A visionary’s mind: Stanley Kubrick exhibition at the Design Museum

stanley kubrick exhibition

 

Although I haven’t seen all the art and design exhibitions in London this year, but out of all the ones that I have seen, I would say the Stanley Kubrick exhibition is the cream of the crop (alongside with Christian Dior at the V & A); it is certainly the best exhibition that I have seen at the Design Museum.

The exhibition is dedicated to the fans of Kubrick, so if you have not seen his films, then you are unlikely to appreciate this exhibition. But as one of most iconic and revered directors of the last century, it would be odd to not have seen any of his films, unless you were born after 2000.

 

design museum

 

Initially, I was quite apprehensive about this exhibition, and I didn’t quite see the link between Stanley Kubrick and the Design Museum (I guess I saw him more as an artist). Yet the vast exhibition really blew me away since it enabled visitors to catch a glimpse of Kubrick‘s creative mind. As we all know, he was a perfectionist or so-called ‘obsessive’. Life is never easy being a perfectionist, because you would want to control everything; nothing is adequate enough, and you believe that there is always room for improvement. However, it was Kubrick‘s drive for perfectionism that provided his audiences some of the most mesmorising cinematic experiences of their lives.

I still remember the shock of watching the rape scene in ‘A clockwork orange’, and the anxiety felt when Danny was running away from Jack in the haunted hotel in ‘The shining’ (while feeling irritated by Wendy‘s screams). I didn’t quite understand ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ the first time round because I was too young, but I was awed by his visions of the future when I watched it again (the restored version) a few years ago at the cinema.

 

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

 

I had no idea that this exhibition had been touring around the world since 2004. It first started at Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt, and has taken over 14 years to come to the country where Kubrick lived and worked for 38 years until his sudden death from a heart attack in 1999. It has been a long wait, but it was well worth it.

Curated by the museum’s curators with help from Pentagram’s designers, the huge archive was transported from Kubrick’s Hertfordshire home, where his wife still resides. With over 700 exhibits on display, including photographs, slides, cameras, lens, film posters, props, costumes, illustrations, sketches, personal letters, models, and storyboards etc; you could easily spend hours here and be astonished by the meticulous work that went on behind the scenes of all his films.

 

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition  stanley kubrick exhibition

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

 

This comprehensive exhibition is almost overwhelming (in a good way) because there is a lot to take in… and when you see the attention to detail Kubrick applied to all his work, you would understand why he is considered as one of the greatest directors of all times. Unfortunately, we are now living in a fast-paced world where speed has become the priority, and this attitude has lowered the standards of everything around us. Perhaps Kubrick‘s work ethic can be seen as the antidote to our speed-driven society today.

 

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

Sketches of A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) were sent to Stanley Kubrick, the original director and producer, but he later handed it to Steven Spielberg, and the film was made after his death

 

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition  stanley kubrick exhibition 

Spartacus (1960)

 

stanley kubrick exhibition Barry Lyndon

Barry Lyndon (1975)

 

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

A Clockwork orange (1972)

 

Extensive research was crucial in all Kubrick‘s productions, and one of the most fascinating exhibits is the set of panorama photos of Commercial Road in East London (see below), which was originally considered as the location to recreate Greenwich Village in Manhattan for the set of ‘Eyes wide shut’. Although the majority of film ended up being shot in a studio, it was still amazing to see the scrupulous research done in preparation for the film.

 

stanley kubrick exhibition  stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

Eyes wide shut (1999)

 

stanley kubrick exhibition  stanley kubrick exhibition  stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition  stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

The Shining (1980)

 

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

Sketches for ‘Dr Strangelove’ (1964)

 

After seeing this exhibition, it made me want to watch his earlier and less well-known films, as well as rewatch his famous ones. I think that at different stages of our lives, we would interpret his films differently; but one thing for sure is that I am most likely to appreciate his work even more from now on.

 

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition  stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

stanley kubrick exhibition

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

 

 

“HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards” Exhibition at PMQ

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

 

It would be fair to say Hong Kong’s design industry has come a long way in the last two decades. Once upon a time, Hong Kong design was regarded as ‘copycat’ with little originality and creativity. Before the handover, Hong Kong design was highly influenced by Japanese design; lacking its own identity, it was either too Japanese or too kitsch. Yet things started to change after the handover. Perhaps the struggle to find its own identity has made the designers in Hong Kong reflect and explore deeper – instead of looking outwards, they began to look inwards, and the results are revealed in their design works.

 

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

 

Established in 1972, the Hong Kong Designers Association (HKDA) is the first of its kind in Hong Kong for practising designers and design administrators, HKDA Global Design Awards (GDA) is a biennial design competition organised by HKDA since 1975. The competition included 4 main design categories including Digital, Graphics, Product and Spatial.

The exhibition at PMQ’s Qube showcased the high quality competition entries across the four categories. By embracing its unqiue ‘East meets West’ heritage, Hong Kong design has found a new and confident voice – one that is different from other East Asian countries. Yet this voice is also a global one, which transcends language and culture. The designs no longer scream out ‘Made or designed in Hong Kong’, because we live in a globalised world today, and good designs should be global, not local.

I look forward to seeing more interesting work in the future.

 

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

Product design

 

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

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Packaging

 

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

Typography

 

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Exhibition

 

 

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

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HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

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HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition  HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition  HKDA Global Design Awards 2018 Awards Exhibition

Posters

Eat, drink & shop in Kala Ghoda, Mumbai

Kala Ghoda

Kala Ghoda

 

Since I stayed not for from the Kala Ghoda district in Fort, I spent much of my time exploring this area, where many cool shops and interesting eateries are located.

One of the coolest shops in the area is Kultre Shop with a focus on contemporary Indian graphic design. The shop serves as a platform for leading and upcoming artists, graphic designers and illustrators from India and around the world; enabling their work to be more accessible through the sales of affordable prints, stationery, homeware, t-shirts and books. When you walk into the shop, you are likely to be attracted by the colourful, modern and graphical prints on the walls and items on the shelves. The shop has two branches in Mumbai, and also sells online via their website (they ship worldwide).

Address: 9 Examiner Press, 115 Nagindas Master Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort.

 

kulture shop mumbai  kulture shop mumbai

kulture shop mumbai

kulture shop mumbai  kulture shop mumbai

kulture shop mumbai

kulture shop mumbai  kulture shop mumbai

Kulture Shop in Kala Ghoda

 

Not far from Kulture Shop is Filter, another curated design shop that sells a range of products from stationery to prints, t-shirts, books and homeware etc.

Address: 43, VB Gandhi Marg, behind Rhythm House, Kala Ghoda, Fort.

 

filter mumbai

filter mumbai

Filter

 

For more traditional and handcrafted items, the Artisans’ Art Gallery and Shop is the best place to go to. The shop and gallery was founded in 2011 by Radhi Parekh, a designer and art promoter who comes from a family that has a long-standing association with local textiles.

The shop sells a range of high-quality handmade textile items and jewellery. Although the prices are not cheap, the quality is much better than what you would find at the markets.

At the time of my visit, there was an Urushi Japanese lacquerware exhibition by Japanese artist Yukiko Yagi and Meguri Ichida showing at the gallery, which was a pleasant surprise.

