Wednesday, 31 July 2013

E17 Summer Show

There won't be an E17 Art Trail this year. Instead there will be the E17 Art Trail Summer Show 2013, with artworks hung salon-style throughout Penny Fielding’s shop, gallery and courtyard garden at 34 Orford Road, Walthamstow Village (CLICK). All the artists are based in Walthamstow and will be showing a range of media: painting, printmaking, photography, mixed media and ceramics. The show runs from 1-25 August. Shown is a detail from the poster.

Hesketh Hubbard

The next show at the Mall Galleries in London is the Hesketh Hubbard Annual Exhibition, which opens on 5 August and runs until 10 August (CLICK). This is London's largest life-drawing society and has been holding weekly drawing classes since 1930. Members paint portraits as well as nudes and seem rather coy about their figure drawings. So here is Jiri Keller's portrait of David Lloyd Smith. Admission is free. So turn up the collar of your gabardine raincoat, pull you hat low and creep in.

Art under Attack

The Worshipful Company of Mercers has agreed to lend this Statue of the Dead Christ to Tate Britain to form the centrepiece of its exhibition Art under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm (CLICK). The statue was unearthed in 1954 in the Mercers’ Chapel, where it had been buried to escape destruction by Protestant religious reformers in the 16th century, the no-popery-here brigade. Flitting through attacks on paintings by those nasty suffragettes, the exhibition moves to modern rubbish which has been attacked because it is in itself an attack on art! This all might be of historic interest, but aesthetically it looks a dead loss. The show opens on 2 October. Prices? £13.50 for adults, £11.30 for silver surfers.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Burka Avenger

Pakistani TV has a new cartoon superheroine Burka Avenger (2013). By day she is a mild-mannered teacher in a girls' school, but she has secret martial arts skills. When her school is threatened by local reactionary villains, she dons her flowing burka to hide her identity and to attack them. Pakistani feminists don't like her wearing a burka, because they see it as a symbol of male oppression of women, but a Wonder Woman flashing her bare thighs would go down like a ton of bricks in such a backward country. The important thing is that Taliban-style thugs are depicted as the dickheads they are (CLICK).

Vandal Caught

Police have arrested a woman for splattering green paint in the Washington National Cathedral. She vandalised the Children's Chapel in the cathedral's nave and an organ and floor in the Bethlehem Chapel in the basement (CLICK). Samples of the paint will be sent to the FBI for testing, to determine if it is the same paint that was used to vandalise two other Washington DC monuments recently. On Friday green paint was found on the sculpture of Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Memorial was closed for the day while US National Park Service staff cleaned the statue, as shown above. The next target for the phantom green-paint splasher was the statue of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, also on the National Mall. The impressive statue of Abraham Lincoln (1920) is world famous, but I wonder how many people can name the sculptor. Answer: Daniel Chester French (CLICK).

Monday, 29 July 2013

Pink Devon Cottage

Behold Lantern Cottage in Kennford, Devon, a 17th Century thatched cob cottage. The owners painted it this lurid girlie pink and Teignbridge District Council has thrown a wobbler over the colour, because the cottage is a listed building (CLICK). The Conservative-run council has given the owners three years to repaint their cottage a more acceptable colour or shade of pink (the previous colour, according to the owners). Are councillors merely being sexist or do they have a point?

Camden Tosh

Yesterday I mentioned the "highfalutin gobbledygook" dished out by art galleries to bamboozle the punters (scroll down or CLICK). Here's a perfect example from the Camden Arts Centre in London.

"Emma Hart does not make art that tries to make sense of the world. Rejecting the contemplative environment of the gallery space, she makes work that captures the confusion, stress and nausea of everyday experience. For Hart, there is a divide between the overwhelming chaos of reality and the way the video or photograph smoothes (sic) it out. Central to her work is a determined frustration with the limits and restrictions of the lens. Through sculpture she corrupts digital images and spatially infects videos, ‘dirtying’ the images and squeezing more life out of them. Hart’s unexpected meshing of materials results in work that is raw, detailed and fractured."

