Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year!

Pablo Picasso, Dove 1949

We wish you a Happy and Peaceful New Year. 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Sergio Rossi Butterfly Shoe

Still on the subject of butterfly inspired shoes, I thought the design of these Sergio Rossi beauties incorporates a really clever use of the butterfly motif and would have the girls salivating. 

These are a really nice flight of fancy and a tribute to the art and skill of cordwainers. They come in two different designs, and are satin and laser-cut gold leather with a 4 inch heel, retailing at £700.

Apparently they are sold out at most places, but perhaps, if you've been a really, really good girl for Christmas...

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Andy Warhol for Dior

Art/Fashion collaborations seem to be quite the thing now. The Alexander McQueen/Damien Hirst skull scarf collaboration produced some great results, and now Dior are using Andy Warhol's early shoe drawings to good effect also. I was fortunate enough recently to be able to see a private collection of Warhol's early illustrative shoe drawings. It was great to be able to get up close and examine them and his drawing technique first-hand, and in relative privacy. His blobby, linear drawing style was unique at the time, and the use of butterflies quite whimsical.

Raf Simons and the design team at Dior have realised the beauty of Warhol's early shoe drawings, and with the permission of the Warhol Foundation, put them to use decorating a series of Dior handbags and dresses for their A/W 2013 collection. It is not the first time that Simons has sought inspiration from artists, as previous collections have seen him using the work of artists from the Bauhaus movement as well as that of Picasso and Roualt. I really like the Butterfly Shoe illustration hand-bag and clutch, and think it is a particularly apt use of the art/fashion collaboration considering the drawings were originally commissioned for Harper's Bazaar fashion magazine in the 1950s.

The attention to detail on the dress below is pretty amazing. The designers and technicians have done a fantastic job of translating Warhol's whimsical butterfly imagery, and blobby line drawing technique into the textile medium with the use of sequins and beads.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Alexander McQueen: The Skull Scarf

It is the tenth anniversary of Alexander McQueen's iconic skull scarf, and to celebrate this milestone the McQueen fashion house have teamed up with, and commissioned Damien Hirst to create a new collection of the much feted scarf.

Both McQueen and Hirst shared a very similar aesthetic vision and iconography in their work in the Fashion, and Fine Art fields, creating attention-grabbing work, so a collaboration between the two talents was always going to result in something pretty special.

This new series of Hirst designed scarves are certainly that. They are visually stunning and utilise to good effect the butterfly/insect and skull motifs beloved of both artist and fashion designer. This small selection of some of the outcomes are very impressive.

There are apparently 30 new scarf designs, and Hirst has adapted some of the scarf designs from his recent Entomology series of works in which he arranges a variety of insects into geometric patterns. I can imagine these scarves are going to be highly sort after, framed, and hung on walls as pieces of artwork rather than be worn, as they are that beautiful.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

I am delighted to have been invited once again to take part in the Christmas Exhibition at Cambridge Contemporary Art. I had a fantastic response to my work in The Summer Exhibition, which saw all but one of my pieces of work sold, so hoping for good things from this Christmas show also. I will be showing a new Dragonfly piece and new variations of other butterfly favourites. Contact me directly, or the gallery for any enquiries. The show starts on Saturday 30th November.

Christmas Exhibition 30th Nov - 24th Dec 2013
Cambridge Contemporary Art
6 Trinity Street

Monday, 18 November 2013

Sarah Lucas: SITUATION

Went to the Whitechapel to see the Sarah Lucas: SITUATION show. It was like a Carry On film filled with lots of bawdy visual puns. I really like her take on the human form using stained mattresses, bed-frames, tables, chairs and sofas, as metaphors for the body, with melons, kippers, kebabs and cucumbers representing genitalia. It does get a bit repetitive however, as most artworks seem to have the same punch-line. 

It is an unapologetically 'in your face' show with walls full of collaged penises and the upstairs room contains lots of huge concrete and bronze phalluses,(penis envy?). 

The show could have been better presented as it is quite crude and haphazard visually, especially the downstairs room with all the exhibits crammed in together with little space, but I guess that is a part of Lucas's aesthetic. There is also a deliberate crudeness in both the subject matter and her choice of materials (toilets, crushed cars, breeze blocks and concrete), and I was reminded of Duchamps series of Ready Mades, his urinal known as Fountain in particular.

My favourites were the cigarette drawings, NUDS- stockings filled with fluff to represent bodies and breasts, and also the concrete casts of boots.

Whitechapel Gallery
until 15th December 2013

Sunday, 10 November 2013

When Britain Went Pop!

There is a fantastic exhibition at Christie's Mayfair, on New Bond St. which chronicles the early years of the Pop Art phenomenon in Britain. The great thing about the exhibition is that Christie's has managed to persuade owners to lend significant and early Pop pieces by  greats such as Peter Blake, David Hockney, Richard Hamilton and  Allen Jones, which are usually kept away from public view by their owners. Some haven't been publicly exhibited since the 1960s.

