By Nina J P Evans

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shakespeare & Company

The legendary English-language bookstore Shakespeare and Company was relaunched in 1951 by George Whitman, he has continued the legacy of Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company bookstore originally established in 1921. The bookstore unlike any other, housed a bed on the third floor, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Pound were frequent visitors; until the store closed due to the war. George an American in Paris who decided to stay on in Paris, rather than return to America at the end of WWII, and was happy to rejuvenate Shakespeare and Company. (And, in turn rejuvenated himself after war service and living to the grand age of 98 years). Set in the Parisian creative quarter, perfectly situated in the heart of Paris on the Left Bank, opposite Cath√©drale Notre Dame de Paris. This bookstore is like no other! It’s a kind of sanctuary, George, like Sylvia Beach before, openly welcomes writers; aspiring writers and artists. George’s kindness and hospitality has attracted writers like William Burroughs and Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell and Allen Ginsberg. For its history and generosity, it is undoubtedly the most famous bookstore in the world.
“When a bookstore opens its doors, the rest of the world enters, too, the day’s weather and the day’s news, the streams of customers, and of course the boxes of books and the many other worlds they contain—books of facts and truths, books newly written and those first read centuries before, books of great relevance and of absolute banality. Standing in the middle of this confluence, I can’t help but feel the possibility of the universe unfolding a little, once upon a time.”  The Yellow Lighted Bookshop (by Lewis Buzbee).
Shakespeare & Co is now managed by Sylvia Whitman, George Whitman's daughter.

Shakespeare & Co bookstore
Lindsey Yankey (signage) illustration
Photojourneyling: polaroids 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Made With Love

Olympia Le-Tan is a true artisan. She enjoys making these beautifully crafted clutches, based from tracings of the original book cover designs. They are about twenty percent bigger than the original cover versions. The artwork is made using silk threads and a colourful mix of felts as a fill colour. The slight enlargement makes crafting the typographic elements a little more easy to produce; she perfects the art of hand embroidery with silk threads. Aided by a trusty assistant to help her keep up with this ever-growing enterprise, as pieces are seen modelled by celebrities in magazines, more orders are placed. The inspirations for her pieces are based on the original iconic book covers, the works have a vintage feel to them, Dazed magazine sums them up as, placing the aesthetic of literature in fashion. There’s also a cookbook range. I think she’s made the right design choices, best suiting the hand crafted medium. It’s perhaps a little ironic comparing today’s things seen on a computer interface to the aesthetics of Olympia Le-Tan’s hand crafted pieces, they just seem so much more appealing! The reinterpretation, colours and texture makes these pieces come to life.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dance Dance Dance

After reading an article in The Guardian, about the recent controversy involving the authenticity of Natalie Portman’s Black Swan’s dance performance from double Sarah Lane. A ballet dancer who didn’t receive any recognition or credit directly from Portman herself, who seemed to be thanking everyone in her Oscar speech without a crediting Sarah Lane, no surprises there. Sarah now claims, “she said Portman's face had been superimposed on to her body for the majority of shots.” The director states counting the shots that it’s eighty percent Natalie Portman. Natalie very admirably stressed how hard it was to dance.

This got me thinking of other films such as James Bonds 007 that very typically uses stunt doubles and computer graphic effects to enhance the films possibilities to marvellous effect (without killing off the lead, which is vital in the case of 007, as he never dies) pushing the medium forward. There is never any discredit to Connery, Moore or Craig the Bond actor playing this role. It’s a pity that there’s a shadow of doubt on Natalie’s performance has been cast. And, this is why I enjoyed the performance of master cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Lil Buck, so much more.

The filming entitled The Dying Swan is a very simple affair, but the collaboration of talent reaches new heights. Filmed outdoors suits the street dancers domain, also it suits Yo-Yo Ma, who did a filmed recording outdoors for Joe Wright’s film The Soloist. Alas the sound quality is not perfect, due to background audience sounds, trying to holding their baited breathe in awe. What a beautiful live creative performance merging the cellist solo musician with an LA/Memphis street dancer.  Presented by none other than the inspirational Spike Jonze. The occasion: To bring the arts back into schools—simply amazing. At the end of the film Yo-Yo Ma says to Lil Buck, “Natalie Portman would be proud!”