Address: 52-56 V B Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort.

 

Kala Ghoda

artisans gallery mumbai

artisans gallery, mumbai

artisans gallery mumbai  artisans gallery, mumbai

artisans gallery, mumbai

artisans gallery mumbai

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artisans gallery mumbai

Urushi Japanese lacquerware exhibition and Indian textiles at the Artisans’ art galley and shop

 

Nicobar is the younger and more affordable sub-brand of the city’s iconic sustainable apparel and homeware brand Good Earth (see below). Their minimal and organic clothing is comfortable, versatile, contemporary, and particularly suitable for travelling.

The shop is divided into the cloithing section and home section. The home section sells a range of home furnishings, homeware and ceramics that would not look out of place in most modern homes.

Address: #IO Ropewalk Lane, above Kala Ghoda Cafe

 

Nicobar

Nicobar

Nicobar

Nicobar

Nicobar

 

Obataimu is a cool conceptual clothing and design shop that is inspired by Japan and India. Influenced by both cultures, the founder Noorie Sadarangani likes to experiment and treats her retail business like an art project. When you step into the shop, you would notice that wood is the predominate material here, and at the back, there is a glass partition that enable visitors to see the workshop where the tailors/ artisans work (all dressed in white). All the clothing on display is not for sale, instead every piece is made to order to reduce wastage. The clothes here focus on innovative materials, traditional craftsmanship and sustainability, so what more can you ask for?

Address: B. Bharucha Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort.

 

Obataimu

The shop front of Obataimu

 

Before my trip to India, I was unaware of the contemporary apparel scene in India, therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to see some wonderful shops in Mumbai that sell handmade, sustainable, classic and affordable clothing and accessories. One of them is Cord Studio. The focus here is craftsmanship and nostalgia; you can find well-made leather bags and accessories, and clothing that is practical and contemporary.

Address: 21 Ropewalk street, Kala Ghoda, Fort. (Opp. Nicobar and Kala Ghoda cafe)

 

Cord studio

Cord studio

Cord studio

 

Even though I am not a tea person, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to lovely San-cha tea boutique. The two girls/staff were very friendly and knowledgable and made me two different cups of tea to try. The brand was founded by tea master, Sanjay Kapur in 1981, and they sell over 75 varieties of tea from green to white, black, oolong, and blended ones like masala chai. I bought some masala chai for myself and several friends, and I like it very much. Although I have not been converted to a regular tea drinker, it is nice to enjoy something different occasionally .

 

San-cha Tea Boutique

San-cha Tea Boutique

San-cha Tea Boutique

San-cha Tea Boutique

San-cha Tea Boutique

 

Kala Ghoda art Rampart Gallery

Kala Ghoda art Rampart Gallery

Art on the street: Rampart Gallery

 

Yazdani bakery and cafe

Yazdani bakery and cafe is well-known for its brun maska

 

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Ice cream at Bombay Street Treat

 

I don’t usually visit a cafe/restaurant twice on a single trip, but I did return to Kala Ghoda Cafe a few days after my first visit. This relaxing venue is a cafe, bakery, wine bar and gallery. The cosy cafe part is housed inside an early 20th century barn with plenty of skylight coming through from the roof. I had a simple lunch here one afternoon, and I really liked the laidback vibe and atmosphere.

I came back to try the wine bar at the back one night because I didn’t want proper dinner. I ordered a fish tikka and a green salad (although I was told not to eat anything raw in India, I took the risk here, and I was totally fine afterwards), and I reckon the fish tikka here was the best I have EVER tasted! I even tried the local Indian rose, which was surprisingly refreshing and very drinkable. I really recommend a visit to this cafe and wine bar if you are in the neighbourhood.

Address: Bharthania Building, A Block, 10, Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort.

 

Kala Ghoda Cafe  Kala Ghoda Cafe

Kala Ghoda Cafe

Kala Ghoda Cafe

Kala Ghoda Cafe

 

I decided to try the popular vegetarian Burmese restaurant Burma Burma after reading many positive reviews online. I visited Burma two years ago, but I have not had the cuisine since.

The interior of the restaurant is sleek and modern, with a bar that serves very interesting mocktails. I had a set menu that included several classic dishes which were all very tasty, and together with the mocktail, the bill came to less than £10 – I (as a Londoner) would consider that a bargain.

Address: Kothari House, Allana Centre Lane Opposite Mumbai University Fort, Kala Ghoda

 

burma burma

burma burma

Burma Burma

 

Arguably Mumbai’s most famous seafood restaurant, Trishna’s restaurant front looks quite intimidating with a seated guard by the door. I decided to brave it and walk in with one aim: to eat their famous crabs!

To my surprise, the decor inside is simple and unassuming. The waiter was eager to get me to try their famous butter garlic crab and so I did. It did not disappoint – the crab was rich and delicious (and I probably gained 2 lbs after eating it). The meal was the most expensive one I had in Mumbai, but it was worth it as that was the only Indian crab I got to try throughout my month-long trip!

Address: 7, Sai Baba Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort.

 

Trishna mumbai

Butter garlic crab at Trishna

 

Not far from Kala Ghoda, there is a charming and nostalgic restaurant that stands out for its ambience and history, and it is a MUST if you want to experience ‘old Bombay’.

Britannia & Co. is a third generation Irani restaurant and one of the last remaining Parsi cafes in south Mumbai. The popular Dishoom chain in London was modelled after these once magnificent cafes.

Opened in 1923, Britannia’s Zoroastrian/Iranian proprietor, Boman Kohinoor, is now 96 years old, and yet he still visits the cafe regularly. It was lovely to see him greeting his regular customers and being photographed by them. The cafe was originally set up by his father, and he has been working here since he was 16. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the painting of Queen Elizabeth II next to a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi, both hanging beneath a gilt-framed picture of Zarathustra, the Zoroastrian prophet worshipped by the Parsis.

 

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The most iconic dish is the Berry Pulav, a recipe that the owner’s late wife brought back with her from Iran. The barberries used in the pulav that give it its distinct flavour are imported from Iran. I ordered a paneer berry pulav, and when the plate arrived, the paneer was nowhere to be seen. Then as I started to mix the rice, I realised that the paneer and sauce was at the bottom of the plate – it would have been embarassing if I had called the waiter over to ask him about the paneer! I have never tried this dish before, and I found it very tasty and comforting; I guess it is probably regarded as a Parsi comfort food.

It is sad to see that only a few of these Parsi cafes are left in the city, and I sincerely hope that this cafe will still be around when I visit Mumbai again. There may be numerous modern and fancy restaurants in the city, but none can match the personal, historic and nostalgic cafe like this.

Address: Britannia and Co., Wakefield House, 11, Sprott Rd, Ballard Estate, Fort. (this restaurant only opens for lunch except Sats and closes on Suns)

 

BRITANNIA AND CO.

BRITANNIA AND CO.

Britannia and Co.

 

Elsewhere in Cobala, I visited Good Earth, a luxurious apparel and home furnishing shop founded by Anita Lal 24 years ago. The brand bridged the gap between craft and luxury, emphasising on craftsmanship and sustainability. The apparel and craft items here are more old school, traditional and pricey, which differs considerably from its sub-brand Nicobar.

