Sunday, 5 December 2010

Fine Parking Company

Interesting idea to take a positive stance on social rules and parking tickets with some performance art mixed with anthropology [only comparison I can think of at the moment is a JackAss lite] that would make a good story into a publication and possibly a good movie. Instead of a fine you get a polite note that might cheer you up. Some more details at Fine Parking Company and something worth watching, as most people with ideas like this simply sit around dinner tables and talk about them rather than going ahead with the project. Well done. Have a pat on the back.

Polar Art

Big art in the form of red food dye onto snow on the angjokull glacier in Iceland. Artist Bjargey Olafsdottir hints at glacier loss and the uncertain future polar bears face. Most significantly, an artist dealing with issues of climate change and engaging with this debate - almost as rare as polar bears.


Back before the internet and photoshop most urban design artwork was designed to be legible in just black and white and to be photocopier ready. It almost always included the use of Letraset [requiring a specific set of dry transfering skills] if you could afford them, or possibly just tracing Letraset [in effect creating your own hand drawn set of fonts for every project]. There is a nice collection of similar retro art items at the Museum for Forgotten Art Supplies. Not sure who is still using these but they are still available.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Down with this sort of thing

This is a bit of a post modern protest ... spotted in the crowd of anti-government protesters this week in Dublin was Father Ted Crilly taking a strong stance against capitalism. Good to know that even when tax is going up, your job is at threat and your home is devalued with your kids emigrating you can still have a sense of humor. Careful now ... !

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


Public art as a form of contemporary critique on the economic situation currently faced by the Republic of Ireland and the significance of housing market on the entire national economy. This work by artist Fergal McCarthy for the Absolut Fringe Festival 2010. Houses are afloat but only just ...

Friday, 5 November 2010

Human Tetris

Still the freshest and best form of pixilated artwork ...

Pixilated art

Following the low budget approach to pixel art by Invader, polymath and artist Douglas Coupland has gone a step further into large scale commissioned pixel art. I wonder if low resolution artwork is the way forward ...

Theo Jansen Kinetic Sculptor

Wind powered and amazing ...

Friday, 22 October 2010

Ashley Vale Self Build Community

Ashley Vale in Bristol is the first self build community to win a Building for Life award. Brave of the HBF to acknowledge that different development models and business plans can create communities.

Dymaxion Car 4

Been impressed by Sir Norman Foster rebuilding Buckminister Fuller's Dymaxion car. It stills looks futuristic now but look at the impact it has on the streets of Detroit in the 1930's in the video below.

Habitat Walls

From the people who brought you green roofs for the masses comes some creative thinking around habitat wall and recycled walls. So far only used on shelters and small outbuildings but we think the idea has architectural potential - even in supporting landscape. Lots of interesting ideas and links from Dusty Gedge and Living roofs.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Soil power lighting

A piece of well designed technology that is crying out for a public realm application to make people literally think about the power of the earth. The soil lamp seems to have potential to fit well into any form of pixel based art in the public realm. Will go away and think about this ...

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Blueprint walls

Painted walls by Ou Architecture with a little bit of old furniture shouldn't be so cool - my worry is that it only appeals to other architects and designers - but nice and simple and transferable to other locations with the ability to fit to the site.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Robot penguins... do we need to say anything more?

Originally screened on BBC2, now thankfully posted in six parts on YouTube, one of the best things about 'Why Beauty Matters' is reading the comments it provokes - the number of people who wear their 20th century prejudices on their sleeves is quite amazing. Artistic creatives and architects are renowned for their desire to provoke and challenge, what is illuminating is how uncomfortable and threatened many seem to feel with being either provoked or challenged themselves... Why Beauty Matters effectively reminds us of the transcendent qualities and possibilities of art and architecture, when one is free to respond with honest emotion, rather than self-conscious intellectual rectitude.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Portmeirion, Wales