In short, crap. This blurb is Camden Arts Centre's way of introducing us to Emma Hart's latest show Dirty Looks, which opened recently. It limps alongside a worthless retrospective of Swede Jockum Nordstrom's tosh: All I Have Learned and Forgotten Again. Shown is a detail from his Barndomens Definitiva Slut/The Final End of Childhood (2001). Entry to both shows is free and needs to be (CLICK). Guess what, folks, the Camden Arts Centre is supported by Arts Council England. This is how it wastes our taxes.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Art Trail Spoof

An anonymous jester has created leaflets for The Colne Valley Sculpture Trail (2013) in West Yorkshire (CLICK). The fictional trail promotes "A 3 mile walk past 12 artworks located in the beautiful Pennine Colne Valley". The "artworks" include an abandoned bath in a field, a derelict house and a collapsed dry-stone wall. Each piece has been given a title, a fictitious artist and a pretentious blurb, the sort of highfalutin gobbledygook dished out by art galleries and promoted by Arts Council England. As a Mickey-take on the art lark, it's excellent. It could also promote a few healthy walks (CLICK).

Coconut Octopus

This may not strike you as the burning question of the day, but I feel obliged to ask it, mainly because the subject makes a terrific photo. Is the Veined or Coconut Octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) the world's most intelligent cephalopod? It is the only invertebrate known to use tools and one of only two octopuses known to exhibit bipedal behaviour by "walking" on two of its legs. Its tool-making consists of building its own little fortress out of cut halves of coconut shells. Hence one of its common names. CLICK to see a BBC video of it in action. It lives in the tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean. Now that I've attracted your attention with this fascinating cephalopod, may I ask you to sign an AVAAZ online petition to save Australia's Great Barrier Reef? For years the Great Barrier Reef has been under threat from global warming, industrial pollution and even wild pig poo (CLICK). Recently US fighter jets dumped bombs near it during a military exercise that went wrong (CLICK)! Please CLICK to sign the petition.

Saturday, 27 July 2013


Sorry, folks. I've had to bring back the CAPTCHA for comments. Not only have I been receiving automated spam, but also genuine comments are being spammed out as well. So I'm forced to wade through my spam box to recover the genuine comments. Waste of time.

Coronation 1953

Today the Royal Collection Trust opened The Queen's Coronation 1953 in The State Rooms of Buckingham Palace (CLICK). The exhibition marks the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, bringing together for the first time since that day dresses, uniforms and robes, paintings and other works of art. Shown is the Robe of Estate, which must have been a drag to wear. CLICK for a BBC picture gallery of exhibits. Admission prices are astronomical: £19 adults, £17.50 silver surfers! This isn't a show for Her Majesty's impoverished subjects, but a ripoff for rich tourists.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Banksy Mural Gone!

Another Banksy mural in London has been removed! Yesterday No Ball Games (2009) was cut from the side of a shop at the junction of Tottenham High Road and Philip Lane. The Sincura Group, which auctioned Banksy's Slave Labour amid a storm of protest earlier this year, confirmed that it had been approached by the anonymous vandal to handle the sale of the mural (CLICK). Great Britain is a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, under which an artist has the right to decide how his art is treated and disposed of (CLICK). Then we have the Artists Resale Right in Europe (CLICK). The Sincura Group - slogan "Your gateway to a VIP life" - and its anonymous vandal seem intent on driving a coach and horses through these rights. We'll have nothing left of Banksy in London if this continues!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Blue Cock Unveiled

Today Mayor of London Bouncy Boris unveiled the latest sculpture on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square: Katharina Fritsch's Hahn/Cock (2013), a giant ultramarine cockerel. The artist is German, the cockerel a french symbol of strength and regeneration. The square is named after the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, in which Admiral Lord Nelson trounced the French during the Napoleonic Wars and was killed for his pains. So a Franco-German blue cock is a national insult from the EU. Referring to David Cameron's bid to have online pornography blocked by search engines, Bouncy joked "I think if you tried to Google it in the future, the Prime Minister would stop you from finding it" (CLICK).

