Monday, 28 September 2009

Little People in the City

I found this book on my boyfriend's shelf after he'd bought it thinking it was funny. It's definitely got a hint of humour, but it's been constructed in a clever way. This book portrays lots of different tiny sculptures all set in London. The main thing I was most impressed by was the minuscule details. That bee is actual size, so you can see just how small these people really are. The artist who created them must have a steady hand. Definitely worth a read so you can appreciate the time, effort and thought that has gone into this clever book.

Jeremy Clarkson

I began to read this book a while ago and whenever I feel like a cheering up, I just pick it up as it's bound to get me laughing. If there's one thing I love about Jeremy Clarkson, I always seem to agree with him. You can tell this book has been written by him, it's full of the style you see from him on Topgear. Some may find it to be too sarcastic, but I find this sort of humour, especially when it's coming from Jeremy to be hysterically funny, so it's right up my street. I think many would agree with me however and find it just as funny as I do.

Sunday, 27 September 2009


You're probably getting fed up of hearing this, but when I was in New York I saw a lot of massive posters on the sides of buildings etc, saying simply 'WE WERE WARNED' in large red writing. It certainly caught my attention and I think I immediately understood what it was for. Basically there is a film coming out in October 2009 called 2012, which I think is a lot like the Day After Tomorrow but much worse. For some reason, I seem to be attracted to these big disaster films, they fascinate me and I love all the special effects, hopefully this one won't disappoint.

This post is actually about the website however. When first hearing about 2012, I quickly clicked onto the official website to see what it was about. The ordinary features are there, for example you can learn about the film, cast, crew etc, but I was surprised by all the extras. You can download a free app to your iphone, which is basically a test to see if you could survive in a disaster. There's also a competition which involves you watching the trailer and answering a question. A clever tactic as you might have to watch it over and over again. There's also a voting campaign for your 'next world leader,' which involves you watching the candidate's video's, some of which are very funny.

Overall I was impressed with this website, it kept me busy for a long time, all the time thinking about the film, which was no doubt their intentions. It's not particularly visually interesting, but that's not the reason I chose to write about it. Sometimes it's more about the content rather than how it looks.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The Friendliest Building in New York

I apologise for the awkward photo, I took it whilst of a moving bus so it isn't great, but you can get the overall idea of the architecture. This is actually the Hearst (International Magazine) Building, which as you will notice looks quite odd as it combines the modern and the traditional/ new and old. The bottom of this building was built in 1928 by Joseph Urban and then the tower was added on in 2006 by Norman Foster. It's interesting as it's been built using a triangular framing pattern, which is considered to be quite uncommon.

Apart from the fact that it looks different, it's also famous because of the number of environmental considerations built into the plan, for example, the rain is stored in a tank in the basement and the building itself is made from 80% recycled steel. The tour guide also mentioned that they recycle just about everything that they can, which I think is great considering it' size. More companies should take notice of what they're doing in this building.

Friday, 25 September 2009


As promised, here is my post on Vasily Kandinsky. The pictures I've chosen to include are just some of my favourites that I saw in the museum. As we weren't allowed to take photos, these have actually come from the Guggenheim website. I chose Kandinsky as one of my inspirational artists, because I genuinely love his work. I'd heard about him in High School, when doing a project on abstract art, but for some reason forgot about his work until I saw it hanging in the Guggenheim museum in New York. I couldn't understand why, as I really warmed to his paintings all those years ago. Seeing them in front of me, really was inspiring though, I liked being able to go really close and see the tiny details to his work.

His exhibition was actually situated in the spiralling part of the Guggenheim, which really framed his work well. His earlier work was at the bottom, and as you worked your way up the building you could see how his style changed and developed. The three pictures displayed above shows this development well, going from what I like to describe as frantic, to something more detailed yet just as abstract. It really does look like another artists work. As I found out from listening to the audio commentary, Kandinsky was born in Russia and went on to study law and economics, he didn't actually start painting till he was 30. His spiritualistic and expressionistic view was quite unpopular to begin with, so he travelled to Germany, where he began teaching at the Bauhaus. You can definitely see this influence in his later paintings. He then travelled to France, where he lived the rest of his life. Another interesting thing I learned was that Kandinsky was greatly influenced by classical music, on the way round the museum you could listen to the various pieces he listened to as he painted.

