Next to nothing – the feather art of Isa Barbier

Colossal has examples of French artist Isa Barbier’s incredible installations of feathers, suspended on virtually invisible lines. The ingenuity of many people defies imagining and these works of art are mysterious, ghostly and beautiful.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Three amazing artists

Some people are just amazingly talented. Here are examples of the work of three artists that took my breath away. They each use our environment in very different ways.

Jessica Drenk was born and grew up in Montana, developing a tremendous affinity for the natural world around her, background that has had a very deep influence on her art.  As reported by arts blog This Is Colossal:

Drenk’s most recent sculptures are a series called Implements, each of which begins with a mass of standard No. 2 pencils that have been tightly glued together. Using an electric sander she then molds the piece into a form that seems more likely to have originated in a dark cave or deep within the ocean than from a school desk. Of her work she says:

“By transforming familiar objects into nature-inspired forms and patterns, I examine how we classify the world around us. Manufactured goods appear as natural objects, something functional becomes something decorative, a simple material is made complex, and the commonplace becomes unique. In changing books into fossilized remnants of our culture, or in arranging elegantly sliced PVC pipes to suggest ripple and wave patterns, I create a connection between the man-made and the natural.”

drenk-3Haroshi is a self-taught artist from Japan. This skull, made from recycled skateboard decks, is just awesome.

haroshi-1Finally, Vadim Zaritsky is a former army office turned artist and entymologist – and uses the wings of dead butterflies, found either beside the road or thrown out from collections. In his own words on Oddity Central:

“Butterfly collectors know that some wings are considered – collectors call it trash,” Zaritsky says. “If the wings are damaged, if they have partially faded, specialists would usually put them aside. It’s a shame to throw them away but you cannot use them either. In time, the bits may become infested with pests and you have to throw everything away anyway.”


The natural world art of Svetlana Ivanchenko

The pictures below blew me away. Blogger Spooky, on the site Oddity Central, gives a brief biography:

Svetlana Ivanchenko is a talented Ukrainian artist who uses overlooked natural materials like sand, seashells, quartz, tree roots and tree bark to create wonderful mosaics that look almost painted by hand.

Born and raised in Yalta, on the shores of the Black Sea, Ivanchenko was always fascinated by the abundance of natural materials that surrounded her. She studied at the Crimean Art School, under the supervision of renowned artist Sergei Bokaeva, and later graduated from the Glukhivskiy Pedagogical Institute. The artist currently based in the city of Dnepropetrovsk uses a variety of sand, shells, quartz and tree parts to create amazing works of art inspired by her place of birth and the warmth of the female body. It’s hard to believe, but every little piece of material used to create the artworks is placed by hand, and no coloring other than that of the composing elements is used.

As Pinar from My Modern Metropolis notes, Svetlana “merges the various textures and colors brilliantly, making it difficult to imagine the frames being made of anything else.” Her natural masterpieces have been exhibited in international galleries, and many of them reside in the private collections of connaisseurs in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Estonia and the Dominican Republic.

Enjoy them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wooden wonder – Levi van Veluw’s new automata

Automata are non-electronic moving machines that, in ancient times, were used either as toys, or idols or to demonstrate basic scientific principles.

Art and design website Colossal carries images and a video of Dutch artist Levi van Veluw’s newest creation, in wood (originally sourced from Faith Is Torment). There is something fascinating and beautiful about the intricacy of its mechanical design and I can only marvel at the skill of people with the talent and patience to make things such as this.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


The Enchanted Palace wins Guardian plaudits… Go Ellie! #wildworks

My Paloma-fabulous sister Ellie texted to let me know that The Enchanted Palace project with Wildworks that she and Myth have been working on has attracted a rave review in the Guardian. Ellie has devoted much of her effort to the creation of The Room of Royal Secrets, telling the disturbing story of Peter the Wild Boy.

Found in the forests of Hanover, near Hamelin (the town at the centre of the Pied Piper legend), Peter was brought to London by King George I, who was also Duke of Hanover. Achieving celebrity status in an era without X-Factor, Twitter and Facebook, Peter’s life inspired Daniel Dafoe to write a book about him Mere Nature Delineated: Or a Body Without a Soul with the following subtitle:

“Being observations on the young forester lately brought to Town from Germany. With suitable applications. Also, a brief dissertation upon the usefulness and necessity of fools, whether political or natural.”

