Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Open House London

I picked up a free copy of the Open House London 2010 Programme in my local library this evening. It costs £6.50 including p&p when ordered directly from Open City or you can download a pdf Digital Edition for £3.50. Open House London runs from 18 to 19 September. Well worth seeing what's open.

Daegu Body Painting

The Daegu International Body Painting Festival (DIBF) took place in South Korea from 27 to 29 August. LIFE has posted a gallery of photographs (title link). Search the Internet to find many more beautiful images from this event.

London Design Festival

The London Design Festival - "a nine-day celebration of design in the world’s creative capital" - returns to the Victoria and Albert Museum from 18 to 26 September. There will be a varied programme of specially commissioned design installations, displays and events. Admission is free. Click the title link for the V&A. CLICK for London Design Festival.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Iran Insults Carla Bruni

BBC News prides itself on having a correspondent in every port, but it still hasn't published today's hottest news story. France's First Lady Carla Bruni has been branded a "prostitute" by Iranian newspaper Kayhan, a propaganda sheet for the medieval Islamic throwbacks running the country. Iranian state TV has also accused her of “immorality”. And all this vituperation because she called for the release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery. Avaaz gathered many signatures in an online petition to save Sakineh from stoning (I signed it; CLICK for the follow-up). Iran gave in to international pressure and cancelled the stoning. Then, allegedly after two days of torture, the victim appeared on state TV confessing to murdering her husband (CLICK). She is now due to be hanged. Even the Hindustan Times online has beaten BBC News to today's story (CLICK). Fatcat BBC wake up! World news doesn't stop for UK bank holidays.

Children's Day

Sunday was Children's Day at the Notting Hill Carnival. BBC London News has begun posting photographs of the event. Here you see one of the girls parading for Kennington Oval's South Connections, which celebrated its 25th year at Carnival. I hope the kids all escaped the deluge which hit London in the middle of the afternoon. Click the title link to view more of the costumes and characters. There is also a BBC News video, if you want to hear some of the noise as well as see fragments of the parade: CLICK.

Sunday, 29 August 2010


The inaugural MONIKER International Art Fair of urban artworks, featuring artists such as Banksy, Steve "ESPO" Powers, Herakut, Ben Eine and Shepard Fairey, will be held at Village Underground, Shoreditch, London, in October to coincide with the overpriced Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park (14–17 October: CLICK). Shown above is Shepard Fairey's Power & Equality, a ruby lithograph.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Werewolf Gazelle!

At first glance this looks like a shaggy dog story, but Paolo Torchio is a highly respected Italian wildlife photographer and conservationist who has worked in Kenya for 20 years (title link). His photos regularly appear on the covers of wildlife magazines. So this isn't another Photoshop fake. The best suggestion is that the shaggy Thomson's gazelle on the right suffers from "werewolf syndrome" (hypertrichosis) which can also effect humans.

Notting Hill Carnival

The late August bank holiday weekend is with us again and that means traffic chaos on the M25 and the Notting Hill Carnival hitting the streets of London. This is Europe's largest street party, originally a Trinidadian shindig, featuring floats, steel bands, fantastic costumes and maidens in various states of undress and overdress. The Metropolitan Police has spent August rounding up known troublemakers. Operation Razorback collared 101 criminals, seized knives, firearms, crack cocaine and cannabis and confiscated £64,000 in cash (CLICK). Party poopers! The kiddie parade is on Sunday, the adult parade on Monday. Click the title link for details.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Art Ban Lifted

The kerfuffle in Mayfair over Paul Harvey's Muchaesque portrait of Charles Saatchi, which I reported yesterday, has been amicably resolved and I can now show you his Dairylea halo. The Artspace Gallery has agreed to display the painting in its window and the exhibition Stuckist Clowns Doing Their Dirty Work will run until Friday 3 September as originally planned. So, Mayfair toffs will finally have their chance to get to grips with Dairylea. (It's a soft cheese, toffs.)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

UK Passport Design

The Home Office has unveiled its designs for the new British passport. This image of a seagull reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, when seagulls glide into frame to attack people at a petrol station. Movies aside, seagulls tend to visit Greater London to avoid storms out to sea and raid our municipal dumps, which are full of tasty food we discard. The weather map on this British passport biographic page enhances the impression of storms heading our way. Thumbs down to such a pessimistic design. Click the title link to read more and let BBC News Magazine know what you think.

Caroline Walker

Marlborough Fine Art London is showing the work of award-winning Scottish artist Caroline Walker until 31 August: Caroline Walker: The Valerie Beston Artists’ Trust Prizewinner (title link). She may be technically competent as a painter, but I'd like to see more imagination in her work. A succession of uninspiring interiors didn't hold my attention for long. This one, The Violet Hour (2010), is the best. Nice reflections. What else is there to say about it, apart from a load of bull? I'll leave that to the artist.

