Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Fantasy Scenes

Here's an unusual image: a photo of a working vintage arcade machine set on a shoreline, probably Whitley Bay. It's one of a series of photos by Danny Passarella which can be seen in his exhibition Fantasy Scenes, which opens at The Gallery of Forge & Co, Shoreditch, London, on 25 July and runs until 3 August, admission free (CLICK).

Books About Town

Now that the school summer holidays have begun, it's time to find the cherubs something fun and free to occupy them. In London, Books about Town has the answer. The National Literacy Trust and Wild in Art have brought 50 unique hand painted BookBench sculptures to the capital for families to find and enjoy. The benches are shaped like open books with excellent pictures by leading illustrators to depict which story the bench represents. Shown is design team Fiona and Neil Osborne's BookBench painting for Edith Nesbit's The Railway Children (2014). The user-friendly Books About Town website scrolls through all 50 BookBench sculptures and shows maps of their locations: CLICK. The search continues until mid-September. On 7 October the BookBenches will be auctioned at the Southbank Centre to raise funds to tackle illiteracy across the UK.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Google Chrome

For the last week or so, Google has been trying to sneak its Google Chrome installer onto my computer without my knowledge or consent and my anti-virus protection has been blocking it. But still it keeps trying. Does anyone know what Google is playing at, apart from being an invasive pest?

Litvinenko Inquiry

On Sunday I mentioned the case of Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB officer who became a British citizen and was murdered with radioactive polonium (CLICK). His widow, Marina Litvinenko, has been campaigning for an inquiry into his death. Chief suspect Andrei Lugovoi, another ex-KGB agent, has since been elected to the Russian parliament. The UK government has dragged its heels in order to placate the Kremlin. Today Home Secretary Theresa May announced there will be a public inquiry chaired by senior judge Sir Robert Owen, who was the coroner at Mr Litvinenko's inquest. PM David Cameron has obviously had enough of appeasing Putin. With the world condemning despot Vlad over Malaysia Flight MH17, it's long overdue that the truth came out (CLICK).

Monday, 21 July 2014

Mini Monet

If you want to see the latest collection of paintings by "Mini Monet" Kieron Williamson, now aged 11 years, you'll need to zoom down to Picturecraft Gallery in Holt, Norfolk, The show runs until 30 July. Don't expect to buy any paintings. All 40 will have been sold prior to the exhibition for about £400,000 (CLICK). Shown is Kieron Williamson's Snowdrifts at St Benet's Abbey, Broadland (2014). He works in oils, watercolours and pastels.

Gilbert & George

Oo-er, it's Gilbert & George at White Cube Bermondsey, posing for the opening of their exhibition Scapegoating Pictures for London, which limps along until 28 September. Best taken with a whiff of nitrous oxide, they seem to suggest with a canister (CLICK). The "living sculptures" joke is wearing a bit thin now, lads.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Putin's Watch

The trouble with despots is that they tend to believe their own propaganda, because nobody under their rule has the guts to tell them the truth. If Russian media were truly free, they would probably be following similar lines of enquiry over the destruction of Malaysia Flight MH17 as western media. But nasty things happen to people who cross President Putin. Remember Alexander Litvinenko (CLICK). So Russian media is full of conspiracy theories trying to shift the blame to Ukraine, where Putin places it. So, how did this dangerous despot gain the FIFA World Cup 1918 for Russia and how much did it cost him? The watch Vlad is wearing in this photo has been identified as a Patek Philippe costing $150,000. For the latest on Malaysia Flight MH17 CLICK.

James Garner RIP

James Garner has died aged 86. He had been ill for some years, following a severe stroke in 2008 (CLICK). A very personable actor with a light touch, he starred in two hit TV series: Maverick in the late 1950's and The Rockford Files (1974-1980). Both series were created by Roy Huggins. Between TV series, Garner starred in major movies such as The Loudest Whisper (1961) and The Great Escape 1963). In 1994 he starred in the movie remake of Maverick with Mel Gibson as Bret. Shown is James Garner and Jodie Foster in a still from Maverick (1994). In 2005 the Screen Actors Guild presented Garner with a lifetime achievement award. Also, he belatedly received a Purple Heart medal for having been wounded in Korea in 1951.

John and George

Ex-prisoner and homeless, John Dolan spent three years sitting on Shoreditch High Street with his dog George. To pass the time he drew pictures of the buildings and his dog, then began to sell them to passers-by. He was noticed by Howard Griffin Gallery of 189 Shoreditch High Street and invited to put on an exhibition last year. It was a sell-out. Now he is back with a new show John Dolan - John and George, which runs until 17 August (CLICK).

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Wellcome Sex

On 10 November the Wellcome Collection in central London will open its new £17.5m extension with the exhibition The Institute of Sexology. More than 200 objects - paintings, condoms, carvings, sex toys, films and photographs of copulation - will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about sex, but were afraid to ask. (I'm kidding. Our understanding of sex is still evolving.) From Alfred Kinsey's coded questionnaires, through Samoan jewellery to sex machines, the exhibition is bound to tickle the fancy of the "incurably curious" (CLICK).

We Are Falklands

Governments don't usually put on shows at the Mall Galleries in London, but that is exactly what the Falklands Islands Government has done. It ran a competition for the islands' many skilled photographers and produced some cracking results. BBC News has posted a slide show (CLICK). Shown is Angela Moffatt's photo of A man Wakeboarding in the harbour of the capital Stanley. The exhibition We Are Falklands is at the Mall Galleries from 21-27 July, admission free (CLICK).

Diagon Alley

The Harry Potter juggernaut rolls on with a new Universal Studios Potter theme park recently opened in Japan and a new theme park Diagon Alley in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, USA. I thought you might like to know that the designs for Diagon Alley were the work of London-based design studio MinaLima. Here are Miraphora Mina (left) and Eduardo Lima (centre) receiving the red-carpet treatment in Diagon Alley (2014). They met on the set of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) and found themselves sharing many design decisions (CLICK). They set up MinaLima in 2010, using their combined surnames (CLICK).

Friday, 18 July 2014

Kazimir Malevich

Can bouncy blonde Rosie Rockel persuade you that the latest load of old tripe at Tate Passé is worth viewing, let alone paying £13.10 to see? She didn't persuade me. Kazimir Malevich had a very limited oeuvre which died when he died. Why resurrect it?

The Human Factor

The Hayward Gallery in the Southbank Centre is currently showing The Human Factor: The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture, an exhibition which brings together major works by 25 leading international artists who have fashioned new ways of using the human form. Shown is Jeff Koons' Bear and Policeman (1988). The show comes with a health warning for those of a nervous disposition. "This exhibition includes some nudity and sensitive content. Please be aware that one artwork features live bees." Cost; £10.90 adults or £10 silver surfers (CLICK).

War Toys

With missile strikes hitting both Israel and Gaza and yesterday's shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine by Russian-backed rebels, this morning I chanced upon this Pink-Panther-style Cruise Missile (2011-12) by anti-war sculptor Steve Hurst. It's one of his sculptures currently on display in Pangolin London: Steve Hurst: War Toys. The exhibition continues until 23 August. CLICK for Pangolin and more information.