Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Word clouds!

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Mary McCallum’s blog has given me this lovely present of an idea, as well as an entertaining time-filler (you note that I have avoided the use of the terms ‘time-waster’ or ‘writing-avoidance’). Its origin is wordle and if you have a look at the site you’ll get the idea. To create the design above I just entered the url of my blog, but you could play with a poem, or the names of things you love, or even a whole novel.

Love it!

Not a Banksy? Never mind, it’s definitely June!

Friday, July 9th, 2010

We’ve had a rush of graffiti in our area of North London. The usual kind are mostly tags, but the new ones are Banksy-style graffiiti. They look a lot like Banksy’s offerings, and when the first one arrived in the back garden of a local pub a few weeks back the pub owners were rather pleased. Well, you would be – a genuine Banksy is worth a lot of money, and the whole question of how you get one off a pub garden wall and into an auction house is beside the point, as well as beyond my understanding. (On the other hand I know you can take frescoes off walls; why not a graffito?)

Anyway. This one has been officially rejected as a Banksy by Banksy’s agents, but the real joy of it isn’t its own fame or inherent fortune. Its joy resides in the fact that it’s an exact portrait of our locally beloved June – the Queen of Primrose Hill – who recently retired from the local shop she and her late husband ran for about fifty years.

It makes me smile every time I walk past, and I hear that June herself is delighted. So thanks, whomever. Thanks a lot.

Vuvuselas in history

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Look! Vuvuselas drove people crazy in 1660 as well!

Definitely a fossil, but of what?

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Question: How often in life do you visit a town and discover that something delightful is going to happen the day you have to leave, or happened just before you arrived?

Answer: all too often.

But happily, when we visited Lyme Regis for the first weekend of May we coincided with a Fossil Festival which we hadn’t heard of before we arrived (the festival, I mean; not Lyme Regis). Lyme Regis is a great choice for this festival – it’s on the Jurassic Coast, which is a World Heritage Site, and the surrounding beaches yield large numbers of fossils. Even on an ordinary day the town is filled with fossil shops and tours and the town celebrates its fossil fame with pride; even its elegant lamp posts are shaped like ammonites.

I loved the festival and spent hours learning about fossils and yet more hours walking the beaches, where I saw this amazing stone. (It’s on Monmouth Beach, about a third of the way along, if anyone else wants to look for it.)


It’s about the size of our dinner table and probably twice as heavy so all I could do was take this photograph. And sadly, I have no idea what it’s a fossil of – I can recognise ammonites and trilobytes, and those little things known as the Devil’s Toenails, and that’s about it.

Looking at images of fossils on Google it seems this might possibly be a coral fossil, although the frilly bit on the left might not meet the criteria. Has anyone got any other ideas?

Anyway, whatever it was millions of years ago, it’s very beautiful now.

Judith Scott & the world of insider art

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009


I’ve been thinking about Judith Scott’s fibre art sculptures since I saw some in a new exhibition space that’s opened in London, called ‘The Museum of Everything’. (The Museum space is an intriguing mixture of large and small semi-derelict rooms hidden behind the Chalk Farm library. You have to hope that the Camden’s health and safety officers aren’t going to visit any time soon.)

The Museum shows the work of artists who live outside the conventions of modern society as well as outside the art business, and you might think that the idea of a gallery dedicated to ‘outsider art’ is ironic: this category is defined by its segregation from the mainstream art world. Its works were never intended for public display, and its practitioners haven’t often thought what they made to be art at all. But James Brett, whose invention the Museum is, says he wants “to assert the sheer beauty of the best outsider art, to reclaim it as a distinct aesthetic category – one in which you have a whole world being conjured up by the artist.”

I found that the exhibition had a curiously liberating effect on my own imagination, and the film about the work of key artists – and especially of Judith Scott – was enthralling. I feel deeply moved by the metaphors her fibre art suggests; the wrapping and weaving, the twisting and tying of fabric around objects: tying and untying a life story of confinement and freedom, of concealment and revelation. It’s made me think a lot about the things we try to mask or display about our lives, and the things we reveal by attempting that.

In Judith Scott’s work the things she wrapped are mysteriously transformed and yet still somehow visible (or able to be imagined) beneath the fabrics and fibres – just as our hidden selves are sometimes made visible by our very attempts to conceal them. The sculptures are beautiful and compelling, and her work has taken up a permanent place in my mind. And somehow, it makes me feel very happy.