29 November 2010

Dirty Kunst Exhibition at Seventeen gallery

For those who like art that provokes a strong response from the viewer there is a fun little show currently being held at the Seventeen Gallery, located just at the bottom of the Kingsland road.

Upon arrival we were presented with a series of works by Tom Gallant, who cuts out ornate patterns from various pornographic photos. The beauty in the patterned motifs do a great job in countering the vulgarity of the pornographic images used. However the same can't be said of Jota Castro's photographic print of a statue of liberty souveniere protruding from some guys arsehole!

Dirty Kunst exhibition at Seventeen Gallery
Dirty Kunst exhibition at Seventeen Gallery
Dirty Kunst exhibition at Seventeen Gallery

It was hard to take a lot of the work seriously at times as on the floor of the gallery space was a Nathan Barley quote etched on a large piece of slate, reminding you of the absurdity of what you were viewing. Michael Joo's 'Yellow, Yellower, Yellowist', an aluminium shelf supporting 3 beakers of urine of increasing tonal values being a good example.

Going down the stairs into a dark basement area the atmosphere changed, roaming around a darkened space there was a dog kennel in one corner. Playing inside was a video which managed to induce a shriek from an unsuspecting woman who happened to bend down to have a look.

The exhibition runs until Thursday 23rd December, i've deliberately kept the photos from this show to a minimum as not to ruin some of the 'surprises' of the show. So if you have the time i would recommend heading down there to have a look for yourself.

28 November 2010

Russian Criminal Tattoo exhibition

A few of the Russian Criminal Tattoo encyclopaedias have been passed around the Collective studios from time to time and it has always made for interesting viewing. The books are a collection of illustrations documenting real tattoos adorned by Russian criminals. For these convicts the tattoos reflected their criminal careers and personal beliefs, as well as signifying their criminal status.

The drawings were produced by Danzig Baldaev who worked as a prison warden at Kresty (an infamous Leningrad prison) between 1948 to 1981. Throughout his career as a prison warden he documented all of the criminals tattoos through drawings in his notebooks. As you would imagine a lot of the imagery used in the artwork is pretty obscene, but there are hidden depths to the work, which only comes about when you read up on each tattoos meaning.

Russian Criminal Tattoo exhibition at Fuel
Russian Criminal Tattoo exhibition at Fuel

There was no photography allowed within the exhibition, but i did treat myself to the 'Drawings from the Gulag' book which is shown above. The other cool thing was that i got a free set of 18 bookmarks made from Russian prisoners playing cards.

Sadly this weekend was the last chance to see the show, but if you want to see some pictures of the tattoo's you can see a few on FUEL's site here, and you can always buy yourself one of the encyclopedias

27 November 2010

Alternative Press Fair - Nov 2010

After a tip off from this weeks Guardian Guide i popped down to the Alternative Press Fair to see the scene of self publishing had to offer . Upon arrival it was clear that it was very busy which made browsing through the stalls of comics, zines, prints and self published art books difficult at times. However i managed to get a few small bits and pieces which i was pleased with.

Alternative Press Fair: Nov 2010

I really enjoyed 'the story of the Makhovshina' by Peter Willis as well as the illustration zines by Rob Jones and Phillip Hawkey of Wolfwind, and all for a collective total of five quid, bargain.

20 November 2010

RCA Secrets 2010 - Advice For First Timers

Although I have posted about the previous years RCA Secrets on this very blog, today was the first time I actually braved the mammoth queues to try and get myself a postcard.

RCA Secret Postcards at the Royal Academy of Arts 2010

Searching through the internet the day before the sale I found there to be a real lack of information for first timers like myself. I was interested to know what time people generally started queuing and I wanted someone to manage my expectations on how quickly the postcards start to sell out. So I thought before I do a write up of the artists and artworks I purchased, I would write a dedicated blog post describing the morning to hopefully give people a better understanding of the sale.

If you're impatient though photos have been uploaded onto my Flickr account, so if you want a sneak peek as to what I managed to get you can go here.

We got to the Royal College of Art for 5:45am and saw the street next to the RCA full of tents, as we walked down the street it looked like they had stopped. "Great!" we thought, this isn't too bad, unfortunately we then saw a sign saying the queue carries on across the street. There were a lot of overnighters so even getting there earlier wouldn't have progressed our position in the queue that much. Below is a quick diagram showing how long the queue was when we got there, which also shows how many tents there were.

RCA Secrets 2010 - map showing what time we started queuing and how long it took

Even at this unearthly hour on a Saturday morning there was a real buzz in the air, within minutes everyone was chatting to each other . It was great listening to peoples stories on how they had arrived, some had just carried on their Friday night drinking whilst others had woken up early. The time seemed to go by pretty quick and after the tent brigade packed up the queue moved along a fair amount boosting morale. However after 4 hours we were still outside so we were starting to feel the cold even through multiple layers, thankfully it wasn't raining as I could imagine that would make things pretty miserable.