A visit to Portmeirion in Wales is a master class in placemaking - the successful realisation of the attempt by its architect Clough Williams-Ellis to demonstrate that development can take place in a beautiful location without damaging or destroying that beauty. The playful architecture makes it easy to overlook or miss the sophistication of the underlying urban form and layout, which to my mind presages, at least in part, many of the theories advanced by Christopher Alexander regarding the creation of living places. Testament to its success is the fact that it has remained a popular destination for generations, surviving through wartime, the depression, and dramatically changed holidaying and travel habits over the years. Quite simply, this is a place people love.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Blyth Battery

Sensitive and appropriate [and probably cost effective] approach taken by White Light to the creative lighting of Blyth Battery, a world war 1 outpost that remains on the coast of south Northumberland.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Contour Crafting

Not sure if these guys are for real or not at the moment - it would be very impressive if it actually develops into something practical. I remember thinking the same thing when I first heard about three dimensional printers so would love to see a building printed in 3D straight from a CAD or Sketchup file.

Porcelain Pistol

Impressed by the postmodern crafts of Yvonne Lee Schiltz and the take on afternoon tea. Not sure where you could actually use this in any domestic setting but would like to try. Reminds me of the old fashioned cigarette lighters based on the same Walther PPK.

Naked Radio

Have been thinking about the roots of radio and the attractive nature of sound making machines where the form is an expression of the technology needed. This naked radio is a simple look at industrial design as a form of sculpture using basic materials and intuitive controls.

Record Lifestyles

My record cover lifestyle group on Flickr helping to revitalise the long lost art of record covers.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Found Sounds

A nice example of fusion art exploring the overlapping worlds of archeology, anthropology and art, the Found Sounds project is an exhibition that links places and sounds with a mix of photographs and rescued digital tapes - in effect creating an online mix tape of sounds that no one wants.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Game of Life Art

Beginning to think about the potential for fusion art; especially around ideas of science [rationality] and art [irrationality]; and the exploration of the interface between ideas of systems. One early example is John Conways' 'Game of Life' as an agent based simulation with only three rules for single cells or pixels. A strange organic beauty that appears alive and yet similar to any action picture from the 1950s onwards. There are not many accessible examples of how artists have explored this idea or the mathematics of life. Love to know if anyone is thinking similar thoughts?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Woodpile House

This small recording studio designed by Piet Hein Eek is a modern spin on a log cabin. The exterior is consists of many logs that cover a plastic and steel frame. Simple idea that is well executed.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

My Angel

Nice idea to get community buy-in and interaction with public art - also quite cool that a local authority has a bespoke knitting pattern.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Luke Jerram

Been impressed with the Sunderland manufacture of the above pieces of large scale microbiology by conceptual artist Luke Jerram. Sars, Aids and Bird Flu currently on display at the National Glass Centre. One of the most interesting explorations between science and art - it is somewhat irrational to find these beautiful.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Pipe Lights

One of the most attractive and cool examples of integrated M&E services is the electrical plumbing 'pipe lights' of New York based Mesh Architects.

Sunday, 12 September 2010


I found something attractive about the miniature student house produced by model maker and graphic designer Annina Günter. It is the mix of messy nostalgia and the pedantic level of detail that turns this beyond a doll’s house into something closer to social observation and anthropology – as it captures something about a time and place in three dimensions. The report about this by Booth, Hannah [2010] “Miniature digs”. Guardian Weekend 21 August pp52-53; seemingly given space due to the accurate miniature of a Guardian newspaper also demonstrates a detailed understanding of the operation of the press.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Felt Tip Art

New exhibition kicks off this week at Lazarides gallery with a fresh but offensive regional perspective.

Architecture on Holiday

I've seen quite a lot written about the new business venture by Alain de Botton in the last few days. Beyond the questionable architecture above [like everything it seems to already have a mix of interesting and bland] which is unfair to judge simply from appearances, there is an interesting underlying business model to his proposal. The 'not-for-profit' work of the holiday lettings company Living Architecture has commissioned a number of leading European architects to design modern holiday homes to provide the experience of living, albeit for a short period, in an exemplar modernist home - presented as an architectural holiday with a little education on the architecture of happiness.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Northampton Character Assessment

Impressive bit of work on a Character Assessment & Tall Buildings Strategy for Northampton's Central Area by Newcastle based architects and urban designers at _space ... with some flash presentation of the document at

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Craftivism and social mosaics

What would personalisation look like if it was taken to the extreme? What about looking at the home of Carrie Reichard. Decoration with a underlying social message is something that is naturally attractive and especially so whenever the imagery is similar to classic tattoos – just on a property rather than the person. This is what a house should look like whenever it is a true extension of the personality of those living inside and when they are not particularly interested in painting everything cream to maintain the local house prices. What started as mosaic on cars and objects has developed into something more personal, significant and relevant to the current era of austerity. The materials for the mosaics are simply picked up at car boot sales. So if it is all folly then at least it is a cheap folly.

