Daniel Arsham

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Daniel Arsham is a multi-disciplinary contemporary artist who alternates between design, film, sculpture and photography.

The above image highlights Arsham’s  signature concept of ‘fictional archaeology’ which sees devices such as boom boxes or cameras decayed with geological material, creating an eery and somewhat alien impression.

His newest venture is Film the Future, a production company which produces immersive short films and advertisements for the likes of Usher and Calvin Klein.  The fourth instalment of his Future Relic short film can be seen here.

 

 

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Lulu Kitololo

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I have been meaning to write a little blog post on Lulu Kitololo ever since I bought some of her brightly designed stationery during the Southbank Centre’s Africa Utopia festival. Taking the continent of Africa as her muse (in her own words) she creates beautifully textured and vibrant prints, clothing, stationery and more… More of her work can be seen and bought here.

I have surrendered to what’s in my heart – making art!’

 

 

 

Vogue 100: A Century of Style

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The latest exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Vogue 100: A Century of Style, was not what I expected.  I usually tend to avoid Vogue and other fashion magazines, simply for the reason that fashion doesn’t feature high on my list of priorities. I do, however, have a secret passion for the creativity and escapism of fashion photography and Vogue, without doubt, features some of the most daring and outlandish photographs in the world of fashion.  The exhibition is a treat.  It is beautifully staged, wonderfully designed and features endless pictures from Vogue’s early days in 1892 to its transformation throughout the glitz and glamor of the 20s right up to the present day.  I was pleasantly surprised that Vogue covered political and cultural affairs, including Matisse hard at work making his famous cut-outs in bed. It’s definitely an exhibition not to be missed.

Image: National Portrait Gallery 

 

The British Library

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Lately, I have been spending most of my weekends at The British Library, alternating between practicing Spanish and reading for my Masters in Museums and Gallery studies.

For anyone who has visited The British Library, you will know that it is a national library of international significance which holds a copy of every single book ever produced in the UK and Ireland. You will also know that a tall glass structure proudly dominates the centre of the library, encasing thousands of beautifully bound books dating from the 15th to 19th century.

Lost in thought, my eyes frequently gaze at the perfectly lit books enshrined in their glass casing. Until very recently, I never questioned to whom these books belonged, believing it was a curated display of some of the library’s finest collections. Yet, every single one belonged to King George III.

On the advice of his librarian, Frederick Augusta Barnard, and Dr Samuel Johnson, King George amassed a rich and varied collection of classic literature, religious writings and historical texts throughout his reign.  At the time of his death in 1820, his collection contained around 65,000 printed books, 19,000 pamphlets and numerous manuscripts and maps.

At first housed in the British Museum from 1828, followed by a brief stint at the Bodleian Library in Oxford during World War II, the books came to the British Library in 1998 where they are still consulted by readers today.

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Images:
King’s Library Tower – The British Library
King George III by Johann Zoffany – The Royal Collection 

George Washington Wilson

Having recently started a photography course, i felt inspired to delve a bit deeper into the history of photography…

This piece of work is by the Scottish photographer, George Washington Wilson (1823-1893).

First training as an artist in Edinburgh and London, Wilson established a successful career as a photographer in the 1850s.  He perfected his own method of ‘instantaneous’ photography, enabling him to take images in one fifth of a second and capture movement where previous photographers had only been able to capture a blur, such as a street scene [See Daguerre’s 1838 photograph of Boulevard du Temple]

His recognition as a skilled photographer came in 1853 when he became the first person to photograph the Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Balmoral.  He later received many more commissions to photograph the Royal family and went on to build up a substantial portfolio of topographic photos of Scotland. This success was in part due to Wilson’s skill at marketing his photography.  He took advantage of the rise in the printed press to show case his work and appeal to public demand, making him a very well-known and sought after photographer.

The above photograph is of Fingal’s Cave, located on the uninhabited island of Staffa in the Outer Hebrides. Fingal’s Cave had become a popular tourist destination in the 1830s after Felix Mendelssohn, at the age of 20, visited the island in 1829 and composed The Hebrides.  Even Queen Victoria visited the island.

In this stereoscopic photograph, Wilson captures the awe-inspiring, atmospheric scenery of the cave perfectly. By setting up the camera deep inside the cave, the bold contrast in light draws attention to the lone figure standing at the entrance of the cave.  The ragged edges and distinctive shape of the rocks can also be clearly identified.  All of this in turn adds to the mystical quality the caves were said to imbue.  It would have made a perfect keep-sake for anyone who travelled to the island and would have encouraged many more to make the journey.

As this was a stereoscopic photograph, it was intended to be viewed through a stereo viewer, making the 2 slightly offset images into a 3 dimensional image. For those who did not have the means to travel to the Outer Hebrides, this was next best thing for the Victorian public to feel like they were in the cave.

Atalanta and Hippomenes


Although I have blogged about Guido Reni before, I was recently reminded of his beautiful painting, Atalanta and Hippomenes in a book I have been dipping in and out of for months!
Here is the extract from the book: ‘In the myth, Atalanta was a swift-running huntress who was determined to keep her virginity and refused to mate with any man who could not outrun her in a foot race. Nobody could, until she was challenged by Hippomenes, who had been provided with three golden apples by the interfering goddess Aphrodite. At intervals in their race, Hippomenes would drop an apple, which Atalanta could not resist; picking them up delayed her so much that she lost both the race and her virginity.’ (Robert Hughes, Rome, London, 2011)
Painted between 1618-1619 when Reni returned to Bologna from Rome, it is without a doubt my favourite Reni painting, possibly even my favourite painting in the Prado.

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

I went to the V&A’s Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition on a whim and was pleased that I did.  As you can probably guess, the exhibition offers a large array of weird, wonderful, quirky and seemingly uncomfortable footwear spanning centuries and continents.

The V&A puts on fantastic exhibitions and this one was just as inventive, with various film extracts, music, and a wall display of shoe boxes.

My personal shoe collection is a bit sparse but even if like me you don’t have a shoe fetish, Shoes: Pleasure and Pain is definitely worth the visit.

“This obsession with shoes just really struck me, and how it’s gone on. Through social media, it’s in our living room. I wanted to go into why are we who we are in shoes? And so often they are not really made for our feet, which are actually quite wide. Fashion is a different thing,” – Helen Persson, Curator, Shoes: Pleasure and Pain 

Images: Victoria & Albert Museum