Monday, 30 September 2013

The Risen Christ

The Burlington Magazine claims to have unearthed a previously unknown painting by the great Venetian artist Titian in a private collection. The Risen Christ features on the cover of its October issue. It expects you to pay to read the full story (CLICK)!

The Male Nude

Are men's genitals becoming more socially acceptable? They've popped up ... er ... been on display in the Leopold Museum in Vienna (CLICK), the Musée d'Orsay in Paris (CLICK) and the ICA in London (CLICK). The Wallace Collection in London is next to pump up its courage with The Male Nude: Eighteenth-century Drawings from the Paris Academy, which opens on 24 October, admission free (CLICK). Around 40 drawings of male nudes from the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries will be on loan from the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Many of the works on show are by artists represented in the Wallace Collection: Rigaud, Boucher, Nattier, Carle van Loo, Gros and Jean-Baptiste Isabey. The drawings on loan are all "académies" from life classes. Shown is Antoine-Jean Gros' Man standing, striking a bull (1790). There is no health warning on this exhibition. So you can take the kids.

David's Napoleon Real

Here's a story worthy of BBC's Fake or Fortune? This painting of Napoleon Bonaparte (1813) in French National Guard uniform was first recorded in the collection of the Borthwick-Norton family at Borthwick Castle in Scotland. How did it get there? Nobody knows. It passed by descent to Eva Sardinia Borthwick-Norton, who gave it to the Royal Scottish Academy. By this time the painting was dirty, unloved and thought be a copy. So the Academy put it up for auction in 2005 with an estimated value of £15,000. It was bought by a collector in New York, USA. He had it cleaned, revealing the signature of the famous French artist Jacques-Louis David. He then sought authentication from French art expert Dr Simon Lee of the University of Reading. Beneath David's signature was another signature, that of Rouget, with the date 1813. Dr Lee knew that Georges Rouget was David's studio assistant who would do the preparatory work for a new painting. David would then complete the work. So, the painting is the real deal, worth about £2m (CLICK). Red faces at the Royal Scottish Academy.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Conjugal Arms

Every royal needs a coat of arms. What I didn't realise is that married royals get a Conjugal Coat of Arms. Kensington Palace has released this picture of the new coat of arms for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to represent them as a married couple. Prince William's shield (left) is combined with the Middleton family shield, granted by the Queen in 2011 prior to Kate's wedding, to make an "impaled" coat of arms! The collar of the royal lion bears a scallop shell from the Spencer coat of arms, to represent the prince's mum. The good news is that the couple will still use their own coats of arms to represent themselves as individuals, saving stacks of headed notepaper from the bin (CLICK).

Duck Tours Fire

This afternoon an amphibious Duck Tours craft on the River Thames caught fire near the Houses of Parliament. Most of the tourists on board, including a handful of young children, jumped into the river to escape the flames and smoke. Emergency services rescued all 28 passengers and two crew members. Three people have been taken to hospital "as a precaution". Last month Liverpool revoked the operating licence of such amphibious vehicles after two sank in Liverpool's Albert Dock (CLICK).

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Raoof Haghighi

Having carped about the judges and wannabees in this year's Threadneedle Prize exhibition, I thought I'd show you the one absolutely brilliant entry I spotted: Surrender (2012) by Raoof Haghighi. This is photo realism at its very best. Yes, folks, it's an oil painting! Its price tag is £10,000. I also picked another of Raoof's paintings in last year's show: Vicky (CLICK). Once again he failed to make the shortlist, because the judges aren't seeking great paintings or sculptures; they want to bamboozle us with rubbish they can foist on us as innovative art. In 2011 Raoof was awarded Artist of the Year by Artists & Illustrators magazine for his painting Roya (CLICK). That's a genuine accolade. He hails from Iran - a good country to get the hell out of - and lives in London. CLICK to visit his Facebook page.

