Archive | June, 2010

Natural Fuse

30 Jun

Having spent the day moving what remains of our 2008 Urban Gardening exhibition the Natural Fuse from Haque Design caught my eye.

The idea is that rather than just having electrical fuses within  appliances to prevent the immediate and localised danger of electric shock, why not extend the notion of dangerous electrical consumption to the longer term and global significance by using natures own CO2 sinks as a mechanism to regulate our usage.

Each Natural Fuse unit consists of a houseplant and a power socket. The amount of power available to the socket is limited by the capacity of the plant to offset the carbon footprint of the energy expended: if the appliance you plug in draws so much power that it requires more carbon-offsetting than available then the unit will not power.

This immediate restriction on our non-essential energy usage that also connects us to the natural environment in some small way really appeals as a response to increasingly stretched resources. It also acknowledges that we will keep using our electrical toys .

However, having showcased a lot of concept designs that tackled similar issues in the Urban Gardening show I wonder how long it would be in the real world before this well meaning idea became an annoyance rather than a timely reminder.  Perhaps this is merely a design detail that could be ironed out in development, but I’m more convinced that the answer not in a change of usage but a change of the source of our power.


“Art Fairs Are About Money Not Art”… discuss

29 Jun

A great debate from A-Foundation and the Saatchi Gallery (thanks to Intelligence Squared) tabling the motion “Art Fairs are About Money Not Art

Chairman and Chief Auctioneer of Philips de Pury and Company, Simon de Pury, chairs as Louisa Buck, Jasper Joffe, and Matthew Colling make the case for the motion while Richard Wentworth, Matthew Slotover and Sir Norman Rosenthal argue against.

The debate, recorded in March this year, is worth listening to if ony to hear Jasper Joffe (founder of the Free Art Fair) lock horns with Matthew Slotover (founder of the Frieze Art Fair).

Make your own conclusions…Link to each for diplomacy’s sake.

Threadbare – Debbie Smyth

28 Jun

Debbie Smyth at MCAD audioboo interview

This morning I met with Debbie Smyth at Manchester Craft and Design Centre.  Having just arrived in Manchester for the week Debbie is busy installing her first solo show at the Centre following selection as best in show at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair last year.

Her work beautifully blurs the boundaries between 2d and 3d artistry, literally lifting the drawn line off the page in a series of “pin and thread” drawings.   Beginning with hand sketched illustrations she projects her drawings onto the gallery walls in order to create a framework of anchor points that are then connected with varying thicknesses of black thread.  Rather than simply tracing outlines, however, Smyth deftly manages to incorporate the animated nature of her creative practice into the works she produces, almost leaving traces of her mental processes in capturing a subject. Sometimes extending the wandering lines between pieces, Smyth creates interruptions within the gallery space connecting her works, in doing so she manages to gently guide the viewer through the gallery giving a sense of theatre and presence that can’t be captured by images alone.

Energetic, intriguing, original and playful Smyth’s work is a refreshing approach to illustration that displays texture and scale that need to be seen in the flesh to be truly appreciated.  You can even talk to her while she installs the new commission, inspired by the characters and architecture that populate  the Northern Quarter around the venue,  all this week.

But if you can’t make it down you can listen to her talking to me about pin and thread drawing, the tensions between craft and art, studying in Wales, and tips on artistic success here.

Threadbare runs from July 3 to October 30, 2010
With Debbie Smyth working in the public gallery space from Monday June 28 to Friday, July 2 – 10.30am to 5.30pm

Masterclasses will take place on Saturday, September 4 and Saturday, October 9, 10-4pm

Launch Event Saturday, July 3 from 2-4pm

Manchester Craft and Design Centre, 17 Oak Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 5JD
More Info & Bookings: and

Onek at Black Rainbows

25 Jun

Black Rainbows Flyer at the Carhartt store Manchester.  Click for interview with Onek N M

Last night the Carhartt store on Oldham Street welcomed in the cream of Manchester’s graffiti crowd to the opening of the Black Rainbows exhibition curated by KREK.

On the night I got the chance to talk with veteran Graffiti artist ONEK NM about his part in the show and the changing state of the graf scene. You can listen here.

Bringing together seven established UK artists who work in and around the graf scene the store was completely emptied of all Carhartt stock for the launch. With such a strong turn out for the event it’s fairly fair to assume this is because of concerns for security as much as respect for the work, even so the exhibition is well worth a visit over the next 3 months if you’re perusing the boutiques of the Northern Quarter.

The show continues in-store until mid September.

The Slow Media Manifesto

25 Jun

10. Slow Media are timeless: Slow Media are long-lived and appear fresh even after years or decades. They do not lose their quality over time but at best get some patina that can even enhance their value.

In a reaction to the daily dirge of rapidly pressed blog entries, endless twitter feeds, preposterous posterous posts and banal facebook updates The Slow Media Manifesto has emerged out of Germany, borrowing heavily from the Slow Food Movement.

Far from being the work of a Luddite, the Slow Media Movement seeks to preserve a degree of craft in a world of digital creation with the full manifesto making for interesting reading for anyone involved in online publishing of any kind.

Liberation – Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester

24 Jun

The Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester opens the doors of their new show ‘Liberation‘ tonight. Part exhibition, part events programme and part on-going conversation Liberation is a project instigated as a reaction to the explosion of social media and the recent censorship of self-publishing platforms in China.

As well as the Arts Centre showing works from a range of artists, MadLab will be exploring the possibilities for subversive virtual identities in both English and Chinese speaking online spaces with their Social Space Invaders event (on the 28th) and artist Brendan Fan will be exploring the online diatribe around social media throughout the exhibition run. He’s also narrating an alternative exhibition launch experience through his own exhibition Facebook page which you can enjoy be becoming his imaginary friend here.

‘Liberation’ Co-curated with Carol Lu and Liu Ding
Previews at the Chinese Arts Centre tonight, 24 June 2010
and runs from the 25 June – 14 August 2010

Whales Tohorā

23 Jun

Increasingly the role of the museum as a repository of knowledge has been usurped by the internet. How can a static establishment possibly compete with an ever changing, living, network of knowledge that constantly reacts to changes in the knowledge base as created by experts?

One way is to ensure that the learning experience takes on a wholly new scale by increasing just that – scale, something that is lost through our monitors and smartphones.

Certainly the Whales Tohorā exhibition, put together by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa that’s currently on a worldwide tour, realises that in allowing kids to interact directly with objects as well as getting a sense of the scale of these vast beasts means that they’ll be more likely to enjoy their visit and so retain the information given to them, and what could be more memorable than climbing inside a real whale’s heart?

The video’s a nice touch of evaluation straight from the kids too:

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