Monday, 28 July 2014

Countryside Threats

Just when you were thinking of taking the cherubs for a picnic in the British countryside, BBC News has posted a list of the dangerous creatures you might encounter to spoil your trip and even end your life. Believe it or not, cows are top of the list. At the last count they kill 6 people a year, twice as many as do bulls. If they have calves, they defend them by attacking. Dog walkers can be in trouble, because cows see your pet pooch as a dangerous wolf. Wild boars also see dogs as wolves and can attack dog walkers. Adders, Britain's only venomous snakes, can often be found sunbathing. If you tread on one or interfere with it, you are likely to be bitten. So is your dog. About 100 cases of adder bites are reported in the UK every year, but the last person to die of an adder bite was in 1975. The bite is painful and requires medical attention. Red deer are timid animals, but get stroppy in the autumn rut and have huge antlers. False widow spiders give an extremely painful bite which may require medical attention. Ticks, which your dog may pick up on his fur, can transmit Lyme disease, which can cause arthritis and even death if untreated. Their preferred host is red deer, so ticks in areas frequented by red door are the ones to avoid. CLICK for more details. The BBC forgets to mention that stings from wasps or bees can cause anaphylactic shock. a severe allergic reaction which can cause death. This is an urgent problem. Call 999 for an ambulance. Have a nice picnic!

Wonder Woman

Have you noticed how Wonder Woman's costume has been changing lately? She went from bare thighs and kinky boots to a more sombre look in black tights. Here's her latest reincarnation: Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, posted by director Zack Snyder to tease fans at this year's Comic-Con, the annual sci-fi and fantasy festival (CLICK).

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Still Life Alive

Here's plenty of warning for the next exhibition at the Mall Galleries in central London. From 6 to 23 August The Threadneedle Space will be showing Still Alive: The Contemporary Still Life. More than 50 paintings by over 15 members of the Federation of British Artists will be displayed. There's the usual stuff - vases of flowers and bowls of fruit - but also some unusual works such as The Golden Cloth (2014) by Toby Wiggins RP. This will set you back £3,200. You don't need to wait for the show. CLICK to browse exhibits featured on Pinterest.

Bodypaint City

A BBC News item on naked body art in New York - the only city in the USA in which the painting of completely naked people is allowed (CLICK) - led me to a Daily Mail page of photos from The World Bodypainting Festival 2014 in Pörtschach, Austria (CLICK) which reminded me to check out the winners as I usually do. Shown is Swedish entry by artist Evgenia Parhatskaja, which won 3rd place in the brush/sponge bodypainting category. Love the Virgin's hands! CLICK to see more winners.


Back in June I previewed Discovering Tutankhamun at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford (CLICK). To mark the opening of the exhibition, BBC News has posted a page of exhibits under the title Tut-mania, which shows how the discovery of the boy king's tomb in 1922 had a huge impact on popular culture around the world (CLICK). Shown is the Outermost Coffin of Tutankhamun. (CLICK for the Ashmolean Museum.)

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Frankie's Gold

I didn't find anything in the art lark today. So here's the best piece of artistry I did notice, and I caught only a glimpse of that on BBC News! It was Frankie Jones winning a gold medal for Wales in the individual ribbon rhythmic gymnastics discipline at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. She already had a clutch of silvers. The 23-year-old now retires from competition (CLICK).

Aston Martin Toy

I previewed Royal Childhood yesterday (scroll down or CLICK), but I can't resist showing you this photo of one of the star attractions of the show. It's a gadget-laden miniature James Bond DB5, number plate JB 007 GB, which was presented to Prince Andrew by the Aston Martin company in 1965 when the prince was 5 years old. CLICK to read more about the exhibition.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Royal Childhood

With HM the Queen up in Scotland for her summer holiday, a new exhibition opens in Buckingham Palace tomorrow: Royal Childhood. This brings together objects from the Royal Collection, the Royal Archives and the private collections of members of the Royal Family, as well as previously unseen photographs and film footage. The exhibition spans more than 250 years with well-loved toys and treasured family gifts to tiny childhood outfits. Shown is Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret enjoying a Rocking Horse. This exhibition is for rich tourists only: adults £19.75, silver surfers £18 (CLICK). Londoners, view the BBC video and save your money: CLICK.

Chinese Toad

Since Florentijn Hofmanis' Giant Inflatable Yellow Rubber Duck visited Hong Kong last year, the Chinese have been going ape on jumbo inflatables. This Giant Toad in Beijing's Yuyuantan Park has caused a furore, because wags on Chinese social media have mocked its similarity to former president Jiang Zemin (inset) who was nicknamed "The Toad". The Communist Party is miffed about this mockery and has banned references to the toad (CLICK).

Pankhurst Portrait

Yesterday the National Portrait Gallery in London unveiled this painting Dame Christabel Pankhurst (1909) by fellow suffragette Ethel Wright, first shown at the Women’s Exhibition in London in 1909, a fundraising event which highlighted women’s skills and potential. It was bequeathed to NPG by Elizabeth Ruth Dugdale Weir in 2011 and hasn't been on display to the public for 80 years. It's in Room 30, next to the free display Suffragettes: Deeds not Words in Room 31, which shows photos of the turbulent Women’s Social and Political Union (CLICK).

Aviation Art

I'm a bit late with this news. The Guild of Aviation Artists Annual Exhibition opened at the Mall Galleries in central London on Tuesday and flies until Sunday 27 July. If you have the slightest interest in aviation art, this is the annual big one. You'll find it in the Main and North galleries, admission free. Shown is a detail from 56 vs. 18 by Keith Woodcock FGAvA. And don't forget We Are Falklands in The Threadneedle Space, also free. Both close on Sunday at 1pm (CLICK).

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Meriam Ibrahim Free

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for "apostasy" by an insane and vicious Islamic court, has finally been allowed to leave Sudan. She and her husband and two children flew to Italy, where they were met by the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. They were then whisked off to meet Pope Francis at his Santa Marta residence at the Vatican. He thanked Mrs Ibrahim for her "witness to faith". She may have escaped the jackboot of Islam, but her lawyer says that two days ago Muslim group Hamza issued a statement declaring that they would kill her and everyone who helped her (CLICK). I suppose that's their witness to faith.

Moscow Portrait

Following Tuesday's announcement that there will be a public inquiry into the murder of Alexander Litvinenko (CLICK) ArtDaily has posted a file photo taken in May 2007 of a visitor - smoking a cigarette! - at the Marat Guelman gallery in Moscow, contemplating this Portrait of Alexander Litvinenko on his Deathbed by Russian artists Dmitry Vrubel and Viktoria Timofeyeva (CLICK). Do you infer an attitude of gloating from this picture?

Bongsu Park

This striking image reminds me of Jonathan Miller's 1968 BBC film Whistle and I'll Come to You, adapted from the ghost story by M. R. James (1904). It's a still from a video by South Korean dancer Bongsu Park: Core 2014. A number of her videos will be shown at Rosenfeld Porcini, 37 Rathbone Street, London, in Sound & Vision from 25 July to 30 September (CLICK).

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Fountain Art Fun

If your idea of art is getting wet, here's artist Jeppe Hein’s installation thingy Appearing Rooms Fountain outside Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London. Where will the fountain appear next? Get it right and you might just get sprinkled. Get it wrong and you get a jet of water up your knickers. Great fun for kids (CLICK).

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.