AOI Awards 2013

On 2 October the AOI Illustration Awards Exhibition returns to Somerset House for a second year, presenting this year’s shortlist of contemporary illustration entered into the Association of Illustrators’ (AOI) annual competition. For the first time in the competition’s 37-year history, the shortlist includes illustrators from outside the UK. Shown is Guilia Ghigini's L'Abbraccio (The Hug). Categories include advertising, design, books and editorial. The exhibition runs in the Terrace Rooms, South Wing, until 27 October, admission free (CLICK). To visit AOL CLICK.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Christie's in China

Sign of the times: auctioneer Jin Ling does her thing at Christie's first independent auction in mainland China. The auction was held yesterday in Shanghai. Christie's has been operating in mainland China since 2005 by authorising a Chinese auction firm to use its trademark. You might think Christie's is as British as fish and chips, but it is owned by French billionaire Francois Pinault. Remember the fracas in 2009 when two bronze animal heads looted from Beijing's Old Summer Palace in 1860 were put up for auction in Paris? They were previously owned by the late French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Pinault acquired the two bronzes and handed them back to China in June this year (CLICK). Shrewd move.

Van Gogh in Paris

This is the finest Self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh I've seen, created during December 1886-January 1887. It's on loan from the Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, for Van Gogh in Paris, a new exhibition at the Eykyn Maclean private gallery in London (CLICK). Van Gogh spent two years in Paris, mixing with the likes of Monet, Pissarro, Toulouse-Lautrec and Gauguin. Their radical ideas helped him to develop his own unique style. The exhibition includes paintings by his fellow artists he would have viewed, as well as his own paintings drawn from private collections and rarely seen. You need to reserve tickets to see the show, but they are free. Visit the website for details.

Ark Nova

Is it rude? Is it a vulva? No, it's Ark Nova (2013) designed by Anish Kapoor and Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, a giant balloon made of a coated polyester material. It's the world's first mobile inflatable concert hall - the brainchild of Michael Haefliger, artistic and executive director of the Lucerne Festival - and will tour tsunami-hit areas. Today it stands (floats?) in a park in the northeastern coastal town of Matsushima in the Japanese Miyagi prefecture, which was devastated by the earthquake and 10-meters-high tsunami of 2011. The inaugural concert is today (CLICK).

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Astley Castle

This year's RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Stirling Prize has been won by an innovative holiday home within the ruins of Astley Castle, Warwickshire. The designers were Witherford Watson Mann Architects. CLICK to learn more.

New Serpentine Gallery

This shark's maw is Zaha Hadid's £14.5m extension to the Serpentine Gallery, named The Serpentine Sackler Gallery (2013). The original 200-year-old building in London's Kensington Gardens is a former gunpowder store. Zaha Hadid Architects renovated it inside and out, then added this curving café and events space topped by a wavy glass-fibre textile roof. Inside the gallery, you'll find Adrián Villar Rojas's cracked clay elephant with its head stuck in a wall plus racks of clay sculptures. Below is an artist's impression of the new gallery for planning purposes. It clarifies the project beautifully. The gallery opens on Saturday. BBC London's Brenda Emmanus sneaked a preview: CLICK.

Zaha Hadid Architects - Serpentine Sackler Gallery

Cover Story

If you fancy a trip down Nostalgia Avenue, the Museum of London is the place to visit. Its new exhibition is Cover Story: Radio Times at 90, which runs until 3 November (CLICK). A treasure trove of original covers by artists such as J.B. Priestley, Eric Fraser, Edward Ardizzone and Sir Peter Blake are displayed alongside original photography and artwork for the publication, which was at one time the top-selling magazine in the UK. Admission is free. CLICK for a BBC video.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Fourth Plinth Jokers

Today, in the foyer of St Martin-in-the-Fields off Trafalgar Square, marquettes of the six new contenders for the Fourth Plinth were unveiled. The St Martin's website describes them as "stunning" (CLICK). Stunning in their banality certainly. Liliane Lijn's Two Revolving Robotic Cones (2013) are about as good as it gets. This makes me think of a supine disabled person struggling to rise. There's a thumbs-up sign with an out-of-proportion 32ft thumb, a giant Moon Mask made of aluminium, a skeleton of a horse with a live stock market ticker tape on its leg, a copy of a natural rock formation and, finally, a sculpture which tries to combine all the statues in the square (CLICK). The Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group will select two of these soulless gimmicks for full-sized creation next year.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