Once inside the RCA we had to queue for another hour before we could see the screens showing which postcards have been sold and which are still available to order. I had a personal list of about 70-80 cards I really liked and i was chuffed to see that about 20% of my postcards were still available. I managed to buy 2 cards which were in my top 20 which was great and I was really happy with my other 2 choices, however other people were less happy as all their cards had gone. Once purchased at the cashiers we went upstairs with an invoice, where RCA staff collected our postcards and brought them over.

Finally receiving the cards after queuing for 5 1/2 hours gave us quite amazing feeling. I can see why the postcards hardly ever pop up for resale as there is such a strong personal experience associated with obtaining the artwork.

For those who just want any postcard from the show I had a look on the RCA Facebook page and there were still 350 cards left of the 2,700 with a minimum queue at 4:15pm. So don't be put off by thinking you have to get there stupidly early before they all sell out.

I guess the big question is would i do it again?

16 November 2010

Adel Abdessemed: Silent Warriors at the Parasol Unit 2010

Keeping things a bit local over the weekend i visited the Parasol unit off the City Road to see Adel Abdessemed's 'Silent Warriors' exhibition. Adel works across a wide variety of mediums such as sculpture, installation and video, tackling the difficulties and taboos of war, politics and society.

Adel Abdessemed Silent Warriors solo exhibition at the Parasol Unit
When first entering the Parasol unit you are immediately taken with the the 17 meter fiberglass human skeleton suspended from the ceiling with an airplane propeller at the back. Titled 'Haibi' 2003 (the Arabic word my beloved), the piece acts as a self portrait, with the artists claiming he spends most of his thinking time lying on the floor in this position. Another stand out piece was the sculptural music box 'Enter the circle', 2009, which plays a brief excerpt from Wagner’s opera Die Walk├╝re (The Valkyrie)

Looking through the rest of the exhibition it's clear there is a real sensitivity in Adel's work, it's not just a case of presenting a piece for the audience to interpret but in many case there is a supporting video showing the methods undertaken to produce the work. The exhibition runs for another week (21st November) so see it while you can.

14 November 2010

RCA Secrets 2010

The RCA Secret postcards are back on sale this Saturday, yesterday i popped in to browse through this years selection. For those who don't know, every year the Royal College of Art has a sale of original postcard-sized art, made by professional artists, designers and illustrators, and current postgraduate students at the college. All the postcards are exhibited anonymously and are signed on reverse so you only find out which artists has produced the art after you have purchased it. For those interested there is a lovely story about how this all came about here.

Every year they through in some real heavy weights with this year being no exception. Hidden (or not so hidden) within the exhibition are postcards by Tracy Emin, Grayson Perry, Jake Chapman, Sir Peter Blake, Yoko Ono, Quentin Blake, animator Nick Park, and designer Paul Smith and many more.

RCA Secrets postcards 2010
RCA Secrets postcards 2010

Each postcard is photographed and catalogued on the RCA site, however you really have to pop down and view the cards in person to appreciate the work, as some of the more sculptural pieces are a bit lost in the photography.

The exhibition is open all week with the actual sale starting this Saturday at 8am, chatting with a few people there it can get pretty manic, with people queuing all through Friday night, but with a chance to bag an original from the likes of Grayson Perry and Jake Chapman for just £45 who can blame them.

Cut & Paste London 2010 - Digital Design Tournament

Another day another outing, this time it was to the Village underground to see this years Cut&Paste Digital Design Tournament. The event had designers across 2D, 3D, and motion graphics battle it out through live action rounds, having just 15 minutes to create their final designs.

Before the main battles commenced there was a brief talk from Yannis and Christos who are the founders of motion graphics studio Nomint. They presented the multi awarded short film 'The Holy Chicken Of Live & Music' and shared their thoughts and processes behind it's production. I hadn't seen the work before so it was a real treat being introduced to these guys, they are incredibly creative and it was great to see the process' they went through.

Cut&Paste 2010 Digital Design Tournament Series
Cut&Paste 2010 Digital Design Tournament Series
Cut&Paste 2010 Digital Design Tournament Series

As for the tournaments i have to say i wasn't overly impressed with the designs being produced, i can only assume the pressure of the crowd and having only 15 minutes to produce the work had a big part to play. Still it's easy for me to say that as i haven't been up their on stage.

