29 August 2014

ROA – Mysterious Belgian Street Artist

You may not be aware of the distinctive art of ROA but the first thing you will acknowledge is that this mysterious Belgian street artist likes animals. No, let’s put it in a better way – there is an obsession here. Growing up in Ghent, Belgium in the eighties the artist had modest artistic beginnings, with art under bridges and walls.

17 August 2014

The Art of the Japanese Manhole

The Japanese have a wonderful relationship with their manhole covers: they treat them as art.  Here is a selection of the ornate, the artistic and the slightly bizarre.

10 August 2014

Watch an Artist’s Drawings Come to Life Before Your Eyes

Artist Luis Pastor keeps a journal and every day he draws something new which is enough to make most of us non-artistic types quite green.  However, he decided that when his latest one was pretty much complete to share it and, not only that, with the help of a little software to nudge his drawings in to life.  The result, called simply Drawings, is quite charming (as my grandmother might say on a Sunday afternoon with a cucumber sandwich and a cup of tea).

28 June 2014

Street Artist JR Plasters the Paris Panthéon with Portraits

The secular temple of The Pantheon in Paris is home to the remains of thousands of France’s famous sons and daughters including Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo, and Zola.  During the long overdue restoration of the vast shrine it was decided allow a contemporary project to take place in its environs to help mask some of the renovations. The ‘photograffeur’ and street artist JR collected thousands of portraits of everyday French people and has created one of the largest photographic collages the world has ever seen.

7 June 2014

My White Trash Family: The Art of Kim Alsbrooks

When artist Kim Alsbrooks lived in North Carolina she was struck by class dogma that she would come across, something which one might think had disappeared a number of decades ago.  Yet subjective history, myth and sentimentality are a powerful mix. This triggered in her something of a fascinating idea.

19 May 2014

Tafoni – Nature's Rock Art

Tafoni – you may not have heard the term but the chance are, if you have visited an ocean shore, (or less likely a desert!) that you have seen them with your own eyes. Essentially they are caves (mostly in miniature) and their formation can often result in beautiful patterns. Yet why are they formed in the first place?

21 April 2014

Got Drunk, Fell Down: Lampposts Behaving Badly

It is behavior seen throughout the world on a Saturday night – in fact on every night of the week which happens to have an a in it.  There are always a few who have just that little bit too much and end up making a scene, a spectacle and often a mess in to the bargain.  Yet in Halifax, Canada, scenes of a drunken nature are not confined to its human denizens: the lampposts are at it too.

11 January 2014

Ocean Serpent Washes Up on French Shores

Stranger and stranger objects seem to be washing up on beaches and shores around the world. Recently the citizens of the French seaside town of Saint-Brévin-Les Pins have been witness to the arrival of the vast skeleton of a giant sea snake (serpent d'océan in French).

Yet it hasn’t had the world’s cryptozoologists rushing to France.

 It is the new work by Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping and its message is more environmental than pseudo-scientific.

This huge sea serpent fantasy is made from aluminum and is a massive 130 meters in length. Stretching along the beach the serpent (created for the local Estuary Festival) affords the viewer dramatically different perspectives depending on the angle from which it is viewed and whether the tide is in or out.

4 January 2014

Cosmovitral: Mexico’s Amazing Stained Glass Botanical Garden

Stained glass is invariably associated with place of worship.  Yet the lucky residents of the Mexican city of Toluca have a wonderful botanical garden replete with a host of incredibly stained glass windows.  As well as being a superb display of plants and art together, it is a tour de force in what to do with a building once it outlives its original purpose.

5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela: A Tribute in Art

Nelson Mandela: 18 July 1918 - 5 December 2013

When I was a teenager in the early 1980s I think my first encounter with the name Nelson Mandela was probably through a badge.  Although my memory is a little fuzzy about exactly when, it was most likely 1983, the year before the Special AKA band released what is still in most Top 20 Political Songs lists – Free Nelson Mandela.  The song made it in to the top ten in the UK hit parade. The badge, though, with its typically 80s font, was ubiquitous.

