I am pleased to announce my inclusion as a guest speaker at the Cheltenham Design Festival amongst the great and the good including British design gurus Adrian Shaughnessy and Neville Brody. There’s plenty going on over five days starting from Thursday 11th April through to Sunday 14th April – my own talk is bright and early on Friday morning @ 10am as one of their studio events. The full brochure can be downloaded from their website.
My newly drafted talk will focus on the fundamentals of Street Art and keeping with the general theme of this year’s festival I will be looking at how original thought can change the way we live. In particular I’ll be taking a closer look at creativity in street art and its relation to community.
Maurizio Cattelan and Georg Baselitz are two extraordinary and radical contemporary artists who I have long had a fascination with so I was pleased to be asked to recently to contribute articles about them for the latest issue (37)of Huck Magazine which is on the shelves now…
Issue 37 was curated by famed artist/skateboarder – Mark Gonzales. He chose all the contents for the issue which included many artists and creative types including Barry McGee, Tom Sachs and Raymond Pettibon. I was assigned to write about Maurizio Cattelan and Georg Baselitz who were two other great choices of Gonzales…
My article Maurizio Cattelan can be read on-line here.
My article Georg Baselitz can be read on-line here.
Following on from my recent visit to the Hotseat at the University of Gloucester, where I took part in introducing the BA Graphic students to the world of zines, I am planning to give a series of zine-making workshops to be held over the coming months at the De La Warr Pavilion.
The zine workshops are in response to Shaun Gladwell‘s Cycles of Radical Will exhibition which takes place at the De La Warr Pavilion for the next 5 months and will be seasonally updated during this period. The show is mostly made up of vast panoramic video installations with films made specifically for the space. Not forgetting Gladwell’s roof top “sculpture” a cruciform bmx ramp open to the public who book a slot.
One of the key pieces for me was a video (pictured above) made of professional flatland BMX champion Matti Hemmings set against the backdrop of Bexhill seafront beautifully filmed in slow motion like a ballet movement.
To see more of Matti visit http://www.mattihemmings.co.uk
Shaun Gladwell is fascinated with subculture and mythology in varied forms such as skateboarding, extreme sports and cult movies. The workshop is intended to encourage visitors to the exhibition to express there own culture, passions and obsessions through art and design through the DIY process of making zines.
I’ll also be showing exciting examples of zines from my own collection as well as artist zines I have worked on. Basic materials and ready-to-use collage will be made available at the workshops. Outside these times a work station has been set up for people to draw and make zines alongside a selection of interesting zine-related books to browse through and a “Beginners Guide to Zines” photocopied handout designed by my good self.
I was put in the “Hotseat” this week as I gave a lecture to the BA Graphic Design students at the University of Gloucestershire. I was the last speaker of 10 visiting the students in the hotseat programme. The third year students had created the hotseat project to document the visiting lectures, providing notes to the lectures for other students. Each designer/speaker had their own pillow printed for the chair, which we were asked to sign and the pillows would then be auctioned off. Each pillow provided the key image for a poster to advertise each talk and finally each speaker got given a poster to take home as a souvenir…
Thanks to the students who attended across the courses and thanks for the invitation to speak.
At the end of last year I was pleased to be asked to write the forward to Mia Gröndahl’s excellent forthcoming book Revolution Graffiti – Street Art of the New Egypt. Revolutionary graffiti and in particular its recent flourishing in countries such as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia is something that I’ve long been fascinated with and the author Mia Gröndahl’s research into the subject is excellent.
Below the author talks about the subject from one of Egypt’s key graffiti walls..
My intro to the book is due to be published on the Thames and Hudson blog and so in the meanwhile here is a preview…
For many urbanites street art has become something more often associated with a gallery show or a clothing brand, but recent transformations in the geo-political landscape have caused a reawakening of its authentic roots. Mia Gröndahl’s ‘Revolution Graffiti’ charts the emergence of a powerful art movement that has spread across Egypt’s city walls with a heady mix of passion and optimism. Ignited by the uprising that led to the revolution of 26 January 2011, the streets and squares that were filled with a sea of demonstrators soon became covered with murals and slogans that reflected the disparate feelings of anger, sorrow and euphoria. Today Egyptian graffiti has grown into a strong social movement which allows ordinary citizens to communicate and acts as a visual expression of the revolution.
