Sunday, 29 April 2012

Polly Morgan Studio Visit

I was lucky enough to visit artist/taxidermist Polly Morgan in her east London studio earlier this week.

The studio must be a fantastic space to work in, and was full of intriguing work-in-progress, alongside the solvents, glues, pastes, resins and rubber which facilitate her work, as she explores various casting processes in more detail.

I always find in interesting to listen to artists talk about how they ended up doing what they do, and explaining their own work to others. More often than not, artists tend to be pretty poor at this (a lecture I went to by the Chapman brothers comes to mind - they practically got boo-ed off stage), so it was refreshing to hear Morgan discussing both her progress and her technical approach with clinical directness.

There's a great interview article here (Independent) which will fill you in.

Polly Morgan has an upcoming show in Kings Cross, entitled 'Endless Plains'.

A cup full of chick heads... 
Resin mushroom casts in various stages

Drawings made from cremated animals' ash

Taxidermy in progress
Standard fridge action...

Monday, 16 April 2012

Seung Mo Park - Wire Mesh Portrait

Head over to the great Colossal blog to find out more about this astonishing stuff from Korean sculptor Sung Mo Park. Superb!

Pete Howson

A shame I'm in London, and this is in NYC, otherwise I'd be straight down there to have a look: Pete Howson's latest exhibition, at Flowers Gallery, NYC. 

I've been intrigued by his work for a while, but still not managed to see a painting of his first-hand, never mind one of his fantastic pieces of draughtsmanship.

The recent BBC documentary provided some insight into his working methods, and a biography fraught with difficulties. Here's a fantastic short clip of him at work... Brave...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Caine's Arcade

If you haven't seen this short film in the last two days, you've obviously not been reading any of the internet.

Caine's Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.
It's a really charming film about an ingenious 9-year-old boy who has built a cardboard amusement arcade in his dad's car repair shop.  This has to feature the best flash-mob scene of any video! After the film went viral, donations started pouring in for his college fund - at the time of writing, less than 48hrs after being posted, some $67k of a hoped-for 100k have been raised. Brilliant.

See more here.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Rowson: Gulliver's Travels

Well worth picking up - Martin Rowson's brilliant update of Swift's classic 18th-century satire, 'Gulliver's Travels'. (Here on Amazon)  (Telegraph review here) (OMT too)

Thomas Kinkade

I thought it was interesting to note the very minor media attention given to the death of American painter Thomas Kinkade yesterday (BBC report here). 

His paintings and other products featuring his images are said to be in over 10million US homes; the 'Painter of Light' (trademarked) artist frequently claimed to be the most collected living American artist. His company reportedly made over $100m annually in sales of his works. He was effectively ignored by the art establishment who rejected his works as twee, populist and sentimental. 

The Shard - 'a terrible flop'

I enjoyed Giles Coren's dismissal of the all-but-completed 'Shard' of London this week (Times, Opinion, 'A glass spike through the heart of London', Sat April 7th 2012). As you have to be a subscriber these days, it's worth quoting rather extensively from him:

"Have you seen the Shard? Of course you have. If you're in the top half of the globe on a sunny day you only have to look out of the window in any direction and there it is. It is not a building - they haven't even bothered to make it a shape, it's just a stupid fleck of glass like a thing for monkeys to worship in a sci-fi film - it is a middle-finger flipped at every Londoner for miles around...  ...the Shard, this great cash spike, this engorged rectilinear monument to fat-cattism, this humongous steel haemorrhoid, has been dumped directly behind St Paul's... so that the great dome that has kept watch over us for 300 years... seems little more now than a pale and weedy poly. A two-dimensional bunion on the sandalled toe of the giant, steel, one-legged Qatari demigod... It is a thing of typical, macho Gulf state hideousness... It is a big pin. A nothing. A lance for Mammon's boil. Cultural antimatter. A mockery of our history, culture and identity. A symbol of the failure of our economy, our banks, our politics, our sovereignty and our sense of self."
The references to the Gulf made by Coren relate to the consortium of Qatari investors who own an 80% share in the building (£150m). Interestingly, as a Sharia-compliant investment, banks and investment firms involved in gambling or alcohol industries are very unlikely to get permission to occupy a space in the building.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

BA Olympics

British Airways recently revealed the first of its newly painted fleet as part of their support and sponsorship of this summer's London Olympics... and here it is, a golden dove, designed by Pascal Anson.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


I've been doing some further research into Kuniyoshi - whose work astounded me at the RA show a while back (2009), and thought I'd just post this excellent resource:

It's a fantastic database of Kuniyoshi images. If you don't know much about his work, I suggest you get started with the warriors... Brilliant fun.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Werner Herzog - The Abyss

Full disclosure: I'm basically addicted to Herzog's work. I think I've seen at least 15 of his films at the cinema, and probably another 30 of his feature films and documentaries on DVD... While he's had a few misses, I for one am a fan of his work.

That said, I think you ought to see his latest documentary, currently screening in selected cinemas:
'Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life' - on the subject of death row inmates in the USA.

It's a profoundly moving film, full of trademark Herzog - particularly his use of awkwardly-long-held shots of interviewees nervously looking at the camera after a final question, unsure what to say or do - often leading to insightful gestures or expressions. What struck me most is the fact that Herzog ostensibly maintains a certain objectivity on the subject at large, and in doing so actually communicates his own viewpoint much more strongly.

See it while you can.

The film is also the BFI's Sight & Sound Magazine's 'Film of the Month'.

More reviews here:  Guardian   Telegraph   NY Times