Monday, 31 January 2011

Paper Penguins

A new year and a new season of events from Arctic Circle and this gives me a chance to try a new look for the penguin. Last year I experimented with a mixture of 3-D paper sculptures with 2-D characters. I really enjoyed this as it totally took me away from my computer and left me alone with a sheet of paper, a scalpel and an idea. This year I have reduced it even more restricting my self to a single A4 sheet and a single cut.

Here are a few snaps I took of the process:

Monday, 24 January 2011

Attack of the 50ft Killer Penguins

The next penguin related brief to come from Arctic Circle was to create an image for a series of 'electro' nights, one to be held on 6 September at the ICA featuring John Metcalfe Band, The Shortwave Set, Pedro, Inchtime and Mr Hopkins Computer. 
The second night was on the 10 September and back to the Notting Hill Arts Club for an evening of and had Errollyn Wallen, Lol Hammond, Anil and HL.
The image above was the one used for the actual event but with a bit of digging a few other 'also rans came up which I have shown below, I have a sneaky suspicion that there were others so if I come across them I post them too.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Lost and found, the work of Vivian Maier

I discovered the work of a new photographer this week, nothing odd in that I hear you say, except that the photographer in question was taking pictures from the 1940's. A collection of thousands of negatives were discovered recently by an estate agent who is now bringing to light the breathtaking work of Vivian Maier.

Maier was born in New York to a French mother and an Austrian father in 1926. What is know about her is patchy at best, her name appears on the 1930 census living with Jeanne Bertrand in the 1930's who obviously was crucial influence in her up bringing as she was a well know French portrait photographer. Other than tickets showing her returning to France with her mother and then traveling alone by ship from Le Harve to New York and stints in Chicago as a nanny and a trip around the world in 1960 her past remains pretty elusive, even those that knew her said that she was "a private person", thank goodness that she left an amazing archive of work behind for us to discover her world and how she viewed it.

When looking through the wealth of images that have surfaced, you would be mistaken for thinking that you are looking at the work of Robert Frank, Saul Leiter or Dianne Arbus, or even the French greats like Bresson or Doisneau but there is a difference, Maier has a softer, more human touch, especially in her portraits of children. Each frame tells a story, you get a real sense of place, of the noise in the street and the heat in the air, the images do what all good photography does, it transports you.

I could wax lyrical about her framing, composition, technique and the quality of the tone in her images but the thing that hits me most is her natural eye for a picture and the ability to relay a narrative and even more than that the fact that she got out there and constantly took photos, 100,000 of them just for the love of it!

To see more of her work and to discover more about what is happening with her work click here , in the meantime here are some more of her remarkable images.

Monday, 17 January 2011

The red carpet treatment

After all the talk of the Golden Globes in this morning papers, it's quite a coincidence that Arctic Circles' second outing was based on an evening of artists who had written scores for film!

The second AC event was at the Notting Hill Arts Club and featured Joby Talbot, Alex Heffes, Molly Nyman and Harry Escott as well as Fuzzy Lights , the Arctic Circle Orchestra and visuals provided by Bad Hand Film!

The illustration this time was done by the talented Shwetha Gopal. Here are a few more images that were created for that event which weren't used. I'll be digging through my old hard drives to see if I can come up with any more, Thanks to Ben for these images and the short animation that was created by Greg Steadman as an e-flyer.


Thursday, 13 January 2011

A memory for faces?

I just finished reading this fascinating article on typefaces and memory. It seems that some recent research has found that San Serif fonts such as the ubiquitous Helvetica and Arial do not tax the brain due to their easy legibility, but other less legible fonts stimulate the brain into thinking that because of the extra effort needed the brain feels that this may be worth remembering and concentrates more.
I won't regurgitate the article in it's entirety but if you're interested I highly recommend reading it.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The spirit of Christmas past

The presents have been opened, the turkey is long gone, the batteries in the kids toys are going flat and now the Christmas tree is on the pavement. I have been taking some snaps of Christmas trees past that I have come across this past week.
It makes me a little sad to see the trees stripped of their baubles, tinsel and stars then dumped in the street, I know you can't keep them in the house for ever but maybe we can find a more magical way to see them off! All suggestions welcome, maybe a green Santa who collects them from the kids and takes them away for pulping?

Monday, 10 January 2011

In the begining there was light…

The first AC postcard 17 March 2006, illustration Miho Aishima
It seems quite apt now that the first image created for Arctic Circle should feature light, it's almost biblical! This image was drawn by Miho Aishima for the inaugural night of the Arctic Circle at the Hayward Gallery on 17 March 2006. A Dan Flavin exhibition was running at the time and to tie things in a bit with that Miho went for a tongue and cheek "light theme" that played on the work on show at the Hayward. So the AC penguins carry all forms of light from a firefly to a lightsabre!

The artists for the first night were Minotaur Shock, the High Llamas, ISAN, Instrumental (featuring Andy Nice) and a DJ set from Mr. Eshmade.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The year of the penguin

This year sees a certain penguin coming of age. Arctic Circle will be celebrating five years of putting on unique events in a variety of venues from The Barbican to Tate Britain and taking in spots in Manchester, Bristol and London, with a variety of artists from The Notwist, Efterklang, North Sea Radio Orchestra and countless other fantastic artists. I have been involved with Arctic Circle since it's first night at the Hayward Gallery and to help celebrate this landmark I'll be posting a few of the images that have been created to promote it's events over the past 5 years.

Monday, 3 January 2011

The ruins of Detroit

Melted clock, Cass Technical High School
Over the weekend I came across the amazing images of the decaying buildings of Detroit by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre. They reminded me of a photo project carried out by Miho (one third of Pika Pika) in our final year at college. I remember sitting in the photo studio as she showed me image after image of buildings that looked like a collection of shot's from the set of a disaster movie. I felt a mixture of two emotions, one of surprise at the faded beauty of the buildings and past glory of Detroit and secondly of sadness that this was allowed to happen, these emotions resurfaced again when I saw the images of Marchand & Meffre.

Atrium, Farwell Building © Marchand & Meffre

Bagley-Clifford Office of the National Bank of Detroit,© Marchand & Meffre

United Artists Theater, © Marchand & Meffre

William Livingstone House, © Marchand & Meffre
Marchand and Meffre note on their site that "Detroit's splendid decaying monuments are, no less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum of Rome, or the Acropolis in Athens, remnants of the passing of a great Empire." I can accept this view point to some extent but in the end don't we all wish that the Pyramids or the Acropolis were appreciated sooner and kept in better condition for generations to come? I know by the same stroke that everything can't be preserved for posterity but when I look at gaze at these pictures I feel that something should be done. In the same issue of The Guardian, where I discovered these Detroit images, there was a poll on wither 9 Madryn Street, the house where Ringo Starr was born should be saved or developed, why aren't these buildings grabbing the same attention instead of being allowed to quietly crumble into obscurity?

Chernobyl Classroom, © Robert Polidori

Chernobyl, © Robert Polidori
5417 Marigny Street, New Orleans, © Robert Polidori

The images are beautifully taken and are the result of a 5 year project. They have a similar feel to  photos taken by Montreal photographer Robert Polidori of Chernobyl and of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In all three of these photo projects there is an air of "The Marie Celeste" in each frame, of something unexplainable, conversations left unfinished, things left undone, lives interrupted.