Lucy McLauchlan: Creator of Beautiful Things…

April 11, 2014 Leave a comment

lucymc_maskI’ve recently been introduced to the amazing work of Lucy McLauchlan, an artist with an exquiste eye and an enviable ability to express herself.

I don’t know much about her I’m afraid other than she’s based in Birmigham and was a founding member of the Beat 13 Collective formed back in 1999.

I like that she doesn’t seem to limit herself in what she uses to produce her art, with her work adorning outside walls and buildings, ceramics, timber, found objects and cars as well as the more usual paper and canvas. All of which objects she decorates (and I say that with the highest possible regard) with the most wonderful, predominanly black and white swirls, faces and birds…

She has unsurprisingly built up a growing reputation within the graphic and street art communities and from what I can gather from the internet, seems to spend her time being invited to all corners of the globe to participate in shows, happenings and installations, a very enviable position to be in…

Lucy’s own site is here but if you just type her name into Google, all sorts of wonderousness appears, and I’ll leave you with just a few of my favourites…

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A Different Kind of Freedom

Lazy Post no. 13 : Doris Day…

April 8, 2014 Leave a comment

article-2598358-1CD5CDC400000578-461_634x758Well you learn something everyday…

Doris Day, that most iconic of actors is still alive and well and celebrated her 90th birthday yesterday, Sunday 6th April. Although in truth, it may have been her 92nd birthday, as census records suggest Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff (her original name) was born in 1920, and not 1922 as she claims).

But regardless of these specifics, there’s no doubt she’s still going strong, waving to fans from the safety of this rather impressive balcony at her home in Carmel, overlooking the golf course and country club where she seems to spend most her time these days…

Since her last film “With Six you get Eggroll” in 1968 (no, me neither) and her TV shows from the mid 1970′s, Day has consciously avoided all publicity, devoting her time and efforts to a variety of animal welfare causes (hence the strangely disconcerting photo at the end of this post). Initially this prompted a backlash against her as the lack of any hard information resulted in almost unending speculation about her looks, weight and private life, which in turn only strengthened her determination to keep away from the spotlight.

I’ve always thought Doris was pretty good in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man who Knew Too Much with Jimmy Stewart from 1956, a film that bridged the gap between the musicals of the early 50′s and the later romantic comedies for which she is best known. Hitchcock apparently insisted on Doris for the role of Mrs. Jo McKenna, against the wishes of the studio, and it was this faith that allowed her to demonstrate a more serious side to her acting skills.

So happy birthday to Doris Day…

UPDATE

It’s now Tuesday 8th April and since I wrote this yesterday, I’ve also learned that Mickey Rooney was still alive. I say was, because sadly he passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 93.

Makes me wonder how many more Hollywood legends are forgotten but not gone… Perhaps uncharitably, an image of faded stars sitting in darkened rooms repeatedly watching their old films, a la Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, or Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard comes into mind, wistfully remembering the good times when everyone knew everything about them…

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Neville Brody & England’s Brazil 2014 shirt…

April 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Neville-Brody-typeface-for-England-Football-team-at-2014-World-Cup_dezeen_1sqI’ll be straight with you. I generally find football, footballers and all things football related tedious in the extreme. Overrated, overpaid and overexposed, it’s a sport whose histrionics, tribalism and small mindedness, have always left me cold…

Until now that is, and the news that the great Neville Brody, easily one of this countries finest graphic designers, has recently unveiled his new typeface for the names and numbers on the back of the new England shirt, to be worn at the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

Invited by Nike to develop the new typeface, Brody described his inspiration as the “focus on the intersection between flair and workmanlike reliability,” and additionally that “The industrialised suggestion of a stencil was simultaneously based on a pinstripe motif, combining style with no-frills efficiency.”

Not exactly sure about all that, but I do like the typeface. It’s clean, legible, contemporary and although you can’t see the pin stripe within the lettering on this image, it definitely adds something to the whole, with the white woven into the blue…

Apparently the design for the shirt itself took inspiration from the 1970 kit, and from the armour of the Medieval Knights… As I said, I know little about it, but I’m guessing that we’ll need more than armour to stand any chance of getting out of the first round (or whatever…)

There’s actually a bit of an outcry here in the UK press about the cost of these new shirts at the moment, and without doubt £90 for a synthetic tee shirt is pretty steep. As such, I suspect I will be in a very, very small minority of people who are now considering buying one because of the pedigree of the typeface on the back, rather than the ego of the player inside…

The Modernist Magazine. Issue 10 – Dictator… (or me and Mr. Meades)

April 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Modernist-10-Dictator-Cover-with_borderThis rather fine redacted front cover is the latest edition of The Modernist, the quarterly design based magazine based up in Manchester that is gaining both plaudits and acclaim for its style and content..