Natalie Portman on the set of Black Swan. Photo: Ray Lewis
Costumes were designed by Mulleavy sisters
M.I.A. Paper Planes Lil Buck Memphis Jookin‬
Yo-Yo Ma plays the prelude from Bach´s Cello Suite No. 1‬

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


“The word is derived from a combination of the Japanese words ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll. Amigurumi are typically animals, but can include artistic renderings or inanimate objects endowed with anthropomorphic features.”

These have become very collectable since 2003 on sites like Esty, they have no practical use and are created for aesthetic reasons. The most interesting Amigurumi creations are about looking closer at natural forms, rather than duplicates of known characters. The individuality in the making of… is key; they’re not super cute per se. It’s more about the playful sense of design characterization, and the most collectable are perfectly executed. The crochet is made up of using odd bits of yarns, sequins and buttons. Each creation is individually hand crafted. They are used like greeting cards to lift the spirits. Online you can download patterns, helping you to start creating your own patterns and designs. I like the way that Chity Soy Yo’s Amigurumi toy designs have traveled, adding to the charm and mystery that is made up in different places and situations with these little things.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Typographic Forms

Andrew Byrom demonstrates how his inspirations and studies of the everyday mainly interior objects are reinterpreted into tactile 3D textural typographic forms. These new typographic forms are clearly pushing the boundaries of conceptual typography, his works showing the physicality of letterforms and openness to the interrelatedness of design disciplines.

Byrom sees type potentials in virtually everything, in his design thinking he’s constantly striving to create things that could potentially form a complete alphabet the only possible restrictions are following the basic x-height or baseline typographic rules for readability, often this makes the projects more challenging and exciting, experimenting with different ways of manipulating materials. He seems to have fewer restrictions with regard to his designs from clients, when they see his stuff they can see the fresh and unique approach of his typefaces and design content around his typefaces. Rather than text elements being placed over photographs and illustrations to fit on the page, although his portfolio demonstrates a very disciplined graphic approach to design, with traditional print stuff from logos to book covers and menus.

The concepts behind his typefaces are familiar functional objects that are ubiquitous to all our home environments. Things such as chairs, the designer’s favourite source of reference (ref. The Genius of Design), he also makes the typefaces from things like handlebars, venetian blinds and a towel holder. Interestingly the type faces though handmade in to 3D forms are photographed for publications and or sometimes filmed, though not yet in 3D that could happen very soon:
I always design a full alphabet set, so my work functions in the same manner as most typefaces. Like any type designer, I want my letters to be arranged by others for their own needs. These communications may well be photographs (flattening the work back onto the page), but they might also be arranged in a built environment, attached to a wall, or flying in the sky!

 His personal website has a shop where you can purchase low relief folded aluminium numbers for doors interior or exterior. I really like the idea that these letterforms are being used within the context in which they were originally inspired:
Working in three dimensions so as to force myself to find new forms. My work does not recreate existing typefaces in three dimensions. Instead, I allow the constraints of materials and the limitations of creating physical structures with these materials‚ to help guide me toward new typographic forms.
Undoubtedly they are unique highly crafted pieces, it’s interesting and exciting at seeing how they can be as adaptively used as they are conceptualised and assembled.

Typefaces: Byrom Tss
Venetian Blind

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Phoebe Unwin: Anything can be a Painting

Aeroplane Meal, 2008 spray paint and oil on linen 97.5 × 107.5 cm
If I could transfer my digital abstract layered Photoshop pieces into an exciting array of fine art paintings, this is how I’d love them to be. There’s something very beautiful and fascinating, bold and confident about these I'm drawn to. Phoebe Unwin uses abstract shapes and colours with layers that are built up. Visual elements overlap endlessly, the Illusion doesn’t enhance the visual perspective; it forms visual connections and contrasts within the piece. The paintings are titled in a very generic fashion: Man with Heavy Limbs, or Day, because of this I think the viewer is able to create and interpret the pieces more personally.

“Unwin once said that she found it, ‘…exciting to think that anything can be a painting’ and indeed it seems that the most insignificant of objects are made subjects in her works.” The smallness of the subject matter is just like how the author Haruki Murakami describes the seemingly insignificant mundane, mixed up with contrasting sublime and profound thoughts.