Following the success of the Leopold Museum's exhibition of male nudes last year, today the Musée d'Orsay in Paris opened Masculine / Masculine: The Nude Man in Art from 1800 to the Present Day (CLICK). It comes with the usual health warning: "Please note that some of the pieces presented in the exhibition may be shocking to some visitors (particularly children)." Knowing kids, I reckon they'll just fall about laughing, having whispered a few rude comments. Shown is Camille Bellanger's La mort d'Abel (1875).

Jane's Ring Saved

On 2 August I reported that culture tsar Ed Vaizey had slapped a temporary export ban on this rare turquoise-and-gold ring known to have belonged to Jane Austen (CLICK). It had been bought at auction by US pop singer Kelly Clarkson for £152,450. An anonymous donation of £100,000 got the public appeal off to a flying start. Jane Austen's House Museum has announced that its appeal has now raised the readies to save the ring for the nation (CLICK). This is a small private museum in the 17th-century house where Jane Austen lived for her last eight years. It's in the village of Chawton near Alton in Hampshire. The museum hopes to have the ring next year. CLICK for a BBC video.

Day of Peace

Did you know that 21 September is the United Nations International Day of Peace, an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire (CLICK)? Shame nobody told those Islamic lunatics of al-Shabab who attacked the Westgate shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, killing men, women and children without compunction. The latest count is at least 62 people dead, 175 people injured and about 60 people missing. On Monday morning gunfire and explosions were heard and a plume of black smoke rose from the mall, but by Monday evening there was still no final resolution to the siege. On Sunday, while BBC News Live repeated over and over again the footage taken on Saturday, PM David Cameron attempted to reassure any of us suffering from islamophobia. "These appalling terrorist attacks that take place where the perpetrators claim they do it in the name of a religion - they don't," he said. "They do it in the name of terror, violence and extremism and their warped view of the world. They don't represent Islam or Muslims in Britain or anywhere else in the world" (CLICK). That's a relief, David. But from where did they get "their warped view of the world"? And did you notice two suicide bombers in Peshawar, Pakistan, exploded their cars outside the city's historic All Saints Christian church after Sunday Mass? This Islamic atrocity was overshadowed by the massacre in Nairobi, but the death toll was even worse: 75 (CLICK). Nothing to do with religion, of course.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Threadneedle Tripe

That appalling load of tripe The Threadneedle Prize for Painting & Sculpture raises its ugly head yet again at the Mall Galleries in London on 25 September. Of the six shortlisted works, the only one with any pretence to originality is Seamus Moran's Urban Burka (2013) made out of training shoes and priced at £3,000. I assume this is intended as a put-down to Muslims, who regard shoes as some form of insult. The other five shortlisted works are complete rubbish, as is the bulk of "art" in the exhibition (CLICK). Why on earth Threadneedle Investments should waste £30,000 on any of this pathetic tripe is beyond me. Advertising? Why demean your firm by associating its name with profligacy and failure?

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Gromit Unleashed

Nick Park's Gromit Unleashed exhibition in Bristol attracted so many fans - about 3,000 - that the organisers had to stop people joining the queue for a while (CLICK). Shown here are the first four painted Gromits to be unveiled. Quick off the mark were Sir Paul Smith, Cath Kidston, Simon Tofield and Richard Williams. Having been spread around Bristol in July, the 5-feet-tall painted statues are to be auctioned to raise funds for Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal in aid of the Bristol Children's Hospital. CLICK to view a video of the BBC's Jon Kay getting excited over the designer dogs.

A New Rat

Long before the days of photography a natural scientist would need to be or to have in his team an artist, so that new species could be recorded. It's good to see this tradition is still alive. Shown is Jon Fjeldsa's excellent painting of a Spiny Boki Mekot Rat (2013). This is a new genus with tufts of bristly hair on its back and a white tip to its tail. It was found in the mountain forests of Halmahera, in the Moluccas (Maluku) archipelago. Now look at the BBC's cropped version of this painting: CLICK. Too good to be a photo, I thought. So I tracked down the original.

