Considering I studied Kulturwissenschaften / Kunst (Culture/Art) in Berlin in 2008-9 I never actually came across the Berlinische Galerie. Similarly, I was not familiar with Dorothy Iannone (b. 1933). But upon reading an overview of her oeuvre and concerns I felt compelled to go check out the retrospective exhibit on her at BG, dragging S. in tow when we were there in March.
What I discovered was that she was unashamed about her depiction of female sexuality and her style is vividly graphic and colourful – an absolute feast for the eye. This is the kind of thing that’s right up my street.
She actually pasted fragments of stories within a lot of her mosaic-style paintings and even wrote an autobiographical narrative, albeit in 3rd person, about her meeting Dieter Roth, who she went on to leave her husband for (both the men were also artists). These she illustrated with graphic novel-style drawings on individual sheets. One (below) talks about how her art makes her immortal, which warms me.
In her later works she played with video, sound and life-size installation paintings and her style became more graphic, almost comic-book in style. But it’s the colour and pattern clash of her early works that I found so mesmerising. I highly recommend seeing them in the flesh.
I was lucky enough to get an invite to the private view of the Royal Academy of Art’s latest exhibit, Sensing Spaces. I cannot believe that after almost 8 years of living in London I’d actually never been inside the RA, despite walking past numerous times. It was bizarre exploring the gallery for the first time finding that there were structures in place hindering and inviting visitors to interact with the space in a new way when I wasn’t even au fait with the traditional way *slaps wrist*. Either way, this exhibit begs some interesting questions about how we interact with space, and the traditions of design, curation, interaction and architecture.
For starters we went to the top of the wooden structure by Pezo von Ellrichshausen and said hello to the angels on the ceiling.
Moving through the exhibition you really engage all senses (hence the exhibit title, duh) – from Kengo Kuma’s traditional Japanese bamboo scent/light scultpures that were altogether satisfying and soporific (below), to Li Xiaodong’s hide-and-seek labyrinth…
…and Diébédo Francis Kéré’s interactive structure (pic below) that boasts a fun colour sensitivity and invites visitors to contribute to its shape, which feels like a really innocent and childlike way to ask questions about architecture.
As with many great ideas, this one started in a pub. Chatting to Ivor, Kit and Oscar about architecture, we decided, along with Louisa and Joe via Twitter, that we would go on a tour of the Barbican. Having been to the Barbican arts centre many times for exhibits and films, the 90 minute tour gave an exceptional insight into the site’s history that as a visitor you cannot immediately grasp. I cannot recommend it enough – the tour guide was not only knowledgable, but passionate. He explained why the architecture style shouldn’t strictly be labelled brutalist, how the estate fosters a feeling of community – and thus exclusion for outsiders – without so much as a gate and the political tensions and context surrounding the 40 year project. I came away feeling both enriched and hungry to know more.
Here’s a sample of fun facts I learnt today:
The Barbican gets it name from the Latin barbecana, meaning fortified outpost, castle. This reflects its history as a site of great conflict and violence from Roman times onwards.
The site is now Grade II listed due to the coherence of the design which is dominated by semi circles and castle motifs, such as turrets and arrow slits.
While it’s well respected nowadays, the arts centre was in fact an afterthought in the design process. It opened in 1982.
The architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon took planning officials on a tour of Europe to showcase their influences and stopped off at such cities as Berlin and Stockholm, but also, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Venice. Something of the Italian Renaissance piazza culture can be felt in Ben Jonson Place and the front of the arts centre.
Originally the architects wanted to build a moat around the whole estate.
The conservatory is only open on Sundays and bank holidays, while the water fountains are turned off at 7pm every day so as to give residents a bit of peace and quiet.
You too can book an architecture tour of the Barbican here – I do recommend going when the sun is shining. It was a glorious day out.
Tonight is the PV for SHOP magazine’s exhibition at Kemistry of magazine cover illustrations from the past year. Designed in collaboration between Studio8 Design and the commissioned illustrators, these 77 covers each represent a European city and its fashion identity. The prints are available to buy with proceeds going to Kids Company, the London-based charity run by Camila Batmanghelidjh. The charity supports vulnerable inner-city children in London. The exhibition is on until 26th November. Get down there.
Two new websites are providing me with plenty’o chuckles of late.
Choose a random thing or find mundane quotidian things like loo roll, milk and a screwdriver – in Shoreditch. The photography and design is what makes this website. Cult status already confirmed.
Started by Romain and Lolita, friends of girls about town Margot Bowman and Bip Ling, this website/project has the same kind of so-mundane-it’s-hot draw that Normal in Shoreditch has. Just add a dash of collaboration, a shot of self-portraiture and a hint of competitive energy to see who can come up with the most original image..
My faves include the Percy Pig, the bum/rollercoaster and the eyes drawn onto the finger.
(As per usual, click the images to go to the websites.)
I just discovered this video for R.E.M.’s song ‘Uberlin’ by Sam Taylor-Wood on my friend’s superb blog entitled Überlin. It’s so funny seeing my neighbourhood in a music video. In fact, that is the exact road I walk down from Liverpool Street/Shoreditch High Street to get home.
Go check out James and Zoe’s blog to discover what their lives are like in *beautiful* Berlin.
Apologies for my ineptitude with daily blogging – my life seems to be more and more hectic with each week.
I just wanted to post a quickie to say that on Friday (almost a week ago I know, *slaps wrist*) I attended the launch of Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration – ACOFI for those in the know. The book has been put together by lovely Amelia Gregory and the people at Amelia’s Magazine and I attended the launch to cover it for BLOWonline. Check out the post here
If you fancy knowing more, check out Amelia’s review of the night here and Fashion ed Matt Bramford’s review here
While there, I had my illustration drawn by emerging illustrator Zarina Liew. Zarina has illustrated for BLOW and celebrated blogger Kristin Knox aka The Clothes Whisperer so I was absolutely thrilled to have my portrait drawn by her. She included my much-loved Lucy Hutchings necklace and my vintage broach. What a star.
Today I popped down to the Barbican to (finally) see the Future Beauty: 30 years of Japanese Fashion exhibition.
I’ve been meaning to go for a while, as has Tilly who came with me this afternoon, and we’re both pleased we managed to see it before it closes next weekend.
I’m ashamed to say I don’t (or didn’t) actually know that much about the much feted Yohji Yamamoto or the Comme des Garcons designers Rei Kawakubo and Junya Watanabe so this exhibition was a great introduction into their backgrounds and influence in the Western fashion world. Kate Bush, Head of Art Galleries at Barbican says:
“The great Japanese designers – Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto – changed fashion forever in the 1980s. The tight silhouettes of Western couture were jettisoned for new fluid shapes. Out went the magnificent ornament and extravagent techniques of the post-war tradition and in came a stark, monochrome palette and an entirely new decorative language – holes, rips, frays and tears – emerging from the stuff of fabric itself.”
We loved the extravagant perforated, draped and contoured designs. (This bad boy above is actually my ideal vision of my wedding dress. Oh yes.)
Plus, the film on the ground floor by Wim Wenders gave an interesting insight into the workings of Yohji Yamamoto’s studio and catwalk successes.
Other designers on show included Jun Takahashi, Tao Kurihara, Matohu and Mintdesigns.
There’s a week left (until 6th Feb). Get yourself down there pronto.