Wednesday, 27 October 2010


Looking for imagery which suggests the story of "Preservation" by Hannah Tinti, which is a multi-layered short story, set in a museum, using the idea of diorama imitating life, preserving time, addressing the questions of how we preserve life-like qualities and suspend time in the act of taxidermy. There is also the question of how museums change according to changes in society, although this can happen slowly, and some museums can seem suspended in time in the way they display things. This can be viewed as stultifying out of date, or strangely calming in it's non-interactive state. In any case, this short story also deals with the impending death of the main character's father, whose fears and longings are projected onto a lifeless stuffed bear exhibit, which comes to life one evening as she is inside a diorama finished off painting the background scenes. It peers into the glass of the diorama and starts to jump up and down against it.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

William Kentridge's sets for The Magic Flute.

Neozoon - Berlin.

Neozoon are street artists in Paris/Berlin recycling fur coats, and re-siting the animals in cities, where they might once roamed. These bears, being also the emblem of Berlin, have been sited close to what were the original heraldic dancing bear pits.

Looking for a white bear.

This is the bear that I made, using the downloaded pattern from, which has other lovely animals to make. It took me the best part of a week to do this, but I might speed up if I were to do another one. I painted it, and also squashed and pinched it up in various places, and gave it different facial features.

Anthropomorphism in needle-felt.

Anne Hutchinson, as featured in October edition of "Embroidery" magazine makes delightful animal characters using the technique of needle-felting. Her website is

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Carnovsky wallpaper

"Color est e pluribus unus" is a famous Virgil phrase taken from his poem "Moretum" and describes the blending of colours into one. Having that in mind, Franscesco Rugi and Silvia Quintalilla, the names behind Milan based collective "Carnovsky", got inspired and created for Jannelli & Volpi, the famous Italian wallpaper brand, a very special series of wallpapers named RGB. First presented during Milan Design Week at Jannelli & Volpi store, RGB is a collection of wallpapers that surprising mutate and interact with different chromatic stimulus. It consists in the overlapping of three different patterns that results in unexpected and disorienting images. The colours mix up, the lines and shapes entwine becoming oneiric and completely clear. Through a filter (a coloured light or transparent material) it is possible to see clearly the layers in which the image is composed. Each one of the red, green and blue filters serve to reveal just one of the three patterns, hiding the other two. Pure magic!"

Johanssen Gallery, Berlin.

Studio Visits Berlin: It's Raining Elephants and Sonia Danowski

Sonja Danowski is an illustrator and analogue archivist from Regensburg, Berlin. On her work, she says "The human memory works in chronological order. Not surprising that much gets lost as elements are continually overlapped by presence and importance. Drawings are of an analogue structure which makes them available to any combination and opens access to any element. Drawn image worlds are timeless and available at any time." She works in mixed media (watercolour, ink, pencil and gouache on archival cardboard or sometimes bamboo/cotton archival paper, size 30 x 40 cm.

I have written to Sonja to see if I can pop in to see during my visit, but she can't make it as she is in the middle of a copious illustration project, but wrote back with some nice words of encouragement with the work I had sent to her. Maybe another time.

It's Raining Elephants are a collective of two illustrators, Evelyne Laube and Nina Wehrle who work together on a variety of exciting projects, and who seem to have a lot of fun in the process. I contacted them, and Evelyne wrote back straightaway with a warm welcome to "come and visit the elephant stall" when I am in Berlin, so that is great news. I love this black and white collage piece called "Wasserspiel" (Waterplay).

Kaatje Vermeire

Kaatje Vermeire (1981) is a Flemish illustrator whose work was exhibited at Bologna Ragazza 2010, together with that of Carll Cneut. They were both sponsored by the Flemish Fund for Literature. "De vrouw en het jongetje" in by Unicorn, text by Geert de Kockere, is also published in Spanish, "La Senora y el Nino", Barbara Fiore Editora. Vermeire studied Graphic Design and Advertising, followed by Printmaking at the Ghent Academy. She has an experimental approach to printmaking, using etching techniques together with found materials such as lace, string and wire, to obtain texture, putting them directly under the press, consequently reworking into the plate, and also into the print with pencil and paint, and finally scanning into Photoshop in layers, and bringing all the layers together into a final composition. Her work could just as easily sit in a gallery as well as in the pages of a book and attests to her ability to find subtle and delicate ways to communicate and portray difficult subject matter.
Website is

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Manchester Museum

Walton Ford and Audubon

suzanne moxhay

Also trained as a painter, this photographer I saw at the RA summer show, and also on the Culture Show, where she explained her technique. Influenced by 1950 B movies and the technique of using photographic "flat" on glass screens, also used by Disney in their cartoon, she sticks them onto consecutive glass frames and rephotographs to get depth of field, she also manipulates the final image digitally.

Loretta Lux

Trained as a painter, she is influenced by the colour theories developed by Otto Runge and the paintings of Bronzino, amongst others, and now works as a photographer, although her photographs seem to have a painterly quality, and a matte light about them.

Diorama as pastiche

Is is the colours, the lighting of the backdrop, the hazy dreamy look about it, the colours of yesteryear, or just that it has acquired an aura about it with age? Is is an older type of landscape painting, looking towards a different ideal? A wholehearted belief in something wonderful, more optimistic somehow. Perhaps a more wholehearted belief in man's dominion over the animals and the natural world. Wanting to depict animals in an idyllic setting even if they were about to be pounced upon by another. Perhaps it is that a lot of the dioramas are quite old now, and the work done by previous esteemed diorama artists is periodically subject to conservation and renovation.

However, it could be looked upon as shop window dressing in a way. Preserving little scenes or tableaux.

Hannah Tinti/Animal Crackers - Preservation

This is the book by Hannah Tinti, Animal Crackers - using the story "Preservation" as a backdrop for my studies in museum culture. Most of the stories display the loneliness of the human as distinct from the animal kingdom, removed from their animal qualities in their status of humans in dominion and also as distinct from the animal kingdom. She has a gift for painting a surreal juxtaposition in words.

Motif of the brown bear

Looking at brown bears, for Hannah Tinti's "Preservation" story, this is a good strong image, taken from the American Natural History Museum.

Rodin's Burghers of Calais

Gunther von Hagen and plastination as preservation

Research into the issues with the short story "Preservation" by Hannah Tinti, one of which is the difficult issue that might arise if a family member wants to have his/her body donated to science, as in the case of Gunther von Hagen of "Body Worlds", but in this case it is also to be in a scenario from a well known work of art, "The Burghers of Calais" a sculpture by Rodin. It's a double-bind as the story also deals with life size sets of dioramas, also preserving a scene, a moment in history, where animals are removed from their natural environment, and preserved and displayed in narrative scenes. There are a lot of human and animal ethical questions raised in the issues in the story.

Empty spaces in the museum

Treating with arsenic and other poisons.

The exhibits at Manchester Museum, removed from glass cabinets and kindly shown to me by one of the curators, have been treated with arsenic, amongst other things to preserve them and will be wrapped and frozen to prevent any further decay.

Behind the scenes at the museum. What happens when the animals try to leave the building?

They get treated with preservatives and cleaning agents, then wrapped in plastic, taped up and then frozen. There is a big freezer in the basement somewhere, and that is where they will go, whilst the museum gets a new makeover and a new exhibit space that is slightly more interactive, so I understand from the interesting talk with one of the museum guides, who kindly took me around the closed to the public Mammals section in the Manchester Museum.

Museum spaces

Contrasting the two spaces of a present day photograph of the Manchester Museum and possibly a 1950's or earlier photograph of the American Natural History Museum, they seem remarkably similar.