Vettriano And Sex

Today the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow opened Jack Vettriano: A Retrospective, which brings together more than 100 of his paintings from private collections around the world, covering the years from 1992 to 2012 (CLICK). Scotland's most successful living artist has been rubbished by art critics for yonks, because he's too damned popular! How can the self-appointed arbiters of good taste approve of an artist whose prints used to sell in Woolworths? For a vitriolic tirade against Vettriano, CLICK to read The Guardian's impercipient critic. Then CLICK to read a BBC interview with Jack Vettriano. In answer to criticisms of sleaze, he says "Critics don't take sex seriously". They don't like black underwear and stocking tops. Too real. Rather than show one of his famous paintings, I've chosen one you may not have seen before: Blades (2009). Tickets cost £5 adults or £3 silver surfers.

Friday, 20 September 2013

ZSL Photo Prize

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has unveiled the winners and commended entries for the ZSL Animal Photography Prize 2013, which received more than 1,000 entries (CLICK). Winner of the Size Matters category and overall adult winner was Bence Mate with this terrific image A Giant Trophy for a Small Ant (2013). The exhibition is now open, included in the ticket price for London Zoo: £21.50 for adults and £20.00 for silver surfers (a diabolical 93%). Ouch!

Science Museum Art

The Science Museum in London has gone arty with Media Space, Universal Everything & You, "an audio visual installation exploring drawing, gesture and movement in the digital realm" (CLICK). Here is a still from Matt Pyke's Presence (2013), a 24-minute digital show. Two dancers from the Benjamin Millepied LA Dance Project were fitted with motion sensors and filmed as they performed to music. The dancers were then given "digital costumes" and their movements transformed into pulsing lines as they danced again. I'm not sure I'd want to sit through 24 minutes of this, but the still is great. The show opens tomorrow.

Duck in Taiwan

Florentijn Hofman's giant inflatable Yellow Rubber Duck continues to take the world by storm. It has grown a few metres since its last appearance and is now 60 feet tall. Yesterday it sailed into the harbour of the city of Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, and was greeted by cheering crowds, tug boats spraying water and a speech from mayor Chen Chu. It is due to stay for a month, but will need to be deflated and landed as Typhoon Usagi threatens Taiwan (CLICK).

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Michael Jackson To Go

Two and a half years ago Fulham FC chairman Mohammed Al Fayed unveiled this Statue of Michael Jackson outside Craven Cottage and threw a wobbler when somebody suggested the idea was "bizarre" (CLICK). Al Fayed sold the club to American Shahid Khan for £150m in July. The club has now decided to return the statue to Al Fayed (CLICK and if you get a black screen, scroll down; it's a BBC bug).

The Raft of Medusa

Here's another exhibition which opened today: The Raft of Medusa by Wolfe von Lenkiewicz. You'll find it at All Visual Arts in London. The gallery proclaims "This new body of work builds on the artist’s previous coalescences of disparate imagery..." That's enough of the blurb. So, what has this to do with The Journey’s End (2013) shown here? Look closely and you'll see that Wolfe has taken Théodore Géricault's famous masterpiece The Raft of The Medusa (1818–1819) and has plonked it in the Arctic Ocean, complete with icebergs and a curious walrus. Why? CLICK to read the rest of the blurb and to view more images.

Astronomy Photos 2013

Today the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London opened its annual exhibition of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition (CLICK; warning: you may find this is a very slow loader). My glorified thumbnail of the overall winner doesn't do it justice: Mark Gee's photo Guiding Light to the Stars (8 June 2013). What looks like a thundercloud is actually the Milky Way, taken from the coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The bright light is the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. Mark says, "I took a wide panorama made up of 20 individual images to get this shot. Stitching the images together was a challenge but the result was worth it!" True. CLICK for a BBC slide show produced by Paul Kerley, not one of his best: poorly chosen music and an irritating voiceover by a self-important female judge.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Praemium Imperiale Awards