Cine Lux

London-based artist Danilo Piga is a film buff. Movies inspire him. Hence his latest exhibition, which opened today at 13 The Gallery in Newington Green, London, is called Cine Lux (CLICK). The example shown is Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2012). Remember that swaying sword fight in the treetops? Daft, but visually stunning. The show runs until i6 August. Entry is free.

A Royal Arrival

If you're not already sick of all the fawning, scraping and hype following the birth of Prince George, you might be interested in the Museum of London's exhibition A Royal Arrival, which opened last month in anticipation of the delivery. It shows 400 years of royal infants' clothes and memorabilia, from Charles I to George III and Edward VII (CLICK). Timothy Long, Curator of Fashion and Decorative Arts, shows examples in the YouTube video. The show runs until October and entry to the museum is free, so this could be a visit for the school summer holidays. There is plenty to interest boys and tomboys too.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Prince George China

Prince George Alexander Louis (GAL) has hardly had time to fill his first nappy and I've already received an email from the Royal Collection Trust offering me a range of exclusively designed commemorative china. The range includes a dessert plate for £45, a small loving cup for £39 and a pillbox for £30 (CLICK). The design incorporates TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s coronet supported by the unicorn and lion of the Royal Arms and surrounded by oak leaves from the Middleton coat of arms plus gold-edged scrolls bearing the full name and birth date of the royal nipper, young GAL.

Jane Austen Tenner

The Bank of England has confirmed that its next £10 note will feature authoress Jane Austen (CLICK). A month ago, before he retired, Sir Mervyn King dropped a heavy hint that Jane Austen was "waiting in the wings" for the next £10 note. This will keep the feminists happy. They've been moaning about the dearth of women on our banknotes.

Aviation Paintings

Yesterday the Guild of Aviation Artists (GAVA) opened its annual Aviation Paintings of the Year exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London (CLICK). This is the world’s largest exhibition of aviation art, with top professionals and gifted amateurs showing paintings depicting early flight to the present day. Shown is Patricia Forrest's Fortress Malta, A 70-year Tribute (2012). Not only is this a terrific painting, but also it recalls the George Cross Island's contribution to the war effort (CLICK). My father served as a bombardier in Malta for most of WWII, manning a Bofors anti-aircraft gun, one of a battery trying to protect Ta Kali Aerodrome from Junkers Ju 88 bombers and Stuka dive-bombers. The exhibition runs until 28 July, admission free. To view more great aviation art, visit the GAVA website: CLICK.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Blue Niagara

I was expecting royal watchers in Britain to wet their knickers with excitement at the news of the Duchess of Cambridge's new baby, but I wasn't expecting Niagara Falls to turn blue for a boy (CLICK). Presumably the falls were ready to go pink for a girl. Very sexist, but rather pretty. Those of you who suffer from a nervous disposition might like to brace yourselves for the traditional 41-gun salute by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park at 2pm. Also at 2pm the Honourable Artillery Company - the City of London's army reserve regiment - will fire a 62-gun salute from Gun Wharf at the Tower of London. And the bells of Westminster Abbey will start ringing for three hours! Come to think of it, if you suffer from a nervous disposition what the hell are you doing in Ghetto London?

Monday, 22 July 2013

A Boy For Kate

"Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge, was safely delivered of a son at 4.24pm today. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well" (CLICK)

Kieron's Latest Show

Here's one of the latest paintings by junior landscape artist Kieron Williamson, nicknamed the "Mini Monet", After The Snow, Trunch. He is now 10 years old. His latest show at the Picturecraft Gallery Exhibition Centre in Holt, Norfolk, opened on Friday and promptly sold out, but the exhibition runs until 31 July. To buy one of Kieron's paintings, you need to fill in a form and make your bid in advance of the exhibition (CLICK). Collectors from New York, South Africa and China are queueing to invest in his works, some of which are now in the Royal Collection (CLICK).