As the momentous events of the Arab Spring unfolded in the global media, we were first struck by the reported images of bravely defiant crowds, aerial views of teeming streets and films made by citizen journalists uploaded to social media. Before too long however a different kind of imagery began to be emerge, that of graffiti. Newspapers and news channels such as the BBC and The Guardian began to publish photo stories of the flourishing graffiti which was both compelling and surprising. Graffiti had become part of the story, a symbol of a new-found freedom and a spontaneous way for people young and old to articulate what was happening at street level. It was also a demonstration of the power of art to encapsulate a tumultuous political landscape and visualize emotions more effectively than any number of column inches.
The revolution has been a catalyst for unlocking latent creativity and free speech which has in turn been embraced by a public eager for change. In this landscape of largely untutored and defiant expression, the aesthetics are not as important as the message, however many artists limited by materials or without training have produced work which is stunningly effective. Those graffiti artists who have an arts background such as graphic designers and art students have in turn brought an extra dimension to the scene. With a more global outlook this new generation of Egyptian artists have used wall painting and stenciling as an opportunity to explore artistic freedom and critique society.
For many the Arab Spring became synonymous with the idea of ‘Twitter revolutions’. In the case of Egypt, the extensive usage of social media is said to have played a crucial role in organising the uprising against Mubarak. It is however people’s actions that create revolutions not just the tools, for example at one point Mubarak’s regime pulled the plug on internet services which forced demonstrators to replace Twitter with an analogue version – that of hand-held signs spreading the word of the next gathering. Both analogue and digital have played their part in this revolution as graffiti has given people a citywide social media of thought-provoking words and images that are then disseminated to an audience worldwide. One could say graffiti has become the real social media – so welcome to the graffiti revolution!
Images borrowed from here.
You can follow Revolution Graffiti with lots of news on its Facebook page.
Once again it’s been a pleasure working with Wahaca, the London-based Mexican street food specialists, to bring art to one of their spaces. In mid-January we set to work on the revamp of their Covent Garden branch working with the French street artist Nelio. Wahaca wanted to work with an artist whose work encompassed 2D and 3D and in the end Nelio’s creations wowed us all! It was also a great pleasure for me to invite Nelio – an artist I had admired for sometime and was brilliant to work with even if it meant cutting my fingers prising nails out of old bits of wood…
Bursting with colour and energy the vibrant work of Nelio has been attracting a cult following worldwide, due in part to his many travels painting across Europe, Asia and Australia and recent shows in France and Denmark. When he is not busy traveling in search of inspiration and walls to paint, he works from his studio in Lyon.
Part of the appeal of Nelio’s work is his striking and unusual use of different colour palettes and tonality from nearly monochromatic to beautifully polychromatic compositions. These colours and forms in turn are often suggested by the found textures and hues he finds on faded and deteriorating walls. Another quirky attraction is the way he sometimes incorporates three-dimensional elements into his street pieces using found wood and discarded materials – something which he was able to do to great effect at Covent Garden. (See Below)
While his paintings are rooted in graffiti, his influences also include architecture, art history and graphic design. Among his references he cites the symbols of the ancient Egyptians and the Maya and the influence of “futuristic movements such as Suprematism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, De Stijl, Bauhaus, Op Art”. Fusing these influences he aims to create a universal visual language that is both ancient and futuristic. For his pieces at Wahaca he has looked to Mexico for inspiration, in particular Mayan architecture and the explosion of colours of a piñata party. See more examples of the finished work below…
My role in the project was to suggest and coordinate with the artist for the design and production of the final works. Thanks to Nelio, Mark, Lenny, Kerry and all at Wahaca, all the folks @ Softroom. Also to the helpful guys at Chrome and Black who found us all the right paint colours…
Extramuros (Outside of the Walls) is the new and wonderful book by Seth the Global Painter – who I recently featured in Varoom Magazine. I wanted to give the book a plug not least because I wrote the introduction to it!
Seth aka Julien Malland is an artist, traveller and documenter that I’ve been lucky enough to meet on my travels and Seth’s own travels echo some of my own. For instance we have both had the opportunity to travel to Mexico, Brazil, Palestine & India – although Seth’s travel extend much further… to China, Indonesia and more recently Madagascar and Ukraine…
We both share an interest in Street Art and like and have met many of the same artists on our travels. We also have a similar interest in traditional and folk art techniques and more general concepts of globalisation. So with so much in common it was a pleasure to introduce the book – the book is in French so I thought I would publish my text in English here below as a taster of the book…
Welcome to the world as seen through the well-travelled paintbrushes and sketchbooks of Parisian artist Seth – the Globe-Painter. From Mumbai to Dakar, Oaxaca to Yojakarta, Seth has made a modern day pilgrimage to explore the world through paint, colour and cultural exchanges with artists he has met along the way. Driven not only by a natural wanderlust but also a curiosity to discover more about the lives of people in different places through the art they produce. His approach has been to create an artistic dialogue, whether it’s by painting with local street artists or learning from traditional craftsmen, his aim is to create a mutually inspiring two–way exchange.
