Thursday, 23 April 2015

Hermes Wanderland

This exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery was a delightful surprise and a bonus to the main Pangaea II show that I had gone to see. It is so wonderfully designed and curated and a magical experience. Hermes is a luxury brand and this exhibition showcases their immaculately crafted wares. 

Entrance to the exhibition

Visitors enter the exhibition Narnia-style, through a large wardrobe and are transported through magical rooms displaying items from Hermes historic collections.

A map of the different rooms

The exhibition is a celebration of the concept of Flanerie - the 19th century French art of the leisurely stroll. It's about curiosity, walking the streets of the city, seeing it through fresh eyes and enjoying the discoveries you make.

Topsy-turvy street furniture containing vintage Hermes pieces

There are eleven rooms in the exhibition, and I made discoveries whilst strolling through them, about the 178 year old Hermes brand and the levels of luxury and craftsmanship that the Hermes brand represents. I was surprised by the unashamed opulence of the items on display, and it seems that one's imagination is the only limit on what objects can be made by Hermes team of craftsmen. If you can think it, they can make it - however outlandish or impractical. No item is considered too humble or insignificant to be spared the Hermes touch. There was a crash helmet covered in fur. A leather and ruched velvet saddle. Although they looked fabulous I wondered what practical use they could actually be put to. But then to think in terms of practicality in this exhibition is to miss the point.

 Chess set in an upturned chair
Bottled leather "fruit" purses
Digital technology and luxury items

Graffiti and neon lighting 

 Elephant in a china shop

 That fur covered helmet

 Beautifully crafted leather petrol canister

 That amazing leather/velvet saddle

Crystal goblet chandelier which rotated and cast beautiful shadows
I don't think I will visit a better designed or imaginatively displayed exhibition this year. Set designer Hubert le Gall and his team of designers have done a marvellous job. It was a great experience to feel that child-like sense of wonder again. See more here.

Hermes Wanderland
until 2nd May
Saatchi Gallery
Duke of York's HQ
King's Road

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A Bigger Little Black Dress

This is a newly created piece. It is the biggest version (life-size), of Little Black Dress that I have created to date (120cm x 60cm framed). It is available to purchase from Orso Major which is now open again following recent refurbishments.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Monday, 13 April 2015

Polly Morgan: Taxidermy Is Dead (Long Live Taxidermy)

To the Horniman Museum to see this small exhibition of work by Polly Morgan. Taxidermy Is Dead (Long Live Taxidermy) showcases some of Morgan's recent work in taxidermy. There has been a recent resurgence in the art of taxidermy with the likes of Morgan and Sinke and Van Tongeren at the forefront, and taxidermy polarises opinion. Like Marmite, people either love it or hate it. I think Morgan brings something different and unique with her take on taxidermy and gives it a surreal, poetic twist to create something eerily beautiful. Excuse the quality of the photos it was dark in the Natural History section. I do think this was a bit of a missed opportunity for the Horniman Museum in terms of scale and work displayed, as I believe it could have been a much more engaging and ambitious exhibition. 

Polly Morgan
Taxidermy is Dead (Long Live Taxidermy)
Horniman Museum & Gardens
until Sun 7th June

Friday, 10 April 2015

Marian Ellis Rowan: Butterflies Through Other Eyes #5

I recently discovered these beautiful butterfly paintings by Australian botanical illustrator Marian Ellis Rowan (1848-1922) in an auction catalogue and had to share.

Ellis Rowan was born into a well to do family and had no formal training in art and design but was encouraged to paint natural subjects in watercolour by her husband. Ellis Rowan travelled extensively throughout Australia and America documenting the flora and fauna of these countries and her work was published in a series of books on natural history which documented wildlife.

Two years before her death she held an exhibition of her work which featured 1000 of her paintings and was the largest solo exhibition by an artist at that time. They are exquisite observations of butterflies, typical of that Victorian era of classifying and cataloguing various species of wildlife. They are all the more interesting considering that Ellis Rowan was a self-taught artist.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Bizarre's Butterfly Lady

I was enchanted by this nubile "Bizarre" Butterfly Woman and thought that her human/butterfly hybrid form was reminiscent of what of Loie Fuller tried to achieve in her Butterfly Dance (which I blogged about last month here). She is a decidedly more erotic hybrid than that of Fuller though, and is the creation of artist/illustrator John Alexander Scott Coutts, who went under the pseudonym John Willie and was the editor, photographer and publisher who also created the artwork for the vintage fetish/bondage magazine Bizarre (1946-1959).

The magazine catered to those with a variety of fetishes (corsets, high heels, sadomasochism and transvestism to name a few), and managed to beat the censors of the time because Willie was careful to avoid images of nudity, homosexuality and violence, which would probably have provoked the ire of said censors.

Although the magazine only ran for a short time, (it wasn't published between 1947-1951 because of paper shortages due to the Second World War), it achieved cult status, and you can see how John Willie's erotic images may perhaps have influenced fashion and shoe designers (such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Christian Loboutin, and Manolo Blahnik), photographers, (Ellen von Unworth, Helmut Newton), and also the style of erotic icons such as Betty Page and Dita Von Teese.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Periphery series

Periphery (Gold) received a lot of attention in the Rowley Gallery window before selling in a matter of days recently, and I have been fielding lots of enquiries about my Periphery series since. They are currently available in two sizes. The larger ones are about 1 metre in size framed, and consist of four rings of butterflies that have been gilded in either gold or silver. A version of white butterflies in this size has been requested and will also be available soon to order by commission from either myself or the galleries.

The smaller sized Periphery 's are 50cm x 50cm and consist of two rings of gilded butterflies in gold or silver. The smaller size is also available in white with three rings of butterflies.

Last but by no means least is the multi-coloured version called Continuum, which is available in the 50cm x 50cm sized frame.

All come in an ash box-frame and can be seen or commissioned from either The Rowley Gallery, Orso Major or directly from myself at