I can't say I fully understand all of his paintings, I think that's the whole point with abstraction, you perceive how you would like to. The main thing I really enjoyed about his work, was the colour. The way he could combine colours and knew exactly how to use them was fascinating.


Last time I came to New York I didn't get to visit this internationally renowned museum, as we came on the only day it was closed. So as you can imagine, I've been dying to go again and explore this significant art museum and architectural icon.
I will be honest, I was expecting more artists' work for the money I paid to get in, but I did happen to love the main artist on display; Vasily Kandinsky (who I will mention more in another post on this blog). I was also blown away by the architecture of this place, it just stood out from all the rest of the buildings in New York, it really is one of a kind in this City. But what more could you expect from Frank Lloyd Wright, who is famous for his unique designs. He once said that he thought that art museums lacked atmosphere, so here he wanted to create more than just a space to hang paintings. He definitely achieved this, I was impressed with many aspects of the museum, but especially the spiriling gallery. It's just so simple yet captivating, you could tell from everyone's awed expressions that this was impressive.

Another great thing about this gallery, was that you were given audio commentary, so you could select certain paintings and hear all about them. People tend walk and look at the paintings at different paces, so being able to choose what you listened to was really interesting and useful. Overall I would say that I did enjoy the Guggenheim, the fact that it's visually stimulating itself really does help to reflect the art work inside. Shame about the admission price, but truly inspiring.


For who doesn't know, this is a Tony Award Winning Broadway and West End musical. It's based on the book 'Wicked: The Life and Turns of the Wicked Witch of The West' by Gregory Maguire. It's like a parallel novel to the Wizard of Oz. It's focused around a woman named Elphaba (otherwise known as the wicked witch of the west) and how she came to be so Wicked. Apart from the amazing set design, costumes, and of course vocal performances, I was really impressed by the storyline. It focuses on Elphaba's life before the Wizard of Oz, her younger life experiences and her interesting power. The thing that I liked the most however was the way it linked to the Wizard of Oz, you noticed familiar characters (e.g scarecrow) and find out how they ended up like they did. When it finished I had the biggest urge to go home and watch the Wizard of Oz, just to see if the story did work how it was portrayed in the musical. Overall I really enjoyed the show and would definitely go and see it again!

Which is the Fairest of Them All?

There has long been a debate in New York over which skyscraper should be considered as the most beautiful. On the one hand you have the Chrysler, which is probably the more well known building. But then there's the Woolworth building in lower Manhattan to consider. The Chrysler, built in 1930 by William Van Alen, stands as a masterpiece of Art Deco, with it's famous terraced crown. In contrast, the Woolworth is of the Neo Gothic style, built much earlier in 1913 by Cass Gilbert. It's one of the oldest skyscrapers, but at a modest 57 stories is dwarfed by the Chrysler, which stands as the 3rd tallest building in New York.

It's hard to decide between the two as they're both beautiful in their own ways. But when I got closer to the Woolworth I discovered all the tiny decorative features that just put me in awe, so for that reason, it would just edge ahead of the Chrysler.

Museum of Natural History

I realise that my blog is starting to look a lot like a photo album of New York, but I am genuinely impressed and inspired by everything I post. And of course New York is full of inspiring things, the Museum of Natural History being one of them. The main thing I loved about it was how they'd put so much effort into making everything look authentic, even the tiniest details weren't missed. All the displays looked so realistic, which can be quite scary but ads to the overall feel of the museum. Not only is it a visually exciting museum, but you can learn a lot here too. I can't imagine anyone getting bored here, not even a child.

A View From the Top

I have very recently been to New York for my 21st. Obviously this trip was about celebrating my birthday, but I was also wanted to explore, visit the sights and get a better sense of the culture. I've been before on a University trip, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but it felt quite rushed, so I was hoping to slow down a bit and see as much as possible.

So as you can imagine the next few posts will be all about New York: it's museums and amazing architecture that it's become famous for. Here is one of the most iconic buildings in the World; The Empire State Building. Most people know it for being the tallest building in New York, but there are a couple of interesting and inspiring facts you may not know. For example, this building was built in just over a year back in 1930, which at 102 floors is shocking. However this might have something to do with the fact it was at the centre of a competition for the tallest building, between Walter Chrysler and Jakob Raskob. So if you want a building built well and fast, then form a competition! But in all seriousness, I really was blown away by this building, it's not the prettiest in New York, but it has history and character and obviously amazing views.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


I saw the film when it came out, not really having a clue what it was about. There had been so much hype surrounding it that I thought I should see what all the fuss was about. The film, which came out last year, was suprisingly good. I didn't know what to expect, which in a way, made the film more interesting.

