Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Undead menace, and other PSA

Oh dear, there has been a zombie-shortage around here.
Check out the work of illustrator and designer Travis Pitts (Dr. Monster on flickr) [via Apartment Therapy]

A work-in-progress, because one can never have too much Bowie.

{He shares the PRoSPERoUS FoX' worshipful 23 allusions}.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I discovered the other Nick Cave, artist and fashion professor in Chicago, via The Rag & Bone blog. He creates magnificent and fantastical 'sound suits' - items somewhere between sculpture, costume, textile art, haute couture, musical instrument and fetish. He explains their genesis below. Inspired by traditional African costumes, he notes also that the suits conceal, "the identity, race, and gender, of those who wear his suits. Rendering them faceless and anonymous the suits help these individuals transcend the political realm in order to enter the realm of dreams and fantasy." Really, you need to look at them- they cannot be described adequately in words.

Mixed Media
97 x 26 x 20 inches

Mixed Media
98 x 27 x 14 inches

Soundsuit, 2009
Mixed Media

Vintage hats, found materials
98 x 32 x 28 inches

Soundsuit, 2008
Mixed Media
102 x 36 x 28 inches

Soundsuit, 2009
Mixed Media

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Meds: the art and crafts

Craftster user Knit-R-Done (blog) posted this 'stitched painting' embroidery, the first in her series 'The Promise of Pills'. I love the ironic pairing of the pill with the cutesy fabric, and the subtlety of the use of colour.

Craft: magazine has Becky Stern's Vicodin ring and earrings.

Writer, etsy artist (& LJ friend), Montrealer reqbat has a whole series based on pills (though more recently, it's all about crows and magpie & whiskeyjack of course approve). Check out some of the things from her shop:

Look at this witty rug by Dan Golden:

Apparently, he's coming out with a whole line of pillows called "The Meds" with abstract imagery based on popular prescription pills. [via More Ways to Waste Time]

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Miscellaneous Magpie

By Julia Potts (young, talented, British illustrator and animator... you can -and should- find more of her work on etsy, or her blog, via Lou lou and Oscar).

Yes, gentle reader, the above illustration made me happy... but it also made me think of you. Are you there? Please do say hello. I don't bite.

Here. I brought you some fluorescent minerals (via Nothing is New).

And a uh, unique hat by the incomparable Stephen Jones (via Fabulon).

Here we have some sugar branches: Dutch artist Marieke van der Bruggen's 'Garden of delight' tree branches made of coloured glucose. Aren't they beautiful? (via MoCo Loco and It's (K)not Wood)


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Contemporary Cabinets of Curiosity

Ah, the Wunderkammer! How I love thee.
I discovered French multi-media genius Maïssa Toulet via Apartment Therapy (of all places!). Look at the wonderous cabinets of curiosity she has created:

Les os sur la peau {Bones on Skin}

Festin de Rongeurs {Rodent Feast}

Tableau De Chasse {Hunting Panel}

Visit her site to see many more.
Also, kudos on the web-design! Her "about" page (à propos de...) is an acebécédaire. How do I love alphabets?

The photos of a recent installation "Le Cabinet de sorcellerie {Cabinet of Sorcery} couples magic, science, ephemera, toys and assorted oddities:

Drawn.ca featured Museum of the Mad, the Macabre, and the Marvelous by C.D. Richardson. Check out some more wunderkammer specials...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Swan song

It is about the swans. And the women. And the legends, myths, fables and illustrations thereof. Let us dive right in and start with Leda and the Swan (as shown in the painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. Leda's tale is a familiar motif from ancient Greek myth; Leda is married to King Tyndareous and Zeus (of course also married, the randy old goat... or should I say swan) needs to cuckold him somewhat discretely, so he takes the form of a swan. Zeus-the-swan either seduces or rapes Leda. She bares each (swan and husband) two children (Helen & Polydeuces and Castor & Clytemnestra, respectively, depending on the version of the myth). This trope of Zeus disguising himself as an animal to seduce earthly women (such as Europa and the bull) comes up rather frequently. Leda and the swan seems to have inspired many artists from da Vinci to Cézanne, in painting and sculpture. The fascinating thing is that somehow, depicting a woman and a swan mating was acceptable for centuries during which depicting female sexuality would be forbidden.
Also the range of interpretations: da Vinci shows a swan who is affectionate - clearly a seducer rather than a rapist. Corregio's swan is clearly engaged in something mutual, as are the other swans and assorted putti. This is not true of all depictions.