Art World Tale

It seems that Vivian Choi, manager of the Artspace Gallery in London, is so fearful of offending Charles Saatchi that she banned Paul Harvey's tongue-in-cheek portrait of Saatchi from being shown in the gallery's window display. She claimed it was "too controversial for the area" (Mayfair). Saatchi too controversial for Mayfair? Maybe it was the halo from a Dairylea cheese wrapper around Saatchi's head that worried Choi. You wouldn't want to offend your snobby clients with that sort of thing. Dairylea cheese spread is for working-class mums; squash a triangle of the stuff between two slices of bread and there's your kid's lunch. Following an exchange of heated emails over Choi's decision, she decided to close the exhibition Stuckist Clowns Doing Their Dirty Work a week early. So, if you want to see the exhibition, you'd better nip along to Artspace by Saturday 28 August. To read the full saga of the Mayfair controversy, visit Stuckism International (title link).

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Happy Birthday, Sir

Recognize him? Obscure clue: this life study was painted in 1952 by jazz musician Al Fairweather, who studied at Edinburgh College of Art. Another clue: the model is now a knight; he wore a kilt for receiving his knighthood. He was discharged from the Royal Navy on medical grounds, because of a duodenal ulcer. So he went back to his previous job as a milkman. He then became an artist's model for the Edinburgh College of Art. The best James Bond ever? Yes, he's Sir Sean Connery, who is celebrating his 80th birthday today. The Telegraph has posted a picture gallery of his life and career (title link).


While browsing Internet dictionaries for the word "pattable" or "patable", I came across Definition-of.com, an online community dictionary by Farlex Inc. The company promises to donate a lunch to a hungry child for every two approved definitions. The adjective I was searching for is certainly in general use, but I can't find one dictionary that defines it. We'll see if Definition-of approves. Click the title link to suggest a word.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Budapest Treasures at RA

The autumn biggy at the Royal Academy of Arts in London is Treasures from Budapest: European Masterpieces from Leonardo to Schiele, which runs from 25 September to 12 December. The exhibition comprises works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, with additional loans from the Hungarian National Gallery. Over 200 paintings, drawings and sculpture from the early Renaissance to the 20th Century will be shown, including Portrait of a Man (c 1555) by Paolo Veronese (shown). Many of these works haven't previously been exhibited in the UK. Price of admission? If you need to ask, you can't afford it. However, silver surfers and the "unwaged" take heart. Those of you on income support can gain entry for as little as £4. As this price includes a gallery guide worth £2.50, it's a snip (title link).

John Partridge Sketches

The latest exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London is British Artists in Rome: The John Partridge Sketchbook 1823 - 27, which is a recent acquisition shown for the first time. Most sketchbooks are personal and hold the work of only one artist, but John Partridge seems to have lent his sketchbook to other young artists who were seeking inspiration in Rome. This sketch of an Italian Fisher-boy is attributed to Mrs Westmacott (1825). I find it difficult to believe that Italian fisher-boys did their thing wearing ridiculous Regency hats sprouting peacock feathers. Maybe the hat was a bribe to persuade him to stand still long enough to be sketched. I would also hazard a guess that he had been shrimping, not fishing. The exhibition is in Room 16 until 13 March 2011, admission free.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Van Gogh Theft Update

The theft of Vincent Van Gogh's painting Vase And Flowers from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum (yesterday's post) has got the Egyptian fuzz hopping about like ring-tailed lemurs! Not only did they arrest two Italian tourists, but also they've collared the Egyptian government's head of fine arts and several other officials. According to Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, nine culture ministry employees have been barred from travelling, as part of the investigation into the theft.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Van Gogh Disgrace

Egypt's Mahmoud Khalil Museum is in disgrace, having lost Vincent Van Gogh's painting Vase And Flowers (1887) for a second time. The painting was previously stolen in 1978, but recovered a decade later in Kuwait. It turns out that of the museum's 43 security cameras only seven are working! And none of the alarms that should protect individual paintings are operational! Van Gogh's art isn't to my taste, but this painting is unique, is of historic interest and is worth about £32m ($50m). So it deserved better security than this cowboy outfit of a museum afforded it. The curator should be sacked. And how did the thief or thieves know that the painting was unprotected? Inside job? Stolen to order? And has it been damaged beyond repair?