Image Credit Flickr User Ben Sutherland
As well as being worn to protest the on-going incarceration of the South African politician by his own government, the badge was also another way for us to show our displeasure with our own: Maggie Thatcher and her cohorts were currently smashing their way through UK industry like a wrecking ball.  The only pictures we got to see of Nelson Mandela were those taken before his trial and imprisonment – and that had been in 1962, over twenty years previously.   The man could already be representative of causes other than his own – a kind of marker of general political and personal duty: this transference from individual to universal symbol is something that few others have achieved.
Image Credit Flickr User Vilseskogen
The potency of this charisma was bound to find outlets through artistic expression both of the monumental and the personal kind. After his release and his inevitable rise to political power, Mandela’s face became (and I do not use the word without hesitation) iconographic, even in life.  He became a living, breathing symbol of the struggle for personal liberty, for freedom of speech, for universal education and suffrage – and more: I could probably leave a space here and each of you could fill in the gap with your own reason for admiring this man, surely one of the most pivotal in contemporary world history.

29 October 2013

Bodies in Urban Spaces: Human Sculpture in the City

If you live in a town or city then you are probably quite used to seeing young people lounging about in hoodies and tracksuits.  Yet over the last few years the inhabitants of Paris, Vienna, Seoul, Montreal, New York and Bangor (North Wales) have woken up to something of a surprise.  These Bodies in Urban Spaces have taken hanging around to a new level.

The brainchild of Austrian artist Willi Dorner, the project began in 2007 – and its aim is rather more than an impressive show of contortionist skills by young people in brightly colored clothes.  Bodies in Urban Spaces (I am going to call it BiUS from now on) is intended to provoke thought – and possibly even annoyance.  Its aim is to motivate and prompt its audience to reflect on their urban surroundings and ultimately to question their own behavior and habits, in terms of their movement.

31 August 2013

Celebrating Edvard Munch's 150th: It's Going to be a Scream

History did not record how Edvard Munch felt about being remembered by most people for just a 'single' work.  It could be argued that he brought this on himself, having produced no less than four versions of his most famous painting, The Scream.  Yet, on the 150th anniversary of his birth, The Scream has a ubiquity only equalled by a handful of other works of art.  Munch’s birth country of Norway is currently awash with Munch mania with special retrospectives of his works, plans afoot to build a new museum in his memory and a multitude of flash mob style scream-ins. So what could you do to commemorate Edvard and his most famous creation on his 150th cake day?  Here are a few ideas.

It has to be said that you may have to be in possession of some artistic talent for your homage to be successful (or even recognizable).  The decoration of various foodstuffs seems to be popular when recreating The Scream.

29 August 2013

Portrait of Neil deGrasse Tyson

We have featured the work of Taylor Gonzales on Kuriositas before so it's great to see this new piece. If you are not sure who Neil deGrasse Tyson is, then you are perhaps not on the right website! He is an American astrophysicist and science communicator. You may have seen him on a number of TV shows, including The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. He has also appeared as himself on Stargate: Atlantis and The Big Bang Theory.

Tyson's research has focused on observations in cosmology, stellar evolution, galactic astronomy and stellar formation. He has held numerous positions at institutions including University of Maryland, Princeton University, the American Museum of Natural History, and Hayden Planetarium.

We thought you might like to see Taylor's portrait of him - we think it's wonderful!

19 August 2013

Space Shuttle Concept Art of the 1960s and 1970s

The idea of a spacecraft returning from space to a horizontal landing had been around for decades before the first operational space shuttle flight in 1982. A proposal had been submitted to NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, NASA’s predecessor) in 1954, just eight years after the Second World War. That proposal would ultimately become the X-15 aircraft but classified studies in to the next generation of space transportation systems continued.

An important part of these studies was the production of concept art which could help senior military and political figures (as well as, later, the general public) to visualize the potential shape of things to come. Some of the concept art is remarkably prescient while others are more than a little off the mark. Now historical documents, the drawings for the space shuttle, created before the age of computer aided design, offer a fascinating insight in to how things may have been – as well as how they actually turned out.

29 July 2013

The Sky Art of Galleta Meadows

Did you know that dinosaurs, mammoths and sabre-toothed cats still roam the deserts of San Diego County in California?  Outside of the town of Borrego Springs lies Galleta Meadows.  Scattered around the staggering dessert landscapes, enormous steel sculptures are juxtaposed against the pristine heavens.  The man behind it, Dennis Avery, called it Sky Art.  It is easy to see why.

If you work in an office environment then his name will ring a bell.  He founded the company you use for your labels.  Although he passed away in 2012 he ensured that his vision would live on.  He allotted the land around the remarkable sculptures as a place where people could set up camp and visit free of charge.  It is certainly worth a visit to the desert to encounter his extraordinary legacy, although you do have to be careful of a very much extant animal – the rattlesnake.

13 July 2013

The Story of Physics

schrodinger's cat
If you want a brief history of physics (hopefully in animated form) then you have come to the right place.  This very cool video directed by Åsa Lucander and narrated by Dara O Briain gives you a pithy and humorous take on what has happened so far.

From Galileo through Newton to Einstein and beyond The Story of Physics gives you (almost) everything you ever wanted to know but were way too bored at school to ask… There's even a cameo by that darned cat...

8 July 2013

Mr Darcy Emerges from a Lake: Again

It wasn’t quite how Jane Austen had originally intended. In fact she never wrote the passage at all.  Yet a certain scene from the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice caused so many hearts to flutter that it has gone down as one of the fondest remembered moments of British TV of all time. And now it’s happening again, albeit in London’s Hyde Park and courtesy of a trio of artists.

The scene (above) which raised the blood pressure of (at least half of) a nation saw an amorously frustrated Mr Darcy take a dip in the lake of his country pile, Pemberley.  His ardour somewhat cooled, he stalks to his house in sodden but still smouldering condition. He then bumps in to the object of his thwarted desires, Elizabeth Bennett and Georgian embarrassment ensues.  What was intended to be a rather comedic scene lit a million candles: it is said that Colin Firth became a movie star on the basis of his wet linen shirt and breeches.

7 July 2013

The Beach Captain

Every city has its eccentrics, none more so than London.  One of the city’s great characters is Ron, otherwise known as The Beach Captain.  He descends on London’s South Bank every day and makes sand sculptures on the beach of the River Thames (yes, it has a beach!).  Over the best part of a decade the Beach Captain has become a fixture on the South Bank and people make special visits to see what he is creating on any particular day.  There is a certain canniness to him as he ensures, through a variety of beach side games, that people can make a contribution to the creation of his art but this is never going to make him a millionaire!

The Beach Captain was created by Tom Akerman, a freelance camera operator and editor based in South London.  It is done with great fondness for Ron and his way of life and let’s face it: there should always be room for people like the South Bank’s Beach Captain on this planet!

3 July 2013

Reconnected – Artist Reunites Illegally Felled Trees with their Stumps

Reconnected 1
Just over 400 years ago an infamous witch trial took place in Pendle, England. Last year, a group of artists were asked to commemorate the anniversary of the hanging of the ten innocents accused of practising witchcraft. Artist Philippe Handford, in a moment of pure inspiration as far as I am concerned, used a sad example of modern day vandalism to reconnect with the cruelty of yesteryear victimisation of the supposed supernatural.

30 June 2013

Gromit Unleashed!

If you are a fan of Wallace and Gromit, the lovable but hapless inventor and his canine fixer, then you might want to pack your bags and head to the city of Bristol in the south west of England.  Gromit has taken flight from his northern home of Wigan and arrived in Bristol in the form of eighty amazing five foot tall sculptures.  The whole experience is rather cleverly named Gromit Unleashed.

The sculptures arrived in a number of ways.  Some came by train...

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