Two Brits are among the five winners of this year's Praemium Imperiale Awards, worth 15 million yen (£95,000) to each winner in the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, music and theatre/film. The winners in order of category are Michelangelo Pistoletto, Antony Gormley, Sir David Chipperfield, Placido Domingo and Francis Ford Coppola. This, the richest arts prize in the world, is awarded annually by the Japan Art Association in recognition of outstanding contributions to world arts (CLICK). I'm not sure what Antony Gormley is doing among these grizzled veterans. He mainly spreads casts of his naked self around the planet, on beaches, buildings and mountains. It's all rather boring and egotistical.

Whitechapel Gallery

Yesterday the Whitechapel Gallery in London's East End opened Contemporary Art Society: Nothing Beautiful Unless Useful (CLICK). The Contemporary Art Society has been raising funds to buy works for British galleries and museums since 1910. The other part of the title refers to the slogan emblazoned on the Manchester Art Gallery in 1824. A mixture of art, philanthropy and social class is the order of the day, with treasures from up North mixed with old photos of working-class life. Shown is L.S. Lowry's The Bandstand, Peel Park, Salford (1931). Watercolours by John Ruskin and works by William Holman Hunt, Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown and Eric Gill are included in the mix. The show runs until 1 December, admission free.

Botticelli Loan Opens

Earlier this month I reported that the Spaghetti Culture Ministry had postponed loaning Sandro Botticelli's The Annunciation of San Martino alla Scala (1481) to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, fearing that the threat of US missile strikes against Syria might cause a backlash against Israel (CLICK). That threat having receded, the loan went ahead and Botticelli's wall-sized mural was unveiled on the due date 17 September. James Snyder, director of the Israel Museum, wittered some nonsense about the annunciation having taken place in Nazareth (CLICK). It's a myth, for goodness' sake!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Grand Theft Auto V

I see Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto V (2013) has hospitalised its first victim. Having queued until midnight this morning, when the game was officially released, a 23-year-old man was hit on the head with a brick and then stabbed as he made his way home. His attackers stole his newly bought Grand Theft Auto V, as well as his watch and mobile phone. The victim is in a stable condition in hospital (CLICK). It was the same story when version IV was released, with fights in queues and homeward bound gamers being mugged. As you can see from the still shown here, the graphics are superb, but why queue for hours and run the gauntlet of muggers? It's all a far cry from Lemmings, the Dundee-based firm's first video game.
Update: three teenagers - 15,16 and 18 - have been arrested for the violent theft (CLICK).

Desire & Sensuality

The Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris is showing Desire & Sensuality; Victorian masterpieces from the the Pérez Simón collection (CLICK). Over 50 paintings of the British Aesthetic Movement, created during the reign of Queen Victoria, are on display until 20 January 2014. The artists include Lawrence Alma Tadema, Edward Burne Jones, John William Godward, Frederick Goodall, Arthur Hughes, Talbot Hughes, Frederic Leighton, Edwin Long, John Everett Millais, Albert Moore, Henry Payne, Charles Edward Perugini, Edward John Poynter, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Emma Sandys, Simeon Solomon, John Strudwick, John William Waterhouse and William Clarke Wontner. Shown is Sir Edward John Poynter's Andromeda (1869) How did this lot end up in the hands of a collector in Mexico? Astute buying while Britain was ignoring its own heritage! This international show will visit Rome and Madrid before culminating its tour at the Leighton House Museum in London in autumn 2014. So we will have the chance to view some of our lost treasures.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Mall Galleries Shows

Today the Mall Galleries in London opened three exhibitions, all of them free (CLICK). I've already previewed the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition (CLICK). Also in the Main Gallery and North Gallery are the entries shortlisted for the inaugural Derwent Art Prize for works created in pencil, sponsored by the Cumberland Pencil Company (CLICK). In The Threadneedle Space is Still Alive: Contemporary Still Life Painting by members of the Federation of British Artists. Shown is Lucy Mckie's excellent oil painting Unripe Figs. You can view this exhibition online: CLICK.

