Friday, March 27, 2009

tapestry of colour, gems & floating heads

Creature Comforts featured the work of LA artist Sarajo Frieden. This is someone who knows about textures, lines and colour, has a good sense of humour, and a whimsical thing for the birds. See what she has to say about colour:

Some of her work incorporates embroidery, like this:

stitched bird 4 (7.5”w x 11”h framed: 11.5”w x 15”h)

lady leaving chair (7.5”w x 11”h framed: 11.5”w x 15”h)

pinktree (gouache, collage on paper 28 1/2″w x 22″h)

green journey 2 (gouache on paper 23 3/4″w x 15″h 2005)

Recurring images include the "mini me", birds, trees, people dressed as cats, mushrooms, water, silhouettes, ship and gems. Which leads me to ponder, what is it with all the crystals in contemporary art, anyway?

jewelled bush (gouache, collage on paper 22.25″w x 24.5″h 2007)

Crystals appear frequently in a stylized network of lines and explicitly as gems.

These are the work of NYC artist Ramblin Worker (Steve MacDonald), whom I first found years ago on He also combines drawing and painting and sewing. For the record, most of his work does not contain disembodied puma heads- I just happen to really like them. Beyond the multimedia, these artists have something in common in their exuberant colours, lines and nets, and layering of pattern (as well as boats and natures as subjects). Some of the tapestries (I can think of no better word) are incorporated into 3D sculptural pieces.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Going Postal

dear ada instroduced me to London-based Glaswegian designer and illustrator Harriet Russell. She has a lot of pretty, whimsical screenprints, design, book covers and illustration and more on her webpage. She can't resist a good pun.

Oh look, a magpie!

Her embellished envelop mailart is delightful. The Telegraph reports that she comes by this honestly;
Harriet Russell is only the latest in her family to seek to amaze and befuddle the men and women of the Royal Mail. Her great-great-great grandfather, Henry Ponsonby, was an eminent Victorian - a veteran of the Crimean War, private secretary to the Queen - who also had a hobby of embellishing the envelopes of the letters he sent with whimsical pictures. The addresses would appear as signposts in snowstorms or as huge envelopes shouldered by tiny people.

Obviously, this is a tradition too fabulous to neglect. Her collection of 130 letters, sent to herself, includes addresses in the form of anagrams, crosswords, tests for colour blindness, dot-to-dot puzzles, cartoon and mirror writing. It makes me happy that the Royal Mail appears to have appreciated the joke and risen to the challenge.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Invisible creatures of the deep...

Here is something new to worry about, especially if you happen to be a small fish.

Creepy camouflaged octopi and wonderous transparent fish!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Screenprinting the light fantastic

I have a lot of etsy favorites, and amongst these figure a large number of printmakers of a variety of media. There a few who make serigraphs/screenprints or even just work with the well-loved miniature Japanese gocco screenprinting devices, who have something in common. It's somewhat ineffable, but I have been trying to put my finger on it. It involves critters, no doubt, but it is also something about the line work, the colour choices and the surrealism. These four work in different countries, but they all happen to be women, and they all happen to have a touch of magic.

Consider London-based Ellie Curtis and her EllieCurtisDesings:


Battle of Birlundula

Bird Emperor Cushion (pink), on calico

Why I haven't bought myself a pillow yet, I don't know. I think I'm simply having trouble deciding which one I need most.

While some of the work of Finnish Brooklyn-based artist animalsleep (with etsy shop here)is a little less abstract and mere fantastical, some strikes a similar vein:

extra terrestrial specimen collection 6 color silkscreen, 9" x 15"
2007, edition of 21
{This is a reminder folks: Butterflies are the new pirates!}

jefferson's frog suit 5 color silkscreen with spray paint, 8" x 10"
2007, edition of 30

dropping in to say hello *
4 color silkscreen, 7.5" x 14"
edition of 30

flamingo home
5 color silkscreen, 12" x 16"
2006, edition of 28
Now her work is on my wall.

I sense some sort of akin-ness to Madison, WI artist icebear (her blog):

our beloved sausage

Top Village

Game of Jacks

And, last but not least, one of my particular favorites, Lille, France-based Australian artist Emma Kidd, known as benconservato on etsy. Her work adorns my walls.

Zombie with a Thylacine

Sibiline {part of her book Erm Malley}

Black Fox

You must check out her work in other media as well.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Closet Conspiracy

Conspiracy of ravens, that is!

