Morteza Herati

I can’t quite remember how I came across Morteza Herati’s pictures of Afghanistan but I love every single one.  Alternating between his mobile phone and a Kiev88, Herati takes striking pictures which capture the lives of ordinary Afghanis.

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Open House London: Admiralty House

This weekend, historic and architecturally significant buildings in London opened their doors to members of the public as part of Open House London. So, i started my weekend off with a trip to Admiralty House, a building I have been curious about for quite some time.

Admiralty House is a Grade I listed building which is normally closed to the public.  Built in 1785 to accommodate the First Lord of the Admiralty, it is now owned by the Cabinet Office who uses the ground floor Senate Rooms for meetings and conferences.

The rooms are filled with naval themed art and antiques belonging to the Ministry of Defence Art Collection. The most interesting part for me was the highly decorative chimney stove in the main hallway. Made from stone and terracotta, it was designed to look like a rostral column similar to the monuments used by the Romans to commemorate their victories over the Carthaginian fleet with images of captured enemy warships.

Jacob Hashimoto

For months I have been meaning to write a little blog post about Jacob Hashimoto and his entrancing installations made using Japanese paper and traditional kite-making methods.

Hashimoto, who describes his artwork as “landscape based abstraction”, has said it was on the advice of his father that he began making kites. When he was still an art student in Chicago, he told his father that he was struggling to convey an authentic and relevant voice in his paintings.  His father’s response was that even if he was not painting, he should go to the studio to create something, even if it meant making model airplanes or kites…

His work is often described as ephemeral, but for me, his installations convey a poetic ambiguity and a magical, dreamlike world in which to explore.

“In my case, the artworks are built on a rigid grid structure and that is the foil, against which, the organic, flowing compositions are positioned. Given this grid of units, all of the experiments and elements of chaos that I develop within the work are given context in the piece. Things have meaning because of context and I think that juxtaposition of opposites is a terrific device to give new meaning to the artwork. At the same time, through such universal devices, I’m to continue to participate in the very human exploration of language and meaning.” – Jacob Hashimoto. 

Cecile Emeke

Today I spent a few hours at Southbank’s Africa Utopia festival, an event which aims to showcase contemporary culture, art and ideas from numerous African countries that are helping to change the world.

One person who caught my attention was Cecile Emeke, an artist, director and writer who has gained global recognition for her online documentary series, Strolling and the French version, Flâner. 

“I try to be honest in my work and I think honesty is what allows nuances of humanity to shine through. I stay true to myself and my truth, bringing another story and voice to the table, and therefore helping to break single story dogma, as opposed to trying to mould myself to what I think people want to see or hear.” – Cecile Emeke

Morgan Herrin

Today I came across images of recycled and lumber wood sculptures by the artist Morgan Herrin. It’s always a nice feeling when you come across a new artist, particularly when you like their work! Herrin takes inspiration from classical sculpture to create inventive and decorative pieces which can often take up to a year to produce. Nonetheless, I’m apparently behind everyone else in my discovery, including Lance Armstrong who bought some of Herrin’s work in 2007!

Wishing you all a great weekend!

Barbara Hepworth

One of the perks of my job is having guided tours of London art exhibitions by an art historian! The latest tour led us to Tate Britain to see Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World.

The exhibition, like many of Tate Britain’s exhibitions under the directorship of Penelope Curtis, has received mixed reviews.  Critics have called it “cramped, frustrating, weirdly selected and badly displayed” and “cramped, bereft of natural light and undermined by rivals.’ In fact, I have struggled to find a positive review in the British media…

i must admit that I felt these same frustrations on a similar scale. Sheltering the sculptures behind glass cases felt immediately unfitting as her work lost a sense of that free flowing tactile nature.  Placing her work beside that of her ex-husband’s also appeared to overshadow her own achievements.

However, it goes without saying that Barbara Hepworth was an exceptionally talented and innovate sculptor and despite the curatorial issues, her work still undoubtably impresses.  The gorgeously sensual workings of guarea wood in Corinthos and well known wood and string sculpture of Pelagos were among my favourites.  What i didn’t know before visiting this exhibition was that Hepworth was also a talented draughtsperson. When her daughter was hospitalised in 1944, she became friends with the surgeon, Norman Capener, who invited her to draw surgical procedures in the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital.  The subsequent drawings are incredibly tender and illustrate the extent to which Hepworth was concerned with the study and exploration of form.

“Carving is interrelated masses conveying an emotion; a perfect relationship between the mind and the colour, light and weight which is the stone, made by the hand which feels. It must be so essentially sculpture that it can exist in no other way, something completely the right size but which has growth, something still and yet having movement, so very quiet and yet with a real vitality.” – Barbara Hepworth, 1934. 

Lana Čmajčanin

I absolutely loved Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina in general. I could spend a very long time writing about the history of the region although my knowledge wouldn’t do justice to a country which has at once a beautiful, complex and harrowing past.

Thanks to a sticker on a tram stop, I came across the work of Lana Čmajčanin, a young artist who was born in Sarajevo in 1983. What I love about her work is the strong connection it has to the past and the way in which it aims to make sense of Bosnia’s history in a very innovative and powerful way.

Modular Geography is an interactive piece which allows the viewer to play with historical maps of Bosnia, in turn mimicking the way in which Bosnia’s land has been manipulated and fought over for years. Similarly, Geometry of Placeis an installation which features 2 sets of maps.  The first set of maps locates military operations throughout Bosnia and the second set is taken from school text books, detailing the changing layout of Bosnia’s borders.

I Begged them to Kill Me is a sound installation containing sentences from women who were victims of rape during the war in Bosnia. By avoiding explicit descriptions relating to rape, the listener can only imagine what atrocities these women faced. Čmajčanin in turn wants to highlight the lack of help and psychological support offered to women who have been victims of war crime sexual assault.