Address: 2 Reay House, Apollo Bandar, Colaba

 

good earth

Good Earth

 

Not far from Good Earth, I stumbled upon Clove The Store, which is a new luxury fashion and homeware brand. Its founder is Samyukta Nair, who resides in both Mumbai and London, also runs a sleepwear brand called Dandelion, and the Jamavar Women’s Club in London. The clothing and home furnishings on sale here are unique, well-made, and contemporary. The female staff was also very friendly and helpful, which made me feel very welcoming.

Address: 2, Churchill Chambers, Allana Road, Colaba.

 

Clove The Store

Clove The Store

 

I returned to Mumbai for one night before leaving India, and I chose to stay in Khar West, which was closer to the airport. It is a relaxing residential neighbourhood, and apparently home to many Bollywood celebrities and business industrialists. Tucked away in the Chuim Village is a small DIY paper craft shop called Sky Goodies. I had to ring the door bell to be let in, but once inside, you would be surrounded by many colourful and delightful paper objects. Founded by two designers Misha and Amit Gudibanda, they drew inspiration from paper and hand-painted art, and started to create DIY paper kits. There are various themes to choose from, and you can make stationery, home decorations, calendars and paper animals etc. I think their designs are unique, fun, and affordable, so I bought a few as souvenir to give to friends, and they were all very impressed (and surprised) when they received the kits. You can also order online via their website or from their shop on Etsy.

Address: Ground Floor, Bungalow no 29, Chuim Village Rd, Khar West

 

sky goodies  sky goodies

sky goodies

sky goodies

Sky goodies shop

 

After visiting Sky goodies, I came across KCRoasters (Koinonia Coffee Roasters), which specialises in artisanal Indian coffee. The cafe is compact but stylish, with a laidback vibe, which kinda makes you forget that you are in Mumbai. I had a cold brew (as it was a very hot day), which was balanced and strong as I like it.

Address: 6, Chuim Village Rd, Khar, Chuim Village

 

KC Roasters

KC Roasters

KC Roasters

 

On the last day of my trip, I got to catch with my busy local actress friend (who never seems to get a day off work). She asked me what I wanted to have for lunch, and I told her that I was craving for salads (after having Indian food daily for 3 weeks)! She suggested the Bombay Salad Co. in Bandra, and it was exactly what my body needed. I broke the raw food rule again, but luckily, I was perfectly fine afterwards. There are many salads, juices and sandwiches to choose from, and everything we had was fresh and tasty. Looking around, I noticed that the cafe was full of health-conscious looking ladies, so I guess this is a popular spot for ladies who lunch.

Address: Shop No, 1, 16th Rd, near Mini Punjab Hotel, Bandra West.

 

Bombay Salad Co.

Bombay Salad Co.

Bombay Salad Co.

 

 

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Manhole cover designs in Japan

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Sakura motifs are often featured in Japanese manhole cover designs

 

If you have visited Japan before, you have probably seen the wonderul manhole covers on the pavements all over Japan – it would be hard to miss them! The popularity of these manhole covers has been growing rapidly both locally and overseas, and often the ‘manholers’ would seek, photograph these covers and share them online to websites like Japanese Society of Manhole Covers (日本マンホール蓋学会), and the Manhole lid museum. Meanwhile, Osaka-based photographer S. Morita has been photographing manhole covers around Japan for several years, and there are close to 2000 designs on the site. However, if seeing the photos doesn’t satisfy you, then you could attend the Japanese Manhole Cover Festival or summit in Tokyo where a variety of manhole cover designs are exhibited, along side with souvenir to bring home.

 

Only in Japan: A factory tour of the Nagashima Imono Casting Factory

 

The history of the manhole covers in Japan is mentioned in the book, Drainspotting: Japanese manhole covers by Remo Camerota. In the 1980s, the modernisation of the sewer system in rural Japan was unwelcomed by the local residents, but a civil servant Yasutake Kameda solved that problem by introducing customised manhole covers in every municipality. By enabling each city/town/village to design their own unqiue covers to showcase their specialities or identites turned out to be a huge success, hence it has become a cultural phenomenon over time. Although each cover is designed specifically for the location, it would generally feature elements such as the town emblem, famous landmark, special event, war battle, official bird, local flowers or local mascots etc. The ones with firefighters indicate that there is fire hydrant underneath it.

Although I am not a manhole cover otaku, I have been photographing these manhole covers whenever I came across them over the years during my trips to Japan, and will continue to do so in the future.

 

Floral theme

manhole cover  manhole cover

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manhole cover  manhole cover tokyo

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Local symbols/ specialties

manhole cover nara  manhole cover nara

Deer and nature in Nara

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Nagoya’s Amenbo (or water strider) is the symbol for Nagoya City Waterworks and Sewerage Office as this insect only lives in clean water

manhole cover

Grapes in Furano, Hokkaido

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Washi paper making in Fukui

 

Local lanndmarks

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Osaka castle

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Shiragawa-go

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Nature

manhole cover

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Firefighters

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Toko firefighters

 

 

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London’s winter art & design exhibitions (17/18)

Alan Kane for tate

The most playful Christmas lights decorations by Alan Kane for Tate Britain

 

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Anya Hindmarch’s love letter to London around Valentine’s day: chubby hearts over different parts of the city

 

During the winter period, the best places to hang out in London are probably inside art museums and galleries. Although it is usually a busy period for me, I would still try to squeeze in some ‘art afternoons’ during the week as a way to escape from the stress.

This winter, there were/are numerous inspirational and exceptional exhibitions being shown in the city, and here are some of the ones I particularly enjoyed:

 

Art

I loved the ‘Other Rooms’ exhibition by Milan-based French artist Nathalie Du Pasquier at the Camden Arts centre. It was bold, playful, enticing, and traversed the boundaries between art, graphic design, and architecture. As the founding member of the Memphis group, her works certainly reminds me of the designs by the group’s founder, Ettore Sottsass.

 

img_6646-min  Nathalie Du Pasquier

Nathalie Du Pasquier

Nathalie Du Pasquier

Nathalie Du Pasquier

 

As you walk through the rooms, you might ponder if this is art or design, but then you would realise that her alluring works are beyond these terms… through her works, I saw humour, curiosity, beauty, and hope for the future.

 

The One Two Three Swing! installation by superflex

The One Two Three Swing! installation by superflex

Danish design collective Superflex‘s The One Two Three Swing! installation at Tate Modern

 

Admittedly, I am not always a big fan of Tate‘s mega exhibitions; however, I thoroughly enjoyed the two Russian exhibitions at Tate Modern this winter. Russian avant-garde artists, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov‘s ‘Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into the Future’ was delightful and imaginative, and the maze-like installation ‘Labyrinth (My Mother’s Album) 1990’ was the highlight for me.

 

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov   Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov’s ‘Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into the Future’ at Tate Modern

 

To mark the centenary of the October Revolution in 1917, almost every major museums/ institutions in London has had a Russian-related exhibition during the last year. After seeing three different exhibitions at the British Library, the Design Museum, and the Royal Academy of arts, I think that the ‘Red Star Over Russia A revolution in visual culture 1905–55′ at Tate Modern actually surpassing them all.