11 November 2010

Internet Week - 'The Brilliant Design Lecture' held at the Biscuit Building

Yesterday a few of the designers popped down to the Biscuit building to attend the Brilliant Design Lecture which was part of this years Internet Week.

The format of the talk was nice and simple, 3 speakers each doing 3 rounds of talks, 'I Made This' , 'This Inspired Me' and 'New To Me' .

The Brilliant Design Lecture - (part of Internet Week)
The Brilliant Design Lecture - (part of Internet Week)

I was really looking forward to this event as one of the 3 speakers was Tim Hunkin, a man who engineers the most fantastical contraptions in true Heath Robinson style. I've used his work as a case study for 'warm engineering' in a client meeting a few years ago, specifically referencing his arcade machines down on the Southwold Pier.

He came across really well, fitting into that slightly eccentric inventor stereotype i had hoped he would be. It was amusing how in the second round he said he was influenced by his pet cat and preceded to spend 15 minutes talking about it. The last section of his talk was about the bird clock contraption he build for London Zoo. It's amazing to see how he has all the different objects synced up, without the use of computers just using good old fashion analogue.

The other speakers were equally great, Miss Cakehead gave a great talk on how it was almost impossible to offend people through the medium of cake. After sharing some examples of anatomical cakes that wouldn't be out of place at a gynaecologists birthday party i would say she came pretty close.

The third speaker was Bompas, who is half of the extraordinary jelly mongers Bompas and Parr. It's amazing to see what these guys have achieved, from jelly architecture projects to filling a room with punch and having a breathable cloud of gin and tonic. I've signed up to their mailing list so i look forward to seeing what these guys come up with next.

All in all it was a great night and it was good to see creative people talking about their work who weren't directly related to the design industry.

4 November 2010

D&AD Presidents Lecture - Pecha Kucha 'Everything is more interesting than your desk'

Yesterday i went to the Logan Hall to attend the D&AD Presidents Lecture, where Sanky (the newly crowned President) brought in all the various people who have inspired and motivated him to each give a short presentation.

Held in a Pecha Kucha format (Japanese for Chit Chat), speakers only had 20 seconds to talk about each of their slides with a maximum of 20 slides to present. This generally makes for entertaining viewing and avoids the dull moments associated with power point presentation.

Highlights of the talk were from illustrator/animator Mr Bingo who had a great idea of locking a thousand business men in a room under armed guard, forcing them to draw pictures and then publish their work. A representative from Tomato presenting 20 slides on phallic symbols, and Graham Fink taking to the stage with a Samurai sword!

Andy Cameron (W+K creative director) gave great references on digital interaction, with some great slides on Marie Sester, Ed Burton, and Myron Krueger. Neville Brody's presentation was pretty inspired, a call to arms to lose our design apathy and find a relevant response to what is currently happening both politically and socially.

All in all a great night and i look forward to the next one

1 November 2010

NEWSPEAK: BRITISH ART NOW part 2 at the Saatchi Gallery

So here are a few pictures from the Newspeak: Bristish Art Now part 2 exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. I have to say the consistency of great work on show made this a slightly better exhibition than the first part. The main draw of the exhibition this time was getting a chance to see Tessa Farmer's work, as you may be aware from a previous post I'm a big fan so it was great to see another one of her pieces on display.

Other highlights were being introduced to Maurizio Anzeri's embroidered vintage prints, and the grotesque oil paintings of Edward Kay.

Henrijs Preiss - No.181,240, and 224, 2009 Exhibited at the Saatchi gallery, London as part of the NEWSPEAK: BRITISH ART NOW part 2 exhibition in 2010
Henrijs Preiss - No.181,240, and 224, 2009
Tessa Farmer - Swarm, 2004 Exhibited at the Saatchi gallery, London as part of the NEWSPEAK: BRITISH ART NOW part 2 exhibition in 2010
Tessa Farmer - Swarm (detail), 2004
Tessa Farmer - Swarm, 2004 Exhibited at the Saatchi gallery, London as part of the NEWSPEAK: BRITISH ART NOW part 2 exhibition in 2010
Tessa Farmer - Swarm (detail), 2004
Maurizio Anzeri - Penny, 2009 Exhibited at the Saatchi gallery, London as part of the NEWSPEAK: BRITISH ART NOW part 2 exhibition in 2010
Maurizio Anzeri - Penny, 2009
Edward Kay - The Bon Viveur (ii), 2008 Exhibited at the Saatchi gallery, London as part of the NEWSPEAK: BRITISH ART NOW part 2 exhibition in 2010
Edward Kay - The Bon Viveur (ii), 2008

The show runs until the 17th April 2011, so you have plenty of time to drop by and check it out. In the meantime, feel free to look through all the other photos i took of the show over on my flickr account.
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