Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Wakefield Art Walk

Art walks in some form or other are becoming terribly popular in West Yorkshire. The last few weeks alone have seen Huddersfield Open Studio Trail, Saltaire Arts Trail, Ways of Looking and Headingley Triangle to name but a few, and of course Leeds’ very own Light Night on October 10th. September saw the last of Wakefield’s three pilot art walks, the organizers now assessing how they have gone and are to proceed. The biggest change since the first walk back in July has been at the ArtHouse. When we first visited, they had been open only two weeks, and were just beginning to sign people up to the studio spaces. Now all long term studios have been rented, and there is a long waiting list. All that remains is to get more people signing up to their short term leases, which can be between a few days and three months. For a venue that has been so long in the planning, it is wonderful to see it fully up and running, and exciting to see what new ideas it will bring to Wakefield.

On then to Interval Café, where artist Paula Tod was showing Scottish landscape-inspired paintings. While on these walks it is important to keeps your wits about you amidst so much complimentary wine, Interval wins in my book for most unusual refreshments with their free haggis.

The Wakefield Art Gallery is the most traditional of the Art Walk’s venues, and the only one to provide a live string quartet in addition to the art itself. The gallery houses an excellent collection of Moores and Hepworths, and were offering visitors an opportunity to explore the forms with coloured torches. It did make for an interesting way to approach the sculptures, though the pieces in the gallery room were somewhat crowded. The effect was better realized in the sculpture garden at the back, where a tent had been erected around a Hepworth piece, to minimise outdoor light spoiling the effect. Being a city art gallery, there is a tendency towards the National Trust effect: unnecessary cluttering up of free space with additional information, and primary coloured activities for children. That said, this was the one venue where I did see families getting involved together, which was great, but it seemed a shame that there was no other noticeable effort to encourage them elsewhere on the walk, it being a great way for parents to introduce their children to art in the city in an uncomplicated and fun way.

The Coach House Gallery is an excellent example of a well planned gallery/studio space. Though the gallery is small, a lot had been fitted in without making it feel overstuffed or claustrophobic. Downstairs was given over to the first full exhibition of Charlie Morris, whose paintings suggest influences of Hopper. Upstairs was a lovely, dance inspired triptych by Kate Marr, who may be somebody to watch out for.

Westgate Open Studios are, we knew from experience, an evening in themselves, so we saved them until last to give ourselves time to explore them at a nice lazy pace. By this point in the night, many of the artists were beginning to head longingly for the pub, but we were still able to catch up with a few. My favourite studio this time around was John Harrison’s (lack of) space, stuffed to the gills with constructivist sculptures and assemblages. Westgate Studios provide large spaces for artists, both private and shared. While working your way up the narrow winding staircase to the top floors can be hard going after a long walk round the city, the art works adorning the stairwell make it worth it.

Westgate Studios will be next open on November 27th, then every eight weeks from 5 – 9pm.

While the Wakefield Art Walk takes a break to evaluate and plan for the future, I am glad that it seems set to continue a regular feature of the city’s art scene. It can be a lot of walking for one evening, and there are problems; some venues such as the Wall Gallery are rather far out which may put some people off, and temporary exhibitions may find it difficult to get publicised if they are not on the map (such as the photography show at Art of Oak this time around). It is, however, a great way to really get to know what goes on in Wakefield, and meet the people behind everything. Look out for the next one, wear some sturdy shoes, and be prepared to meet some strange and wonderful people.

Sunday, 26 July 2009


What can I say...I'm a big kid! I was wary that disappointment would follow after a visit to Eureka! much like the dismay I felt after a recent visit to Tropical World - everything always seems much grander and exciting as a kid. Having not visited for at least 8 years this was not the case & although not a scratch on Magna, it held its own. For an educational environment it was fun and engaging, plus the younger cousins I attended with couldn't get enough of it ...worth the admission fee I'm not entirely sure though.

Everything is easily accessible, brightly coloured and invites a hands on experience where exhibition sets make noises, produce images, provide information and test initiative; emphasis on interactive learning.

What is appreciated is that Eureka! is the complete polar opposite of the museums you'd ordinarily see in the Yorkshire area, Royal Armouries being a good example and the Leeds Museum springs to mind, that is a museum with artifacts encased in glass cabinets.