Perhaps the reason was that the exhibition showcased an extraordinary collection of 250,000 items from the turbulent period collected by one single person – the photographer and graphic designer David King (1943–2016) while he working for The Sunday Times Magazine in the 1970s. Behind all the items on display, there are fascinating or tragic stories which provided contexts and backgrounds for the viewers. Through the rare propaganda posters, prints, posters, letters, photographs and everyday objects, we could see David King’s passion and humanity that the other exhibitions failed to convey.

 

Red Star Over Russia: A Revolution in Visual Culture 1905–55

Red Star Over Russia: A Revolution in Visual Culture 1905–55  Red Star Over Russia: A Revolution in Visual Culture 1905–55

red star over russia

Red Star Over Russia: A Revolution in Visual Culture 1905–55  Red Star Over Russia: A Revolution in Visual Culture 1905–55

Red Star Over Russia A revolution in visual culture 1905–55′ at Tate Modern

 

From Russia to China: I often feel quite mixed about contemporary Chinese art, and I think that the hyperbolic auction prices are mostly inflated and artificial. But I was curious about ‘Zhongguo 2185 (China 2185)‘, an exhibition curated by by Victor Wang featuring ten young artists from China at Sadie Cole. The exhibition title was inspired by Liu Cixin’s 1989 ‘critical utopian’ Science Fiction novel, ‘Zhongguo 2185’, which was written during the rapid socio-political reforms of the 1980s, and remains unpublished to this day – circulating only on the internet.

 

Lu Yang, Power of Will – final shooting

Lu Yang, Power of Will – final shooting

Zhongguo 2185   Zhongguo 2185

 

I found the exhibition quite intriguing and thought-provoking. The most discernible was Xu Zhen‘s satirical ‘Supermarket’ installation located next to the gallery, which was filled with emptied grocery items that can be seen in most Chinese supermarkets. All the items (or packaging) were available for purchase, and I decided to buy an emptied water bottle just for fun. Then the cashier told me that I made a good choice, and said that their drinks were selling exceptionally well at this ‘fake’ shop!

 

Xu Zhen, XUZHEN Supermarket

Xu Zhen, XUZHEN Supermarket

‘Zhongguo 2185’ at Sadie Cole

 

The first time I saw American artist Mark Dion‘s work was at Frieze art fair, and I was immediately captivated by his nature-inspired art work. His new retrospective, ‘Theatre of the Natural World’ at the Whitechapel Gallery (until 13th May) provides a fascinating introduction to those who are not familiar with the artist’s work.

 

mark dion

mark dion

mark dion  mark dion

mark dion

mark dion

 

Mark Dion is an explorer, environmentalist, collector and activist, and his love for nature is palpable in his works. The playful exhibition is designed to be like the cabinets of curiosities, where visitors would wander and discover the wonders and oddities of the natural world.

There is an aviary containing 11 pairs of finches and an apple tree in room one, and a recreation of a museum’s backroom on another room upstairs. There is also a big cabinet that contains a vast array of bric-à-brac like bottle caps, fragmented ceramic pieces and shells etc that were excavated from the the river banks lead by Dion and local volunteers for the The Tate Thames Dig project in 1999.

The exhibition is fun and appealing, but not exactly provocative. While some activists/artists like to make strong statements or be persuasive, Mark Dion acts more like an observer and educator, and the exhibition is his invitation for visitors to explore and observe our relationships with nature.

 

mark dion

mark dion

mark dion

mark dion  mark dion

mark dion

Mark Dion’s ‘Theatre of the Natural World’ at Whitechapel gallery (until 13th May)

 

Leonor Antunes: the frisson of the togetherness

Leonor Antunes: the frisson of the togetherness at Whitechapel gallery (until 8th April)

 

The exhibition that I consider a must-see of the season is ‘Ocean Liners: Speed and Style‘ (until 10th June) at the V & A museum. This is a dazzling, comprehensive, and nostalgic exhibition that would transport you to a different era – an era when ocean travel was associated with glamour and luxury.

Honestly, my perception of mega cruise ship holiday was quite negative before seeing the exhibition; perhaps it was more to do with the clientele and how cruise ship holidays are being marketed these days. Although I won’t be rushing to book a cruise ship holiday soon, the exhibition has evoked some kind of curiosity and interest that I have never experienced before.

 

ocean liner  ocean liner

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ocean liner  ocean liner

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I think this is one of the best V & A exhibition i have seen in the recent years, and I was quite blown away by the scale and contents. There are rare posters, ship models, wall panels, furniture, dinnerware, fashion etc… and it even features a deck chair and a wooden panel fragment from a door in the first-class lounge on the Titanic – the most famous and tragic cruise ship of all time.

 

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ocean liner  ocean liner

‘Ocean Liners: Speed and Style’ (until 10th June) at the V & A museum

 

Big names dominated the art scene in London this winter – including three excellent ones that at the Royal Academy of Arts: Jasper Johns: ‘Something resembling truth’ (a pleasant surprise), Dali/Duchamp (never knew they were friends!), and Matisse in the studio (who never disappoints).

I also enjoyed the small but lovely ‘Rodin and Dance: The essence of movement’ at the Courtauld Gallery, and the more conventional but still brilliant Cezanne Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. Perhaps it is only in London and Paris where you see solo exhibitions of all these masters within the same period.

 

Illustrations

However, the two exhibitions that I was most eager to see this winter were ‘Winnie-the-Pooh: exploring a classic‘ at the V & A (until 8th April) and ‘Tove Jansson (1914-2001)’ at Dulwich Picture Gallery. It is great to see that illustrations are being treated more seriously, at last.

I just can’t imagine anyone not being moved by Winnie-the-pooh and its adventures. I have always loved this bear (along with other bears like Rupert and Paddington) since i was young. This exhibition proves that its charisma has not diminished after all these years. V & A has done a remarkable job in creating a fun setting that resembles Ashford Forest for children and adults. Yet it was the original sketches by EH Shepard that I was most interested in – they are wonderful and spellbinding. I can’t wait to read the books again.

 

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winnie the pooh

winnie the pooh

winnie the pooh  winnie the pooh

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‘Winnie-the-Pooh: exploring a classic’ at the V & A museum (until 8th April)

 

Tove Jansson (1914-2001)‘s retrospective at Dulwich Picture Gallery was another pleasant surprise for me. The exhibition was not just about the Moomin characters, it also showed many Tove Jansson’s earlier works as a painter. The 150 works included a selection of self-portraits, paintings and graphic illustrations, which revealed Jansson‘s talents, determination and dark sense of humour. Like Winnie-the-pooh and friends, the Moomin characters are still loved by children (and adults) of this generation. How amazing.

 

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‘Tove Jansson (1914-2001)’ at Dulwich Picture Gallery

 

Calligraphy

After spending three years learning Arabic calligraphy, I would not miss the opportunity to see an exhibition of a contemporary master of this craft. Like my teacher, Hassan Massoudy is also Iraqi, and has been described by French writer Michel Tournier as the “greatest living calligrapher”. Massoudy studied figurative paintings at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France, which I believe has had an influence on his calligraphy style.