Bodypainting Winners

At last The World Bodypainting Festival 2010, which took place in Seeboden, Austria, last month, has published photos of its winners (title link). There are some brilliant entries. This really is "must-see". British winners this year were Sarah Ashleigh Attwell and Sally Davidson, who gained 2nd place in the Amateur Award Category Brush/Sponge with Sweet Dreams Baby (shown), and Carly Utting and Dominic Skinner, who took 3rd place in the World Award Category Brush/Sponge. To see other British winners from previous years, type "bodypainting" into my Blogger search box and click the little magnifying glass.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Gauguin Exhibition

Tate Modern claims that Gauguin is "the must-see exhibition of 2010". The Sunday Times goes even further and calls it "the event of the year". Yeah, well, The Sunday Times does tend to go OTT on anything it thinks is fashionable. This nubile Tahitian chick may have an eminently pattable bum, but that doesn't make Gauguin's Manao Tupapau (The Spirit of the Dead Keeps Watch) from 1892 a great work of art. It's merely boring old French Post-Impressionism. £13.50 to see this! Silver surfers £10. If you feel you really must, the exhibition runs from 30 September to 16 January 2011.

Mini Monet Interview

Such is the world wide interest in England's art prodigy Kieron Williamson, now turned 8 years old, that an interview with the lad and his mum by Jill Lawless, Associated Press Writer, has been in ArtDaily's most popular articles for the past week (title link). Here you see the "Mini Monet" beavering away at one of his paintings. His parents are happy to allow journalists to watch him painting, because it proves his creations are all his own work. He takes it all in his stride, as the interview proves. Can it last? Is it healthy for him? Ms Lawless asks a child pyschologist for his opinion.

Friday, 20 August 2010

UK Arts

You might be interested in joining UK ARTS, which has established itself as a resource and promotional tool for the visual arts. Free registration includes regular e-newsletters plus event and competition alerts. Listings on its Events Calendar and Directory are free. You may also advertise your art if you're prepared to lash out. Click the title link to learn more.

Veolia Wildlife Photo

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year has a new sponser: Veolia Environnment (sic). And the first photo released by the Natural History Museum, London, and BBC Wildlife Magazine to mark this year's completion of entries is this terrific photo of a black oil beetle taken by Spanish photographer Juan Jesus Ahumada. Nice one, guys. I'm sure BP will love your selection! The winners will be announced on 21 October. The exhibition opens the following day. Tickets for the exhibition are on sale now (title link).

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Fourth Plinth Six

The shortlist for the next load of nonsense to appear on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square has been announced. It includes a blue cockerel, a Battenberg cake made of bricks, an organ-shaped cashpoint machine, a statue of Field Marshal Sir George White draped in charms and jewels, an elevated mountainscape and a brass boy on a rocking horse (above). You can see the models at the Fourth Plinth Exhibition in St Martin-in-the-Fields until 31 October (CLICK) or click the title link to vote at the Fourth Plinth website.

Pamela Anderson Ban

It seems that bovver-boot feminists have taken over in Montreal, Canada. City mothers have banned this PETA ad featuring vegetarian and animal-rights activist Pamela Anderson painted with cuts of meat. "It is not so much controversial as it goes against all principles public organizations are fighting for in the everlasting battle of equality between men and women" a confused Montreal spokesperson informed PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). It's a silly ad - my first thoughts on exceptions included fish, octopuses, edible snails and winkles -, but to ban it on grounds of sexism is political correctness gone mad. Does Ms Anderson look like a downtrodden woman who needs equality with men? Of course not. Flaunting her femininity has been the key to her success. Maybe that's what the city mothers are really so miffed about.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Royal Beasts

Sculptress Kendra Haste has been awarded the commission to create 13 life-sized animals for the exhibition Royal Beasts, which Historic Royal Palaces will show in the Tower of London in May 2011. Kendra uses steel armatures and painted galvanised wire to create her sculptures. As one of the commissioned works is an elephant, she will be a busy artist preparing for the exhibition. Royal Beasts is designed to illustrate the history of the Royal Menagerie, which entertained British royalty and their guests from the 1100's to 1831-2, when the remaining animals were moved to Regents Park to help establish London Zoo.