It ticks all the boxes as a kids science museum, however from an adults point of view it wasn't particularly challenging and was a stretch to keep focus for the duration.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Stimulate Your Senses

Wrigley's Electro :: 5 Gum

5 Gum is designed to 'stimulate the senses'.
This advertisement titled 'Rain' is 1 out of 3 high quality videos released; 'Elixir' & 'Lush' complete the trilogy.
I admire Wrigley's confidence to embrace the effect of a cinematic experience, it works coherently with the stylish packaging of '5 gum' and attracts the premium audience they set out to pull.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Yauatcha Atelier collection by Bodo Sperlein. The Bodo Sperlin collection is the latest in a range of stylish tea accessories commissioned by Alan Yau to be produced for Yauatcha Atelier.

The Tea plant has captivated the world throughout history and is an integral part of everyday lives across the global communities. Produced in one of Germany’s oldest workshops established in the 18th Century, the collection aspires to continue the connection between food and design, function and form.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Play More

Trapped in Suburbia have released this fantastic self promotional notebook.

The notebook consists of one side with space to write on and on the other side ball patterns. Just crumble up an piece of paper and you can play soccer, or rugby, or throw a tennis ball in your waste basket. The idea behind it all was the want to get their clients moving behind their desks.

The young company have won a bronze medal for 'printed self promotion' in 2007 European Design Awards for this design.

Tate Britain; William Blake 1809

Tate Britain have re-staged William Blake's 1809 first and only solo exhibition, reuniting nine of his surviving works 200 years after they were first displayed.

Tate Britain have culminated this event via loans from the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, to mark the 200th anniversary of this exhibition that was once displayed at his brother's shop on Golden Square, Soho, in May 1809.

Sadly with many great artists, musicians/performers and authors fame is not apparent till the death of the said individual, Blake was no exception with his original show being poorly attended and receiving one review in the press; negative.

Blake is now recognised as the literary idol of the Romantic Age and viewing these works reminded me exactly why that was.

I note Blake for his 'Songs from Innocence and Experience' prose and illustrations, much of my own personal work to date is heavily influenced by his songs, so my knowledge of his other collections was minimal - I'd read excerpts of 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'; 'Prisons are built from the stones of law, brothels the bricks of religion'

The work which stood out for me was 'Jacob's Ladder' (see right image), illustrated beautifully with a heavenly aura. Not religious but immensely interested in religion, how it's interpreted worldwide in particular the stories such as Jacob's Ladder; a ladder to heaven described in the Book of Genesis. Fascinating to see a visual representation.

Although a short specialist collection, it was certainly worth a visit for my interest in Blake however another exhibition currently on at Tate Britain that's heavily displayed is Turner's artwork and future exhibitions consist of Yorkshires Henry Moore and what sounds to be really interesting - 'British Comic Art'

The Blake Exhibition at Tate Britain runs from 20th April - 4th October 2009.

Lost & Found

Once upon a time there was a boy. One day a penguin arrives on his doorstep. The boy decided the penguin must be lost and tried to return him. But no one seems to be missing a penguin so the boy decides to take the penguin home himself so they set off on a journey to the South Pole.
Once there the boy discovers that maybe home wasn't what the penguin was looking for after all!

Gorgeously illustrated, the story is sweet and simple. It may be a kids book but like many young childrens books nowadays, the illustrations can be appreciated by all ages.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

BadHealth - The Game

Raw have designed this fantastic little game, with the aid of illustrations provided by The Boy Fitz Hammond. It's so addictive!

Sneak preview below; as it's an external embedded link you will have to follow the URL provided in order to play the game!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Nobody Light a Match...

Adolescent summers consisted of beautifully crafted origami water bombs. I perfected the water bomb right down to a tee; the size and strength of paper, exact measured volume of liquid - all of which made for priceless moments on impact, flawlessly executed.

When I saw this magnificent paper art, despite putting my efforts to shame, I was so in awe that it actually made me question the authenticity of the work; I initially thought it was a Maya creation in all its computer graphics glory!

The artist, Wataru Itou, spent 4 years hand crafting this paper creation titled "Umi no Ue no Oshiro" (Castle on the Ocean)

Fully functional trains can be seen meandering the carefully crafted pathways, lights set up to create the essential ambience - everything meticulously planned and accomplished to perfection.

The exhibition is in Tokyo alongside a video documenting the 'making of...'