 

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His solo exhibition ‘Breath, gesture and light‘ at the October art gallery showcased a selection of beautiful and sublime calligraphy works that looked almost like abstract paintings. Yet as I have learnt, it takes years/decades to perfect those strokes, and unlike painting, you cannot rework a stroke (it would simply ruin it), so every stroke has to be precise. It is a very meditative activity that requires concentration, control, patience and skills. Arabic calligraphy is both an art and a craft, and Massoudy is a master of both.

 

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Design

I tried to visit the Jewish Museum in Camden twice before, but failed to get in because of wrong timing (tip: avoid visiting on a Friday afternoon). Finally, I arranged a visit with a friend to see the ‘Designs on Britain’ exhibition (until 15th April), and we were both impressed by the size of the museum and the curation of the exhibition.

It is a shame that we are living in a day and age when anti-immigrant sentiments seem to be spreading in the Western world. Yet when we look back on the history of the Western world, many developed countries not only relied vastly on immigrants, even their citizens’ ancestors themselves were also immigrants (e.g. the US). This design exhibition reveals how 20th century design in the UK was profoundly shaped by the arrival of pioneering Jewish émigré designers from continental Europe. There are many iconic designs that can be found here, but I think the graphic design part that stood out for me. The vintage posters and logo designs are fantastic – and it made me wonder what would U.K. be like today without the contributions of these and other immigrants? I simply cannot even imagine it.

 

'Designs on Britain'

'Designs on Britain'  'Designs on Britain'

'Designs on Britain'

‘Designs on Britain’ exhibition (until 15th April) at the Jewish musuem

 

It is quite rare to see a major graphic design exhibition in London, so ‘Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?‘ exhibition at the Wellcome collection was overdue and imperative. Curated by graphic designer Lucienne Roberts and design educator Rebecca Wright, founders of publishing house GraphicDesign&, with Shamita Sharmacharja, the exhibition explored the relationship between graphic design and health. There were over 200 objects including posters, signage, packaging, advertisements and printed matters etc.

There were several free workshops that accompanied the exhibition, and I attended two of them: one was on the functions of fonts and another was about creating awareness on dementia. I had great fun at both workshops, and I think the institute is a real gem in this city.

 

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wellcome collection  wellcome collection

wellcome collection  wellcome collection

Graphic design workshops that accompanied ‘Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?’ exhibition at the Wellcome collection

 

Photography & film

I have always been a fan of Wim Wenders’ films, especially his earlier works. His photography exhibition ‘Instand Stories. Wim Wender’s polaroids‘ at the Photographer’s gallery revealed his natural gift as a storyteller. The exhibition showcased a selection of his enormous Polaroid collection taken between the early 1970s and mid 80s. Some of Wender‘s photographs are stunning, and it is hard to imagine that they are taken from a Polaroid camera. And even if some of them are out of focus, they are able to convey certain emotions/moods. I found the exhibition very inspiring, and it made me want to use my mother’s recently repaired SX-70 immediately!

 

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wim wender's polaroid  wim wender's polaroid

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‘Instand Stories. Wim Wender’s polaroids’ at the Photographer’s gallery

 

‘Hiroshi Sugimoto: Snow White’ at Marian Goodman featured a collection of photographic works from Japanese artist Sugimoto’s Theatres series since 1978. The series began as an experiment in which Sugimoto used a long exposure to capture the thousands of moving images on a single frame of film. The aftermath of this process is one of a gleaming, pure white screen.

The haunting images of abandoned theatres and grand music halls around the globe suggest impermanence – one of the core principles of Buddhism. In recent years, there has been a growing cultural fascination with abandoned buildings, perhaps the decay, ephemerality, nostalgia, and faded beauty remind us that like these buildings, our time is also limited, and the only thing that we can do is to live fully in the present.

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Hiroshi Sugimoto: Snow White at Marian Goodman

 

John Akomfrah: Purple at The curve, Barbican addressed some crucial issues of our times: climate change, human communities and the wilderness. Akomfrah chose to show this through hundreds of hours of archival footage, and newly shot film via six-channel video installation. The videos reveal how human’s relationships with nature have changed over the decades, and the damage caused in a short time period. Nonetheless, no matter how much we want to ‘save’ our planet, the most powerful people in the world don’t seems to care, which is quite disheartening.

 

John Akomfrah: Purple

John Akomfrah: Purple

John Akomfrah: Purple at The curve, Barbican

 

Two German photographers turned out to be the talk of town in 2017. One was Wolfgang Tillmans, whose first exhibition at Tate Modern divided many ( which I wasn’t particularly interested in); and the second was Andreas Gursky, whose retrospective was the first show at the Hayward Gallery after it reopened following a 2-year renovation.

This exhibition (until 22nd April) is about scale… almost all of his prints are mammoth in size, and yet the contents are detailed, beguiling, humourous and insightful. Capturing different corners of the world, his photos show us the beautiful, the ugly, the absurd, the hidden and the unwanted. Gursky is not only a brilliant story teller, he also manipulates, distorts and challenges the viewers. What is reality and what is fake? We live in a day and age where the boundary between the two is blurry and we no longer can trust what we see, hear and read anymore. We can’t even trust our own judgements… so what remains is our intuition.

 

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hayward gallery

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Beyond the exhibition, I was surprised to see how little the gallery has changed after the 2-year renovation. I asked one of the gallery’s staff about this, and she struggled to give me a definite answer at first. Later, she said that a new ceiling and skylights have been installed. Two years to change the ceiling and rooftop sounds a bit ridiculous, but there you go. At least, the new exhibition is better than all the ones I have seen before the closure – surely, that’s a good sign.

 

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The most disappointing exhibitions:

 

Rachel Whiteread‘s retrospective at Tate Britain could have been excellent, and yet it was let down by the curation and lack of contexts. Apart from the area outside of the main exhibition room where her sketches, texts and photos were showcased, there was almost no information on the actual pieces inside. How were visitors supposed to relate to the few concrete boxes piled up on top of each other? Apparently, they were removal boxes from her mother’s house – I only learnt about this in the ‘Imagine’ programme before seeing the exhibition. Unlike ordinary sculptures, her conceptual concrete or glass pieces convey little emotion; they may appeal aesthetically, but without context, they seem cold and empty.

Like many other British artists of her times (think Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin), Rachel Whiteread has always been controversial. People seem to either love her or loathe her. I, on the other hand, feel quite neutral towards her, and I do find some of her concepts and works to be quite bold and thought-provoking. However, this exhibition has not done her much favour, and you can’t even blame her for it. Like the Barbara Hepworth exhibition, I feel that Tate Britain’s curators have missed the mark here.

 

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Rachel Whiteread at Tate Britain

 

My friend and I saw  Basquiat: Boom for Real at the Barbican, and we both felt that Jean Michel-Basquiat’s works and talent have been overrated. Could it due to the fact that he died young? It was a popular show, and there were some interesting concepts and works, but that was about it.

 

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I am aware that Gilbert and George were relevant decades ago, but in recent years, their work seem repetitive, tired and dare I say – boring. How many times have we seen their trademark multi-panelled ‘photopieces’ featuring the two of them in different outfits or without any?

