29 November 2011

Hobbiton Reborn!

Just over a year ago Kuriositas reported on the state of the set of Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand. The news wasn't good.

After the filming of the Lord of the Rings, the owners of the farm upon which Hobbiton was created asked if some of the hobbit homes could remain to serve as an additional tourist attraction to the area. And they made it so, but soon things were being taken over by the sheep! Yet there is now good news from The Shire - what a difference a year can make!

Thanks to Sir Peter Jackson and his crew returning to Matamata to film the ‘prequel’, the set has been rebuilt – and how!  Sir Peter Jackson’s company and the farm have entered into a joint venture arrangement to allow movie fans to visit the newly reconstructed film set of The Hobbit. Sir Peter was recently pictured with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key (below) on the set which is now open again to the public - but with the set properly retained this time!

If you want to see how the set looked before Sir Peter’s return, please click here. However, below is a selection of pictures from the set which you are now able to visit, should you be (handily enough) in New Zealand any time soon! It seems odd, in a way, being able to visit the set of a movie which is yet to be released…

Keep Calm and...

The Makeover

This is for all of you (of either gender) who have sometimes scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and then looked around your home – to find only more things that need scrubbing!  I dare say that you might have wished for your own fairy godmother to come along and put it all right – or alternatively an axe to place in your untidy partner’s head.

So, here is a short tale of a visit by a real life fairy godmother who allows the heroine of The Makeover to concentrate on the more important things in life – her relationship for starters. That’s if, of course, her partner notices the difference. This charming and funny animated short was created by Elsa Bréhin, Mathieu Hassan and Martin Vermelen.


Julie Andrews once sang about climbing mountains and fording streams but I don’t think she had this in mind.  Just watching this has left me in a state of nervous exhaustion. OK, well perhaps I exaggerate a little but you will really find yourself rooting for Joel Zerr and Kyle O'Meara as they attempt to climb this huge boulder rock... thingy.

They teamed up to overcome the particular problems this boulder rock thingy (which we suspect was left behind by a glacier some thousands of years ago) presents to climbers at Bliss State Park in Lake Tahoe, California. As that particular US state is renowned the world over for having  a higher than usual proportion of positively barking mad inhabitants it is an appropriate venue for something which looks at first to be quite impossible. It seems that this problem is an anomaly of the park and is now considered to be an area test piece.

Zerr exhorts one and all to get out there and try it. Well, twenty years and twenty pounds ago, perhaps. Yet I still suspect that the intrepid duo of climbers were Ioan Gruffudd’s stunt doubles in the recent Fantastic Four movies – I swear I can see their arms and legs stretching at certain points in this film (taken with a Flip Ultra HD in 1280x720 at 60fps before you ask - and the music is by Break Science).

28 November 2011

To The Moon

If Dr Seuss had started a rock band, this would probably be it. The Mighty bUZZniks make clever and edgy music for kids who like to rock. Their songs are full of vigor, fun and intricacy mixing an array of instruments, assorted sounds and great harmonies that present a rich world of music to children. This is their track To The Moon – which is very, very catchy.  You will probably find yourself singing it to yourself all day, as I have!

Their new album, Bug Out was recently released. It is a collection of 14 songs, some favorites from their live set and some brand new never before heard tracks. The album travels through many popular styles of music with references that many mums and dads are sure to know.... and of course the songs are packed with the energy and fun lyrics that make the bUZZniks 'The thinking kids musos' for families that love to rock!

The video was directed and animated by Kate Cawley.

Close Encounters of the Swedish Kind

There doesn’t seem to be any sign of Klaatu, the ET or even a solitary Vulcan looking to make first contact. Yet this wood near the town of Harads in Sweden is home to something strange and out of this world. Have aliens finally landed? Perhaps it’s a reconnaissance party from the planet we humans have just discovered - Gliese 581g?

Nope. On closer inspection, the more down to earth nature of this mysterious saucer shaped object is revealed. Are those wires? Is that a stepladder? Both are needed, in fact, as this is not a visitor from another world but a hotel - or part of one.

The saucer is a new addition to Treehotel, the award winning alternative to four walls and a window. Unlike those who have (at least in fiction) managed to hitch a ride on a space ship, this one will be a little heavy on your wallet – you and a friend can stay there for about $US650 a night.

At least you get a hearty Swedish breakfast thrown in for good measure. If this was the real thing the most you could probably expect would be a probe in every orifice and an uncomfortable implant!

27 November 2011

Das Tub

Lost in the icy depths of the Atlantic Ocean a World War II German U-Boat crew find themselves on a collision course with objects stranger than they can fathom. The truth leaves them bathed in confusion in this submarine drama of domestic proportions.

It’s also perhaps not quite what you were expecting from something which starts off so straight faced.  However, once the truth is revealed, if you think you have seen it all, just wait till the final few moments of this most amusing short.

This is a live action and computer graphic animated short film with 35 visual effects shots from the Advanced 3D Productions course at Media Design School in New Zealand. With fully computer graphic underwater submarine shots and 3D submarine interiors composited behind green screen film actors, this film was made by a team of 5 digital artists in just 8 weeks.


If you have never before been to Venice then watch this five minute film made by filmmaker FKY and you really needn’t bother! Seriously, this footage is some of the most evocative of the city I have ever seen – truly one of Europe’s pearls.  As well as seeing the areas where tourists flock you also get to feel a sense of the real Venice – one which sadly seems to be disappearing as the city’s permanent population declines.

As Arthur Symons, the British poet, once said - A realist, in Venice, would become a romantic by mere faithfulness to what he saw before him.  Having watched this gorgeous footage I can thoroughly agree with his sentiments!

The music, incidentally is On the Nature of Daylight by Max Richter.