Freddie Mercury Mk2

A fortnight ago I posted news of the GoGoGorillas in Norwich and a copyright fuss over Mik Richardson's Freddie Mercury lookalike Radio Go Go gorilla (CLICK). It seems the face was the problem for the Mercury Phoenix Trust, not the jacket as was originally reported. Here we see Mik Richardson's first Freddie Mercury face (left) and the new handsome gorilla face, which I regard as far better, although Mik thinks it less fun. Freddie is now back on the gorilla trail (CLICK).

Kate in Labour

Kensington Palace has released a statement to confirm that Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, was admitted to hospital early this morning and is in the early stages of labour. She was accompanied to St Mary's in Paddington, west London, by her husband, the Duke of Cambridge (CLICK). Royal watchers and the press will be skipping about in excitement. The world's press has been camped outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital for weeks. The royal nipper was rumoured to be due in the middle of July, so it is supposedly one week overdue, but this is medical nonsense. Doctors calculate the due date from the last period of menstruation. This produces an estimate, give or take a week. The video still shows Kate and William leaving St Mary's Hospital following her treatment for dehydration during the early stage of her pregnancy. Let's hope she still looks as chipper as she did then. The next news from Kensington Palace will probably be the birth. How long will that take? Research suggests that the more anxious the prospective mother is the longer and more difficult the birth will be. A relaxed Duchess could pop the baby out later today.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Whistler and Thames

On 16 October the Dulwich Picture Gallery will open An American in London: Whistler and the Thames (CLICK). American-born James Abbott McNeill Whistler first arrived in London in 1859 and his early paintings of this period mark one of his most successful and profound assaults on the art establishment of his day. This major exhibition will include his paintings of Chelsea and the Thames River, as well as prints, drawings, watercolours and pastels. His Nocturnes are highlights of the show. Above is his Self-portrait Sketch. Entry will cost £11 for adults, £10 silver surfers.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Unseen Enemy

Today the National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, opened Unseen Enemy, an unusual exhibition which looks at the victims of Improvised Explosive Devices. An Afghan alleyway has been set up and visitors are invited to spot signs that an IED has been laid somewhere along the alley. This isn't an exhibition which glorifies war, but shows how soldiers cope with loss of limbs. Admission is free. So this could be one for the school holidays (CLICK).

Wanstead Flats Fire

I don't know whether BBC reporters are too young or too foreign to know their facts, but they certainly aren't worth their overblown salaries. Here's an example. Two grass fires broke out on Wanstead Flats yesterday and the BBC flew a helicopter over the main fire to film it (CLICK). BBC reporters and the BBC website managed to report on the fires without ever mentioning Wanstead Flats or the London Borough of Redbridge! I quote: "Wanstead Flats is the southern-most portion of Epping Forest in eastern London. It falls within the boundary of the London Borough of Redbridge" (CLICK). It took seconds for me to find Wanstead Flats on Wikipedia, but then I knew what I was seeking; the BBC didn't. It correctly reported that the main fire was on the Leytonstone side of the Flats, but gave the erronious impression that it was Epping Forest on fire. Heading north, there is more grassland, with thickets of gorse and broom, and Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge before you enter Epping Forest proper. In fact the Lodge is known as "Epping Forest Gateway" (CLICK). The Flats and the Forest are run by The City of London Corporation.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Magnificent Masques

Today the Banqueting House at Whitehall in London opened Performing for the King: The Making of a Court Masque, which runs until 1 September (CLICK). These royal entertainments were one-off spectacles held to amuse the Stuart kings in the early decades of the 17th Century. The great architect Inigo Jones, who designed the Banqueting House, also worked as theatrical designer to create these lavish masques, many in collaboration with Ben Jonson. Shown is Inigo Jones' pen-and-wash Design for a Knight in a Court Masque. BBC News has posted an audio slide show produced by Paul Kerley with voiceover by Rhiannon Goddard from Historic Royal Palaces (CLICK). Entry is £5 for adults or £4 for silver surfers. Under 16s are free.

Wax One Direction

Yesterday to girlie squeals Madame Tussauds in New York unveiled its latest waxworks Summer Of One Direction (CLICK). Er ... yes, it's Brit. boy band One Direction doing their thing in the USA. This is Brit. culture well worth exporting somewhere ... anywhere. Make lots of dosh, lads, and stay as long as you like. Just keep sending the cheques back to Blighty to pay for your income tax.