At theirTHE BEARD PICTURES AND THEIR FUCKOSOPHY exhibition, they added their Fuckosophy – using the ‘f’ word repeatedly… Is this meant to provoke or make us smile? I don’t get it. To me, they are like a once prestigious brand that made its name decades ago, but has failed to innovate or excite people as time passes. They may still be highly respectable in the art world, but honestly, I think it’s about time that they consider their retirement.

 

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gilbert & george

Gilbert & George’s ‘THE BEARD PICTURES AND THEIR FUCKOSOPHY‘ at the White Cube gallery

 

I felt quite disappointed after seeing ‘Beazley Design of the Year 2017′ exhibition at the Design museum. I was surprised by the shortlists and they made me wonder if the design industry has regressed rather than progressed. Yes, there were some interesting designs, but few were ground-breaking or truly innovative. I have visited the exhibitions over the past few years, and I have never felt as disappointed as this year.

The museum’s new home is also a let down. It feels cold, austere, and it doesn’t make me want to linger. I do miss the former smaller but more inviting museum spot by the Thames.

 

designs of the year 2017

Beazley Design of the Year 2017 at the Design Museum

 

I am sure that I visited Agadir in my early 20s during my first trip to Morocco, yet it didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I remember Marrakesh, Tangiers, Essaouira and Ouarzazate well – and even the disappointing Casablanca – but I cannot recall much about Agadir. Could it be due to the fact that the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1960 and what we saw was a soulless city with little imprint?

The exhibition ‘Yto Barrada: Agadir ‘at The curve, Barbican (until 20th May) shows a complex portrait of a city in transition – how it dealt with the challenges after a seismic disaster. The modernist/Brutalist architecture drawn on the black curved walls looks interesting, but I am not sure if these buildings do look as appealing in reality. There are sketches, photographs, texts, crafts, as well as videos; but I felt that the exhibition is slightly incoherent and lacked cogency. Evidently, a lot of research had been conducted for this exhibition, so it is regrettable that it didn’t leave a strong impact on me… just like the city itself.

 

Yto Barrada: Agadir

Yto Barrada: Agadir

Yto Barrada: Agadir  Yto Barrada: Agadir

Yto Barrada: Agadir at The curve, Barbican (until 20th May)

 

 

Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner

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Even if you are a born-and-bred Londoner, it is likely that there are neighbourhoods that you have yet to visit. I have heard of Pinner before, but to my surprise, I have never actually visited this village before. Located in north of Harrow in zone 5, it is not somewhere Londoners would pass by unless you live around the area. Soon after I got out of the tube station, I felt like I was visiting a village outside of London, and I was captivated by the historic buildings along the high street.

Yet, the purpose of my trip was not to see the architecture, but to visit the Heath Robinson Museum, which opened at the end of 2016.

 

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Located in the picturesque Pinner Memorial Park, this new museum is dedicated the English artist, illustrator, humorist and social commentator, William Heath Robinson (1872–1944), who was a long term resident of Pinner.

Aside from a permanent collection, there are also temporary exhibitions being held regularly and the current one is ‘Heath Robinson’s World of advertising‘ (until 18th Feb).

 

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heath Robinson museum

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If you are unfamiliar with Heath Robinson‘s work, then I urge you to visit this museum and learn more about this talented and unconventional artist.

Although he had always wanted to be a landscape painter, it was his humorous drawings, illustrations and cartoons that brought him fame and recognition. He was also well-known for his illustrated children’s books, and at the museum, you can see his diverse skills and engrossing styles in drawings and illustrations.

 

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One of my favourites is his series of “How to . . .” books which established his as The Gadget King. It began with the humourous How to live in a Flat (1936), followed by being a Perfect Husband, a Motorist, and Making a Garden Grow. Heath Robinson was an imaginative inventor, and you would find all sorts of weird and wonderful gadgets and mechanics in his drawings that are similar to some of the gadgets we use today. He was quite a visionary.

 

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Heath Robinson’s World of advertising‘ exhibition

 

Although the museum is quite small, it is well-designed with interesting architectural details and a good museum shop. The museum is only open from Thursday – Sunday (11am – 4pm), so do plan ahead if you decide to pay a visit.

 

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The historic architecture in Pinner

 

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Our 4th theme: Read

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Charlene’s initial draft of the home page

 

The initial idea of selling art books and zines emerged about 2 years ago, stemming from my passion for printed matters and reading. Having launched three themes focusing solely on products, it seems like a change of direction to sell books, magazines and zines. Yet I think this change is necessary for the company to evolve. Since our launch 5 years ago, I felt that we have become more of a shop than a platform. My wish is that the new theme and changes to the website will enhance the user experience and encourage users to learn more about the artists/illustrators/designers behind the publications or products.

In recent years, independent publishing seems to be making a comeback. We are seeing a new range of indie aesthetic-driven lifestyle/art/design/craft/food magazines like Kinfolk, Cereal, Delayed Gratification, Dirty furniture, Oh comely, Hole & Corner, Intern, Flaneur, Toilet paper... the list goes on. The same trend is happening in Asia, indie magazines like ‘Science of secondary‘ by Atelier Hoko from Singapore, Design Anthology from Hong Kong, White Fungus from Taiwan and IDEA from Japan are all getting distributed outside of Asia. Many of these magazines showcase bold/conceptual photography, playful illustrations, interesting writings on niche topics and crucially, the standard of printing and paper is much higher than the ones we normally see on the shelves of newsagents. If you think Monocle is expensive, well, it isn’t anymore. Yet these pricey indie magazines are gaining followers because of their quality and unconventional subject matter. One of my favourite magazine is Uppercase from Canada and it is retailed at £14 here, which I think is really expensive for a magazine! I also like Print isn’t dead (£10) from UK, the annual FUKT from Germany and the biannual Weapons of Reasons (free/£6) from the UK.

 

Hong Kong zines

Various zines created by Hong Kong and Taiwanese illustrators at Open Quote in Hong Kong

 

Aside from magazines, I also noticed a thriving fanzine/zine market during my travels to Asia in recent years. Artists, illustrators, designers, photographers and independent press studios have turned to self-publishing, and their work can be found in independent book shops, galleries and local zine markets. Earlier this year, I spent some time in Hong Kong, Taipei and Berlin seeking out small independent book/zine shops for research and inspiration. It was an utterly rewarding experience because everyone I contacted was very supportive and encouraging. Since the zine market is not highly profitable, most zine-makers are passion-driven, thus it is a close-knit community. In Hong Kong, I had the opportunity to meet with independent booksellers from Book B and Open Quote, and other local illustrators/artists like Kylie Chan, Gabrielle Tam aka Onion Peterman, Wong Sze Chit, Luna Ng, Kevin Leung from Brainrental. I felt particularly positive after meeting with artists/illustrators, and I wanted to use our platform to promote them as well as other up and coming illustrators/artists/zine-makers in the region.

