Friday 21 December 2012

Lord of the Flies

'Lord of the Flies' is a unique design which I have been working on in my spare time for a few weeks. The one off piece, a conceptual wall hanging based around historical art symbolism, began life as a mixed media study, using watercolour, metallic ink, coffee and my beloved biro.

The design went from study to wall hanging with the help of the Mimaki TX2, which I have been operating during my Print Technician Internship. Capturing the fine details with perfect precision, digital print is ideal for work like this which is so fine and detailed. It is also quite fitting that I end my internship, in which I have helped many students on the road to creating their degree show collections, by visualizing some of my own design dreams!

The design features numerous flies, beetles and animals which are historically associated with evil and the Devil, some of which still carry these connotations today. All of these creepy crawlies can be seen radiating around the central figure, Beelzebub. The design has a purposeful feeling of growth, as gnats, stag beetles, rhinoceros beetles and other weird and wonderful insects emanate from the over-sized Musca Domestica, whom is playing the role of Satan in this strange scene of worshiping, devoted insects.

The concept for this piece came to me a while ago, along with a number of other strange play on words design ideas which use nature to tell a tale in a slightly twisted manner. It feels great to have finally visualized this idea and be back developing my strange ideas, fantastical fabric created just in time for Christmas!

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Marseillan Church

The quiet, sleepy village of Marseillan is certainly brimming with that infectious Southern French charm. Beautiful food, stunning views, warm weather and charming little streets that probably didn't look much different a hundred years ago, whats not to adore?

Marseillan's hidden surprise was its large Saint Jean-Baptiste church dominating the centre of the village. The vast, grey buildings exterior is rather unassuming, so when greeted by an extravagantly grand interior, I was surprised to say the least!
The lofty vaulted ceilings, beautiful stained glass and exquisite stonework were simply breath taking.
Saints, alters and many exotic plants filled the church, which on both scale and grandeur felt more like a cathedral than the Church of a small village.

The church's bell which tolls day and night every thirty minutes (and relentlessly twice a day for mass) is not only a reminder of how traditional religion still has a firm place in this part of the world, but also makes one far more conscious of the passage of time than usual, as you are always acutely aware of the time (whether you want to be or not).

Friday 21 September 2012

Taxidermy: The art of death

The macabre art of taxidermy is certainly a bizarre one. The eerie displays are a familiar feature of many museum collections in England.

The practice of taxidermy, in one form or another, is an ancient activity, rooted in religion, and later scientific and naturalist study. Like so many other things, it was the Victorians who embraced taxidermy with true passion, and made taxidermy an art form, and a fashionable one.

Taxidermy became a way of immortalizing the spoils of hunting for sport, and preserving them for posterity. Today, there are moral implications in the killing and 'collecting' of rare animals, however in Victorian society it was the boom in biology, botany and zoology, and a general curious fascination for life which fueled the popularity of taxidermy.

Taxidermy collections still posses a strange fascination, and the ability to evoke many different reactions, from disgust and discomfort, to interest, and the appreciation of viewing creatures in such detail.  Having seen a number of taxidermy collections over the years, it is unsurprising that one of the finest Ive ever observed was at the Natural History Museum, London.
A vast array of animals were on display, from Tigers and Gazelle to Rooks, Barn owls and Chickens. The most curious were two hares arranged as if engaged their famed bizarre mating behavior, boxing, displayed suspended in a large glass case (below).

Everything about the Natural History Museum feels wonderfully Victorian, from the glorious Victorian brick of the Waterhouse building, to the collections themselves and the large focus upon the role of Charles Darwin in advancing natural science. It is an encouraging thought that even in the modern world, people have managed to retain that great curiosity in nature and endless thirst for knowledge which the Victorians gave us.

Thursday 20 September 2012


The most spectacular collection of insect specimens I have ever seen is housed in the
cocoon like building of the Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum.
The collection showcases the history of our understanding of the natural world and the impact which famous naturalists, such as Charles Darwin, have had on our knowledge and understanding of the world.

The specimens on display throughout the cocoon are a visually fantastic feast. The chance to observe, and photograph the insects for my art reference files was an invaluable opportunity. From moths and butterflies to beetles alienesque insects, the vast array of specimens on display were beautifully delicate and wonderfully inspirational.
I have always enjoyed studying insects, however seeing these weird and wonderful creatures up close was an important and incredibly rewarding experience. If you are interested in advancing your knowledge and understanding of the natural world, I urge you to visit the Darwin Centre!

Natural History Museum

Having never visited the Natural History Museum before it was certainly a long overdue experience. My lifelong love of nature, and its influence upon my art is very important, so the opportunity to visit a the museum at last was seized enthusiastically.

The buildings facade was certainly an impressive, breath-taking one. Known as the Waterhouse Building, after its visionary architect Alfred Waterhouse, the Victorian building is a fantastic example Waterhouse's work, and of German Romanesque architecture in England.

The interior of the building is no less impressive than the exterior, with grand arched doorways, high ceilings and most impressive of all, countless unique stone carvings. Waterhouse has skillfully woven the purpose of the building into its very fabric, with the beautiful stone carvings of various flora and fauna. These charming creatures can be found throughout the building hiding in dark corners and lofty places, often overshadowed by the exhibits themselves, my favourites were the bats.
Waterhouse said that he 'hoped that the Gothic revival would be more than a mere revival - that it would turn from a revival into a growth.', which is a noble statement, and demonstrates Waterhouses commitment and dedication to the beauty of Gothic Revival architecture in Victorian England.