Aubrey Bearsley illustration of Juvenal

Swans can be shapeshifters also for the Swan Maidens - these stories amazingly are found across cultures. The generic form involves the theft of a cloak (of swan feathers) belonging to a swan maiden by a mortal man. This prevents her from flying away and they marry and have children. Somehow the children betray the secret of the hidden cloak, and mummy flies away. Similar stories occur for different animals or composite creatures (Scottish selkies or seal-women, Japanese kitsune fox spirits, African buffalo-maidens, Chinese Peacock Maiden). The ballet Swan Lake is of course a telling of the Swan Maiden tale. In Irish legend the lovers Midir and Etain metamorphose and fly away together as swans. Oenghus and the swan-maiden Caer, the daughter of a Danaan god who spent every day of one year as a beautiful woman and every day of the next as a swan on the lake in Connacht. In Teutonic and Scandinavian myth there is Wayland Smith and his brothers who find three bathing valkeries as swan-maidens divested of their robes.

swan dress - Bjork
Björk in her swan maiden dress.

Harry Clarke - The Wild Swan

Senecca legend has Swan sending her daughters to marry the son of Earthquake, Splitface. She is hungry for meat (eventually provided after some Little Red Ridinghood type adventures). The Ojibwe have the lengend of Red Swan retold by Longfellow in the Song of Hiawatha
Can it be the sun descending
O'er the level plain of water?
Or the Red Swan floating, flying,
Wounded by the magic arrow,
Staining all the waves with crimson,
With the crimson of its life-blood,
Filling all the air with splendor,
With the splendor of its plumage?
Yes; it is the sun descending,
Sinking down into the water;
All the sky is stained with purple,
All the water flushed with crimson!
No; it is the Red Swan floating,
Diving down beneath the water;
To the sky its wings are lifted,
With its blood the waves are reddened!

Warwick Gobble: Damayati and the Swan

In Hindu myth, Princess Damayati fell in love with Nala simply from hearing about his virtues and accomplishments from a swan. The Hindu god of creation Brahma uses the swan as a vehicle. The Swan symbolizes the power of discrimination.

swan - Charley Harper
Charley Harper: Swan

The swan appears in our sky as the constellation Cygnus. This may be a tribute to Leda and the Swan, Orpheus turned into his swan after death, or King Cycnus. In Chinese myth the constellation Cygnus is the site of the once-a-year magpie bridge between which connects the lovers Niu Lang and Zhi Nu (versions of which legend occur in most Asian countries, and mirror the stolen cloak form of the swan maiden story, with the added sympathy of the magpies).

Andy Council: Venetian Swan
There is of cours the story of the ugly duckling... the baby swan left to be raised by ducks where it is a misfit, grows to be a beatiful swan.

Scott Radke: Swan
In the history and philosophy of science the colour of swans becomes important. Francis Bacon warned against "the fallacies into which undisciplined thinkers most easily fall". It was postulated all swans are white based on observations of only European white swans prior to 1697. Karl Popper uses this as an argument that induction can not produce certainty. It takes only one counter example - an observation of an Australian black swan, like this lovely print (for which I cannot find an attribution! Please let me know so I can credit the Australian artist):
swan - Australia

swan dream
Chelsea Cardinal: Swan Dream

One swan on my wall, by animalsleep:
girl with swan from animalsleep

The symbolism is rich and surprising. Even the expression swan song and its legendary origins could be debated.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Out of this world

mask wall
Amongst my obsessions are globes - but not just of our home planet, but of extra-terrestrial bodies as well. The photo shows my globe (of the earth, with the transits of many great explorers - sadly limited to the Western sort... but better than nothing), my moon-globe and my celestial sphere. The heavenly-named celestial sphere, is a globe with the constellations 'pinned' to the 2D surface of the sphere - as if there really were geocentric Ptolemaic spheres. I would love to have globes of the other planets and satellites (the natural moon-like sort, not the human-made type) in our solar system. The Map Room has a post about what is currently available: the moon from Replogle, Mars and Venus from Sky and Telescope. The globes for our nearest neighbour planets, as well as the moon, and three of the Jovian satellites (moons of Jupiter - once known as the Medician stars, because Galileo knew how to court a sponsor): Callisto, Ganymede and Europa, are based on satellite photography or topography data, of course. The gores (pieces from which a globe is made, since there is no made to map a 2D rectangle onto a sphere) are available, free from the USGS Astrogeology Research Program (also here, here and here). For Mars, they offer photographic or topological gores, as well as instructions on how to make your own tennis-ball or 6.6 inch size Mars globes! I know what paper engineering project I am tackling next!


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