Back in London, I visited the East London Comic Arts Festival (you can read my blog entry here) and I came across London/Hong Kong-based illustrator Charlene Man. Charlene‘s colourful and playful zines caught my eye, and although I didn’t talk to her, I did get her contact for future reference. Eventually I emailed her and asked her if she was interested in collaborating with us to create an one-off illustration for our new home page. She told me about her upcoming exhibitions in Japan and Hong Kong, but she said she was interested and could work on this before her trip to Asia. We arranged to meet in Shoreditch, had some vegetarian lunch followed by coffee afterwards. We brainstormed and then chatted about work, family and travel. The meeting was casual and spontaneous, and I really enjoyed spending the day with her.

Initially we weren’t sure whether the interactive idea would work or not, and I had to consult the IT guys to see if it was feasible. We thought we would give it a go, and if all things fail, we would make some adjustments to the work. Luckily, everything went smoothly and we were all pleased with the result. Spending the last eight months researching and building a collection was rather bumpy, but I am glad that we finally were able to launch the new theme/collection before Christmas.

I sincerely hope that we can continue to introduce more artists and illustrators from Asia and showcase their wonderful zines and books here in the future.

 

Mr Men & Little Misses’ mini museum

Mr men mini museum

 

It is hard to believe that Mr Men & Little Misses are 45 years old! Created by writer and illustrator Roger Hargreaves for his young son, Adam, the series has become an international cultural phenonmenon since its launch more than four decades ago. Adam took over the reins of the Mr Men empire after his father’s death in 1988, and to this day, he is still creating new characters for the series.

When I was a child, I used to love reading the adventures of the different characters because they were all so distinctive and humourous in their own ways. When I found out about the pop-up mini museum at the Oxo Tower, I was keen to visit in order to evoke some childhood memories. Yet it was only the last day of the exhibition – a bank holiday Monday – that I managed to get my gear together, dragging my friend along with me.

 

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We arrived just after lunch time, and there was a long queue of families with kids and nostaglic adults. We were put off by the queue, and so we left for some food and drinks nearby. Later, we returned again to find that the queue had dissipated by half, and so we decided to wait in line.

It didn’t take too long for us to be let in, and once inside, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Although the gallery space was not huge, and the exhibits were slightly incoherent, I was still delighted to see characters that I have known for most of my life. While reminiscing with my friend about the books I used to own, I noticed that I was surrounded by middle aged adults who were looking more excited than their children!

 

Mr men mini museum  Mr men mini museum

Mr men mini museum

Mr men mini museum

 

I think what makes the series so successful is partly due to the simple, colourful and original graphics or cartoon style; and partyly due to the humane aspect of the characters, since none of them are perfect. They are all flawed, but they have to learn, live and grow with their other imperfect friends.

 

Mr men mini museum

Mr men mini museum

Mr men tube poster

 

The museum also exhibited the new TFL posters, a new collaboration between Mr. Men Little Misses and TfL that launched in June. I particularly love the one featuring Little Miss Stubborn (see above)! Besides the tube posters, there is also a new merchandise range including children’s stationery, wall art and gifts available to buy from the Transport Museum shop.

Long live Mr Men and Little Miss! And I can’t wait for the 50th anniversary activities!

 

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New designers Part II 2016

Northumbria university products

Lewis power Leon lighting  Kaelin Rose Newton's CitySprout

Top: Northumbria university’s crafted interactive products; Bottom left: Leon lighting by Lewis Power; Bottom right: Kaelin Rose Newton’s CitySprout

 

This year’s New Designers show Part II was probably the best that I have been to in recent years. Overall the standard was very high, and I think it was more exciting than the DMY International design festival that I attended in Berlin a month ago. The show continues to affirm the outstanding design talents in the UK, and it is always exhilarating for me to see innovative designs that could change people’s lives for the better.

At Northumbria University, the merge of new technologies and traditional craft making resulted in a series of minimalist designs that are innovative, functional and aesthetically beautiful. One of the them is Kyle Abbott‘s ‘Touching Warmth’ –  a personal heater which becomes active when picked up and stroked. The temperature of the object can mimic the warmth and comfort of body heat.

I also spoke to Tom Leslie, one of the two winners of the ‘John Lewis Loves’ awards from the group. His project ‘In Search of Atmosphere’ and the other winner, Lewis Power‘s ‘Leon’ both explore users’ experiences through their interaction with light and objects.

 

james vanderpant  Bryn Burbidge's SeatLocky

Jaxon Pope's 'modular gas burners

Top left: James Vanderpant‘s touch sensitive modular lighting ‘Helios’ won the Johnson Tiles Associate Prize; Top right: Bryn Burbidge’s ‘SeatLocky’; Bottom: Jaxon Pope/Selce Studio‘s ‘modular gas burners’.

 

At London South Bank University, there were also some intriguing display like CitySprout‘ by Kaelin Rose Newton – an indoor hydroponic planting unit with removable modular sections and a water reservoir in the base. There are moisture sensors in both levels to ensure that the plants are watered autonomously. The design also functions as lighting, which is perfect for all modern city homes.

Another was ‘SeatLocky’ by Bryn Burbidge, winner of the New Designers Innovate – Helping Inventors Associate Prize at the show. Bryn told me that he came up with the design of ‘SeatLocky’ after his bike and bike seat were stolen. The bicycle locking device consists of 6 cnc’d aluminium hinges which lock together for insertion into the seat tube. It is an elegant looking device, and I hope it will be launched in the market soon.

 

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Maddie Lamont's Jarrah

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Top left: George Riding’s The Wire Series table; 2nd row: George riding’s watering cans; 3rd row: Maddie Lamont‘s Jarrah; Bottom: Winter and Kurth’s ‘For What It’s Worth’ 

 

Winter and Kurths ‘For What It’s Worth’ is a collection of work that debates the value we place on high design and craftsmanship and its perception as a status symbol. One of the pieces is an unique Marquetry table with graphite legs influenced by Junichiro Tanizaki’s essay In praise of shadows in which comparisons of light with darkness are used to contrast Western and Asian cultures. I love the subtlety of their designs and their precise craftsmanship, and I would like to see more thoughtful furniture like this in the market.

 

KreisBoard by lucas freitas santos  Joshua Akhtar's Baithive

Conor Shimizu Moore's Artemis

jack hubery   Elspeth MacLeod's Mella

Josh James's 'Melt'

Top left: ‘KreisBoard’ by Lucas Freitas Santos; Top right: Joshua Akhtar’s ‘Baithive’; 2nd row: Conor Shimizu Moore’s ‘Artemis’; 3rd left: Jack Hubery’s ‘Experiments in Recycled Plastic’; 3rd right: Elspeth MacLeod’s ‘Mella’ beehive; Bottom: Josh James’s ‘Melt’

 

Sustainability and recyclability continue to be the key concerns in the design world, and there were some notable projects at the show.

Lucas Freitas Santos‘ KreisBoard is a surfboard covered in 17,000 cigarette butts collected in only 2 days. The toxic litter contains more than 4000 chemicals that pollute our oceans worldwide. I was surprised by the statistics, and I think the project delivers a strong and important message to the world.

Jack Hubery‘s ‘Experiments in Recycled Plastic’ is a collection of colourful bowls made from recycled plastic bottles using rigs and domestic oven.

Similarly, Josh James‘s ‘Melt’ is a kit that enables anyone to turn their waste plastic into beautiful handcrafted objects, at home. It is particularly encouraging to see waste plastic being turned into beautiful and personalised handcrafted objects or stationery. The project also won the ‘NotOnTheHighStreet.com’ Award at the show.

The New Designer of the Year Award’s Runner Up, Elspeth MacLeod is a Industrial Design & Technology graduate from Loughborough University. Her Mella is a self-monitoring beehive, allowing the user to check up on their bees whenever they want. The system checks the temperature and humidity regularly, and it aims to reduce direct contact between the user and their bees, and create a healthier environment for colonies to thrive in.

Another bee-related project is ‘Bait Hive’ – a sustainable, low-cost design solution for a foldable bee hive. Josh Akhtar from Brighton University is the second winner of this year’s New Designers W’innovate & Wilko Award. His Bait Hive is designed to be used in a wide variety of locations and is dedicated to swarm capture. It utilises a pheromone to aid in attracting a swarm, and once it enters the hive, a rotating door is used to trap the queen whilst allowing the colony to continue to forage, ensuring the swarm stays in its new location.

I also had an interesting chat with Conor Shimizu Moore from University of Sussex about his ‘Artemis’ growing kit – a new vivarium that features both an aquarium tank, and an open-terrarium environment. Artemis’s open-terrarium features a cutting edge “Shikkou-Nuri” paint technology from Japan that allow users to grow variety of plants from kitchen herbs to even Sphagnum Moss.

 

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Sebastian Ng Lei's insect eating  pierce brennan's handle with care

Top: Amy Elisa Lowe’s Hello Hospital; 2nd left: Robert Sampay’s ‘Dawn’; 3rd row: April Wu‘s ‘Mercury’ is a fun DIY musical instrument for children in poor countries; Bottom left: Sebastian Ng Lei’s ‘The experience of insect eating’; Bottom right: Pierce Brennan’s ‘Handle With Care®’

Amy Elisa Lowe‘s fun ‘Hello Hospital’ is an interactive storyboard which helps children and parents learn about the stages of going to hospital prior to admission in order for them to feel more at ease.

I learned about the existing drug dispensing error of the hospitals from Robert Sampay, whose mother is a nurse. His drug dispensing device, Dawn aims to reduce this problem and provide a safer way to load, track and dispense medication to patients. Patient prescription information is provided through an intuitive bluetooth low energy platform, resulting in an easier administration procedure and enhanced patient safety.

The Mars Chocolate Design Thinking Award winner, Sebastian Ng Lei’s ‘The experience of insect eating’ actually sounds more mind-boggling than it actually is. The sustainable project challenges our conventional view of food consumption in the West. The designer explained to me that his machine can product low-cost and nutritious cricket crackers that are more beneficial and eco-friendly than meat-eating. The concept is fascinating, but can consumers overcome their psychological barrier? I wonder what cheese on cricket crackers will taste like…

For people with OCD (myself included), Pierce Brennan’s Handle With Care® – a door handle with hand sanitiser is much appreciated. If this product becomes widely available, we can finally put away the tissues we often use to avoid touching the dirty door handles!

 

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2nd row left: Bethany Christou‘s Slow Samson; 2nd row right: Tilly Gibbs‘ ‘A to Z of New York’; 3rd row: Katie Williams‘ The evacuation of St Kilda’; 4th left: Sarah Adams‘ needle felting work; 4th middle: Emily Dayson; 4th right: I love this Donald Trump illustration!

 

Shannon Bartlett Smith  Rebecca Chan's komorebi side tables

Shannon Bartlett Smith

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Top left and 2nd row: Shannon Bartlett Smith’s Paper cuts; top right: Rebecca Chan’s Komorebi side tables; Bottom: Kate Colin design‘s hand folded lamps

 

Last but not least, I spent the last 15 minutes of my visit at One Year on chatting to Shannon Bartlett Smith and Rebecca Chan. I was quite blown away by Shannon‘s papercut sculpture, and I found her delicate hand-cut pieces inspired by her hometown completely mesmerising! Meanwhile, her neightbour Rebecca Chan‘s Komorebi side tables inspired by the interplay between light and trees are also unique and beautiful.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to fully enjoy the graphic design section, which was a real shame. But what I saw briefly was encouraging, and I hope that all these UK design students will continue to produce brilliant work.

After experiencing disappointment at the design festivals in London and abroad, I finally feel more reassured after my visit to this graduate show! I only hope that Brexit will not be a barrier for these young talents in the future. I wish them all the best!

Live animation workshop with The Paper cinema

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The Paper cinema at work

 

As a fan of paper, puppetry and animation, I was feeling quite ecstatic when I found out about a one-day live animation workshop with The Paper cinema at the Little Angel Theatre in Islington.

Famed for their charming ‘Odyssey’ show premiered in 2012, The Paper Cinema was founded in 2004 by Nicholas Rawling, Imogen Charleston and Christopher Reed. The company combines illustrations, puppetry, theatre, music and animation for their storytelling performances. The illustrations are manipulated in front of the video camera and projected onto the large screen alongside with live music. I had not seen their show before the workshop, but fortunately I did get the chance to see their one-off fund raising performance a few weeks later.

 

paper cinema

Nicholas Rawlings amazing illustrations

 

There were around 30 people at the workshop, which was larger than I expected, and a majority work in the theatre or creative industries. Nicholas and Imogen first performed a short piece of work, followed by an explanation of their techniques and a Q & A session. Afterwards, Nicolas showed us his superb and intricate sketches, and asked us to split into small groups in order to work on our own short animations.

 

paper puppet workshop  paper puppet workshop

Our team’s illustrated handheld puppets

 

For the rest of the afternoon, my team of four (including a children’s book illustrator) developed a story line and created our paper puppets based on the advice given by Nicolas and Imogen. Imogen also demonstrated many techniques and ‘tricks’ that helped us to incorporate into our short animation piece.

The most exciting part of the day was when each team performed their short animations in front of each other. The results were fascinating as we all had different illustrated styles and story lines; but all in all, it was fun, entertaining, and we all had a blast!

Workshops like these remind me of being a child – when we were asked to be as creative as possible, but at the same time, we had to divide work equally among team members. Learning to collaborate with others is crucial as four minds are more likely to create unexpected surprises than just one! I often find working solo extremely isolating, and so there is much joy in taking part in workshops like these from time to time.

 

battersea arts centre  battersea arts centre

battersea arts centre  battersea arts centre

odyssey by paper cinema

Top 2 rows: Battersea arts centre after the fire; Bottom row: The last scene of ‘Odyssey’

 

A few weeks after the workshop, I attended the special fund-raising performance of ‘Odyssey’ at the Battersea arts centre for Good Chance Calais and Medecins sans Frontieres – two organisations that are helping refugees in Calais.

Coincidentally I saw the show ‘Fiction’ with a friend at the Battersea Arts Centre about a year ago (just days before the fire), so it felt good to return to the theatre and see the progress of the renovation works.

As much as I enjoyed the show, I couldn’t help being captivated by Nicolas and other musicians working in front of the screen. I think the workshop has inspired me to want to learn more about puppetry, and I hope that I will get the opportunity to develop some new skills in the future.

 

The Paper Cinema’s Odyssey (Trailer) from The Difference Engine on Vimeo.