Sunday, 30 January 2011

Edward Burtynsky

There's a great little exhibition on at Flowers Central in Cork Street at the moment (recently featured in the FT here), of some unusual work by Edward Burtynsky. Renowned for his large-scale photography of industrial landscapes, he has decided to exhibit work on smaller polaroid film - which he normally only used to check exposure and focus in his compositions, before using his costly large-format film.

I first became a fan of Burtynsky's work when I came across the mesmerising documentary 'Manufactured Landscapes' with its incredible long shots of enormous Chinese factories, power stations, oil rigs and piles of refuse at landfill sites.

The trailer for the documentary is below.

If his work interests you, I strongly suggest you watch this longer (35min) lecture produced for TED talks, below.

Monday, 24 January 2011


Many of you will likely have heard of - or even use - the Hipstamatic app for iPhones; allowing you to turn your mobile camera's flat low res images into the funkier aesthetic of retro polaroid or 120 prints. You can buy a range of additional lenses and flash accessories to broaden the range of effects available.

Hipstamatic has become incredibly popular online: while of course you can instantly share the images on facebook, there are also dedicated flickr groups and other online galleries to check out.

Last autumn, New York Times photojournalist Damon Winter decided to deploy the hipstamatic app when shooting in Afghanistan. Using his iphone was not only convenient, quick and light, it meant he could also work without drawing attention to himself. Additionally, he says that the soldiers were so used to taking photographs of each other on their own phones, that he was able to work without them posing for the camera, as would normally be the case.

You can see the gallery of his Afghan photos here.

The New York Times photojournalism blog is itself an outstanding resource.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Boy George: Icon

A bizarre news story surfaced today. A Greek Orthodox Bishop was watching a TV documentary on singer Boy George (as they do) and spotted a 300 year old religious painting hanging on a wall during an interview sequence, which he identified as having been illegally stolen from Cyprus.

Boy George apparently bought the religious icon in good faith in the mid 1980s from a well-known art dealer for a considerable sum. He has agreed to return the painting to the church, free of charge.

Ai Weiwei Studio - Demolished

Ai Weiwei with his Tate Turbine Hall installation

Ai Weiwei has had his Shanghai studio destroyed by the authorities, in a move he says was politically motivcated, reports the BBC.

The 53-year-old, one of China's most famous and controversial artists, said the demolition started in the night and he flew from Beijing to Shanghai as soon as he heard.

Mr Ai told the BBC Chinese service why he believed the building was destroyed: "They wanted to demolish it overnight without us finding out because they were worried the demolition would attract attention.
"We asked why it was demolished earlier than when we were told and they just answered that sooner or later, it would have been done anyway."

The artist has long been outspoken in his criticism of the Chinese government.

Ai Weiwei had his major public break in Britain with his Tate installation (above), made up of literally millions of handpainted sunflower seeds. The exhibition itself became controversial when health & safety officials banned the public from walking on the installation. For more info on the work, see here.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Art Rage

There was an interesting bit of debate in the Guardian this weekend about overcrowding in galleries at 'blockbuster' exhibitions - see article here - in response to the hordes during the closing weekend of Tate's record-breaking Gauguin show, going so far as to suggest art world 'kettling' tactics were in operation... 

Friday, 14 January 2011

Fourth Plinth works unveiled

The winning entries for the next two years of the Fourth Plinth commission have just been revealed.

2012 will see Trafalgar Square occupied by a bronze sculpture of a boy on a rocking horse - 'Powerless Structures, Fig 101' by a pair of Norwegians, Elmgreen & Dragset; in 2013 we will see a giant blue cockerel by German artist Katharina Fritsch.

'Powerless Structures, Fig 101', Elmgreen and Dragset

Hahn/Cock, Katharina Fritsch

Follow this link to see a gallery of all the works which were shortlisted for the Fourth Plinth.

Visit the official Fourth Plinth website for further info on the competition and previous artist works.

In the clips below, watch interviews with the winning artists about their works.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Frank Gehry

I'm quite a fan of Frank Gehry - not necessarily his actual buildings, but certainly his design process.

Here's a short but inspirational clip of him at work, folding pieces of card working entirely intuitively:

For those of you who find this kind of thing engaging, try the longer (20min) video interview below, with Gehry as a guest speaker at TED (if you've not come across TED before, take a look - there are some amazing talks available on their site, here).

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Witching Hour

A new exhibition of photography is opening at the PM Gallery, Ealing (free entry, and just off the Broadway, see details here).

David Rowan
The subject of the exhibition is 'The Witching Hour: Darkness and the Architectural Uncanny'; it features desolate carparks, abandoned factories, unlit alleyways and deserted graveyards.

For a preview of some of the photographs in the show, click here.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Brueghel 'Saved'

A Brueghel painting held by Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire has been 'saved' from a private sale, the BBC reports.

It was originally to have been sold for £2.7m. Public donations raised £1.7m, and the National Heritage Memorial Fund has just stepped in to cover the remaining £1m.

Pieter Brueghel, The Procession to Calvary

The Art Fund works to raise public funding for works of art which would otherwise be privately sold.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Upcoming: New film from Terrence Malick

Terrence Malick has only directed five feature films in a nearly 40 year career, but each of them have received widespread critical acclaim.

His latest, 'The Tree of Life', may have been 5 years in production, but I'm certain it will be worth the wait.

Here's the trailer:

His other works, 'Badlands', 'Days of Heaven', 'The Thin Red Line' and 'New World' are all pretty extraordinary and well worth seeking out.

The End for Kodachrome

The last remaining roll of Kodachrome film is about to be developed, the BBC reports. 

The film was renowned for its exceptional rendering of colours - perhaps best exemplified by the work of photojournalist Steve McCurry, whose cover image from National Geographic of the 'Afgan Girl' is shown above. That particular image became iconic, and was later the subject of a documentary in which the girl in the photo, Sharbat Gula, was tracked down and interviewed. For more info on the photo, see this article on the National Geographic pages.

McCurry was given the final roll of the film ever produced by the company, and travelled to India to photograph a remote tribe with these last 36 shots (a film detailing this expedition will be released later this year).