Art on a Wall

Sometimes you see something and you think, that’s clever. Well the Scribit Robot is just that. Designed by a team including Carlo Ratti, an Italian architect and somewhat renaissance figure, this device allows users to personalise their walls with digital artwork. And then replace that artwork whenever they like. More prosaically it can do menu boards and anything else that requires printing.

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The Scribit Robot

This clever concept is going to be crowdfunded later this year, so either it will be a great success or it will slowly slide away into oblivion and we will be none the wiser. So is it a genius idea with brilliant potential or just an expensive design concept that should have been kept in-house, what’s your view?

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Urban Scribbles

I stumbled over this story about “Urban Sketchers”. It took me a moment to recognise that these pen and ink style drawings where not all of the same place, as there is something rather “same-y” about all of them. And I’m not sure what those splodges of colour are all about.

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Urban Sketcher

 

I was initially intrigued by the concept of them sketching “urban clutter”. I somewhat expected a focus on the urban mess; graffiti, recycling, waste, the “night-time economy”, the building’s structural elements. But their definition of this seems to stretch to the elements (buses, trams, shops, houses, buildings) that actually define an urban environment – The infrastructure.

It seems there is a small gathering of these “USK’s” around the globe. With the social media we have available today it has seemingly translated what would once have been isolated local groups into a global forum and a movement.

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Urban Sketcher

 

Perhaps there is an equivalent “Rural Sketchers” movement? Or maybe they just call themselves artists.

Getting William the Conquered again…

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Bayeux Tapestry

The truly fabulous Bayeux Tapestry is not just a remarkable work of art but also a wonderfully detailed account of the conquest of England in 1066. The tapestry is a monumental work, over 70m long, and 50cm tall. Within that space they tell a remarkable story, not just of the blood and fury of the decisive Battle of Hastings, but a rich human re-telling of civil life at that time, with detailed work in the top and bottom margins, and Latin text emphasising some of the action.

Over 900 years old, this work has been available to view in France at the Bayeux Museum, but now President Macron of France has announced the intention to allow the Bayeux Tapestry to be transported to a museum in England. But don’t rush, they yet need to work out how to package and transport the object, and so it will be around 2020 or even 2022 before the tapestry makes its way across the English channel. And despite its name, it is actually an embroidery, being stitched together rather than woven. But oh what detail, what humour, how evocative that work is, and when you see the teeming human life being recounted in blazing colour and detail it can almost seem touchingly contemporary.

Detail of Bayeux tapestry
Detail of Bayeux tapestry

For those who believe understanding our past helps to understand the here and now, the Bayeux Tapestry not only reveals intimate details of the conquest of Britain, but the enormity of trade and warfare during the medieval period. The Normans beat the English who never had an English King again, yet it could well be we defeated ourselves. The Vikings had already invaded England and much later the Vikings invaded France, to get rid of them they were given land well away from Paris, In Normandy. They became Normans who then with William the Conqueror of France invaded England. Historians might quibble that there is no exact evidence of that being true but go and visit this remarkable work, in France or England and see for yourself.

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Bayeux tapestry – The Normans Clobbering us!

 

 

New Themes

I’ve been so focused on writing my blogs that its only now that I have reviewed how it actually looks. I have used EDIN as my blog template, which I initially selected as I liked its clean lines and text. I took some time to learn, Gingerly , how to customise the sidebar and footers to fit my theme. There were a few things I wanted to look at improving, modifying the header image, having my blog title visible on the actual header if possible, while keeping features like displaying the sidebars, the about me page, and showing images in the blogs.

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Original EDIN theme

My approach was to use the facility in “WP admin” to select a new theme and make it active, changing my blog theme, which immediately shows the main features on the existing content. This way it was easy to visually see themes that didn’t look “right”. This excludes templates that only show blog excerpts, those “read more” types , or didn’t show an image. This still left quite a few templates that seemed OK. It would have been nice at this stage to be able to see blogs that had used these templates, but with the rare exception that doesn’t seem to be available, not surprising as I don’t know how to show what template I’m using on my own blog!.

So it was back to ploughing through a short list of templates, and finally reducing these to two options, Dara and Independent Publisher. They seemed to do all that I wanted, so I saved the Dara theme and started to review what the website looked like.

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DARA theme

With “Dara” I seemed to have border edges which I hadn’t noticed on the template, and the “about me” seemed a bit less clear. I also thought that while the text looked fine for short text, taken for the entire blog it didn’t look that pleasing.

So I loaded “Independent Publisher”. Because in all of these themes you can customise them, its sometimes hard to work out what is the best template for your blog and what will be the best-looking one once you have done a lot of editing and customising. So far I am happy with this one and looking forward to making some further changes and seeing how that goes.

What’s your favourite blog and blog theme?

Landscapes II

So this is just a follow-up to Landscapes where I mentioned we had artwork that resembled the photographic image of Josh Cooper’s “Meandering Mawddach”, (Gwynedd, NW Wales).

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Josh Cooper’s “Meandering Mawddach”,

Our artwork is an etching by Pauline Meade, “Torridon Hills” with similar light, and striking monochrome features:

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Pauline Meade, “Torridon Hills” etching

Of course this might have been far more impressive artwork if I could have captured a good image. Our picture had been professionally framed, and I thought they used non-reflective glass but it seems it isn’t. So I spent a happy (sic) few minutes walking around the house trying to find somewhere to take a clean image, without glare and reflections (TIP: Not outside in the sunshine). This is my best attempt, apologies to everyone. Ironic really, given that it was a photographic competition that generated the original article!

Landscapes

 

Diminutive Dune, Sand forms at low tide, West Wittering, West Sussex, England
The Landscape Photographer of the year 2017. Benjamin Graham’s “Diminutive Dune”, in West Wittering, West Sussex, England

The winners have been announced in the Landscape Photographer of the year competition. It is always fascinating to view these photographs, partly to see who won what, and partly to get a glimpse of any trends or styles that are currently in fashion. There are a number of awards, although the overall winner is Benjamin Graham’s unusual Diminutive Dune, (West Wittering, West Sussex, England).

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Graham Niven’s “Dawn patrol”

I like Graham Niven’s “Dawn patrol” (Loch Garten, Cairngorms, Scotland), although I think if I was the photographer I would have actually slid my own feet back, so that they were out of shot! Or maybe he spent hours to photo-shop them in!

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Josh Cooper’s “Meandering Mawddach”,

One particular image captured my imagination, Josh Cooper’s “Meandering Mawddach”, (Gwynedd, NW Wales). We have an etching by Pauline Meade,  “Torridon Hills” with similar light, and striking monochrome features, which it resembles. It is the kind of image that you see more, the more you look, and rewards repeated viewings.

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David Hopley’s “Encompassed”,

This image is fascinating,  as is David Hopley’s picture entitled “Encompassed”,
Rounded photographed in Colton, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England. BTW “Taddy” has some good breweries so well worth a visit!What I especially like about this image is that it is so iconic,  being well-constructed without being too smart or clever. It literally feels as though he has pulled the camera and taken a snap rather than spent endless hours constructing the image.

The youth section photographs are quite stunning and all these images of the British countryside are going on display. So if you’re around you can see the exhibition being held on display at London Waterloo station, from 20th November 2017 – 4th February 2018. It would be interesting to see the actual images themselves and see how they compare to viewing digitally online.

And if you’re a keen photographer yourself, you can enter next year. Just don’t take pictures of sand dunes by the sea, that’s not going to work again!

What’s the time, Mr Wolf?

Clock

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sailing Boats, North Norfolk Coast
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Beach Huts, Wells-Next-Sea, Norfolk.

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