However, Roger Moorehouse, in an extensive article on Peter’s life, reminds us that the notion of fame as fleeting and cruel isn’t confined to this era of d-list stars and throwaway magazines:

“Peter quickly became a celebrity. On one level, tales of his antics busied the London gazettes. Jonathan Swift, whose fictional ‘Yahoos’ Peter appeared to personify, noted sourly that “there is scarcely talk of anything else”… But Peter could not to live up to the popular interest invested in him and a fickle public quickly abandoned him in favour of the next unfortunate.”

In the peculiar way of things related to that other world of monarchs and royal households, Peter, now living an anonymous life away from the city, remained looked after. As Moorehouse writes: “His keep was paid by the Crown for nearly 60 years, through three reigns, and, when he died, a brass tablet was erected to his memory at royal expense.”

Ellie has essentially been creating a den, the sort of place Peter might have lived in and sought comfort in when retreating from a world of courtesans and pages, princes and princesses:

Writing in Friday’s Guardian, Amy Stone is well aware of the long-standing tensions between fashion and art, yet is bold in her assessment of the success of The Enchanted Palace:

“The show also (whisper it) makes for fantastic art: ghostly, ethereal and layered with subtext. These are museum pieces created for an exhibition true to the conviction that high fashion and high drama go hand in hand. Curators should take note: no more dutiful dusting down of designer archives, please. Fashion’s very essence is living, breathing and moving – something its art shows should cotton on to.”

The Guardian also wrote about The Enchanted Palace on 25 March, after the press preview, describing what visitors to the rooms will encounter and how they can interact with this immense creation of Wildworks and co.

I can’t wait to go.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Reasons why my sister is an ultra-cool and talented artist #fb

My sis

So Ellie tends to hide her light under a bushel. However, we who know realise that she is an ultra-cool and talented artist whose work is fresh and exciting. I know you think I might say that, as she is my sister, but siblings are not always the kindest critics. I don’t have a good record to be honest. I was apparently interrupted by the neighbour attempting to place my brother (equally talented and ultra-cool) on the bonfire.

This was a long time ago.

Not recently. Anyway…

Most of her stuff is not online at the moment as she is still reworking her online gallery. However, I have decided to embarrass her on my blog by showing the world (well, those who read this) how talented she is.

One of her early commissions was to work on The Compton Skyline Project in Brighton. It was a fantastic and ambitious piece of community art, installed on the roofs of houses and engaging local people in its conceptualisation and production. As well as painting, she is a dab-hand at sculpting and installations, working with both the Eden Project and Truro’s City of Lights Festival and Parade.

Ellie's installation of “Angel Gabriel” in Truro Cathedral, City of Lights 2007 - unattributed

Some parts of the country truly understand the arts and our broad impact on our quality of life. Ellie has worked with Arts for Health Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly where she and her friend Tom put on a workshop for disabled children to explore their creativity (take a look at page 12).

She has also been a part of the creative team at Wildworks, the Cornish theatre company with a reputation for challenging and innovative theatre. Wildworks specialises in working with the landscape and reworking mythical stories in a way that makes them relevant to the here and now. Recently, Wildworks put on the sensational show The Beautiful Journey. Have a look at the reviews. It’s a tremendous vote of confidence in her talents for her to be credited as a member of the team alongside her great friend, collaborator and house-mate, the equally talented and ultra-cool Myriddin Wannell (more on him another time!).

To give you a better idea of what fuels her creative imagination, probably best to read about Ellie in her own words:

“I was born in Essex and studied Art and Design at Wimbledon School of Art and followed this with a degree at Falmouth College of Arts where I gained a BA Hons in Fine Art.

Having grown up overlooking the Thames Estuary and it’s industrial and post-industrial landscape – oil refineries, anonymous edifices, scrub land and muddy-brown waters – it is of no surprise that when I moved to the other end of the country I landed at the heart of Cornwall’s contemporary mining landscape. Currently, I’m fascinated by these industrial yet ghostly and sombre places.

Most of my work is predominantly within the realms of drawing and painting, where I’m driven equally by the exploration of materials and the language of mark-making.”

Derelict tower at Coal House Fort, part of the landscape that inspired Ellie's early work

In 2008 a series of Ellie’s work on the china clay pits around Truro and St Austell was displayed on the King Harry Ferry, Feock, at the height of the holiday season (August) in an exhibition entitled Embark 2008. The online journal for Cornish artists, has one of the pictures she exhibited online.

So what is she doing today?

She just emailed me with details of her latest project. She is working on The Enchanted Palace, with the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Echo Morgan – very, very exciting for a young artist!

If anyone wants to see what else she has been up to, have a look at her CV. If you want to acquire a piece of her work or are interested in engaging her talents, drop me a line and I will put you in touch if you can’t track her down on the web!

Good luck Ellie – you’re  totally great.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine