Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Rude Cyclists

A storm of controversy has broken over the heads of the six IDRD-Bogota Humana-San Mateo-Solgar cyclists from Colombia, when their photos at the Giro della Toscana in Tuscany hit the Internet. Their cycling kit with flesh-coloured panels around the midriff made them look naked. The BBC was so prudish it put a black stripe across the crucial zone (CLICK). I put some images into my trusty copy of XnView and did some graphic jiggery-pokery to delve into this shocking exposure. You can see that the "rude" part is a pad. In the Tuscan sunshine this pad casts a shadow that looks like pudic hair. Not so rude after all. CLICK to view an original photo.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Photography Oxford

Photography exhibitions seem to be marking autumn in the UK. Oxford has gone bananas with a festival spread around 20 venues across the city. The inaugural Photography Oxford, which opened yesterday, has a wide variety of stunning photos caught by camera clickers from Britain, the USA, Germany, New Zealand, France, Finland, Egypt and Italy. Some of the winning pictures from this year's World Press Photo Awards are also featured. The dedicated website is tricky dicky and unhelpful. For instance, Wendy Sacks splendid photo of brothers in water is the home page graphic, but no details are revealed. Where to find it? What's its title? Camera details? One exhibition I did track down and highly recommend is that of Maisie Broadhead at Art Jericho. She photographs modern women within a domestic context in the style of Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. The festival runs until 5 October. CLICK for the irritating festival website. CLICK for a BBC selection of images from the festival.

Black Chronicles II

Autograph ABP at Rivington Place, London, recently opened Black Chronicles II, a free exhibition of over 200 studio photos of black Victorians, the majority of which have never been exhibited or published before. Many of these photos were unearthed as part of Autograph ABP's current archive research programme The Missing Chapter, a three-year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The webpage for this show is a good example of what a webpage should be with its 50/50 mix of sample graphics and readable text and no silly gimmicks. Many art galleries could learn from this website: CLICK.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Shark Trade Ban

Now for some good news. From tomorrow the first ban on shark and manta ray trade comes into force. This was agreed last year at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Thailand. Shown is an Oceanic Whitetip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), one of the species to be elevated to Appendix II of the CITES code, which means that traders must have permits and certificates. The porbeagle, manta rays and three varieties of hammerhead sharks will also be protected (CLICK).

Amy Winehouse

Sculptor Scott Eaton's life-size bronze statue of singer Amy Winehouse was unveiled in Camden, north London, today on what would have been her 31st birthday. Amy's parents Mitch and Janis Winehouse attended the unveiling in Camden's Stable Market, where it will be a permanent memorial to Amy. Fans came from as far away as Hawaii to see the statue unveiled. It's tragic to think that Amy died of accidental alcohol poisoning at the age of only 27. CLICK for a BBC video.

Photobook Award

The inaugural Bar-Tur Award for photography talent took place in 2009, sponsored by Amnon and Armon Bar-Tur in memory of late wife and mother Ann Lesley Bar-Tur (1947-1984). Amnon Bar-Tur has now decided to sponsor a new award in conjunction with The Photographers’ Gallery in London. The Bar-Tur Photobook Award will offer an emerging photographer the chance to publish his or her first book with The Photographers’ Gallery and Trolley Books in 2015. The Award is open to all photographers and artists who have not yet published a book (self-published excepted) and are either studying or have graduated from a UK-based visual arts course within the last five years. Applicants are not required to be living in the UK (CLICK).

Briton Beheaded

Only yesterday the family of aid worker David Haines issued an appeal to Islamic State (IS) fanatics holding him captive to make contact with them (CLICK). This still from an IS video shows the fanatics' response. Presumably under threat of torture, David says "I would like to declare that I hold you, David Cameron, entirely responsible for my execution." After more coerced propaganda from David, another British voice - we assume the executioner's - declares "This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State." PM David Cameron has called the murder of David Haines "an act of pure evil (CLICK)." True. So when is Government going to ban the fount of this evil: Sharia Law (CLICK)?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Sarcophagus Lid

You don't expect to find a 3,000-year-old Egyptian Sarcophagus Lid in a house in Essex. So, when Stephen Drake of Willingham Auctions climbed through a hole in a wall and found the relic covered in cobwebs, he experienced an Indiana Jones moment. The Egyptian embassy in London tried to prevent the auction, demanding that the sarcophagus lid be repatriated to Egypt, but Willingham Auctions refused and the lid fetched £12,000. The incompetent paint job on the face was done by its former owner, big game hunter and journalist Captain "Tiger" Sarll, who is thought to have had the lid shipped to England. He died in 1977 (CLICK).


The Stolen Space gallery in London is currently showing TWOONE: Hunted Hunter's Head. His real name is Hiroyasu Tsuri. TWOONE is his street art name he adopted after moving from Japan to Australia. He now paints large murals by commission. CLICK to view more of his work.

Francesca Woodman

Victoria Miro Mayfair is currently showing Francesca Woodman: Zigzag. This young American photographer was obsessed with her own body and took naked self-portraits in all sorts of weird and wonderful poses. She committed suicide in 1981 at the age of 22. This example is Untitled, taken at the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1980. The exhibition runs until 4 October. CLICK for more information.

Friday, 12 September 2014

London Photo Fair

This Sunday, 14 September, the London Photograph Fair opens in Bloomsbury for one day only. From vintage daguerrotypes, ambrotypes and stereocards to press and fashion rarities, the variety is immense. Shown is a signed photo by Selma Genthe of a chubby Nude exercise on the beach (c.1920). There will also be specialist book dealers at the fair. Admission is £5. CLICK for details.

Oscar Verdict

Breaking news: Judge Thokozile Masipa has found "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius guilty of the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He was also found guilty of negligently handling a firearm that went off in a restaurant. Yesterday the judge rejected the farcical prosecution case of premeditated murder for what the French would call Le crime passionnelle. Blasting five shots through a toilet door over the purported fear that an intruder had climbed through the window to have a tinkle is equally farcical. Some people think Oscar deserves an Oscar for his performance on the witness stand. Sentencing is to be carried out on 13 October (CLICK).

Real Tudors

Today the National Portrait Gallery in London opened a new display The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered in Rooms 1, 2 and 3, admission free. This portrait of the young King Edward VI (c.1542) is one of the portraits that have been conserved thanks to funding by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Art Conservation Project. When a layer of discoloured varnish was removed, a dead beetle trapped in the varnish was found! The Gallery ascribes this portrait to "after Hans Holbein the Younger", which is a posh way of saying "We haven't a clue". Each of the Tudor monarchs is shown alongside a prized possession on loan for the show (CLICK).

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Liberty Statue Yes

I must admit I'm sick of the debate over Scottish independence, because it is so long on bull, mainly by Alex Salmond, and so short on hard facts. This Liberty for Independence statue waving a Scottish flag (the Saltire) and holding a Yes card, placed outside the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh yesterday by Alistair Blacky, is typical of the blind patriotism of the Yes campaign. Salmond accuses anyone who waves a fact at voters of "bullying" or "scaremongering" (CLICK). I would trust Salmond as far as I could throw him.

New Maths Gallery

Yesterday Zaha Hadid Architects released artists' impressions of the pioneering new Mathematics Gallery in London's Science Museum. This one shows the gallery from the west entrance. The project has been made possible by a £5 million gift to the museum by David and Claudia Harding, the largest gift the museum has ever received. David Harding made his fortune from mathematics (CLICK).