So after seeing the film I became slightly obsessed by it and bought the DVD as soon as it was released. But for some reason never thought to read the book. I literally picked this up two days ago and have read the whole thing already. There hasn't been a book since the Harry Potter series that has caught my attention quite this much. I was shocked how alike the book and the film were. I suppose this had something to do with my dissappointment of the Sixth Harry Potter film. I couldn't understand why they missed so much out and changed details for no reason. But with the twilight adaptation, I can really see how they tried to keep it as close to the book as possible, which is something I respect.

The book I found to be compelling, I knew what would happen (from seeing the film) but became impatient when reading, therefore finishing it in a couple of days. This is most definitely a good thing however. I get easily distracted, so anything which can keep my attention like this must be good. I won't try to explain the plot in Twilight, but a general overview is that it's a love story with a twist. That twist being vampires.

Tokidoki's Simone Legno

I've been meaning to say something about Tokidoki's creator for a while, as I am totally fascinated by his designs. He is actually Italian but has a deep love and affection for Japan and it's culture, therefore couldn't help but create the massive brand that is Tokidoki. He mentions on his website that tokidoki actually means 'sometimes' in Japanese. But why that word, well he explains that "everyone waits for moments that change one's destiny...tokidoki is the hope, the hidden energy everyone has inside that gives us strength to face a new day and dream something positive." I can't not look at his designs, they're so bright and full of detail, which gives me the inspiration to go and make the world a brighter place also.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

District 9

I wasn't really sure when I saw the trailer for this film, it looked weird and confusing, but I thought that some of the best films I've seen are a bit odd, so why not give it a go. I'm glad I did as I do believe it's one of the best films I've seen this year.

When the orignial film based on the Halo video game series fell through, Peter Jackson gave director Neill Blomkamp $30 million to do with as he wished. The end result was District 9. This is a film about aliens yes, but it doesn't have that usual sci-fi feel to it. Alternating between standard third person camera work to documentary style gave this a very real and believable feel. Not once did I find myself thinking, oh this would never happen, because it felt like if aliens did come to earth, it would probably play out like this.

If you saw the trailer for this film, you might have noticed an alien talking about how he/she wasn't allowed to leave. But why? This becomes the general enigma and therefore backbone to this story. The aliens arrived in a spaceship and landed just above Johannesburg in South Africa in 1990. The MNU (Multi-National United) put the aliens into an area away from the main city, called district 9, but when things become tense between the people of Johannesburg and the aliens 20 years later, the MNU set up a scheme to move the aliens far away from any human civilisation. This is where the main character, Wikus (Sharlto Copley) makes his appearence, as the man in 'control' of moving the aliens. I was really suprised that this was his first acting role as he played the part perfectly. He really got you to empathise with his character and provided the comedy also.

But don't be fooled, this isn't for the lighthearted. It's full of explosions of buildings and people, finding my eyes covered for a lot of it. But nevertheless, through the cracks in my fingers I could tell this was an original, suspense filled film. With so many films out now, it's inspiring that people are still thinking of original and captivating storylines for us all to enjoy.

And if you want to know why the aliens aren't allowed to leave...then go and see the film!

102 minutes that changed...the world

This is actually a documentary that aired on channel 4 about a week ago. It was different to all the others I've seen on 9/11 as it went through the event in real time, i.e. the catastrophy lasted 102 minutes back in 2001 and we saw all 102 minutes of it in this documentary. It wasn't professional footage however, just ordinary people's video's and what they captured that day. This will sound stupid, but it seemed more realistic than the others I'd seen, it's like you were there with them, rather than just watching it.

It sounds awful, but I was glued to the TV screen, I found it captivating. There was one particular piece of footage that shocked me; a young man showing us around the lobby of the North Trade Centre after the South one had collapsed. Knowing what was going to happen but not exactly when made this hard to watch. My friend and I were literally screaming at the TV when we saw firefighters walking towards the North Trade Centre right before it collapsed.