As we see in this book’s exquisite photography, what captures the artist’s eye are the differences between places; the pigmentation of a wall, the local vegetation or a particular kind of typographic stencilling used in a specific city. These details and flavours are then absorbed and infused into his work and investigations. Rather than view this visual information as something ‘other’ or exotic, his response is to learn through conversations with local people about the traditions that make each place aesthetically unique. Often this means discovering the secrets of fabrication, be it studying batik processes in Indonesia or lending a hand to bus painters (is there a word for them?) in Dakar. Learning by doing is his method and in the same way his collaborators often learn something from the artist. For instance, the batik artists of Indonesia (name the place) who subsequently became inspired to paint their own murals, or the professional painters in Dakar who were equally keen to study Seth’s spray-can techniques.
Despite the beautiful diversity witnessed in the following pages, it has become ever more clear to the artist that globalisation is a powerful force that is having a homogenising effect on countries around the world. Wherever you travel in urban areas you will find the same familiar tower blocks, multi-national brands, hip bars and hipsters. Even in the most remote places it’s hard to find somewhere completely untouched by this influence. Through his own experiences the artist has come to realise the importance of specificity and that local artistic traditions and skills need to be kept alive. While it maybe impossible to stem the effects of globalisation and keep local traditions in a state of historic purity, the answer may lie in a form of cultural hybridity. Seth’s own work promotes this idea through a modern cultural mix, which celebrates artisanal traditions by bringing this kind of art back to the masses on the street.
As a fellow traveller and documenter I hold a particular admiration for Seth’s dedication, enthusiasm and conscious approach to travel and making art. Rather than impose a street piece on a neighbourhood that is unwanted or misunderstood he takes time to get to know the local community and its particular stories. In this way his work is more of a public art than street art, since the process of consultation is integral to it. He uses simple characters that are somehow connected to their environment that he hopes will speak to ordinary people. In the artist’s opinion the placement of a piece is fifty percent of the work, since it can draw attention to a particular environment or place. For instance his paintings of figures in Indonesia (name place) a village destroyed by a volcano bring about a symbolic attention to a community in need of help. In a similar fashion his collaborations with other artists such as Saner and Neuzz in Mexico are less about the ego of an individual artist and more about creating harmony in jointly painted work so that it looks like one person created it.
Many of the adventures and collaborations documented in this book have come about in spontaneous and fortuitous ways. Armed only with a camera and sketchbook our wandering artist relies on the generosity of the people he meets to share their skills and view of the world, which in turn he creatively distils into wonderfully engaging images. His global painting mantra can be summed up in a few words – tread lightly, learn something and leave something beautiful.
My interpretation of “muse” was to take inspiration from dreams and the world of imagination, which made me think of the fantastic work of Interesni Kazki, the Ukranian street art duo I featured in Street Sketchbook Journeys. It was a pleasure to introduce their work to the magazine and a new audience, which felt quite appropriate since Interesni Kazki also have an illustration background.
Earlier this year I was invited to create the identity and branding for a new arts and cultural hub called Imaginadium. Covering a wide range of art interests with strands for Art, Cabaret, Comedy, Dance, Film, Music, Theatre & Spoken Word – Imaginadium is a space for creatives and arts lovers.
Currently you can explore Imaginadium across a wide range of social media and blogging sites including Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter with a central website due to launch soon. I recommend anyone interested in or involved in the arts to sign up for newsletters!
The full branding for Imaginadium will be revealed next year with an explosion of imagery and video stings so stay tuned as Imaginadium grows with events and many ways to get involved.
Below are a selection of graphics elements and social media icons created for the Imaginadium Style Guide to be implemented across digital and print communications.
Varoom is a large format magazine produced in association with the UK’s Association of Illustrators and is full of in depth articles about contemporary illustration. I’m a big fan of the magazine especially in its new newspaper format and am pleased to have been asked to become a contributing editor to it.
The theme of Varoom Issue 19 was “Taste” and in my contribution I took this as an opportunity to consider global tastes and hybridisation of cultural tastes.
It was a great opportunity to present the work of Seth the Global Painter whose work I greatly admire. Parisien artist Julien “Seth” Malland is a globe-trotting street artist who has travelled and painted all four corners of the globe including; Mexico, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Palestine, India, China, Africa and Russia to name a few.
