Sunday, 30 August 2009

New New Artland!

Each week TVNZ 7 show New Artland provides a New Zealand artist with the resources to make a new artwork involving their local community, and follows them around watching how it goes.

New Artland has just started it's second series, Saturday night at 9.35pm, TVNZ 7, and repeated Tuesday night at 9.35pm. It's hosted by music legend and art commentator Chris Knox, who completed filming the series before being incapacitated by a stroke from which he is still recovering.

Saturday night's show featured Wayne Youle organising a mass tattooing event where participants were tattooed with a NZ map marked with their particular home place or places. That episode is available online here.

All the shows from the first series are also available through the TVNZ On Demand website, here.
Do have a look if you haven't seen them, they're such an amazingly diverse set of projects. And because all the artists are pushing the boundaries of what they've done before and also collaborating with their communities, the results are excitingly unpredictable.

The award for single most surreal idea must go to Phil Dadson with his project to send a brass band flying in a fleet of hot-air balloons drifting on the breeze.

The single funniest episode features painter John Reynolds wanting to personally mark and number all the road arrows on State Highway 1, before coming up with another idea which was equally amazing but less labour-intensive. If he ever gets sick of being an artist, I'm sure he could have a career as a stand-up comic.

The episode which moved me the most was Lonnie Hutchinson's Anzac Day work featuring thousands of pansies and tens of schoolchildren.

Hardest-working artists in series one would have to be Wellington duo Raised By Wolves (Amy Howden-Chapman and Biddy Livesey) with their project Popping the Tent, featuring their own handmade tent, 3,000 balloons, and a lot of campers talking about camping!

Some of the most interesting works involve teaching art to young people. Ans Westra's project recruited local Petone schoolchildren to record things that were important to them with disposable cameras.

Judy Millar coached a roomful of initially reluctant high-school students in painting on a large scale, using mops, buckets, and other unlikely implements.

There's lots of other great stuff. Go have a look, the list of programmes is here.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Monstrous cuteness!

Tom pointed me to this giant rabbit. No, it's not a stuffed toy!
Read all about it here.

If that doesn't provide sufficient cuteness, try Nora the piano-playing cat:

You can read more about Nora here.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

DM of the Rings

"Lord of the Rings is more or less the foundation of modern D&D. The latter rose from the former, although the two are now so estranged that to reunite them would be an act of savage madness. Imagine a gaggle of modern hack-n-slash roleplayers who had somehow never been exposed to the original Tolkien mythos, and then imagine taking those players and trying to introduce them to Tolkien via a D&D campaign."

So writes Shamus Young, beginning his own epic hybrid of Lord of the Rings and D&D, DM of the Rings. It starts here, and has 144 pages, encompassing most of the major plot points from the LoTR movies, but in a way you've never seen them before! It starts well, and actually gets funnier as it goes along. If you're not sure you want to read the whole thing, these are a few of my favourite strips:

Happy Halloween

Uphill Battle

New Dimensions in Storage

Our Once and Future Party Leader

A Brief History of You

A Minor Omission

Hold Your Horses

There and Back Again

Schrodinger's Familiar

Luck Thief


Thanks to Niels for pointing me to it. I haven't laughed so much in ages.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Rather him than me

Photographer and mountaineer Alexandre Buisse has this page of breathtaking images taken while climbing in Peru. He says he takes about 300 shots a day while climbing! To me it sounds, and looks, quite impossible. Kudos to him for bringing back such amazing pictures for non-climbers to enjoy. :-) Thanks to Ben for the link.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Bif, Bam, Boom

If you've ever worried that you might be on the sharp end of a meteorite strike, check out The Earth Impact Database, which catalogues all known impact craters. There are quite a few. The largest is a little dimple in South Africa 300km across!, and the smallest is a less-dramatic 15m-wide feature in Kansas. In between is the famous Chicxulub crater off the coast of Mexico, the impact of which is thought to have brought the end of the dinosaurs. The thumbnails pictured here are Manicouagan crater in Quebec, Canada, and the famous Barringer crater in Arizona.

You can search by continent: this is the map of Australia, with all the bullseyes marked. Click on any of the splat-marks and you will see more details.
And each of the listings is linked through to Google Maps so you can look at the terrain directly. I love smart websites like this!

This is an unusual book of garden photographs. All the images were taken at night, in whatever ambient light was available, using long exposures. As a consequence, the plants loom dramatically out of the darkness, and the setting resembles nothing so much as an empty stage or film set. The colours appear not quite as usual. And as a consequence of the long exposures, fine detail is slightly blurred. I've never seen anything quite like it.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Fire in the sky

I took these pictures last summer. There was in fact no fire, just low, hazy clouds, lit by the setting sun.

[if it's real, scary exploding fire you want, try these pictures of Anak Krakatau (=son of Krakatoa). Thanks to Tom for the link]

What you can do in a single paragraph

The Moons of Jupiter

The Moons of Jupiter

"Cousin Iris from Philadelphia. She was a nurse. Cousin Isabel from Des Moines. She owned a florist shop. Cousin Flora frm Winnipeg, a teacher; Cousin Winifred from Edmonton, a lady accountant. Maiden ladies, they were called. Old maids was too thin a term, it would not cover them. Their bosoms were heavy and intimidating -- a single, armored bundle -- and their stomachs and behinds full and corseted as those of any married woman. In those days it seemed to be the thing for women's bodies to swell and ripen ot a good size twenty, if they were getting anything out of life at all; then, according to class and aspirations, they would either sag and loosen, go wobbly as custard under pale print dresses and damp aprons, or be girded into shapes whose firm curves and proud slopes had nothing to do with sex, everything to do with rights and power."

