Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mr Squiggle...or is that you Miss Pat?

So it's late and I really should turn the computer off but gentle rain on the roof is keeping me awake. Well readers...today's instalment is brought to you by my memories of Mr Squiggle and his trusty sidekick (Miss Pat!) I know I'm not alone with this memory as when I last visited Newcastle I saw in a public park a huge piece of industrial machinery. Posed in neat white text upon it was the question...'is that you Bill?' (i.e: Bill Steamshovel) Clearly another fan was in town. 

The reason for this post is actually somewhat removed from the lunar traipsing of Mr Squiggle. It's really about graffiti and its place as public art. While I don't condone some forms of this 'artistic expression' (such as someone writing 'WOW!' on my VW Beetle in 1991) I do love the way it challenges conventional approaches to expression. The two images included in today's post are both taken by David Plummer. The lane way where they were shot runs between Bourke Street Mall and Little Collins Street in Melbourne. What I particularly like about graffiti is how works are posted over the top of each other. Their 'tags' or signatures staking a claim on a space which others have also worked on. That being said, I'd be happy if Banksy made a visit to Canberra and did a small piece in my studio... One can but dream.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Apfel of my Eye!

Iris Apfel by Bruce Weber
Iris Apfel is a rare and exotic woman. Hailing from Queens in New York she is a fixture on the fashion circuit. Her unique take on fusing high and low pieces together gives her a degree of clout with what I'd imagine would be a tough market to crack. She seems to have the talent of Anna Piaggi without the almost off-putting eccentricity that goes with it. I love her opening line in the following video... "Why do you wear such large glasses?....All the better to see you with!" She ticks all the boxes for me as she's fearless when it comes to her use and composition of colour. Her grace and simple courtesy makes a refreshing change. (Does this mean I'm showing my age???)

Part stylist, part couture Svengali, Apfel originally trained as an interior designer. After completing numerous fit outs on the White House her direction with her Old World Weaver company led her to become an inadvertent fashion icon. I love her glasses...they make her look like David Hockney meets Mr Magoo. Despite that I think she'd be the coolest nonagenarian to go shopping with!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My new obsession

Image: Chris Stott
Lock me up.  Hide my wallet and credits cards. Make me write bad cheques! I would totally need restraining if I could spend a day in the studio of Christopher Stott. Chris is a contemporary realist painter with an obvious nod to the 'Old Masters'. His work is clean and evocative and he works mainly in oils. This gives the his subjects a depth and warmth which is he is clearly drawn to. His lighting is punctuated by shadows which conveys a sense of passing time. I'm seriously in love with his work and am  getting a commission done to sit above my new sandstone fireplace. 

Image: Chris Stott
As a designer my eye is drawn to random objects. A vase which would sit in front of a canvas, a wooden bowl filled with blown glass floats from New Guinea, or a loose bunch of orchids giving a 1970's YSL vibe to the scene. It's the very nature of provenance which gives objects an additional layer of meaning. This can't be replicated by faux French wing chairs from China, or yet another pack of vanilla and bergamot scented reeds that make you feel like you are trapped in a restroom. It's about capturing an essence (and not an artificial one) which embodies a space with personality. I think it's like that for Chris and I'd put serious money on his work becoming increasingly collectible. 

P.S: Any man who lives in a city in the 'vast plains of the Canadian prairies' has got my vote.

Image: Chris Stott

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tinker, Taylor, Art Purveyor?

You've got to hand it to Elizabeth Taylor. Seven husbands, a couple of Oscars on her mantelpiece, and a jewellery and art collection which would make the Vatican blush! (Considering the loot they have in their principal museum that's a big ask.) This remarkable woman; a freakishly talented actor, an avid humanitarian, and an advocate for HIV/AIDS funding when it wasn't fashionable, left not only a void in the artistic community but a design legacy as well. 

Apart from an astute ability to select quality scripts for her movie career she had an unerring eye when it came to jewellery and fine art. The Christie's Auction held in New York Tuesday evening blew the lid off the global recession. The Elizabeth Taylor diamond (shown below) was estimated to sell between 2-3 million dollars and sold for approximately 8!