Frogmore House

This year the annual opening of Frogmore House - a favourite royal retreat - is on 17, 18 and 19 August. It was originally purchased by George III for his wife, Queen Charlotte. The Queen created the picturesque garden setting and her passion for botany is reflected in the beautiful interior decoration of the house (CLICK). Prices and bookings are not yet available.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Femen Marianne Rumpus

Marianne is the fictitious bare-breasted heroine who led the French Revolution, enshrined in Eugene Delacroix's famous painting Liberty Leading the People (1830). She features on French stamps and new designs are regularly commissioned. The latest version of Marianne has caused a whimper of complaint since one of its co-designers, Olivier Ciappa, admitted on his Twitter account that he had been inspired by Inna Shevchenko, one of the Ukrainian radical feminist group Femen who bare their breasts in protest. They've bared them in Paris (CLICK). They've bared them in London (CLICK). I'm still waiting for them to bare them in Barkingside. The 23-year-old Ukrainian Inna Shevchenko has been granted political asylum in France, presumably because her bare breasts are frowned upon in the Ukraine. French conservatives have voiced complaints over Marianne's new image being inspired by a radical Ukrainian. The right-wing Christian Democratic Party has called for a boycott of the new stamp (CLICK). It's all a storm in a D cup.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

British Heritage

Here's a perfect example of British heritage art which should have been saved for the nation: Sir Edward John Poynter's The Ionian Dance (1895). It sold in London at Bonhams’ 19th Century Paintings sale on 10th July for £301,250. Another masterpiece that went under the hammer was John Atkinson Grimshaw's Glasgow Docks (1883), which fetched £205,250 (CLICK). These are piddling amounts when compared with the £16.5m needed to buy Rembrandt's Rembrandt Laughing (CLICK).

Kunsthal Heist Loss

Remember the robbery from the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, last October? If not, CLICK. Lucian Freud's Woman with Eyes Closed was the best of the stolen works, seven avant-garde paintings worth about 100 million euro thingies ($130 million). The media deemed it the Theft of the Century. Romanian police collared six Romanians for the crime. They go on trial in Bucharest next month. The mother of suspect Radu Doragu has admitted incinerating the stolen paintings in her stove after her son was arrested! So it's a permanent tat-ta to these works (CLICK). Dutch police still haven't arrested anyone working in the Kunsthal at the time, despite the obvious fact that somebody selected and stacked the paintings to be stolen. The thieves couldn't have chosen and removed these works in 90 seconds.

Self-portrait Prize

Would you pay £10,000 for this tripe? Thomas Newbolt's Self-portrait has won the Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Competition 2013 and has been awarded the top prize of £10,000 (CLICK). It and 120 other shortlisted works are on display at Kings Place, London, until 22 September. Rather you than me.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Rembrandt Laughing

Culture tzar Ed Vaizey has refused to allow the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to take Rembrandt's Rembrandt Laughing (c. 1628) out of the UK until 15 October. He hopes this will give enough time for a British buyer to raise the £16.5m needed to save it for the nation (CLICK). Why bother? This isn't British heritage; it's Dutch heritage. Let's keep the £16.5m and use it to save some British heritage from being lost. British masterpieces are vanishing every time there's another auction in the UK.

Tate Peregrines

Tate Passé in London finally has an attraction worth viewing. Peregrine falcons have taken up residence on Tate's chimney. Shown is David Shaw's photo of a peregrine coming in to land at Tate. These birds can reach 200 mph when diving on their prey. The RSPB is running a peregrine watch with telescopes to give you the best views of these birds. Helpers will tell you how peregrines are adapting to city life. The meeting point is the Tate side of the Millennium footbridge. The viewing takes place throughout July and August, 11:00 – 18:00 hours. CLICK to learn more.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Liu Yifei Muse

