Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Sophia Webster Butterfly Shoes S/S14

More shoes for the girls! I posted about the amazing gold butterfly shoes of Sergio Rossi last December, and recently came across these equally interesting examples by Sophia Webster. They make really good use of laser-cutting technology, and are a really creative interpretation of the butterfly theme.The orange sandals below are clever and cute.

With this last pair modelled by the actress Nina Dobrev, I couldn't help but think of Hermes/Mercury the Greek and Roman gods who used to sport winged sandals. She looks like a fairy ready to take off and fly!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

David Robilliard: The Yes No Quality of Dreams


I first saw this artist/poet's work a long time ago in an exhibition at the Southbank Centre. The combination of sparse line-work and typography really appealed to me, being a graphic/illustration student at the time. They really left an impression on me, and I was sad to learn that Robilliard had died and passed into spirit in 1988 at the age of 36, as it seemed there was a lot of unfulfilled potential in his work. 

It was a pleasure then to visit the ICA for the first time in a long while and to see another retrospective of Robilliard's work, (the first for 20 years apparently). They still have an enduring appeal for me, and remind me of Andy Warhol's early illustrative, advertising line drawings which also have plenty of white space around them, and an economy of line. I feel that there is also something of the presence of Cocteau's work in there too. They also brought to mind the linear work of Ben Shahn. In fact there was a real spirit of that whole 1950/60s era and Beat Poetry about the pieces on display.

They are mostly personal and draw from Robilliard's life experiences at the time, (he was gay, and was good friends with the artist duo Gilbert and George and found many of the young men who modelled in their work).

The titles of the paintings are life affirming, (Life's not Good It's Excellent!) Bawdy - (Too Many Cocks Spoil The Breath), or hopeful, (Keep Tomorrow Free). I like the spontaneous feel of the typography, and its crude application, sometimes capitals, other times lowercase, and the way it dominates the images makes the work appear to be like advertising posters with slogans.

I really recommend this show, it was great to see Robilliard's work again. My only criticism is that the exhibition could have been bigger, I would have liked to see more work on display.

David Robilliard: The Yes No Quality of Dreams
until 15th June
Institute of Contemporary Art
The Mall

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Josef Albers: Black & White

To Cork Street for more monochromatic art. This time the work of Josef Albers whom I had previously known for his colourful "Homage To The Square" series. Josef Albers: Black and White, currently on show at Waddington Custot, was then a bit of a revelation to me as it showcases a variety of his experimental black and white pieces including photography, engravings on vinylite and glass pieces. 

I particularly liked the abstract, graphic, linear quality of the pieces on show which explore space and play tricks on the eye like optical illusions. It was interesting to see his work restricted to the challenges of a self-imposed monochromatic tonal palette, and being able to contrast it with his more well-known work dealing with planes of solid colour. I loved the Constellation pieces like the work below, which were white lines etched into black vinyl. Some were sand-blasted in areas to give a combination of matte and shiny surfaces which were tactile and graphic.

Certain pieces reminded of the work of Ben Nicholson, and for some reason the cover of Joy Division's seminal album Unknown Pleasures (below).

The linear geometry of Albers' black and white work also brought to mind the lovely architectural inspired etchings of Bronwen Sleigh (below), seen recently at the London Original Print Fair, which also explore space with a series of drawn lines and planes.

Josef Albers: Black and White
until June 2nd
Waddington Custot
11 Cork Street

Friday, 9 May 2014

Life Begins At 40

I recently accepted a  commission via a client of the Rowley Gallery who had seen my work there. It was to celebrate the landmark 40th birthday of her husband. The commissioned piece was to be one of my Butterfly Balls composed of 40 butterflies created from a black and white map of the area of London where they lived, (Shepherd's Bush).

I asked Chris, one of the directors of the Rowley, which street they lived on, as if possible I like to personalise a commission like in my "Map of The Heart" series. I was surprised to learn that they lived in the very next street to where a friend I had graduated and moved to London with lived, and where I had spent many happy hours hanging out and partying as a carefree lad new to the hustle and bustle of London. I had also attended a party on the client's street back in the day, but sadly the house number eludes me after so many years. This commission sparked so many happy memories of younger days where so much seemed possible. Those days seems like a whole other lifetime ago now. With so much personal history invested I was eager to do a good job. Anyway Chris asked if I would like to document the commission and I agreed to take some photos and describe my working method.

As it was requested that the artwork be created from a black and white map my first task was to source a map of the area. I could find no modern black and white maps of Shepherd's Bush so made a visit to my sources and was able to obtain 3 black and white reproductions of vintage maps of the area.

Having gained approval of the maps I began to identify key streets and landmarks of the area and then choose which butterfly shapes they would appear on in the final artwork.

This done I began the task of wielding the scissors and cutting out the butterflies.

Once these were cut I had to decide where they would be placed in the circle to make up the "Butterfly Ball".

I was quite anxious about this as I usually just lay them out randomly and fit them like a jigsaw, but with this commission requiring exactly 40 butterflies - no more, no less, I had to make sure the exact number fitted, they were kept to a certain size, and that they formed a recognisable ball shape. I needn't have worried however, as all went smoothly and they all seemed to fit organically.

Once each butterfly had its place I had to choose 'bodies' for them from my selection of printed spotty papers.

Each body was then cut and glued into place on the butterfly and each butterfly in turn glued into place to form the "Butterfly Ball".

The whole artwork was then flattened for a couple of weeks to smooth out the creases from the folded maps, and then the finishing touch was folding back the wings to bring the butterflies to life, which is one of my favourite parts of the process. All now ready for take-off!

All completed it was now just a case of framing the artwork and delivering it to the Rowley for collection by the client. She apparently loved it. Hope her husband did too, and more importantly that he had a good 40th birthday. Many happy Returns sir!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Fortnum and Mason's Butterflies

I took time out recently to visit one of my favourites of the art fairs - The London Original Print Fair, at the Royal Academy in Piccadilly. Whilst there I couldn't help but notice these huge butterflies temporarily covering the facade of Fortnum and Mason opposite, whilst it undergoes a face-lift.

I really like the black and white illustrations and was reminded of some black and white illustrations I did which were enlarged, developed into 3D models, and used as window displays for Harrod's in the 1990s. Watch out for my next post which will feature more architectural and cartographic inspired black and white butterflies.