Personal favourites in the show are Allen Jones' early 'Bus' pictures which are a wonderful splash of colour, as are his later stylised fetish pieces of stiletto heels and shiny rubber-clad legs. His furniture sculptures of women in prone positions seem as controversial as ever, but make an important statement.


David Hockney's early paintings are also exciting. I really like the looseness of his brushwork compared to his more controlled paintings of the 1970s, as well as his use of graffiti/typography.

It was also really interesting to see Gerald Laing's work which has obvious parallels with Roy Lichtenstein's because of the use of the Ben-day dot system used in newspapers and comics, which both adopted in their work.

My absolute favourites are Peter Blake's paintings of wrestlers and tattooed ladies. I like the contrast in his paintings of the highly finished elements and areas which are left sketchy and seemingly unfinished. It was so wonderful to be able to see these early works in the flesh.

You really get the feeling from this show of how advertising, music and popular imagery caught the imagination of the these young artists of the period as there seems to be a real youthful energy and excitement to this show that reflects the "swinging" London of the time. All of the artists were clearly fans of the music, products and stars of the era. I now want to visit the Barbican's Pop Art Design exhibition which is also currently running before it closes. This was one of the best exhibitions I have been to this year.

When Britain Went Pop!
British Pop Art: The Early Years
Christie's Mayfair
103 New Bond St.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

George Osodi: Kings of Nigeria

Whilst I was in Bermondsey, I also caught this show by the Nigerian photographer George Osodi. The Kings of Nigeria documents a variety of Nigeria's regional monarchs whose ancestors owned vast tracts of land, but who were all stripped of their constitutional powers in 1963 when Nigeria became a republic within the British Commonwealth. Despite being stripped of their powers these monarchs still cling to the pomp and ceremony of the royal lifestyle and are still very popular amongst, and feted by their loyal subjects, and act as intermediaries between the people they represent and the Nigerian government. There are parallels in what Osodi and Kehinde Wiley, (the subject of a recent post), are trying to achieve, in that they are documenting, and preserving a peoples and their lifestyle, and how they choose to express themselves in culture, and dress, through portraiture.  

I do not know if it was the photographer George Osodi's intention, but when I look at the two photos above I am reminded of the formal, historical European portraits of royalty, and in particular Velasquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X (below). Their poses, age, extravagant dress, and direct stare out of the picture plane at the viewer lends them an air of gravitas. I think there are distinct similarities, what do you think? 

I like looking at the clothing of the various Kings in these photographs. There are sumptuous taffeta and brocade robes as well as traditional African textile prints. Other photographs from the series (not shown here), depict elaborately beaded necklaces, veils and head wear. I would like to know more about the choices made by the monarchs represented. What influenced their tastes in how they choose to display their wealth? They differ from those of the contemporary monarchs of the West, so were they cultural decisions, or based on geographical necessities? 

Also interesting is the decoration and architecture of the palaces which isn't represented so well in the photographs here, but you get a good glimpse in the exterior shot of the palace in the last photo below.

This was an interesting exhibition as it documents a different experience of wealth and culture to that most of us are used to. Osodi has hit upon a good project and will hopefully capture for posterity all of the remaining Nigerian monarchs.

George Osodi Nigeria Monarchs
Until 3rd November 2013
Bermondsey Projects
46 Willow Walk
London SE1

Monday, 28 October 2013

Mark Bradford: Through Darkest America by Truck and Tank

Again as with Kehinde Wiley, and Hurvin Anderson, the artwork of African-American Mark Bradford was discovered fairly recently, and naturally struck a chord with me as he uses similar materials and processes that I use, but with markedly different results. I made a point of going to see his show at White Cube, Bermondsey, and was impressed with both the design of the White Cube Bermondsey gallery, and Bradford's work. 

The gallery rooms are huge and easily able to accommodate vast scaled work such as that by Bradford, and are also airy and very well lit without spoiling the artworks with the reflected glare of harsh lighting. I also loved the shiny, polished concrete floors. 

The work on display appears to be mainly about mapping and grids - Bradford's attempt to relate to Dwight Eisenhowers' interstate highway system, and the disruption that ensued to the various communities in the way when the road building work was implemented. 

What struck me immediately is the surface textures of the works, as they are densely layered and cut into, and sanded to reveal the underlying layers of collaged materials. There is a lot of 'movement' and rhythm in the work because of the Bradford's mark-making on the torn and cut layers. The typography in the works reminded me of ancient texts and hieroglyphs because of the surface treatments that Bradford has applied to them. The materials for his collages are posters and found materials, and in this respect his work reminds of  that of the work of Rotella, and Villegle, but Bradford's are more oblique and executed on a much vaster scale. It was really good to see the work first hand and experience the textural surfaces. Inspirational collage-paintings.

Mark Bradford
Through Darkest America by Truck and Tank
White Cube, Bermondsey
16th October - 22 December 2013