Here's another of May Fong Robinson's beautiful digital "paintings" using Photoshop and Intuos04 Wacam: Into The Light. The Subject is Liu Yifei, a Chinese actress, model and singer who holds United States citizenship. She is also known as Crystal Liu (CLICK). May Fong has created at least five portraits of Liu Yifei, who could add "artist's muse" to her CV. The centrally placed earring is a nice touch in this off-centre portrait. CLICK to see more of May Fong Robinson's breathtaking digital art.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

English Glass

Here's a perfect example of how British culture is lost. These two English glass cameo plaques are considered the finest works of brothers George and Thomas Woodall in the late 19th century. On the left is The Attack, on the right The Intruders. CLICK to see a larger graphic. The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, recently acquired The Attack and has reunited it with The Intruders, which it has owned for some time. The Museum is closed for renovations, but its Glass Studio is open (CLICK).

Royal Baby

The fuss being made over the unborn baby of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is unbelievable. Nice for William; stiff upper lip for Kate; but it's no big deal. Around the world 360,000 suckers are born every day. That's more than twice as many as die every day, which gives you an idea of the problem humanity is inflicting on the planet. Yet the BBC is pondering what pressies should be bought for the royal nipper, apart from a silver spoon, and what name should be given to him or her. It's also posted a video of Madame Tussauds waxwork of the royal couple, which is being moved to a more prominent position in readiness for the birth (CLICK). Will there be a waxwork of the newborn? asks Auntie. What a daft question!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Rossetti's Proserpine

This version of Proserpine (1880) by Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti is one of five versions he produced, using Jane Morris, wife of artist William Morris, as his model. This one was created with coloured chalks and hasn't been seen on the art market for more than 40 years. It is expected to fetch up to £1.8 million at Sotheby's London auction in November. The current owner remains anonymous (CLICK). So it is unlikely the drawing will remain in the UK. British art is only saved for the nation if some damned duke owns it. That makes it historically important!

Malala Day

Happy birthday to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by a Taliban terrorist for advocating girls' education. She celebrated her 16th birthday today by addressing the UN in New York. She told more than 500 students at a specially convened youth assembly that books and pens scare extremists. "They are afraid of women," she said. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also addressed today's meeting, calling Malala "our hero" and "our champion" and demanding the world "invest in young people and put education first." (CLICK). Weaning them from nutty religion would be a start.

Bodypainting Fest

The 15th World Bodypainting Festival in Poertschach, Austria, has selected its winners and posted PDF files in all categories showing the scores (CLICK). The Telegraph has posted an online picture gallery (CLICK). How this picture of an Anonymous Jumping Model entered The Telegraph's new gallery, I don't know, because she's from last year's festival. I thought she looked familiar.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Armed Forces Art

The 79th Armed Forces Art Society exhibition opens at the Mall Galleries in London on Monday 15 July and runs until Saturday 20 July, admission free (CLICK). All the members have at one time served in the British armed forces or are currently serving. Shown is Mike Willdridge's Pathani Handlers (detail). Exhibits include paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures. CLICK for the AFAS gallery.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Andy in Beano

Will the media ever stop frolicking with excitement over Andy Murray's historic Wimbledon win? The 75th anniversary issue of The Beano will feature Andy and Judy Murray (2013) with Andy playing Minnie the Minx (CLICK). Some of the more serious pundits have commented that Virginia Wade's 1977 Wimbledon win seems to have been airbrushed out of history. And what of Ann Haydon-Jones championship win over Billie Jean King in 1969? The trouble is in those days the Wimbledon ladies singles championship was little more than a fashion show for Teddy Tinling's tennis outfits. Who was wearing his frilly knickers this year was the big news on Ladies Day (CLICK). If you wanted real tennis without the frills, you watched the men's singles championship.