Field of Light Blooms in the Night

The Holburne Museum in Bath in the United Kingdom is giving its visitors a new winter experience – and it makes a very cool change from the usual decorative lights we see at this time of year!  

Field of Light, the artwork of acclaimed lighting artist Bruce Munro, was yesterday switched on in the grounds of the Museum.

Field of Light at the Holburne consists of over 5,000 bulbs of light planted in the grounds of the Museum and flowing into the Garden Cafe. Acrylic stems are topped by frosted spheres which are threaded with fibre optic cables and lit by a colour projector. The result is quite magical, as both colour and light flow through the bulbs to create a uniquely captivating experience.

The starting point for Bruce Munro's motivation to produce this artwork was nearly twenty years ago while he was doing his walkabout in Australia. He became fascinated by the way the barren dessert would explode into blossom after rain. Field of Light too lies dormant during the hours of day light, but when darkness falls the bulbs flower with gentle rhythms of light and patterns of color.

Just another reason for visiting Bath, an ancient but still culturally vibrant city in the south west of England. I can only imagine how excited I would have been by this when I was a child by measuring how in awe of it I am as an adult.

Kuriositas would like to thank Flickr photographers Harry_S (his website is Chris Harrison Photography) and Ricksphotos101 (aka Rick Breakspear) for allowing us to show you their photographs of the Field of Light. Please visit their Flickr Photostreams to enjoy more of their marvelous work.

Jessica Lichtenstein - Play at gallery nine5

Jessica Lichtenstein is very much the up and coming artist. Her work has already caused something of a stir and is owned by some of the major pop art collectors. So when her new exhibition of work – Play – opened at gallery nine5 in New York I simply had to take a peek.

Lichtenstein certainly has the ability to challenge.  What we see in this new exhibition looks, on scant inspection, to be Japanese anime dolls – with scant frankly being the operative word! Yet closer inspection (and these figurines certainly demand that) we see that some of our expectations have been usurped. The heightened sexuality of the anime girls is juxtaposed by the often very humdrum nature of the things that they are doing.

This recontextualization is something of a jolt to the system: and that is the challenge presented to us by Lichtenstein (no relation to Roy, incidentally).  View these figures from a western perspective and how much is their sexuality ascribed by us? What attributes do we endow them with on a subconscious level without too much thought?

This is indeed a provocative mix of fetishism and feminism. These vignettes make more than one demand but forefront is that we consider our own notions of sexuality. Lichtenstein takes this a step further by introducing images of these eastern sirens on objects of furniture – revealed only when you are up close.  A cherry tree pattern on a chair can turn in to something quite different.

If the few images (and I have included the less racy ones, believe me!) have wetted your appetite, you should visit the website of gallery nine5 who have produced a very fluid ecatalogue of this exhibition. If you are lucky enough to live or be visiting the city then you can find gallery nine5 at 24 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012. The exhibition is open until December 15.


Now this was the sort of thing for which one of most benighted acronyms of recent years – LOL – was created. It took a second (maybe two) and then it came – the laugh out loud. And not one of those casual dime a dozen lols I send out on my mobile phone (guilty). In fact it was pretty much a ROFL – one again which is overused but as one of (probably my only) New Year resolutions will be to stop using acronyms asap (damn) I have to overuse them between now and then.

Thanks to Flickr user randyotter for giving us kind permission to share this with you. And yes. Definitely. It is available as a t-shirt. In your size. Get over to shirt.woot and snap one up itnf (in the near future!).

26 November 2011

Moving Day

You could say that it would be a dream come true if a little girl, on moving house, discovered that the garden of her new home contained beautiful living fairies. You could say that, but what if aforementioned fairies spit at you and give you the finger? Drastic action must be taken, especially when they try and ruin your day. This is one school girl who has more than a little of the St Trinians in her!

This is quite a hilarious piece which upturns the usual mythos around the pretty little winged thingies – the Cottingley Fairies this bunch most certainly are not! More like a set of Tinkerbells on various illegal substances. This beautifully shot short, Moving Day, was created by Jason Wingrove, an internationally awarded freelance director of drama, documentary and short films as well as comedy and performance commercials.

We dedicate this to any dads out there who have little girls who prefer dressing up as fairies to playing soccer. It may not change anything but you can imagine - and hope...

Isola San Giulio – Italy’s Fairy Tale Island

Isola San Giulio is like something out of a fairy tale. The island situated on Lake Orta in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy is tiny – a mere 275 meters in length by 140 meters wide. A beautiful collection of lay and religious houses cram its tiny confines. It is so picturesque that it makes the jaw drop, almost in disbelief. It has an interesting story too.

Legend has it that St Guilio (or Julius of Novara in English) founded his one hundredth church here in the fourth century AD. It is just west of the charming village of Orta San Giulio (also named after Julius of Novara). The island was the lair of a giant serpent, which used the island as a launch pad to attack local villages. Yet St Guilio arrived and with his ability to command the waves he journeyed over the water on his cloak and banished the creature from the island.

Since then the island has always been connected with religion.  After St Giulio’s death a small chapel was erected on the island in the fifth century (this was after the Christian religion was decriminalized by the powers that be in Rome and persecution had ended). Archeology has revealed a much bigger church there in the sixth century.

A baptistery was also established in the middle of the island at about the same time. Yet in the nineteenth century a seminary was built there, erasing any record of its existence.  For the last three decades it has been a Benedictine monastery. There is an air of peace over the entire island, perhaps because of the presence of this contemplative institution.

Almost all who visit this miniature island are enthralled, but there is more to take pleasure in and admire here than stunning views and the appeal of an ancient Italian village. The church is a treasure house of art works covering a number of centuries. Plus the boat fare to the island is inexpensive.  Little wonder that many Italian couples choose this fairy tale destination to be the scene of their wedding.