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V&A Museum

21 Aug

Last week I had a trip up to London and soon found myself in the Victoria & Albert museum hunting down their photography section. Although I have been there a few times before, I was still looking forward to it. If you’ve never been, the photographs in the V&A are in a sizeable dark room on the third floor. Perfect for looking at photos without getting any glare!

As it was the summer holidays I prepared myself for the worst and told myself to expect small excitable children running round and asking questions and shouting at some volume. This was certainly the case, as soon as I stepped through the doors but the further away from the shop I got, the quieter it became until the time I got to my destination and it was silent. Bliss.

So I had a look around; I had forgotten how wonderful it is to look at a daguerreotype* and found myself staring at the two on display for a few minutes. The images were small – one of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert opening the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace, the other a portrait of a lady named Martha Emma Roper – but both were stunning. They look more 3 dimensional than standard photos; this might be because of the copper plated glass used to create them, which adds a certain depth.

Halfway through my look round – I make a point of looking at everything (yes I’m that sort of person) – I became enamoured with a certain image, which if I’m honest took me by surprise. In fact after I had finished the room I went back specifically for it. Taken in 1892 by Paul Martin, the image, titled ‘Trippers at Cromer’ shows what looks like a family paddling in the sea. Martin disguised his camera as a leather bag in order to gain candid shots of the general public and was one of the first photographers to do so. In doing this, he captured everyday life as it was, creating a rare glimpse into the past rather than the stiff formal portraits we are so used to seeing from that era.

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image from here

In my second viewing of the photo, I was alone. I walked from one end of the room to the other and save for the security guard, there was no one else around. How could this be, that in one of the busiest cities in Britain, in one of the best museums around, during the school holidays I found myself in a room, with only one other person. I had quite a moment actually.

There’s something about photography from the 19th century that really is fantastic. Maybe it’s the fact that they were still playing around with it at this point and nothing was quite perfect – some of the photos on display had faded over the years, as they hadn’t been processed properly. It adds an air of mystery to the image, as if it came from a dream or other world. Or maybe it’s because they document the same places but in a time so different to our own, yet in the grand scheme of things, these events happened less than 200 years ago. Clothes, politics and climate might have changed, but we humans still enjoy the sensation of dipping our feet into the cold North Sea. Rather comforting, isn’t it?

I was mightily impressed with the collection, it featured work from the Bechers, Eugène Atget, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau and it’s definitely worth the trip over there. Plus there’s all the other displays; sculpture, jewellery, costumes and fashion. Not forgetting the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum are a stone’s throw away and who doesn’t like wondering around looking at dinosaur skeletons?

*A daguerreotype is slightly different to a photograph. While a normal photo is taken with film and has a negative that you can print off multiples of the same image, the daguerreotype is a copper plate that is exposed and essentially becomes the final print.

About the Writer: Daisy is an irregular photographer, wannabe writer and full time female. In between tea and toast breaks she spends far too much time on the internet bloggingtumbling and tweeting. She is unapologetic in her love of the Spice Girls.

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Inspiration: Frida Kahlo

5 May
image from here

image from here

Yup. Everyone feels a bit weird or alien from time to time and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just know that there are others out there who feel exactly the same and that you’re not alone.

Until next time,

Daisy

Wool House

3 May

For any textile enthusiast the Wool House at the Somerset House, London was a must see; running from the 13th – 24th of March. A very big amazing factor was that it was FREE! The exhibition had some of the textile industries top artist and designers under one roof. Now saying all this, the exhibition could have been a lot better. Each room felt more like a show room house than a gallery even though it was funded by ‘The campaign for wool’ (a really good cause and idea!!)

Now my favourite piece was the life size grizzly bear, completely crochet, apart from the claws, eyes, nose and mouth.

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Crochetdermy brown bear by Shauna Richardson

I want to turn a lot of logs into knitted trees and bushes. A very quirky and sustainable idea especially if re-using yarns. Hmm Also a grand idea for a knit bomb…

Not sure if these are made from metal or wood but rather cute, life sized sheep and lamb.

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A lovely idea to brighten up a child’s room, in fact I think I need one, TO THE KNITTING MACHINE!

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Jumper chair? At least you wouldn’t lose the remotes now that your living room furniture comes with pockets.

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These pictures where hand weaved and I managed to watch the process of one of them being made. So clever, now seriously hate my work- look how good they are!

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One day I am going to buy a spinner and spin my own yarns, it is the way forward.