Aussie Art at RA

The Royal Academy of Arts in London seems desperate to import unfamiliar art that might drag in the punters at inflated ticket prices. This year it's tried Mexican naive art and bling from Africa. Its latest exhibition is Australia, which opens on 21 September (CLICK). This will be the first major survey of Australian art in the UK for 50 years, spanning the period from 1800 to 2012. Top of the Aussie icons is Sidney Nolan's boring and incompetent Ned Kelly (1946). This is one of two hundred paintings, drawings, photographs and multimedia thingies to encompass the length and breadth of Australian art. What about the movies? The exhibits will have travelled halfway round the world from the National Gallery of Australia (CLICK), but I still think ticket prices of £14 adults and £13 silver surfers are OTT.


I previewed the forthcoming LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair back in August (CLICK), but lacked a graphic of any item in the fair, so I had to settle for a photo from last year. Sunday's ArtDaily provided this miniature captioned "Plimer Pringle. Photo: Courtesy of Philip Mould", who will be displaying at least 50 miniatures at the fair (CLICK). Plimer Pringle? Sounds like a carton of crisps. Time to hit Google search! The artist was Andrew Plimer (British 1763-1837). The subject is General Sir William Henry Pringle, who was killed at the Battle of Salamanca in 1812. Bonhams auctioned this miniature for £8,640 including premium in 2005. More than 17,000 visitors from around the world attended last year's fair, despite the heavy admission price, because members of LAPADA (The Association of Art & Antique Dealers) know their onions and won't sell you a dud. All the items are vetted by experts. Prices start at £500.

Sunday, 15 September 2013


While googling for a decent graphic of Albrecht Dürer's The Wise Virgin (next post down or CLICK) I came across his silverpoint drawing Self-portrait aged 13 (1484). Any 13-year-old who can create a drawing of this high quality must be considered a genuine prodigy. Modern usage has devalued the term, because any kid who can squeeze a tube of paint is likely to be hailed as a prodigy in the daft modern art market. Most of them produce rubbish. I've seen paintings by apes, elephants, piglets and even sea-lions that are better. (CLICK for Trotters Independent Painters.) The only contemporary artist who is truly a prodigy is the UK's Kieron Williamson. I've been following his career since he was 7 years old (CLICK).

The Young Dürer

Next month The Courtauld Gallery in London opens an exhibition of early figure drawings by the great German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer. The Young Dürer: Drawing the Figure looks at works he created during his journeyman years of around 1490-96, together with rare drawings and prints by his contemporaries, many of which have never been seen in the UK. Shown is Dürer's pen-and-ink drawing A Wise Virgin (1493). The standard entrance fee for the Gallery is £6 adults, £5 silver surfers and the rest. However, the charge for Mondays is only £3 (CLICK). That's the day to go.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Amy Winehouse

Chelmsford artist James Wilkinson was commissioned to create this oil painting of Amy Winehouse as part of a month-long charity drive for the Amy Winehouse Foundation, set up in memory of the singer. It fetched £500 at the Concorde Club in Eastleigh on Friday (CLICK). Considering Amy's fame and popularity, I'm surprised the painting didn't fetch more. Had Amy not succumbed to alcohol in 2011, she would have turned 30 today.

Marine Art

This beautiful painting by Steven Dews - billed as "the greatest living marine artist" - comes up for grabs in Bonhams Marine Sale at Knightsbridge, London, on 2 October. A Gusty Nor' Wester is estimated at £50,000 to £70,000. Dews painted it as a swap for a yacht moored in Sydney Harbour. The family asked him to paint Valkyrie III. CLICK for a larger picture.

Paparazzo & Sheep

Is it my imagination or are the paparazzi becoming prettier? This one is snapping the late French artist Francois-Xavier Lalanne's Sheep Station (2013) featuring 25 of Lalanne's rare sheep sculptures in New York. I must admit I think these sheep are taking themselves far too seriously. To see the fun side of sheep, CLICK to view Aardman Animations' Shaun The Sheep & The Flock Dance (2008). Then CLICK for the offical Shaun The Sheep website.