MMDictator_Contents_trimThe theme for this issue was Dictator, and the editors were once again kind enough to include a piece I submitted, about the almost comical Benito Mussolini, who virtually alone amongst dictators, was either unable or unwilling to choose a definitive architectural style to define his misguided idealism, a situation which resulted in a wide range of styles and building types being constructed throughout the inter war years.

And in something of a personal triumph in this edition, I have the very great and unexpected honour of seeing my name on the same page as one of my literary and televisual idols, Mr. Jonathan Meades who when recently asked by the editors to become Patron of the Society, is reported to have said that he was “honored… and given some of the things I’ve said about Manchester’s recent architecture, bemused.”

Meades is a man whose contribution to the ongoing cultural debate is immeasurable. He makes idiosyncratic documentaries that are in equal measures odd, entertaining, annoying, amusing and informative. And even if I have to admit that, due to his penchant for listing and connecting seemingly disparate names and ideas, I often find myself losing the thread of his arguments (which I suspect is a deliberate ploy), I could easily listen to him talk about architecture all day…

 

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Towards the back of the magazine, you’ll also find my review of William Mitchells’ excellent new autobiography “The Eyes Within”, a hugely enjoyable read from a man well into 80′s whose ability to make and draw things has taken him all over the world…

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Secret 7″…

March 24, 2014 Leave a comment

“Secret 7″ is an annual event that combines music and art for a good cause“.

You can find out more on their website here but in essence, each year 7 tracks are chosen by the organisers and 100, 7″ singles are pressed of each track. The sleeves for each of these 700 records are all different, with the designs and artwork chosen from submissions by a mixture of invited established artists and the general public…

After an exhibition of the chosen 700, each sleeve can then be bought for £45, but it isn’t until you’ve opened the bag that you know who, why and what you’ve got. A neat idea I would say…

This year I entered a couple of designs, and although sadly neither of my offerings made the grade, my good friend Wong was more successful.

As the whole point of the event is the secret relationship between tune, designer and sleeve, I hope I’m not giving too much away by telling you that Mr. Wong’s submission is somewhere on the screen grab below. Congrats and top marks to him etc…

My submissions are included below the screen grab (for Jake Bug and Massive Attack) so that if you decide to enter next year, you’ll know what isn’t likley to get chosen…Wong Secret 7

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A Trip to Iceland…

March 14, 2014 2 comments

Iceland_1There will be no posts for a while as next week I are mostly be in Iceland…

Thanks to my lovely girlfriend, who bought us the holiday for christmas, I’m fulfilling a long held dream of mine, to go and experience some of the most amazing, almost primeval landscapes in one of the least populated countries in the world…

So weather permitting, we will be putting on our big coats and boots and heading out to do and see everything we can: Reykjavik, the Northern lights, volcanoes, geothermal pools, tectonic fissures, frozen waterfalls, snow, ice, crystal clear lakes, The Blue Lagoon and boiling geysers. I can’t wait…

It’s my guess that this trip might generate some new ideas for blog posts, but until that happens, here are some pics stolen from the web. How amazing does it all look?

As an aside, the first image reminds me of that age old conundrum: Why is it that Iceland (which is mostly green) is called Iceland and Greenland (which is mostly covered in ice) is called Greenland… ?

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Lazy Post No. 12 – Peter Gabriel on Spotify

March 11, 2014 4 comments

It might not mean much to you, but I was well chuffed to find out this morning that Peter Gabriel’s solo album’s are finally available on Spotify.

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Whilst the Genesis influence (i.e. overly complex tunes and funny voices) is still clearly evident throughout 1 (car)  and 2 (scratch), it was with 3 (melt) and 4 (scary) that Gabriel finally began to find his own voice.

Gabriel 3 is a truly marvelous record, way ahead of its time in my humble opinion.. Dark, erudite and politically astute lyrics, encased and enveloped in richly layered electronica, with hints of the sampling, tribal drumming and percussion programming that would make Gabriel 4 such a standout album a few years later…

I don’t know how many hundreds of times I must have listened to Biko on Gabriel 3 over the years, but it still sends a shiver down my spine. Those wonderfully evocative lines “You can blow out a candle, but you can’t blow out a fire, once the flames begin to catch, the winds will blow them higher..” will forever be etched in my memory…

So that just leaves Mr. Fripp to get his act together and put one of my most guilty of pleasures, King Crimson up on Spotify… Come on Bob, do it for the fans, what with Pink Floyd and Led Zep capitulating recently, there’s only you and Thom Yorke left in the non believers camp…

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