It was an awful thing that happened and this documentary was shocking to watch, but compelling at the same time. It made you realise the amount of devestation it caused at what real people were doing and thinking at that time.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Computer Arts Projects' Cover (Aug Issue)

I love every front cover of Arts Projects that comes through my door, but I was particularly inspired by this one. From this view you would probably think it's been hand rendered somehow, but no, it's been carefully constructed out of paper and then shot with a camera. If there's one thing I can say about the creator of this piece, they definately have patience. If you look at the rest of Yulia Brodskaya's work then you'll realise this isn't just a one off either.

This particular design has actually been made from previous issues of the magazine, as you will notice from the writing on the cubed pieces. I like how she cleverly ties Arts Projects in this way. I also like the way she cut holes into the sides of the letters to create the light reflections inside, it gives the design more depth. There is also the paper gradients she uses, which sets the tone quite nicely.

Friday, 4 September 2009

St. Ives Tate

Having been to Cornwall and staying in St. Ives, I had to visit the Tate. They had an option for free entry after a certain time on a Friday, so being a poor student I decided this would be the best idea. Unfortunately I have to say, I'm glad I didn't have to pay any money as it wouldn't have been worth it. The architecture of this building is brilliant, it stands out but blends seemingly into it's surroundings. However I felt let down by the lack of content inside. I remember coming out of the gallery thinking, is that it. I realise it's not like the Met in New York with never ending space, but I still felt a little let down. They could have utilised the space better in order to fit more in. Also I didn't understand why they had chosen the artists that were in there, perhaps it's me being too subjective, but I didn't see anything I liked.

All in all, it was slightly disappointing, but you can't deny that this is a brilliantly designed building.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

500 Days of Summer...

As soon as I saw the poster for this film, I knew I had to see it. It looked funny and romantic, but quirky also. It was certainly all these things and more.

Tom, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (famous for his role in 3rd rock from the sun) automatically falls for Summer (Zooey Deschanel), but does she feel the same? We see how Tom and Summer's relationship grows and changes throughout the 500 days. This film can be descirbed as a romantic comedy, but one with a twist. It doesn't follow that boring narrative that all others feel they have to abide by in order to be successfull. There's a non-linear structure present that is made less confusing by the numbered days. It flicks from say the 100th day, to the 350th day and then back to the 60th day, which makes for a very interesting narrative that keeps you on your toes.

This might ruin the ending (sorry!) but it doesn't end how you'd expect. However still finishes in a way you can walk out of the cinema smiling, which I like. Films either end the way you don't want them to, to be different, which is disappointing, or end like all the others making them predictable. This had a different and refreshing feel to it.

I was particularly impressed with the interesting techniques the director/editor used, for example, the split screen that occurs towards the end of the film. It depicted what Tom wanted to happen, and what actually happened (i.e. reality) side by side, which I thought was quite clever and really intrigued the eye.

Overall I would recommend this film to anyone who wants to see an offbeat romantic comedy, something a bit different. It isn't for everyone (as I learned from the girl next to me walking out of the cinema) but I really enjoyed it.

Just the other part of Eden?

When visiting The Eden Project, there's one part that you don't usually hear about. This is the Core, otherwise known as Eden's education centre. Just like the biomes, I was really impressed with the architecture of the building. It actually tells you inside all about how it's actually one of the most sustainable buildings in the world having been designed on nature. Obviously the most striking feature is the roof, made from an intricate web of curved timberbeams. It's actually based on the fibonacci sequence (a pattern found in many natural forms). I read inside that the idea here was to mimic the way daisys work together to create a base for insects to land. After last year's course in Design Theory, I found learning about the architechture really interesting.

Which biome was your favourite?

After five years of visiting the South West of England, I finally managed to visit The Eden Project. Of course, what better day to visit than when hurricane Bill was making his last appearance. Unfortunately the rest of Cornwall had the exact same idea. I feel that if it wasn't as busy I would have enjoyed it more. But no matter how many people you have to share a biome with, you can't ignore the amount of time and effort that must have gone into this place.

Both the rainforest and mediterranean biome had their own appeal. The bigger and more grand rainforest biome certainly leaves an impression. But I have to say I think the little details made it interesting, for example, all the drawings on the walls (see above).

In saying that, the architechture of Eden is definetely what you come here to see. I was strangely in awe of the way some of the triangles opened and closed to moderate the temperature within the biome (see above). This really did show me that Eden isn't just a big greenhouse.