What’s the time, Mr Wolf?


So central Birmingham is spending £2 million on a clock. Ignoring the contentious fact that this is part of the controversial HS2 project, it does once again raise the question of what public funds should be used for.

The PR spin will say this is a worthwhile project that will provide footfall to Birmingham, based on in-depth analysis that an additional XX visitors will spend YY, that means it will generate Billions and make the £2m a paltry insignificant sum. Except that they are spending an actual £2m, that could be spent on hospitals, libraries, other public services. Any exponential visitors are hard to measure. So here’s a competition – Hull, is the current European city of culture, this year they will get loads of extra visitors. Name one thing that all those visitors are coming for? Thought not, it’s the overall events and activities. Had they spent £2m on a clock, that wouldn’t be bringing in any additional visitors, it would just be one more attraction for those visitors to go too.

But there is another problem with these grandiose schemes. These huge art competitions tend to create a culture of international artists trying to implement challenging schemes to win. And thankfully some of these were overlooked, the train crash one, possibly all too apt with HS2! They are international, they are not local. This clock has nothing to do with Birmingham, it is just an anodyne artwork parachuted into that location. Of course by the time it gets built and modified it will have a developed a local flavour, local voices, but does this really make it unique to Brum? Not really.

Another possible public folly is the garden bridge in London, currently being reviewed to evaluate if it justifies the expense. Couldn’t they just put flowers and greenery on all the existing bridges? Well they could, and that might look really nice. But it wouldn’t be a “concept” would it, so that won’t count.



Up the workers…

The Royal Academy of Arts is now showcasing “Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932”. While this at first seems a fairly innocuous retrospective, when you re-consider those dates and the consequences of that title the reflection is one of a momentous period of change and upheaval. While that timeline could probably be dragged pre 1917 and post 1932, those dates do somehow capture that period of significance.

Artwork that initially resembled the appeal of 19th century railway posters, bold colours, striking iconography, transcends into evocations of the tumultuous history of the period. Far-reaching and shattering in its consequences.

Curiously some of the work seems to go beyond the boundaries of time and space. Look at Alexander Deineka’s Textile Workers, 1927. They resemble robots, blank and automated, that conjure visions of the mindlessness of the coming late 21st century rather than a historic period piece.

Deineka’s “Textile Workers”

Or Kazmir Malevich, ‘Peasants’, c.1930, a kaleidoscope of colours and the inhumanity of those staring figures with no facial features, breathtakingly prescient.

Malevich’s “Peasants”

And if you are able to get to the exhibition and it fascinates, then follow that up later this year with the Tate’s Red Star over Russia. Up the peasants, up the workers!

Graffiti clean-up?

A bit like cycle lanes views on graffiti generate contradictory arguments. Personally I appreciate graffiti, often find it challenging, and appreciate the medium as being immediate and local. It can often be thoughtful, and I like the opportunity it provides to give a glimpse of another perspective, views from the urban artist.

Hipster wall art Shoreditch

Oftentimes I find the colourful displays an antidote to the cold bare urban concrete environment. Indeed the inspired good natured graffiti can transform what would otherwise be an uninspired dreary experience, such as walking through an underpass, into a less threatening, even pleasant journey. While I’d prefer not to have gang tags or offensive stuff scrawled on the walls, I don’t think there is any need to blatantly remove everything that is up there.

I’m not sure whether I realised that people tagged their own work. After reading  Christana’s blog, it seems they do. Somehow it seems curious why someone should tag their work. I thought they preferred anonymity and from the viewer it was part of the medium about recognising the work.

By its nature it is transitory. I reckon you should just enjoy it while it is there. I think the idea of re-siting graffiti into art galleries is irony at its best. Once it is gone, well then, you have a shared experience with all other local people and visitors who have seen it.



I do like to be beside the Seaside

At the moment I have a bit of a crush on these seascapes from Sally-Anne Adams.


Sailing Boats, North Norfolk Coast 


Beach Huts, Wells-Next-Sea, Norfolk.


I can feel and hear the sea when I gaze at these images. Almost smell the salt of the sea and sense the shifting clouds re-creating shapes and memories. Where’s you favourite seascape? Never yet been to the sea – in for a treat when you do.


So spent time this month creating a website for Sally-Anne Adams, artist. I was going to create the site on WordPress, also looked at Wix and Weebly.

Jimdo seemed easy to set-up and had nice clear crisp templates to choose from, and the benefit of not having so many choices that its hard to select one. I started doing a mock up on that. Then realised the site went live straight away, so decided to stick with it and make it active. Working on live site isn’t that recommended though!

While the template fitted well I then had a play with selecting other templates and viewing how the site looked with those. The editing was fairly straightforward and seemed OK and the site uptime seems fine so for a free website quite impressed. Have just added it to google so hopefully will be active soon.

For original and unique artwork go to Sally-Anne Adams, acrylic and watercolour paintings. Also available at Sally_Anne Adams Instagram and Facebook. Why not have a look?

Trompe-l’oeil takes affect

A modern take on those German style fake towns that have trompe l’oeil windows and doors that just look so real. Well now some inspired people have come up with complex optics to mimic the way the sun refracts through standard glass in particular situations. This could be a great architectural design feature, with the added benefits like those winter sunshine lamps are supposed to provide.

Or maybe it turns out to be more closely resembling wallpapers that show countryside views or lakes, cheap tat that does nothing for body or soul. There’s some interesting articles on the graphics of design just for fun. Look forward to seeing it for real (sic) sometime soon. Brilliant idea!

Inland See

There shouldn’t really be much boat-y business going on in Milton Keynes, one of the most inland places in England! But this summer a fabulous boat arrived inland – a boat built from donated pieces of wood; wood that’s played a part in the lives of thousands of people. Arriving during the fabulous IF festival as part of a unique project for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, the Lone Boat project was a great experience and a true pleasure to marvel over – Seen up close and out of the water it was possible to enjoy the fabulous designs and incredible woodwork – Great idea, great work and well worth a visit.

Earthquake proof table

The design museum have recently announced the overall winner for their designs of the year 2012, which turns out to be the Olympic torch. The annual event is always an interesting and stimulating opportunity to see what’s been included and what is happening. With seven categories there tends to be something for everyone – and of course it always raises a debate (why is that there!). The Olympic torch which you would think would be a no brainer has taken criticism, with daily telegraph readers voting it looked more like a cheese grater than a torch – but is that a bad thing?

There are lots of gems in there – I particularly liked the flying cycles bike parking, although I’m not sure if it goes around at the speed of the London eye or at a fast flowing windmill. It would be interesting to know. Is the bike hanger that practical – probably not – but it does make me smile. Something quite practical and a bit jaw dropping the first time you see it is the incredible Hovding invisible helmet. You simply have to watch the demo – not sure whether I was watching this to be impressed by the product or in endless fascination as a poor old cyclist keeps getting repeatedly mashed.

Wandering around exploring the nominations I was taken with the moses bridge in the architecture section as well as with the category winner the Olympic velodrome. I also liked the late night chameleon café or maybe I just liked the photography, its hard to tell. There is an earthquake proof table in there somewhere, although I’m not sure if it comes with terms & conditions – replace after use maybe? Fascinating stuff.