Tuesday, 27 March 2007

500 Baskets: A Celebration of the Basketmaker's Art

500 Baskets: A Celebration of the Basketmaker's Art

Could the future of contemporary art be craft? This wonderful book shows the strength and diversity within craft art practice. Here are exquisite examples of traditional basketry, and equally exquisite innovative works. Woven materials include bark and other plant fibres, but also wire, sheet metal, thread, cereal boxes, fishing line, plastic strapping, and clay. There is even one piece made of newspaper! The range of styles and approaches are equally broad.

500 Baskets is only one of a series of juried craft art titles produced by US publisher Lark Books. Good on them! You can buy the books here through Fishpond.

Invasion of the little people

London has been infiltrated by aliens, but hardly anyone would have noticed. That is, unless they've seen the pictures. Thanks to Styleygeek for the link.

Brian Jungen

Mass-produced objects get a new life in the sculpture of Canadian artist Brian Jungen. Nike footwear becomes tribal masks and strange creatures, plastic chairs meld into a lively-looking skeleton. Great stuff! His Wikipedia page is here.

Joining places and times

These photographs of Mark Dolce's juxtapose historic images with contemporary places. It's a simple idea with intriguing and haunting results.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

The Inhabited Initial

The Inhabited Initial

I have been savouring Fiona Farrell's poetry collection The Inhabited Initial, which deals with the ancient middle-eastern sources of our alphabet, as well as related issues of power, violence, history and language in the Middle East.

from "The Translator"

"The translator dangles/ by a thread above/ thickets of sound.// He presses his hand at/ the small sharp print/ of an ancient tongue.// His fingers feel for the/ crack where words can/ spill from the rock like water."

There are memorable New Zealand poems, too. I love this, from "Otanerito":

"Cliff meets sea./ Sea bash at/ knuckle rock./ Thump, says sea./ Cliff says/ stop."

It's so like her poem "Full stop":

"The little dot raises its hand./ It breaks into the letters marching/ from left to right and forces them to/ form cohorts of meaning. It insists on quiet."

Land, language, human struggle, all bound together. Fantastic.

New Andy Goldsworthy show

Those lucky enough to live in Yorkshire can see it for themselves. The rest of us have to make do with a vicarious experience:

"In the final room I come across the artist himself up a stepladder working on a beautiful filamented curtain stretching the full height and width of the gallery that up close turns out to be made from horse-chestnut twigs held together with thorns, each one - more than 10,000 in all - painstakingly jointed by hand. "

Read more about it in a wonderful article in the Guardian and there's a slideshow too!

And kudos to the Guardian

For giving their art, architecture and design news its own section, and not lumping it in 'Entertainment', as is so often the case! Can we hope the BBC might follow suit? Art and design has so little in common with celebrity gossip....

Butterflies in trouble

This Dominion Post article tells of the decline of butterfly numbers in New Zealand. It's all the more concerning beacuse the causes are not well understood. Letting nettle plants grow is one thing we can all do to help them, along with encouraging nectar-producing plants in our gardens.

Finally, an animated kangaroo tessellation

No, I'm not kidding! It's here. I wonder if making an animation ever occurred to Escher? :-)

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Photorealist to photographer

I always assumed Grahame Sydney painted his beautiful landscapes from photographs, but apparently he works from detailed sketches. He was unable to sketch in the Antarctic owing to the harsh conditions, and so he took photographs instead, which he is exhibiting at Christchurch's Salamander Gallery from the 20th of this month. The press release and some pictures are here.

I'm interested that he says he has not altered the photographs since taking them, and that he hopes they show his individual "eye". Many great photographers have shown their individual vision precisely by working on the images: Ansel Adams, with his famous Zone System, spent many hours adjusting tonal values in his pictures.

Adams is quoted as saying: "Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships" :-)

Colour of the Antarctic

I also note that Sydney's Antarctic photos, like Craig Potton's in his recent show, show the snow and ice as pale grey. For a camera to register detail in the lightest areas, it must be set to underexpose - to register bright white as a pale grey. This can be modified in the printing stage, by overexposing (or "pushing") to turn this palest grey back to white. Of course, the more the image is pushed to white, the more detail is lost. Potton and Sydney have both opted for truth-to-detail rather than trying to replicate the blinding whiteness that must be such a feature of being in the Antarctic.

Bad farmyard puns

Remember Wallace and Gromit? And Chicken Run? Well now Aardman Animation has Shaun the sheep. Pictures are here on the BBC. Shaun even has his OWN, very lavish website.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Amazing weaving

I saw Christchurch City Gallery's Toi Maori show last week. I thought as I am a non-Maori and a non-weaver it would be over my head, but I thought it was stunning. Photos simply don't do these works justice. The whole range is there, from historical, heirloom pieces, through to contemporary explorative work.

I was also thrilled to see some lovely stuff by Bing Dawe at the Arthouse. I thought his eels and flounders looked particularly well in the small rooms of the Arthouse, where the sinuous curves fill the walls, and you are forced up close, eye-to-eye with the fish.

T-shirts and attitudes

Matthew pointed me to Threadless T-shirts. I'm impressed by the artistry and creativity that can go into a t-shirt! Threadless invites design contributions from anybody, in their ongoing competition. Entries are then ranked by users, the winners get money, and you can order the winning designs. Then, if you want, you can even send them a photo of yourself wearing the shirt. Internet pop culture at its best!