Yoko Ono's Smile

If you've ever wanted to be part of an art installation thingy, now's your chance. Yoko Ono wants you to send her a photo of your smile to say "Hello. How you doing?" for some daft project which opens at Manchester Art Gallery this week as part of the Manchester International Festival (CLICK). Some of the world's worst artists will be displaying tripe there. I'm reminded of the Hammer Film Productions' Manchester crime movie Hell Is a City (1960) written and directed by Val Guest. The graphic I've chosen for this post is Norman Mingo's Alfred E. Neuman, created for Mad magazine in 1952.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

TPOTY 2013

The Travel Photographer of the Year 2013 exhibition opens at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington, London, on 12 July and runs until 18 August. Admission is free. There are some stunning shots. I love this one by Jan Schlegel from Germany showing a Kara tribe warrior, Omo River Valley, Ethiopia (2012) bringing home dinner. (At least, that's my fantasy. Maybe he makes crocodile handbags for tourists.) Jan was runner-up in the People Watching portfolio. CLICK for a BBC News Magazine audio slide show by Paul Kerley. CLICK for TPOTY. CLICK for the Royal Geographical Society.

RHS Flower Show

BBC News has published a slide show of photos taken at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2013, which opened to the public today and runs until 14 July (CLICK). I noticed these Wicker Badger Sculptures, which I believe are by Woody Fox. How ironic that these much loved native animals are being culled by our ignorant government in vain hope of curbing bovine TB! (CLICK for RHS.)

Monday, 8 July 2013

Norwich Gorilla Art

If you don't fancy the journey to Bristol for Gromit Unleashed (CLICK) how about GoGoGorillas in Norwich? A lorryload of life-sized gorillas and babies have invaded the city to form a public art trail. Shown is Norfolk artist Kate Munro's Bling Kong (2013) at stop 32 on the eight-mile trail around the city (CLICK). The Mercury Phoenix Trust threw a wobbler over Mik Richardson's Freddie Mercury lookalike Radio Go Go gorilla, claiming a breach of copyright, and demanded it be removed from the trail (CLICK). Spoilsports. The whole thing is in aid of charities Break and the Born Free Foundation. The gorillas will be auctioned on 3 October at The Forum, Norwich. CLICK for details.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Well Done, Andy

Congratulations to Andy Murray for becoming the first Briton to win the Men's Singles Championship at the All England Club since Fred Perry in 1936. Andy beat Novak Djokovic in straight sets: 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. The score makes it seem easier than it was. Djokovic fought every inch of the way. The match took three hours 10 minutes on the hottest day of the year so far. Both players used ice packs to cool down while taking breathers between serve changeovers. The crowds went bananas (CLICK).

Abu Qatada Goes!

With apologies to Douglas Adams, I thought this graphic was the best way to say tat-ta to Islamic fruitcake Abu Qatada - real name Imar Othman -, who has finally been deported back to Jordon to face trial: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. The cost of ridding the UK of this dangerous and most undesirable alien has been estimated at £1.7m ($2.5m). And we sent him off in a private jet (CLICK)! The big question is: How many more Muslim fundamentalist nutters do we have preaching murder in the UK and can we afford to deport them all? The latest Muslim atrocity took place in Nigeria's Mamudo town, Yobe state. A gang of suspected Islamists, almost certainly belonging to Boko Haram, attacked a school and set fire to it while pupils were still inside. At least 29 pupils and a teacher were murdered. Children who escaped the blaze were shot dead (CLICK). "Islam is peace"? Pull the other leg; it has bells on it.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Saint Kate

Here's Kaya Mar lugging his latest attempt at painting past the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London yesterday. The Duchess of Cambridge is due to have her baby here. The daub shows Saint Kate with a halo and bloody leg holding the new Crown Prince with a Corgi at her feet (2013). Why does he bother painting tripe like this? Don't give up the day job, Kaya. I must admit I think it's a shame the royal fashion icon hasn't published a photo of her bare baby bump on the cover of Scouting magazine to act as a role model for girl guides, the way modern catwalk queens do.

Pietre Dure II

This is only the second time I've featured pietre dure (Italian for "hard stone") on my blog. (CLICK to view the first example.) "Stone marquetry" is another way of describing the artistic cutting of semiprecious stones, such as agate and lapis lazuli, to create ornate luxury objects. This magnificent example, a fishing scene, has been attributed to Baccio Cappelli, a leading artist in the Grand Ducal Workshops, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, in Florence in the 17th century. Thought to be worth only £10,000, the stone picture panel fetched £157,250 at Bonhams auction (CLICK).