The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond
Other pieces from the Collection traced the relationships during her life such as the tiara given to her by Eddie Fisher and worn by her at the Oscars. Some are simply representative of the decade or atelier from which they came, exquisite with their detail and craftsmanship. If you are in NYC stick around as her fine Art Collection goes up for viewing shortly...that is if you have a few million spare!

Eddie Fisher Tiara.

Daisy Set (Van Cleef?)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jacques Tati

Mon Oncle by Jacques Tati was a fantastic movie filmed in 1958. It was one of a series in which he portrayed himself as a bumbling figure ill at ease with consumerism and American 'mod cons'. Tati trained within the family framing company near Place Vendome and caused much dismay to his relatives when he became a performance artist. His movies are wonderful in the way they mix modern culture with his seeming naivety... leading us to to view this new world order as somewhat lacking in depth. 

As I love all things 50's these productions are like a reference book to me. This movie in particular was special as it was his first ever filmed in colour. Like Stanley Kubrick, Tati was known for his attention to the minutest of details in his projects, although I daresay the budgets would have been very different. For me I see something else when I look at his work. His background working with framing seems to have given him the remarkable ability to do the same with a shot or scene. Now I'm just waiting for SBS to bring back a series on his films. They truly are seriously underrated masterpieces of contemporary film-making. 

Scene from Mon Oncle 1958

Friday, December 9, 2011

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons 'Puppy'. Kaldor Project
Driving over the Cahil Expressway I reflected on the MCA and the visit by Jeff Koons. In 1995 ( in the midst of an acrimonious divorce from Cicciolina! ) Koons designed and installed a 12.4m tall representation of a West Highland White Terrier puppy. To some people it was kitsch at best, to others playful and inspired. To the nursery owners of Sydney it must have been quite a boon as it required up to sixty thousand plants to fill it. A rumour exists that some 'scallywags' ( a favourite word employed by my grandmother) had placed some marijuana seeds in the installation and that they were unceremoniously removed upon being discovered. To those who criticised it at the time I suggest a quick visit to the works of Damian Hirst. You could have a shark in formaldehyde, a scull covered in diamonds, or even a vacuum cleaner. I think I'll stick with 'Puppy". At least his legacy lives on in the grounds outside the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearls before Twine?

Ethel Granger tribute editorial in Vogue Italia September 2011. Meisel
I just read the September issue of Vogue Italia and it has a provoking cover and editorial piece on corsets. Ethel Granger, an early adaptor of facial piercings and modifications on her waist, is the inspiration for a story which is both simultaneously beautiful and disturbing. The closest I've every been to 'foundation garments' was looking at my grandmother's as a child. Pink and incredibly complicated they appeared to have a closer relationship with pain than improving a silhouette! In the fickle world of fashion they do seem to be making a comeback. From Mugler's biker corset  in George Michael's 'Too Funky' they have traversed the decade to now represent a form of freedom rather than constraint. 

For my feminist friends I don't think this would sit well but for me it says more about the power of transformation. Whatever your opinion it cannot be argued that it would be a good practice for your internal organs. My curiosity asks me where your stomach would reside after such arduous cinching!!!

You'd have to be good at tying your shoelaces for this
Shot from Mugler Campaign Mid 1990's

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hello Summer !!!!

Sincere apologies for my lack of posting. I have been a prisoner of my studio trying to meet Christmas orders and keep the kilns stocked with Bison pieces. With a mountain of new staff and training continuing apace I have been unfortunately so focused on getting this sorted that my poor blog has suffered. Anyhow, we're back!!!!!

I just thought that I'd post an image of our Summer 2011/12 banner which we have just finished shooting. This will go up on huge banners in our three stores this week and was shot by Grant Turner in Sydney. Melinda Ashton-Turner styled and produced this for me as well. With all the pressure I've had re-painting the Canberra store this has been such a wonderful, not to mention kind, gift to me. I thought the shot was so beautiful that I should share it with you as well...

The banners arrive this week but here's a preview. (Feedback welcome)