Follow up ideas for other craftivism and creative reuse of materials at and

Friday, 13 August 2010

Lego city

Is it art or is it just a bloke messing about with some of his old toys and a camera? Chistoph Niemann has put together a series of photographs of New York landmarks, icons and other simple to make stuff. Niemann, Christoph [2010] I Lego NY [Abrams Image, New York].

Friday, 23 July 2010

Community Right to Build

News today that things are changing and that planning is either getting more or less democratic dependent upon what side of the house you are currently sitting. While the cynical part of me sees the launch of a community 'right to build' as a response to related land owners in the Tory shires and another step in the government unpicking the urban emphasis of the last thirteen years of planning and regeneration policy, another part of me can see the empowerment potential for those with the capacity to use the new powers. The one thing certain behind this is the unfortunate lessening of planning as a profession. Introduction to the initiative can be found at CLG [July 2010] The Community Right to Build [Communities and Local Government, London].

Retro recycling

We like the style and ethos of the retro caravans combined with reclaimed and recycled materials and furnishing at the Larosa camp near Whitby in North Yorkshire. Retro camping and caravans are the eco holidays of the future that fit well with the credit crunch limitations for overseas travel. Almost convinced this is cooler that an Airstream - 'Carry on Glamping'.

Street Art in the White House

For someone like Ben Eine, who was largely unknown in spite of his efforts to brighten up the streets of Britain - a screenprint of his has just been given as a gift to Barrack Obama by David Cameron [really chosen by Sam] on his first official visit to Washington. Is this the coming of age of positive and honest street art or just another attempt at cool Britain? We like colour and we like typeface, so putting him in the mainstream can only be a good thing.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Stamp of Renewal

I was thinking about good 'examples of place' to visit in the north east as a starting point for some urban design training when I remembered this example of then-best-practice from a set of Royal Mail urban renewal stamps from 1984. As I remember, it was at the same time as the series of Garden Festivals around the UK. While the selection of examples for the four stamps and the first day cover does show a thinly veiled need to have regional representation, it is interesting to remember the patience required in renewal for most of the projects where the Garden Festivals became the launch pad for both Liverpool and Glasgow to become European Capital of Culture - with a near miss for NewcastleGateshead on the Dunston Staiths housing site. Even then it is useful to note the different standards for urban regeneration today compared to 26 years ago - who would visit the Durham Riverside as a good example of development today?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Piano Staircase

Interesting experiment in changing human default slob setting through the introduction of some fun and interactivity. Interesting, fun and actually beneficial for health [well a little beneficial]? Check out the piano staircase project and video.

Friday, 2 July 2010

The Ashington Group

Toying with ideas for social enterprise and that are relevant for today we have been looking at the ideas and legacy of the Pitmen Painters - the name given to the 'Ashington Group', mainly pitmen from the mid-Northumberland coal field from the mid 1930s onwards. It is commonly a group called 'an experiment in art education' but has as much to do with social observation and recording community change from a participant position. The interesting approach is in people undertaking the act of creating for themselves rather than relying on a professional artist recording on their behalf. Their 'proudly unprofessional' work at the time attracted the attention of surrealists, modernists, documentary photographers and mass observers but was largely
forgotten about until it was rediscoved in the 1970s when a record of the group became published by William Feaver and in turn inspired a stage play by Lee Hall. The collection is on display in the new Woodhorn Colliery Museum and Gallery and has inspired an number of museum art products designed as part of a national Museumaker project - including the 'soot storm' by artist Rebecca Chitty, interesting for anyone with a snowglobe collection.