-Canadian writer Alice Munro, from the story Chaddeleys and Flemings, in the collection The Moons of Jupiter. I've been a long time reading this book because it's so concentrated. Each short story is like a miniature novel.

You can buy it at Fishpond here.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

The amazing Chinese!

Check out this clip:
34,000 Chinese doing Tai Chi together!
I really wish I'd been there!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

In environmental news...

Who would have thought you could make sterile compost out of used disposable nappies? Canterbury firm Envirocomp is offering the first commercial nappy-composting service in New Zealand. They offer kerbside collection in Christchurch City, North Canterbury and Kaikoura of all disposables for a nominal charge. Read about it here.

Nissan has unveiled its first mass-market fully-electric car, the Leaf. Cheap to run, and with zero emissions, the car will be available in late 2010. Read Wired's review here.

Friday, 7 August 2009

The Lounge Bar by The Front Lawn

Just dug up this classic on YouTube. Just as amazing as I remember seeing on late-night TV in the late 1980s!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Drape; Another New Zealand, Another United States

Christchurch's CoCA Gallery has two stunning printmaking shows, both of which close on the 9th of August. Get down there if you can, they're both stunning, and testimony to the depth of printmaking talent and expertise in Christchurch.


"Three Christchurch artists who teach at the CPIT School of Art & Design, combine to explore different associations of the word drape. Manipulating traditional design formats and imagery, ranging from the overt to the enigmatic, Drape sets out to subvert any expectations of domestic comfort. While Sandra Thomson and Michael Reed comment on social and political issues, Katharina Jaeger takes a more cryptic approach."
-from the CoCA website.

Thomson, Reed, and Jaeger have all made their own "drapes", ceiling-to-floor lengths of fabric, each lavishly decorated with their own imagery and concerns. Visually seductive, Sandra Thomson's and Michael Reed's drapes' patterns on closer inspection are edgy and political, while Katharina Jaeger's are surreal and disquieting.

See images from Drape here.

Another New Zealand, Another United States

"An exchange portfolio of prints between eleven New Zealand artists and eleven American artists.

Offering alternative opinions on what informs NZ and the US, this exhibition will either confirm or deny or debunk a range of views, with a mix of artists from various cultures. The New Zealand participants are Barry Cleavin, Dee Copland, Anna Dalzell, Riki Manuel, Michael Reed, Karen Stevens, Glen Stringer, Kiri Te Wake, Sandra Thomson, Sheyne Tuffery and Wayne Youle.
The American participants are Emily Arthur Douglass, Betsey Garand, Catherine Chauvin, Jill Fitterer, John Hitchcock, Anita Jung, Andy Polk, Kathryn Polk, Curtis Readel, Melissa Schulenburg,
Sylvia Taylor and Melanie Yazzie. "
-from the CoCA website.

Twenty-two printmakers, half from the US, half from new Zealand, contribute one work each reflecting on where they come from, creating a lively dialogue of styles and content.

See selected images from
Another New Zealand, Another United States here. The reproductions on the website don't really do them justice, though. Go spend time with them if you can.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Fantasy furniture

London's Victoria and Albert Museum has the furniture show Telling Tales: Fear and Fantasy in Contemporary Design. The Guardian has some highlights here. My favourite? The Robber Baron Table by Belgian designers Studio Job.

If you like that, there are some heroic utensils from Studio Job here.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Folded jewellery

Who would have thought that repeat patterns made from folded paper could make such elegant and sophisticated jewellery? Have a look at Hila Rawet's awesome designs here.

Just for becky

If you want to hang out your black clothes to dry but find ordinary clothes-pegs too colourful, you need these! Yes, gothic clothes-pegs. :-)

Chancy photography

Johnny Stiletto is famous for shooting from the hip, literally: taking photos when there's not enough time, or not enough light, or no way to keep the camera steady, or a need to keep moving. Sometimes the results are extraordinary, and sometimes the imperfect results have a beauty that more "careful" photography lacks.

If you've got some time, have a look through his portfolio here. His commentary which accompanies the images is equally quirky and interesting.

A few of my favourites:
The Henry Moore sculpture with the strange-looking real person.
The woman in the cathedral who seems to de-materialise.
The painter and his tools, seen from below the glass-brick pavement.
The shop-window dummy with ennui.
A view of the waiter from behind the folded napkin.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Identified flying objects

Lenticular clouds have elongated, streamlined shapes. They are sometimes mistaken for flying saucers. Can you see why?!

I took these on Friday afternoon.

I took this one later on. As you can see, there was still a lot of iridescence in the sky.

More of my pictures of lenticular clouds here. More information about iridescence here. And there is a particularly good explanation of the origins of lenticular clouds and the iridescence that often accompanies them, here.

Pretending it's fake

Check out TiltShift, the website that helps you make your photographs look faked! The TiltShift software gives your landscape photos shallow depth of field, creating the impression that you have photographed a scale model. The results are remarkably convincing! Have a look, here. If you don't want to use your own photos, you can play around with theirs.