. Take this Ptorydactyl (1989). How do I know it's Margaret Thatcher and not Angelina Jolie? I don't know! I can't see the slightest similarity to Maggie, yet I know it's her. This is a hint of the treat in store for us when Tate Britain in London runs Rude Britannia: British Comic Art, from 9 June to 5 September, which covers the school summer holidays. The exhibition will show Britain's comic traditions from the 1600s to the present day, with examples from William Hogarth, James Gillray, George Cruikshank, David Low and Gerald Scarfe, ably assisted by Harry Hill and the team at Viz Magazine. Tickets £10. Ouch! Not funny.

Railways Poster Art

The golden age of the railways was also the golden age of railways poster art, with seductive images enticing day-trippers and holiday makers to enjoy fun and frolics in the sunshine. Holiday in Spain? Forget it; full of swarthy, garlic-eating foreigners. Take the train to sunny Southport and ogle the girls in their bathing suits, with not a mad mullah or a suicide bomber in sight. These two posters from Great Western Railways are samples of a huge auction of railways art, the second part of which takes place today. The BBC has posted a slide show of gems from this collection (title link).

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Design Awards

Brit Insurance Designs of the Year 2009 - The Movie from Design Museum on Vimeo.

The above video introduces the Brit Insurance Design Award and includes an acceptance speech by US artist Shepard Fairey, who won the award in 2009 for the design of his Barack Obama Poster. The 91 nominated designs in seven categories for this year's award are now on show at the Design Museum in London (title link). The category winners will be revealed on BBC Culture Show on Thursday 4 March at 7pm. The overall winner will be announced on 16 March. CLICK for Paul Kerley's video of this year's favourites.

Richard Hamilton

The Serpentine Gallery in London's Kensington Gardens is celebrating 40 years of bringing avant-garde tripe to the bourgeoisie. Today, with a whoop and a holler, it opened Richard Hamilton: Modern Moral Matters, which continues until 25 April. This example of Hamilton's work shows former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as a two-gun cowboy: Shock and Awe (2007-8). Hamilton doesn't do subtle. His political satire looks creaky and humourless against modern artists such as Banky. Still, if you're old enough to remember Hugh Gaitskell, you might enjoy a whiff of nostalgia. And he did pick up 15 million yen (about £70,000) from Prince Hitachi of Japan for winning the Praemium Imperiale 2008 (CLICK). Can't grumble.
Update: CLICK for a BBC video in which the "father of pop art" reflects on his career. And by coincidence....

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Pick Me Up

From 23 April to 3 May the Embankment Galleries of Somerset House in London will be holding Pick Me Up: Contemporary Graphic Art Fair. This will be the UK’s first contemporary graphic art fair. Admission prices are steep: £5, concessions £4, but we are promised "a lively programme of events and activities, including an open studio from legendary paper artist Rob Ryan and a pop-up print workshop from Print Club London" (title link). Don't think I'll bother, thanks. I see enough graphic art on my computer.

Tunick's Sushi

Some people will do anything to gain publicity. On the left you see US photographer Spencer Tunick picking sushi from a naked model, on the right 5000 Australians in the nuddy posing in front of Sydney Opera House for Tunick's camera, all in the name of Art! Social experiment, yes. Art, no.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Christen Købke

This luminous painting of Frederiksborg Palace (1835) is by Danish artist Christen Købke (1810-1848). If you haven't come across his paintings before, here is your chance. The National Gallery in London will be presenting Christen Købke: Danish Master of Light, the first exhibition outside Denmark to focus on his paintings. About 40 of his most celebrated works will be shown in the Sunley Room from 17 March until 13 June (title link). Admission is free.