What I find interesting about Seth’s work is his passion for local culture and in particular folk art traditions. Since we only had four pages in the magazine we could only focus on one of his journeys which was to Indonesia but it was work that I found poignant. On his travels in Indonesia he sought out the craftspeople who worked with traditional batik techniques and learnt something of their craft while also encouraging them to have a go at mural painting with him. Through chance encounters he was invited to a village that had been destroyed by volcanic eruptions and with their guidances produced a number of figurative work that celebrated the lives of the local people which also drew attention to their plight. On Seth’s many travels he has seen the march of globalization and the loss of local traditions and tastes, through his work his intention is to highlight and promote the local arts and crafts that are the heart of local identity.
In an attempt to update my blog after a very busy few months, here is a story from earlier this year.. The Rake is an international sartorial magazine which just happens to be stylishly art directed by my friend Sam Clark. Earlier this year The Rake commissioned me to write a piece about graffiti and its relationship to the gallery and recent rise of the Urban Art market – from Basquiat to Banksy. ‘Urban Art’ by the way is a phrase that owes its origins to the art market and advertising rather than describing an actual art practice.
Although this is a subject I have given lectures on before in various guises, for example at a recent conference in Visby, Sweden I gave a talk about Street Art and its relationship to the museum – this is the first time I’ve written an extended article which focuses on it and so it was interesting to get my thoughts on paper.
Coming up soon.. I’m pleased to have been invited to talk at Nuart Plus – a range of discussions which accompanies the highly regarded International street art festival Nuart which is held annually in Stavanger, Norway. Its been a few years since I last attended so I’m looking forward to seeing all the new street art which has been added around the city and to meeting this years guest artists and speakers…
Finally I have a set of completed T-shirts from a design project that began last year and in some ways has been around seven years in the making! Lambe lambe is the name given to a type of woodtype poster printing known principally in Sao Paulo, Brazil and now only survives in one workshop – namely Grafica Fidalga. Lambe lambe (lick-it-lick-it) used to be much more wide spread as a form of fly-posted advertising, and at one time there were a number of workshops supplying the demand. But as modern litho printing has become so prevalent the demand diminished and with only Grafica Fidalga holding the flame producing posters for gigs and events.
Through my friends at Choque Cultural I was able to visit the workshop a number of times over the years – which led to an article in Creative Review. Choque Cultural have been great supporters of Grafica Fidalga and encourage many artists to work with them for typography and woodtype projects. With their help I was able to realise this T-shirt project alongside a Japanese company who published the shirts.
It was a project that spanned three continents; with the posters being typeset in Sao Paulo (thanks Haraldo)
- then shipped to UK (example above) where I created the final T-shirts and label designs from them.
Finally Akira (my partner in this) produced the range expertly, using T-shirt stock in pastel colours that emulated the cheap thin pastel paper that is typical of Lambe Lambe. The T-shirts were then sold at various boutique outlets in very limited numbers.
Next stop - Komafest – Vardø, Norway! This has to be one of the most faraway places for a street art festival and so in the spirit of adventure I was very pleased to accept an invitation to attend later this July. Vardø is very faraway indeed – north of the Arctic tree-line, most of the time its snow-bound and so practically this is the best time give this town a lick of paint in the warmest months with 24 daylight.
The town of Vardø is one of the oldest in Northern Norway and has a rich history – in recent years it has suffered from depopulation and the decay that comes with it. The festival is being organised by the artist Pøbel and friends who thought it would be a good idea to bring the energy (of street art & graffiti) from the bigger cities, to the small town of Vardø – with goal of showing people that it is possible to make changes.
There are lots abandoned or unloved building that will make great surfaces for artists to make their mark on and an interesting International line-up with artists including Roa (Belgium), Horphe (France), Remed (France), Conor Harrington (Ireland), Ethos (Brazil), Vhils (Portugal) Steve Powers (USA), Husk Mit Navn (Denmark), E.B.Itso (Denmark), Ken Sortais (France) plus Norwegian artists and more…
My role will be to talk, show films and lead discussions with the locals on the subject of street art to give some background to its history and practise to people who will not have come into contact with it before. The reactions, expectations and repercussions should be very interesting. The festival will then be celebrated a Heavy/Black metal band, a Russian folk singer, an opera singer and a male choir!
Thanks for the inclusion on the mugshots!
The Wahaca Southbank Experiment is now open! – featuring the vibrant paintings of Remed and Saner. As previously mentioned in my blog Wahaca kindly invited me to curate the production of murals for a bold new experimental site they had planned in the heart of London’s South Bank.