I think more exhibitions should have this openness of artists/ designers and the public. As a fellow student and designer/artist – I feel that this really helps you understand how things are made. Especially when watching the pictures being made, such detail of colour choices and the type of yarns used was actually rather inspirational. Even my fine art friend got a little bit excited about yarn ( I mean come on who wouldn’t :D)

The next exhibition I went too was the light show at the Hayward Gallery, London. This exhibition was running from 30th January – 28th April and I had seen that it had being getting some good reviews.

Now I love art as any one, art and fashion are basically the same thing- fashion is a branch from art and art the same from fashion etc., but some of the stuff in there was rubbish.

A light bulb hanging in a room…a light bulb…yeah.

There were some I enjoyed:

Leo Villareal cylinder 2 (2012) –  19,600 led lights, programed to created intricate patterns – very pretty to view.

Anthony Mccall you and I, horizontal (2005) – We got rather distracted by the light and mist in the room, and didn’t see what was being projected on the wall. But It did have an odd impact as you walked through the light beams, your shadow being thrown around you.

Jim Campbell exploded views – when walking pass these lights your shadow came up on the tiny light bulbs, really want these.

Conrad Shawcross – A simple hatched box with a moving light inside, the shadows reflected on the walls created the motion of moving up and down, just as if you were in an elevator.

Ivan Nanarro – a telephone box like shaped box. Once inside, you notice that you cannot see outside and that when looking up or down you could not find the end of the mirrors. Very clever, you felt as if you were in fact levitating.

Olafur Eliasson – water was spurting from a table, with strobe lights above creating the effect of the water moving in slow motion. I love strobe lights. My friend and I had to control our inner child from running over and splashing the water about, and from doing the robot in the strobe light.

A down side to this art is that…IT IS EVERYWHERE. Top shop has it all over its stores, boohoo.com has it all over its fashion adds…when I walked down oxford circus nearly every clothes store had over-sized lights dangling within its window display. Urgh can we not have something original for once world? Or is that now just too obvious?

About the writer: Kera-anne is currently in her final year at London College of Fashion studying Surface Textiles specialising in Knitwear who loves nothing more than baking, writing and playing the occasional Nintendo game. She wants to give something new to future artists who are yet to taste the confusing fruit that is the fashion industry! When working on a project she tends to go for the darker viewpoints as the work always leans toward the obscurer side of art.

Art: The Best Kept Secret?

30 Aug

photo from here

Last week, you may have read about Cecilia Gimenez’s disastrous attempt to restore Ecce Homo, a religious painting by Elias Garcia Martinez, which had been hanging peacefully in the Spanish Sanctuary of Mercy for over 100 years.

The 80 year old Gimenez took it upon herself to ‘restore’ the painting – and the rest, as we say, is history. The story of the artistic blooper has since gone viral, becoming one of the most read stories on BBC News , and a number of bloggers and social media fanatics deciding to capitalise on this opportunity to create spoof versions of some of the most famous paintings in the world…[check out this site to see exactly what I mean]

Despite this appalling graffiti on an important historical artefact, I believe one positive thing can be taken from the whole fiasco:  art has made mainstream headlines.

So often, art and culture are confined to the review sections of magazines; crammed into a double page spread of small box adverts, or featured only in niche publications with a rather specific – and often narrow – readership.

Of course, there are exceptions: when The Scream came up for sale back in May and sold for a grand total of $120 million, it got people talking.  The National Gallery’s Leonardo exhibition was widely publicised, and as a result sold out in the midst of da Vinci fever.  Yet, on the whole art seems to fail to capture the minds of the vast majority, with culture stories rarely going viral via social media (except, perhaps, when something goes scandalously wrong…)

The whole situation got me thinking, why art is so marginalised? Years ago, art was a political tool, a talking point and a symbol of power.  Even today, art is such an important part of man’s cultural expression; a visual symbol of the values he holds dear; a freeze frame from history; a didactic tool to influence and persuade.

I truly believe that an appreciation of art and culture is something which needs to be encouraged; and with so much heritage and so many cultural attractions across the UK (which are so often free of charge), I say, let’s get out and see it.

Art shouldn’t just be making the headlines due to a restoration faux pas, or a ground-breaking sale.  With so many great organisations out there like the @artfund, the @nationalgallery and @englishheritage, let’s get out there and spread the word, and appreciate the importance of art as a part of our history, as well as an expression of today’s society.

 
About the writer: Ellie is a history graduate and PR Consultant. She loves reading, dipping into 1984, Harry Potter and The Bell Jar. When she hasn’t got her nose in a book she enjoys creative writing, museums and galleries across the UK. When she has the time, she also likes nothing more than catching up with a few friends over dinner and a cocktail or two!