Sunday, 26 July 2009

Wacker Eins

Wacker Eins is a Berlin based illustration team which specialises in fashion illustration, they often sell their illustrations to advertising companies and fashion/lifestyle magazines. For example they were recently commissioned with outdoor advertising for the “spring” campaign for one of Berlins most successful shopping centres, this was particularly interesting to me considering my last project for university, where the brief was focused around outdoor advertising. The sketchy hand rendered style of their illustration gives both a fashionable and relatable touch to designs. The designs are also contemporary and hidden detail is often inserted, such as the flies on the dress of the illustration above. This gives a deeper meaning to the images and makes you question their true meaning, whether there can be true beauty without a little ugliness, even if it is well hidden.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Sage

The Sage in Gateshead celebrates its fifth birthday this year after its grand opening in 2004. A centre for musical entertainment, the stainless steel and curved glass building was designed by Foster and Partners at the controversial cost of 70 million pounds. Many people objected to this as the feared it would only add to the highbrow culture emerging on thee quayside, a culture irrelevant to a large section of the Gateshead population. It was argued that the money would have been better spent reviving communities. My opinion of this however, is that the Sage does revive communities, by running classes in musical education and brining more tourism to the area. It could also be argued that surely in current areas of highbrow culture, those elements of culture must have been brought to that particular area at some point. So why can’t Gateshead now have its turn?

The cost was not the only issue, the very design of the building, was and still is a mater of debate. Despite The Sage Gateshead winning a number of awards, including the Local Authority Building of the Year in the 2005 British Construction Industryawards and the RIBA Award for Inclusive Design, it has also been described as a “shiny condom” by Gavin Stamp. Though modeled on a hand clawing at the river Tyne, and its outstanding acoustics, I can also see the resemblance to the giant slug, which some locals refer to it as. Despite this I feel that the Sage adds an interesting element to the developing quayside. It’s good to be different.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Who?

Like most adaptations of books, I found this film lacking. The plot had been tapered with almost to the point of none existence, and the key themes ( in my opinion) of the book were missed. For instance the 'half blood prince' was hardly adressed, simply thrown in casually at the end of the film.This could be for many reasons, either the ‘darker’ scenes were not acceptable for the films target audience of children; the film is a 12A rating. Or they are waiting for the next films to fully explain the layers of action happening within the grand scheme of the Harry Potter books. However, these possible reasons do not account for the dialogue being unconvincing; I felt that the characters did not possess the same qualities that the written word instils in them. This is of course only my opinion, one of the great problems when visualising a novel; every reader sees something different. It seems an impossible task to delve into millions of peoples imaginations and pull out that single common thread.

However it cannot be denied that the set and costume design was amazing, the most convincing film in terms of visuals so far. The teenagers were dressed like teenagers, and the wizards exactly as described, down the stripped sofa the character Horace Slughorn transforms into. This is particually true in the 'cave scene' generated in its entirity by CGI. These sets captivated the imagination and created a world that extended far beyond the 157 minutes of the film.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Romeo Oh Romeo

On my trip to Italy I also visited what has been named to be Juliet Capulet's balcony in Verona. Whether this is genieunly where Shakespear took his inspiration from, or a lucky happening for someone who could spot a money making oppotunity is unknown. There is however an undoubtable tinge of magic in the air surrounding this spot. And though many may say that the tourism industry spoil such places, it is my argument that it is fact these pilgrams make not brake this place. What was most striking to me was not the balcony of the old house but the alleyway leading up to it. The alley, which was being cleared while I was there was full of love notes piled ontop of eachother, stuck or written on every inch of the walls. I found this out pouring of emotion from strangers who are all brought together by the idealism of love, (we have to at this point ignore the ending of said play), extrodinary and touching. It gave the place a real sense of purpose, of pilgramage, of romance and of love.


On a recent trip to Italy I visited Pompeii, a Roman town which was buried in ash from mount Vesuvius, leaving the contents of the town, including people and dogs perfectly preserved. There is no doubt that these remains are inspirational, though perhaps not in a positive way. The terror perfectly captured on the faces of the preserved people sum up the eerie spectacle. Walking down the streets at a quite moment enables you to step back in time, imaging both the lives and the terror that these people faced, and evokes strong emotions of sadness and an intangible feeling one get not quite put their finger on. Pompeii also offers excellent examples of the earliest design work from the frescos that border the baths, to the mosaics that covers the floors of the houses. A particularly good example of this is the mosaic of the dog found in “the house of the tragic poet” (featured below). Though images may not be of use in my further design work, the emotions that Pompeii elicits could certainly be transferred to design especially if using a neo classical theme.

Monday, 6 July 2009

A Duck for Darwin

'A Duck for Darwin' is the main exhibit currently on display at the Baltic Contemporary Art Museum in Newcastle. The exhibition is by a group of contemporary artists exploring Darwin's evolutionary thinking, and tries to capture the essence of evolution. Though the outcomes these artists created is incredible, what struck me the most is how the vast amounts of research was captured perfectly in a final visual result, and though they may stand alone, what they really are are a visual summary of the research behind them. I found this concept inspirational as, as a designer this is what to strive for. Despite this revelation, which has struck me before, though not quite a strongly, I seemed to have no emotional reaction to this exhibit. Perhaps because of its scientific nature.

I did however have a much stronger reaction to another exhibit, ' Don't let the bastards cheer you up' by Harland Miller, a series referred to as Bad weather paintings. A series of dust covers for book jackets for penguin books had been painted and adapted to relate to the North East, where miller himself grew up. I found that they had a strong impact on me, and commanded the rest of the gallery into a respectful silence. Distinctly capturing, certainly the grey of the North East as it was perceived in the past. However it is difficult to say whether they commanded such emotions as I experience these perceptions on a daily basis.