Modern Art Is Pants

It's official: "Modern art is pants". BBC News quotes novelist Wendy Holden as saying so. And to prove it she's putting on her own exhibition featuring a framed pair of very large Y-fronts. (Click the title link for the BBC video.) Her latest novel, Gallery Girl, is set in the art world and its anti-hero is Zeb Spore, who sells everyday items spray-painted in gold for millions of pounds, a fairly typical modern art bum spawned of the Brit. Anti-art Establishment. Will he get his comeuppance? Let's hope so.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Spitfire Replica

If this were dangling in Tate Britain, somebody would claim it to be a work of art (CLICK). Forget the arty bull. It's a work of craftsmanship: a full sized aluminium replica of a MKVb Supermarine Spitfire, built in 2008 by members of the Ripon Branch of the Royal British Legion in order to publicise their work. Bonhams of London will auction the replica during The Goodwood Revival on 17 September. The Royal British Legion is hoping the sale will raise £50,000-£60,000, which wil go towards its care and support services for Armed Forces personnel, their families and veterans.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Raphael Tapestries

I'm sure everyone in the UK is waiting with bated breath for Pope Benedict XVI's controversial state visit to Britain. Ah, the vast cost to the taxpayer of this papal jamboree, the need for police protection, the continuing child-abuse scandals, the "No Popery Here" T-shirts, the ignorance of global warming and the loopy justifications for overpopulating the planet. It promises to be more entertaining than the Olympic Games. What you might have missed in the furore is that to coincide with this visit the Vatican Museums have lent London's V&A four of Raphael's tapestries from the Sistine Chapel: The Miraculous Drought of Fishes (shown above), Christ's Charge of Peter, The Healing of the Lame Man and The Sacrifice at Lystra. These have never been seen in the UK before. They will hang alongside the V&A's own Raphael cartoons for the series. Raphael: Cartoons and Tapestries for the Sistine Chapel will run from 8 September to 17 October. Admission will be free, but you must book tickets in advance (title link).

Pre-Raphaelites & Italy

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has a major art exhibition in the pipeline. From 16 September to 5 December it will show The Pre-Raphaelites and Italy, an acclaimed exhibition first held in the Ravenna Museum of Art. Over 140 pictures by members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood will be shown, some never having been displayed in the UK before. Tate Britain will be lending this oil painting to the Ashmolean: Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Monna Vanna (1866), also known as Belcolore. Admission will be £8 or £6 for silver surfers. Click the title link to learn more and to book tickets.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Painted Nudes

It seems the UK can't get rid of Spencer Tunick. Our yuppies are queuing up to drop their knickers for him. Stung by the criticism that photographing a herd of nudes (What is the collective noun? A skin? A Tunick?) isn't art, Spencer has got his latest crop of nudes to don paint. Body art it ain't, but it is more colourful than the usual blushing pinkos. And, according to the BBC's Anna Holligan, this is Europe's first nude art installation at a festival (the Big Chill Festival). Click the title link to view the BBC video.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Open Sesame

Seriously, folks, art needs a lot more Rudolf and a lot less bull. The title of this painting by Chinese artist Liu Guangguang is One Inch Photo (2009), which seems to have lost something in the translation. You'll find Liu's work shown with that of another artist, Chen Hongzhu, at the Sesame Gallery in London in the exhibition New Beijing: Young painting from China, from 23 September to 21 October. You might have to make an appointment (title link).

Monday, 9 August 2010

Lehman Bros' 'Art'

I've said it before and I'll say it again: when big companies start wasting money on rubbish masquerading as art, it's time to sell your shares and get the hell out. Take this tripe as an example: Gary Hume's Madonna, which is expected to fetch £80,000-£120,000 at a Christie's auction in London on 29 September. Any firm that squanders money on vastly overpriced donkey's manure like this has obviously reached its level of incompetence. Yes, folks, it's in Lehman Brothers' European collection. A similar sale will take place in New York on 25 September. Let's hope the creditors gain a few pence out of these sales.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Moore Sketch Theft

Henry Moore's sketch of Three Reclining Figures On Pedestals, valued at about £45,000, is one of three artworks stolen from the Trinity House Fine Art gallery in Broadway, south Worcestershire, by four men or youths. The theft seems to have taken place on 6 August. Such news seems to take a couple of days to reach London, despite the fact that time is of the essence if the stolen artworks are to be recovered. Are the carrier pigeons of fuzz in the sticks overfed and too fat to fly? For Goodness' sake!

Threadneedle Prize

The only problem with art prizes is that clueless clots who know nothing about art are usually chosen to judge them. Of the seven artworks shortlisted for this year's Threadneedle Prize, only two are worth looking at: Boyd & Evans' Clee Hill (£15,000) and Paul Cummings' Road Side (£18,000). Click the title link to view them. By far the best painting I found is this neat little illustration for the prize on Facebook (CLICK). And they don't credit the artist! Oh come on. Who painted it? The Threadneedle Prize exhibition runs from 2 to 18 September at the the Mall Galleries, London, admission £2.50, silver surfers £1.50 (CLICK). The winner will be announced on the 15th. Don't hold your breath.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Albert Anker

If you happen to be in Bern, Switzerland - maybe lost while seeking Antony Gormley's latest tosh in the Austrian Alps (CLICK) -, it would pay you to visit the Kunstmuseum Bern, which is celebrating the greatest of all Swiss painters with a major exhibition until 19 September: Albert Anker: Beautiful World, On the Centenary of His Death. This charming painting of a young girl braiding her hair, Mädchen die Haare flechtend (1887), is a fine example of his art. CLICK for his equally charming Girl Peeling Potatoes. Click the title link to learn more.