Birkiland sells elegant Raven clothes hangers by Ingibjorg Hanna Bjarnadottir. These are laser-cut plywood, come in with steel chains from which they can be suspended from the ceiling (good for the currently-popular clothing-as-wall-art application) or with traditional hook or two clips for hanging a skirt in the closet. They also, mysteriously, come in white. The clever concept would of course work equally well with a convocation of eagles, a parliament of owls, a murder of crows or a charm of magpies, though the bold, graphic effect perhaps works best with a monochromatic birds. Also, I suspect that a a pitying of doves would be more elegant than a flamboyance of flamingos and more practical than a trembling of finches. I have also seen wire hangers bent so that they are shaped like bird silhouettes, but sadly, I do not recall where I saw this.
[via More Ways to Waste Times]

Terms of venery are readily found with varying degrees of veracity on the internet. The book An Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton is delightful.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Black and White and Red All Over- Magpie McQueen

What is black and white and red all over?

The Fall, 2009 collection by Alexander McQueen.

The graphic, geometric and amazing collection features some gorgeous fabric with Escher-like patterns reminiscent of prints like M.C. Escher's 'Liberation':
liberation -M.C. Escher
or his various 'Metamorphosis' prints, like this 'Metamorphosis II':

Amongst other things, McQueen presented tessellations of houndstooth devolving into magpies in red (rather than the traditional white) and black...

...and some spectacular, if perhaps, somewhat specialized hat (great for bee-keeping in couture or being hands-free in a rainstorm) :


I love how that final gown reminds me of Haida and other Pacific northwest native artwork. Here is an example of an artifact with their traditional graphic designs:

Haida carved and painted,
red cedar, bentwood box.
Photo: Canadian Museum
of Civilization
VII-C-109 [via the Virtual Museum Canada]

Here are a sample of two serigraphs from modern Haida artists who have adapted traditional design to modern printmaking:

Raven releasing the sun - by Baker
"Raven Releasing the Sun" by Todd Jason Baker
{Raven, the trickster, is related to other Corvidea like magpies and whiskeyjacks.}

Grizzly Bear - Bill Reid
"Xhuwaji / Haida Grizzly Bear" by the incomparable, late Bill Reid

I think McQueen is quite the magpie, taking inspiration where he finds it! When I look at this I see tribute or parody of mensware and the haberdashery, M.C. Escher, Haida design, basket-weaving, Mod, S&M, sci-fi, history of fashion, snakes, birds, animal skins, lampshades, harlequins and clowns.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jay with Gems Philosophy

I saw this collage by Hope Kroll on dear ada and I need to share it with you. This image expresses so exactly the philosophy behind this blog:

That's it in a nutshell collage. A jay with a collection of gems. That is what magpie and whiskeyjack is all about; corvidae collecting sparkly things.

Hope Kroll has a tremendous collection of weird and wonderful collage, in the surrealist tradition, on her site. Check it out. These are thumbnails of Wakening, Science and Faith, and Precursor, respectively.

Monday, March 9, 2009

clouds - from both sides now

I have long pondered this problem myself: how to make a better umbrella? It seems to me there are several design flaws with the umbrella. Consider this: they are large, cumbersome, are always being forgotten places, never there when you need them (because they are cumbersome you leave your bumbershoot at home), prone to turning inside-out in the wind, leave puddles everywhere, and can inadvertently be used as a weapon, what with the sharp wiry skeletons held near head-level on crowded rainy streets. Though, some of us are clumsier than others... but I digress.

cloud umbrella

This inflatable cloud umbrella by Holland-based Joons impresses me with its whimsical design. Consider this: it all fits in the tube, so it is easy to carry; it cannot be blown inside out; inside the tube, after use, it could hardly leave a puddle; it is next to impossible to use an inflatable cloud as a weapon; it looks pretty and clouds are hip (you heard it here). If someone on a crowded city street inadvertently bonked you on the head with their inflatable cloud, what could you do but laugh? The main draw-back I see is that it cannot be quickly deployed. I can envision a user cursing in the rain, while using the tube-pump to inflate their cloud. But overall, quite the clever and elegant design!

[via swissmiss]

Friday, March 6, 2009

life on other planets

Today, I discovered the mammoth, quixotic, colourful, and otherworldly portfolio of Kevin Hooyman, thanks to my love for you is a stampede of horses. Really, you must look at it for yourselves. Leave a trail of breadcrumbs so you can find your way home.

Also, here is a sculptor after my own heart: Renee Adams. She works in a variety of media to produce creatures or life-form like objects like the drawings of Ernst Haeckel in 3D. Perhaps these are botanical, or animal, micro-organisms, hybrids, mutations or aliens.

Muffed Ruff

Wood, polymer clay, flocking, mixed media 5" x 6.5" x 6.5" (2008)

Tufted Lollee

Wood, polymer clay, flocking, mixed media 20" x 9" x 9" (2008)

Crowned Polylyp
Glass, polymer clay, wood, flocking, mixed media 9" x 5.5" x 5.5" (2008)


Polymer clay, shoe polish, leather, wood, map pins 8" x 7" x 7" (2008)

Check out the exhibit at Swarm Gallery.


Related Posts with Thumbnails