Friday, 29 July 2011

"It takes a long time to become young" - Picasso

"Nowhere you can go is more peaceful than your own soul" - Marcus Aurelius

I like the idea of snails being low and ugly creatures, but having somewhere beautiful and sacred to retreat into. Marcus Aurelius said: "People try to get away from it all - to the country, to the beach, to the mountains. Which is idiotic: you can get away from it any time you like. By going within".
The temple in this illustration looks a bit like a dragons face - it is based on the wats of Thailand. I was lucky enough to visit Phuket a couple of years ago and see a few of these beautiful temples for myself:

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

"Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self" - Kafka

The castle belonging to this snail is based on Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, Germany. It was commissioned by King Ludvig II, a product of his own imagination, inspired by "old German knight's castles" and the music of Richard Wagner, and a place that he could retreat into. Inside the castle, the walls were decorated with murals based on the legends used in Wagner's operas. 

His cousin Elizabeth said of him: "The King was not mad; he was just an eccentric living in a world of dreams."

(Neuschwanstein later inspired Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland.)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Seven Stories

This is a little book cover design I created for Krzhizhanovsky's Seven Stories. 

My favourite of the 7 stories contained in this collection is called Quadraturin, about a man who lives in a tiny room, in a building of tiny rooms (which, faithful to the regulations in Russia in the 1920s when the book was written, are regularly measured to check that they are the specified 9 metres by 9 metres). He buys a mysterious substance called Quadraturin from a salesman which, when applied to walls and floors and ceilings, causes them to grow. Unfortunately he forgets to dilute the Quadraturin, and becomes terrified someone will discover his endlessly growing room, which becomes ever darker and cave-like.

I love Krzhizhanovsky's writing, it reminds me of Kafka and Bruno Schultz, and maybe even a smidgen of Roald Dahl too. It crackles with imagination. And he kept writing it even though the censors prevented his work from being published in his time. Even now, I really think it deserves a wider audience.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Making Space at Expresso Cafe, Norwich

Yesterday we set up our new exhibition at Expresso Cafe, and luckily for us everything went smoothly. Rob and Rosie from MakingSpace were wonderfully helpful in organising the whole thing and assisting everyone with hanging their work.

I made 5 pieces, a series of ink and gesso drawings on the life of Mata Hari.

(the last image in the series, pictured above, is also featured on Tate and Creative Review's Blast/Bless blog)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Mata Hari

I'm working on a set of 5 paintings relating to the life of Mata Hari - a Dutch exotic dancer who pretended to be a Java princess, and who was executed by a French firing squad as an alleged German spy during WWI.

The paintings are for an upcoming exhibition in Expresso Cafe, Norwich.