Whitechapel Gallery

It's kiddie time at the Whitechapel Gallery in east London. Today it opens the Children's Art Commission by Jake and Dinos Chapman, who transformed galleries 5 and 6 with illustrations from their forthcoming book Bedtime Tales for Sleepless Nights. You'll find original etchings of modern-day fairy tales told in poetry and illustrated with intricate, fantastical drawings. There are also bookable drawing and poetry workshops for children, run by the artists. The exhibition continues until 31 October, admission free. Click the title link for details.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Jumbo Picasso

Some pictures need a human figure to show you the scale of the work. This glamorous young lady has such shapely legs that they put to shame those of Picasso's trolls frolicking on a beach. CLICK if you must view the monstrous painting Picasso created for Diaghilev’s Le Train Bleu in 1924. You'll find it on display at the V&A Museum from 25 September to 9 January 2011 as part of the exhibition Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909 - 1929. Don't think I'll bother. The admission price is £10 adults, £8 silver surfers. I should Coco! Click the title link for more information.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Sir Thomas Lawrence

London's National Portrait Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, USA, have organised a major exhibition of over 50 artworks by Sir Thomas Lawrence, the finest English portrait painter of his day. Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance is the first UK exhibition of his work for 30 years, bringing together his greatest paintings and drawings from public and private collections around the world. It runs from 21 October to 23 January 2011, then moves to the USA. The admission price is the only bad news: £12. Ouch! I've illustrated this post with a double portrait of which Lawrence said "This is my best picture": The Calmady Children (1823). CLICK for a recently discovered self-portrait.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

LS Lowry Auction

I must admit LS Lowry's naive art doesn't usually appeal to me, but this grim industrial vista conveys a powerful sense of claustrophobia. The Steps, Irk Place (1928) - estimated value £400,000 to £600,000 - is one of a private collection of Lowry paintings that Christie's will put up for auction in London on 11 November. The 21 artworks, which range from early landscape drawings to painted panoramas, are expected to fetch a total of £5m.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Rankin Nudes

Rankin Photography is exhibiting digitally retouched photos of some of the world’s top models in the buff, such as Lily Cole. Who? Never mind. The idea behind Painting Pretty Pictures is to make the photos look like oil paintings. So where's all the cracked varnish? It doesn't work for me, but the nudes are okay. The exhibition continues at the Annroy Gallery in Kentish Town, London, until 29 August. Click the title like for details and some great images.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Gormley Strikes Again

Antony Gormley's nude body cast is spreading across the planet. His latest installation of naked self is Horizon Field in the Alpine mountains of Vorarlberg, Austria. It consists of 100 lifesize, solid cast iron figures forming a horizontal line at 2,039 meter thingies above sea level. The Kunsthaus Bregenz invited him to inflict his tosh on the Alps (CLICK). The opening took place at noon on Saturday 31 July, but it's taken until today to get the news out. Click the title link to watch a BBC video of intrepid explorer Bethany Bell coming face to face with Gormley's tosh. Oo-er.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

The Horse in Art

There can be no disputing the fact that horses lend themselves to art. The Society of Equestrian Artists’ International Open Exhibition The Horse in Art gallops across the Mall Galleries in London from 3 to 8 August, admission free (title link). The exhibition includes painting, printmaking and sculpture. This fine example is Washing Down by Katy Sodea SEA, a Cuneo Medal Winner. SEA is a registered charity with over 500 members, including many internationally renowned professionals (CLICK).

Egg Whisk 'Art'

Following yesterday's post about a planning notice for a "public art structure" at Gants Hill, the editor of Barkingside 21 (CLICK) managed to track down an artist's impression of this proposed structure, which will loom over Gants Hill Roundabout if it receives planning permission. It's been nicknamed "The Egg Whisk". Its sole purpose appears to be to distract drivers as they approach the roundabout and thereby cause accidents. And the cost of this dangerous device will come out of public funds! Click the title link to visit Redbridge i and lodge your protest. Clicking on "Start a Search for a Planning application" and entering 1600/10 in the Planning Reference box will locate the proposal and allow you to comment on it.