Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Cultural campaigning of the highest order

A deep intake of breath is happening across the arts world. Suffice to say funding is diminishing left right and centre and it's time to assume the crash position.

Lottery money has contributed to the arts sector enormously, The Tate Modern being the most successful and high-profile project, but revenue is now being diverted to the Olympics.

Added to this, there are the inevitable budget cuts that will hit the arts world. Clearly, the true situation won't become clear until after the election.

Last Thursday, by way of a pre-emptive strike, the heads of our best loved museums, galleries and theatres launched a 'cultural manifesto' urging the government to uphold public arts spending.

The report attempts to qualify and quantify the social and economic impact of culture. They believe the arts can help Britain recover from recession and improve society. Bold claims.

One writer for the Independent criticised the situation saying it's a sad day when 'arts policy is discussed on the basis of its economic value' that 'their final justification rests on human value not economic growth. It's a mistake for them to try to sell themselves as anything else'.

Personally, I think that's an out-dated view and good on them. Surely it's about being smart, using your information wisely and growing intelligence across arts organisations so we can better measure and understand the full impact the arts has on society.

This is interesting stuff and will only help us to grow appreciation of the arts and to innovate. Why should the arts exist in a bubble? That's not very modern or forward thinking. What is there to be scared of? Am I missing the point?

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

First Spring by Yang Fudong

Come worship at the temple of Prada. A film so beautiful and contrived it hurts. A collaboration with the young Chinese artist Yang Fudong.


Friday, 19 March 2010

The High Line vs MoMa

Do you remember the New York deserted rail line that got turned into an elevated park come walkway last summer? Well, pioneering curator Lauren Ross has attracted 2 million people to walk the High Line which runs through NYC's meat-packing district. And that's just since June. By the end of this year, visitor numbers could feasibly be larger than MoMA's.

Increasingly, it's the work of contemporary emerging and mid-career artists that are winning over the public. Ross commissions work directly from the artist, "The important thing is that we are working with a unique space - it's not a museum or gallery, it's not even like any other park...The pieces have to respond in some way to the uniqueness".

The Design of the Year Award

There's been a lot of chitter chatter about the folding plug designed by Min-Kyu Choi. On Wednesday he won the Brit Insurance Design of the Year Award, hosted by the Design Museum. Such a simple redesign of the original 1946 plug - doesn't it seem mad to think we've been lugging round those cumbersome chunks of plastic for the last 50 years. Ha!

I also really like this shortlisted work by Jason Bruges originally created for the WWF Pandamonium exhibition. The panda heads swivel and their eyes track your movement through the space. Jason took 100 standard coin-collecting units and rigged them up with thermal sensors and hidden motors.

I love the human engagement, playfulness, simplicity and how the idea shortcuts straight to the heart to make the concept of giving more entertaining and thought-provoking. Nice one.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Billboard hijakers at it again

Brilliant - this cracks me up! Courtesy of Dr D, David Cameron's getting more unwanted attention.

Found via 

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Post-impressionists downunder

There's something about this story that warms the cockles of my heart.

OK. Imagine you're an Aussie. Canberra isn't the most exciting place on earth. In fact, you probably can't think of a single good reason to visit...not one.

BUT. If you bring over some of the world's best post-Impressionist paintings from Musee D'Orsay in Paris for an exhibition at The National Gallery of Australia - well, godammit you've got a road-block on your hands.

Aussie's are driving for hours from across New South Wales and beyond to visit. And at the weekend are queueing for 3 hours to get a first hand glimpse of a Van Gogh, Cezanne or maybe a Gauguin.

Gallery director Ron Radford said to the press: "We're not used to these huge crowds. No one in Australia is."

Love it. The ability for art to inspire and refresh is incredible. Doesn't it make you realise how lucky us Londoners are.

Found via Sydney Herald and my sis.

Brick Lane's 'hijab gates' go back to the drawing board

Follow my post on 1st March about the controversial (and in my opinion utterly pointless) 'hijab gates'. I'm pleased to update you that Tower Hamlets have listened to the 158 local objections and have gone back to the drawing board. Phewey!