After all the preparations and work that had gone into the project beforehand, it was great to see the walls come alive day-by-day as each artist reacted to the various spaces that were available to paint. Over a period of a week’s painting the artist’s created a great fusion of their styles – Remed’s clean modernist figures, symbols and patterns mixed with Saner’s folkloric-inspired mystical characters.
In a game of mix and match Remed and Saner painted masks on each other characters as if shuffling a deck of playing cards between them. Into the mix, Remed introduced astrological symbols and the main mural, which faces the river, embraced the loose theme of the sun and moon, although the work could be interpreted in various ways.
Inside the sea containers Saner produced some lovely illustrations scattered around the space such as this one entitled ‘Mi Lupita” – which references the “trajinera“richly decorated boats found in his native Mexico City. See initial sketch below..
There are many more pieces around the site that I haven’t yet photographed well so its worth an explore. More of my photographs can be found here.
Beautiful Crime is a London-based website which aims to provide a daily dose of art news covering Urban, Digital & Interactive and Contemporary Art.
They recently requested an interview which I was happy to respond to. There were some interesting topics such as the relationship of street art to advertising and how street art has changed the relationship we have with art in public spaces.
Late last year I was excited to be asked by Wahaca to curate an arts programme for their new temporary space at London’s Southbank – the initial phase of which is about to happen as part of the Festival of the World. It’s been a pleasure to be able to invite two artists I am passionate about – Saner from Mexico City and the French artist Remed who is based in Madrid, for this first round of mural painting. Both of these artists have featured in my Street Art Sketchbook series and are artists I’ve built relationships with through other projects in the past.
I felt that their work would be a great match for what Wahaca is trying to achieve - which is to showcase the best of world street art in and around its temporary restaurant space, while linking and supporting the year-round arts events at the Southbank. The restaurant design is in itself an experiment, constructed using empty sea containers, which the artists Saner and Remed were particularly attracted to, alongside the public nature of the murals and the theme of the arts festival, which is ‘Art for Social Change’.
Saner’s participation was key for me, his work is so alive and vibrant and he’s not had the opportunity to paint to this extent in the UK before. He is also a great representation of the young street art and graffiti art scene that is flourishing in Mexico at the moment. His work, which references Mexican folklore and culture does so in a way that is completely original and avoids cliches. He manages to explore all kinds of folkloric narratives which can be very powerful but he does so with a lightness of touch and humour. I can’t wait to see what he produces.
Similarly Remed has visited the UK before but has not had the exposure that a public mural project at the Southbank should achieve – so I’m hoping his work will also be greatly admired. I find Remed’s work to be very strong, bold and beautiful. Inspired by Modernism and modernist painters such as Ferdinand Leger – his paintings have a great sense of form and balance. Every shape, curve and colour is carefully considered and plays off each other. Often using figures or typography his works are filled with personal narratives and symbolism. There is a great recent interview with him here. Remed was only able to confirm recently so doesn’t appear in the Ola London article.
This project has been under-wraps for some time (cue some terrible pun about Quesadillas) – and finally its out of the bag with an article published in Wahaca’s Ola free newspaper (which I contributed to). You can see how it develops on Wahaca’s blog and I will post further news and info on my own blog here.
I recently helped out with an article The Independent on Sunday published last week (03.06.12). Journalist Genevieve Roberts asked for my opinions on Kurt Perschke’s fun and friendly Red Ball Project and I was happy to oblige with some thoughts – some of which were quoted in the article. The Red Ball Project is currently doing a tour across the UK starting in Torbay and ending up at the Southbank.
I was also able to suggest a couple of other artists that used inflatables in their work which Roberts kindly featured in her piece – such as Florentijn Hofman (who features in Raw + Material = Art) and Bristol’s own Filthy Luker who is known for his “Art Attacks” which often use inflatables.
Time Out did a small review at the end of May…
Other reviews are due in Elephant Magazine, Aesthetica Magazine and The Art Newspaper. Online the response has been terrific too with many blog features – I particularly liked the artist Hiroyuki Hamada’s take on the book.
This is a belated post to say thanks for everyone who came down to support the launch of the Raw + Material = Art book at Boetzelaer Nispen gallery in London and to share some photos for those who were not able to attend.
Thanks to Klaus Dauven for making the journey from Germany and bringing his great artwork for display.
Thanks to Marnix and Linda at Boetzelaer Nispen gallery for their generous help, Charlie at Edel Assanti, Tom & Trina @ Hada Contemporary for Jae-Hyo Lee, Axel for Peter Callesen and all at Zadok Ben-David‘s studio.