Also looking at these paintings evokes the feeling of pausing or slowing motion, a bit dream like, maybe Phoebe Unwin uses different media to help maintain this illusion by combining: sprays, oils and acrylic mediums. Creating a beautiful blurring movement, it’s as if time is passing and in those few seconds you are caught in the moment.

Desk oil, 2008 aluminium leaf and spray paint on linen 183 x 153 cm
Man in Jacket, 2009 acrylic and oil on canvas 145.5 × 120 cm
Turn to Pastel, 2008 acrylic on linen 70 x 80 cm
Man with Heavy Limbs, 2009 acrylic, ink, charcoal & on glossy card & printed paper
Soft Person, 2008 gold leaf and acrylic on canvas 220 x 185 cm
Day, 2007 acrylic on canvas 145 x 125 cm
 Bicycle at Night, 2009 oil and spray paint on canvas

further reading Escape into life

Sunday, March 20, 2011

RGB - Carnovsky’s New Wallpaper

This gallery wallpaper instillation is very eye catching to say the least, as not only do the colours overlap and interplay forming a natural history printed animalscape. The wallpaper visually interacts with coloured filters over a light source, different printed animals appear and disappear depending on the control of the RGB light filters.

Reading CR’s comments; this being their most viewed article all year… is that people seeing this stuff are loving it, I was kind of taken in by the novelty initially, but that wore off leaving me feeling visually and mentally disorientated by it. Undoubtedly it’s impressive in a gallery space! Also, this would work brilliantly in places like The Natural History Museum, London. Then again LCD screens are getting cheaper offering the potential of 3D computer graphics, flourishing vector animations and infographic data visualizations. Creating much richer more varied interactive (educational) user experiences. So as a wallpaper product its uses are perhaps are a little limited, maybe that’s why the artist decided to agree to sell this to an exclusive Milan wallpaper company.

From the gallery spaces it is now available commercially as a wallpaper print for your homes, covering even the ceiling as shown in the pics in the Milan wallpaper shop (link below) showcasing the wallpapered rooms. The photographs in the Milan shop online are a bit different from the others taken by Alvise Vivenza, showing the same design looking visually much darker intensifying further my new loathing of it within a home environment.

In the comments below CR’s article I read this: “Fantastic—reminds me of the Ray Bradbury story, The Veldt, in which wall coverings come to life.” So immediately I researched Ray Bradbury’s short story and read it very eagerly, the analogy between the story and the wallpaper is spot on! The premise is: “delving into the issue of how modern technology can destroy the nuclear family.”
The walls were blank and two-dimensional. Now, as George and Lydia Hadley stood in the center of the room, the walls began to purr and recede into crystalline distance, it seemed, and presently an African veldt appeared, in three dimensions, on all sides, in color reproduced to the final pebble and bit of straw. ~ Ray Bradbury’s The Veldt
With the advances of modern technology there is definitely a darker side with usage and control. This story shows how children are strongly affected by their environment and role-play. A boy of ten and his younger sister have the ingenuity to manipulate their parents. The parents have lost to ability to stimulate their interests in anything other than the nursery. See in the visual adaptability by just looking at this wallpaper, but imagine if you could use mind control to manipulate it into different themes. In the story the children’s nursery is a room like this it offers visual simulations of everything that they think up… instantly gratifying, their thoughts and hones-in on their powers of imagination and their emotional well being.

I love how the children’s room is still referred to as ‘the nursery’, even though they’re older, it just forms more of a bond between their parents having connections with that space and simultaneously being so isolated from it. It also seems innocent and traditional. Looking at this wallpaper I get the same feelings exactly, the animals are enlarged textbook illustrations, overlaying colours in bright pinks and blues and yellows are seemingly vibrant and eye-catching. Yet, when the lighting changes by the RGB filters, the atmosphere becomes more oppressive; the animals crowded and more weighted. The bright pinks, blues and yellows of the previous unfiltered pictures disappear. The space appears differently; transformed into monochromatic red or green or blue intensely darken scenes, the animals are shaded in greys and blacks and almost trick the eyes into seeing movements within the piece, (even some of the mouths of the animals are now gaping open) that were previously hidden. Its sheer power visually transforms, entices and influences our perception.

All photographs: Alvise Vivenza