Found via The Evening Standard.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Ikea Moscow collaborates with contemporary artists

Swedish giant Ikea continue to democratise design, this time by commissioning multi-million pound installations by major contemporary artists including Piotr Uklanski, Jeppe Hein and Jim Lambie. A series of works will form part of an "airport-sized" Moscow development opening in 2012. A project that is set to fuse of commerce, leisure and culture in unexpected ways.

"We want to create a better everyday life for people." said Hakan Pehrsson, the head of commercial development at Ikea Shopping Centres Russia & CIS. "With this project, we feel that we (can) give extra quality to the life of the whole family."

Found at the

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Online exposure for LPA members

The London Photographic Association have added free social media marketing to their list of member benefits. Surprisingly, they are the first online photography and film association to do this.

They promise to market members through social, business & photo-sharing sites as well as through forums and their blog.

An ongoing relationship with PR agency Ginger Media & Entertainment means they'll keep plugging the online trade & consumer audiences to gain greater share of voice for their members.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Collective consciousness

Kate & Naomi were recently at London Fashion Week raising awareness and funds for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. Fashion & social responsibility hand in hand.

Sarah Brown will play fairy godmother a la Michele Obama by patronising emerging UK designers such as Erdem Moraliogu.  Fashion and local social responsibility hand in hand.

Globally we are growing more aware of our impact on society and those around us. This collective consiousness and the trend toward a more outward display of beliefs and values is growing. How will this affect the art scene....interesting times lay ahead.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Art & female buying power

London freebie the Stylist recently (3/3/10) declared that women are looking for more socially conscious ways to invest cash and that art could be the answer.

'..(post-recession) we're looking for more responsible ways to part with our cash. Something with longevity and an ethical background - an investment with soul... A well-chosen piece over the fireplace says you're intelligent, cultured and making investment choices based on your own tastes.'

They comment on the rise in gallery visitor numbers. And galleries being the coolest places to hang out because they're 'budget-friendly, emotionally enriching, culturally stimulating and aesthetically unrivalled'. Hooray, art and craft appreciation is on the rise.

This week sees the Affordable Art Fair in London's Battersea Park where you can browse work from over 120 galleries. All art is under £3,000 but there's a lot in the £50 bracket.

The kind people at Stylist even gave some top tips on art collecting and two for one entry. Magic.

Art isn't just to be bought on holiday! See you there :)

Friday, 5 March 2010

Seth Godin on self-determination

I'm an individual - no shiny office, no staff, no reception - just me. I'm starting my company up in the midst of a global financial mess. I'm very excited but have a few 'uh-oh' moments.  Then I looked at my inbox and saw a note from marketing royalty Seth Godin....
I posted this eight years ago (!) but a reader asked for an encore.

...are we stuck in High School?
I had two brushes with higher education this week.
The first was at a speech I gave in New York. There were several Harvard Business School students there, invited because of their interest in marketing and exceptional promise....
Anyway, they asked for my advice in finding marketing jobs. When I shared my views (go to a small company, work for the CEO, get a job where you actually get to make mistakes and do something) one woman professed to agree with me, but then explained, "But those companies don't interview on campus."
Those companies don't interview on campus. Hmmm. She has just spent $100,000 in cash and another $150,000 in opportunity cost to get an MBA, but...
The second occurred today at Yale. As I drove through the amazingly beautiful campus, I passed the center for Asian Studies. It reminded me of my days as an undergrad (at a lesser school, natch), browsing through the catalog, realizing I could learn whatever I wanted. That not only could I take classes but I could start a business, organize a protest movement, live in a garret off campus, whatever. It was a tremendous gift, this ability to choose.
Yet most of my classmates refused to choose. Instead, they treated college like an extension of high school. They took the most mainstream courses, did the minimum amount they needed to get an A, tried not to get into "trouble" with the professor or face the uncertainty of the unknowable. They were the ones who spent six hours a day in the library, reading their textbooks.
The best part of college is that you could become whatever you wanted to become, but most people just do what they think they must.
Is this a metaphor? Sure. But it's a worthwhile one. You have more freedom at work than you think... but most people do nothing with that freedom but try to get an A.
Do you work with people who are still in high school? Job seekers only willing to interview with the folks who come on campus? Executives who are trying to make their boss happy above all else? It's pretty clear that the thing that's wrong with this system is high school, not the rest of the world.
Cut class. Take a seminar on french literature. Interview off campus. Safe is risky.

