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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Natural Graffiti and Painted Birds

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I don’t usually get the train to town, but the other day I was going to the fabric shop and as it’s nearly £2 cheaper to get the train than the bus these days (and I wouldn’t have to walk so far!) I ventured out. When I got into Manchester I had to walk a way I had never been before (it looked a little dodgy, but then again arty parts of any town seem to be dodgy don’t they?) and happened upon this graffiti painting on the side of an old building. I must confess that I don’t get graffiti (I remember at uni, everyone being really excited to do a project on graffiti artists and I could not be less bothered) I don’t usually like it and I don’t really see the point. This one though seemed special. I think it was the fact that I was in the dodgy, run down bit of town, and then out of nowhere is this large piece of nature staring down at me. (It also helps that I love birds!) I hate to use the word juxtaposition, but it was and it’s the first piece of graffiti I have seen that I actually like. (Someone will probably tell me now that this is not graffiti, but a mural!)

It turned out to be a day of painted birds as I went to have a bit of dinner at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre. The Craft Centre is an old factory (some sort of old Victorian building anyway) that has been turned into small, sort of gallery/shop/studios that designers rent and make and sell their work from. After having my dinner of mozzarella, tomato and basil toasty (yum!) I had a look around the shops and ended up buying these badges.

The artist is Lily Greenwood and I thought these little bird badges were just so cute! There were also some really beautiful paintings mixed with collages like the butterfly badge, which I also liked. They reminded me of Japanese lacquer furniture with colourful images on a plain background and a shiny coat of varnish on top. I had never been to the Craft Centre before and I assumed that everything would be out of my price range, but I was surprised at how affordable much of the stuff was. (Some stuff was not!) I also saw some bags and things like I have been making which have made me question the prices I was thinking of selling at. Maybe I can charge more if I target the right audience. If you are interested in one-off pieces (one of the shops held workshops where you could design and make your own wedding rings!) and new design, then the Manchester Craft and Design Centre is definitely worth a visit.

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A Floating Balloon Bridge!

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Recently I went to Tatton Park to see the Tatton Park Biennial 2012, this year called Flights of Fancy. Tatton is a big stately home with a massive estate and famous gardens (it’s a bit owned by the National Trust) and the biennial was held in the gardens. All the works were sculptures or interactive installations featuring video or sound, there was loads to see and luckily I went on a really sunny day!

Empty Nest by Hilary Jack is a human sized bird nest that wrapped around a tree, allowing you to go up and stand inside and view the gardens. The accompanying text from the guide says that it took inspiration from the last Lord of the estate who lived alone for a long time and died without an air ‘…The work considers the superstition that crows leave their colonies when a childless heir to a fortune dies’  I think that is quite sad and I don’t really understand the thing about crows (when a human dies? when a crow with a fortune dies?) I thought the piece was really well made and I liked being able to see the estate from natures perspective. It would have been good if visitors were encouraged to leave a treasure or something in the nest like a real bird would do!

Trine Messenger by Brass Art (a group of three artists) was basically a giant inflatable in the shape of a human face with wings attached. Apparently the face is made from measurements of the artists faces and then the proportions taken from an average of those measurements. Inspiration was taken from the god of sleep and the Surrealists. I think if I was the god of sleep, I would definitely choose this lakeside area to have a nap in (it’s so beautiful and calm) and that’s what gave the surrealist element. To walk into a beautiful natural spot like that, and then see across the water a giant 7 meter inflatable head, well it’s just a bit unexpected isn’t it!

My favourite piece by far was Pont de Singe by Olivier Grossetete. As you can see it is a rope bridge suspended across the lake by three giant white balloons. The text explains it really well ‘… An almond-eye bridge suggests the power of daydreams and their ability to transform reality. There is no way on or off the bridge, which is held aloft by three helium-filled balloons. Instead the work is offered as a meditation for those who wish to contemplate an impossible journey.’ I could have looked at it all day is was so amazing! Although I did think it looked like something you would see in a Studio Ghibli film and I kept imagining a Totoro walking over it!

It was such a good exhibition, something for everyone I would say and it’s on until 30th September, so you’ve still got loads of time to see it!