Friday, 10 July 2009

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Swedish Army Recruitment

One of the most precise and well designed websites I have seen in a long time. The ambience is crystal clear - has a very 'Metal Gear Solid'/'Silent Hill' feel to it.

If you have a spare 10 minutes, flip the speakers on and see if you could make it in the Swedish Army!

'Crank' The Face Off That Type!

When you notice a small snippet of a design element, whether it be the passing glance of a book cover in the shop window or the brief glimpse of a fantastic packaging item in the trolley of a fleeting fellow supermarket shopper, you want more. You want to understand what it is, why it caught your attention, you want to buy in to its aesthetic attraction – at least I do.
During the regular morning peruse of design news and affiliated scanning of portfolios, I stumbled upon a full rebrand project carried out by the design studio 'Proud'. What caught my attention on this particular occasion was the typography.

Firstly, the 2D representation.

How fluid of a typeface is that...? Each individual letter flows smoothly in to the next. Just imagine placing a ball on the top arc of that 'S' - it would roll effortlessly on to the neighboring 'y'

The font is 'Crank 8', reworked to create the unique and bespoke typeface of 'Syfy'; a science-fiction channel.
The customised typeface is so beautifully balanced. If the letter distance were removed the sandwiched 'f' would just melt in between both 'y's'.

I thought it may be of use to highlight the letter dimensions for closer analysis.
The letter 'f' floats above the baseline, for personal reasoning I believe it allows for that floaty-like/light quality. Had the designers sat it on the baseline the word as a whole would appear heavier and grounded which moves against the ethos of the brief;

"The brief asked for an ownable and distinguishable brand identity; retaining the positive associations from the genre of science fiction, whilst appealing to a broader audience and embracing the benefits of imagination."

The 3D representation.

In context I do feel that the 3D outcome of the brand leans dangerously towards a copycat version of Channel 4's 'E4' brand but this is due to the amalgamation of associated 'E4' deep purple colour combined with the overlaying thick white text.

However, it is visually stunning and as a television ident it will no doubt be easily accepted and appreciated.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Blue Crystal

A growing trend in Dubai architecture seems to be the creation of not only the utmost in luxury, but of the impossible, improbable, and downright crazy!
The German design duo Frank and Sven Sauer claim that Blue Crystal will harness the world’s natural energy sources, keeping it self-sufficient. It will supposedly be powered by solar cells embedded in the icy facade and employ an ‘energy recycling system.’

Monday, 6 July 2009

Social Media For Social Good

Media channels for years have funnelled through selective articles, whether it has been editorial based (newspapers, magazines) radio or television broadcast. Headlines that sell saturate the media in immense quantities, the recent tragic death of Michael Jackson being a fine example; coverage still remains five days on. Forget landmine attacks and Iraq bombings, they take a back seat and slip silently through the media net.

The internet has increasingly become a platform renowned for its limitless capabilities
and with strengthening networks such as Twitter surfacing, the public are taking control of what they’re exposed to and repositioning the social sector as it stands.

People crave involvement. They wish to be engaged and experience growth. With online brand interaction people do so to fulfil their own needs, rather than the need of the brand. Whereas with non-profit organisation interaction, which is where my personal interest lies, whether it is the more renowned Oxfam or to a lesser degree Charity: water, users interact to support a cause aiding its success and enhancing the Viral Effect.

The case study which initiated this entry is in fact the non-profit Charity: water; bringing clean water to those without.
Click the article image below to view further information.

Having cottoned on to the vast potential of social networking, the organization held a ‘Twestival’, raising more than $250,000 whilst bringing worldwide public awareness to their charity. The event was managed via Twitter enabling local Twitter communities to funnel their passion for the cause offline, collaborating locally on an international scale.
Truly an astonishing outcome! An unknown organization gaining such rapid credit through the usage of an online tool.
It’s apparent that campaigns with the most impact are the ones utilizing the online social networks to supplement their offline strategies.

So social media is a positive movement?
Potentially a flat out yes for non-profit organizations, however as with all debates there is the opposing side to consider and by applying social networking to alternate outputs, the response differs.

As a device, it’s incredibly fascinating to witness public control over previously distance organizations.
By channeling the energy of mass crowds (people passionate about a cause, organization, topic or company) social networking has enabled people to project their voice resulting in positive sustainable difference.