- - - - 
Thanks Seth. You've just made my day :)

Beyond display - Wildlife Photographer of the Year

A show that never, ever lets you down. A jaw-dropping display of virtuoso photography and a staggering reminder of the wonderful world we live in.

The Natural History's jewel in the crown has had its fair share of controversy this year with the winner being disqualified for using a trained animal. In my mind, simply reinforcing the integrity of the competition.

Here are my favourites:

With the photos displayed on raised light-boxes secured to the black walls, it's quite a cinematic experience. At the end of the exhibition there's a slide show style presentation. It seemed terribly basic - a missed opportunity to showcase the incredible work. NHM you can do better than this!

Two large interactive screens allow you to vote for favourite images, view the gallery and forward shots to friends, or comment. This simple digital engagement and the UI & UX were bang on - welcome extensions to the event.

For all this admiration and positivity, I left feeling there was a missed opportunity. Shouldn't the NHM get people to act? The subtext of the exhibition is about sustainability, extinction of rare-breeds and the preservation of the vulnerable.

But there was no way to participate or learn more. I'd have liked to have seen more education and more activism. To pour all that interest into something change behaviour and shake us out of our apathy. It's time to go further beyond pure display.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Sculpture by the sea

Continuing the Oz theme for a moment, here are a few shots from the much-loved Bondi to Tamarama sculpture coast walk (Nov 2009).

A fine example of making art truly accessible and inspiring local communities to feel proud of their area.

Click here to find out more.

We are all the same

I spoke to my sister earlier today. She lives in Sydney and has a shiny office over-looking Sydney Harbour.

She had quite a bit of trouble getting into work today...there were 5,000 naked people in front of the opera house. Spencer Tunick is at it again.

Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald

Monday, 1 March 2010

Old school glamour at Goodwood

Wow, this sounds like the event I've always been waiting for. Music - tick. Glamour - tick. Eccentricity - tick. Fun by the bucket load - tick. Fantasy - tick. No boring samey, samey festival, snore, rubbish, off your heads - tick. Something genuinely last.

And the icing on the cake it's a celebration of British culture and creativity from the 40s through to the 80s.

Holy crap I'm off to get my ticket for Vintage At Goodwood - a celebration of British Cool.

Found in the Evening S

Brick Lane's 'hijab gates' pushed through

Will the controversial gates set to stand at either end of Brick Lane get approved this Thursday?

Could Tower Hamlets get approval inspite of 158 objections and a slating from Tracey Emin who called them "bulky, ungainly and unnecessary".

The arches are set to form part of a £2million "heritage trail". But locals have a number of concerns from highlighting Islam over other faiths, to them looking like something from Disneyland.

They sound pretty pointless to me. When arts funding is under the lens shouldn't we be investing funds in projects that make more of a positive contribution?

Plus Spitalfields market has already been corporatised...leave Brick Lane alone.

Design out crime - new pint glasses

Every week there are 100 glass related assaults. However, police suspect the figure is 7 times higher.  Conservatively, this equates to a £2.7 billion a year burden on the NHS...and that's not to mention the victims and their families.

The Designer Technology Alliance were recently called upon to come up with creative solutions to reduce drink related violence.

In response, Design Bridge has created 2 prototype pint glasses that will protect future victims from injuries such as this:

The new designs will feel comparable to the old pint glass but using bio-resins and ultra-thin glass so they won't shatter in shards.

This is an awesome example of cross-field collaboration to solve social issues.  And a great showcase of UK design, innovation and technology.

Found via Design Council