London Design Fest

Today sees the opening - multiple openings, in fact - of the London Design Festival, an annual event held to celebrate and promote London as the design capital of the world. This cacophony of trumpet blowing includes 300 events running until 22 September (CLICK). Shown is architect Alex de Rijke's Endless Stair installation at Tate Modern, with members of the New Movement Collective flitting about it. St Paul's Cathedral is nicely framed in the background.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Mr Neon Interview

It's only five months since I reported on neon artist Chris Bracey's first UK solo exhibition at the Scream Gallery in London (CLICK). Here is a second showing of his Shine A Light In The Darkness Of Your Soul. Since then, he has been warned that his must vacate his neon yard, God's Own Junkyard in Walthamstow, because the land has been sold to property developers. He has been based there for nearly 40 years and has no idea where he can go. He spoke to BBC News about his career (CLICK).

Jerwood Drawing Prize

Jerwood Visual Arts and Drawing Projects UK announce that the First Prize of £8,000 in the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2013 has been awarded to Svetlana Fialova for her ink-on-paper drawing Apocalypse (My Boyfriend Doesn’t Care), which shows her boyfriend stretching his chewing gum. Mm. A bit aesthetically challenged, that lad. The competition received over 3,000 entries, of which 76 are on show at Jerwood Space in London until 27 October (CLICK).

Rapists To Hang

Today Judge Yogesh Khanna sentenced to death the four men found guilty of gang-raping and killing a student in the capital Delhi (CLICK). This HANG THE RAPISTS drawing by Indian pavement artist Roop sums up the public mood. One of the original six accused died in police custody. Suicide? The juvenile found guilty was sentenced to the maximum three-year term in a reform facility. The big question is: Will these four death sentences make life any safer for women in India?

Ig® Nobel Prize 2013

Improbable Research announced the winners of this year's Ig® Nobel Prize at a ceremony yesterday evening at Harvard University, for "Research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK" (CLICK). The Joint Prize in Biology and Astronomy went to a team which showed that lost dung beetles can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way. The Peace Prize went to the president of Belarus for making it illegal to applaud in public and to the Belarus State Police for arresting a one-armed man for applauding. The Public Health Prize went to a report on "Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam" (by miffed wives) that describes techniques for re-attachment, except in cases where the amputated penis has been partially eaten by a duck. What's worse, Thai wives or their ducks?

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Taylor Wessing 2013

BBC News has posted the four photos shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013 (CLICK). I can't say I'm terribly impressed by this year's choices. My favourite is Spencer Murphy's photo of jockey Katie Walsh, because she's wearing no makeup and looks as though she's just done a job of work. The winners will be announced on the 12 November.


The tongue-in-cheek term "aesthetically challenged" could be used to describe a great deal of modern art, but there is nothing artistic about the Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus). From a shortlist of ugly animals, the public voted this gelatinous blob as the world's ugliest animal, announced at the British Science Festival in Newcastle. The serious message behind this competition is that all species deserved to be saved, not just the cute and cuddly ones. The Blobfish is now the official mascot of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society. CLICK to view the shortlist and learn more.

9/11 Attacks

Why do Americans use the illogical month-day-year date system, instead of the logically progressive British system of day-month-year? It always confuses me that the 9/11 attacks refer to 11 September 2001. Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of that atrocious assault by Islam on the USA. As part of the commemorations, this statue of an American cow appeared at the entrance to the New York City Fire Museum. It bears "Thank You" around its neck and images honouring the heroism of New York City firefighters, 343 of whom lost their lives in the atrocity. The anonymous artist knows how to get his message across.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Beyond Limits

Who on earth would want Alice Aycock's 22-feet high Cyclone Twist (2013) in his or her back garden? It's a daft gimmick, like most of the jumbo sculptures being showcased by Sothebys at Chatsworth House, stately home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Sothebys must earn a crust out of this annual Beyond Limits exhibition, because the auction house has been doing it for more than 20 years. This year it includes an installation thingy by Thomas Heatherwick. CLICK for a BBC slide show.