Thursday, November 17

milliner mistresses take over craft central.

 St John's Square was all a-twitter Tuesday evening with the launch of the Pop-Up Hat Shop currently occupying the eastern corner of the ancient priory courtyard. This event was the love-child of five up-and-coming designers who met through milliner Martina Bohn, whose hat block hire service provided a platform for such like minded ladies to meet and work. In an act of sartorial solidarity, the gang conspired to create their own space for showcasing and selling a collection of their latest toppers. And the results are so delightful that now I can't seem to stop alliterating.

The shop is based at Craft Central, a non-profit workshop/studio dedicated to supporting craft and design. Its breezy main gallery provides the perfect display for a lush spread of berets, bowlers, bonnets and caps; arranged in tall glass cases like trophies in a school gymnasium. All was seen-in in thoroughly good style, with champagne flutes and hearty gossip all 'round. Delicious work by some truly talented women.

Highlights include pieces by Thirzie Hull, whose vintage inspired berets make good use of taxidermy and other organic ingredients. Her combination of materials plucked, preened or skinned from the natural world with softer elements such as ribbon, lace, and gold leaf imbue her work with a lightness of touch and a heady dose of whimsy. Delightful, authentic, and full of romance.

YashkaThor's architectural woven bonnets are also a standout, crested waves of color in a sea of white-washed walls. Martina Bohn's own kitsch headgear is out in full force, and includes dignified looking caps with butterflies and scorpions glued askance. Not exactly an easy task to stick over-sized insects on your hat and make it look  half-glamorous, but Miss. Bohn took the plunge and appears to have surfaced triumphant.

Milliners on display include: Martina Bohn, Pamela Graham, Louise Halswell, Thirzie Hull, Yashka Thor. All works are for sale.

Pop Up Hat Shop will be open until the Sunday, November 20th at Craft Central. 33-35 St. John's Square. EC1M 4DS

more about craft central -
more about Marina Bohn -

go visit.

[images taken by Charlotte and courtesy of Miss. Hull]


Monday, November 14

crinkle cup by rob brandt.

Saw this today. It made me giggle.
Dutch artist Rob Brandt apparently whipped up this little number in 2006. Now it's distributed by London-based super-cool design brand Thorsten van Elten. And sold at Liberty, or on Columbia Road in Shoreditch. And available in a handmade glass version. But none of that really matters. It's still giggle-worthy. Tactile and playful.
Dare to do Dixie differently, Rob. You go girl.


Get The Cup:

Look Around:

Friday, November 11

i ♥ you london.

London Bus Tour  - from moritz oberholzer.

Film maker Moritz Oberholzer shot this film on handheld 35mm while riding a double decker bus.
Just look at the colour of the light. Pallid London personified. Brill'.

[Featured Music: Loud Pipes by Ratatat]

via Some Of It Was True!

Thursday, November 10

give in to the simple pleasures of john martin.

The Bard c. 1817

John Martin is quite simply a genius.

A delightful afternoon at his current show Apocalypse, on view at the Tate Britain, confirmed this fact. Oh yes, it did.

Wildly popular during his heyday (circa 1815-1854), Mr. Martin was a celebrated figure in the art world,  delighting the public with his extraordinary cinematic vision drawn from religious mythology. In his lifetime he completed several notable series, including oil paintings depicting scenes from The Book of Revelations and mezzotint prints for an illustrated version of Milton's Paradise Lost.

Book Three
Book Four
Book Ten
Book Twelve

Not being much of a Bible thumper myself, its rare that paintings of a strictly religious nature will move me on the grounds of their subject alone. Yet Milton's wall-sized panoramas are nothing if not transfixing; envisioning well known Christian narratives in all their earth-shattering, ground-splitting, run-if-you-want-but-you"ll-never-escape-THE-WRATH windswept and fire-saturated glory. Yet its exactly this turn of hyperbolic flourish that gives these works a post-religious appeal; Martin transcends the pure Biblicality of his subjects and indulges the viewers desire for fantasy. He treats his stories as fable rather then fact, forsaking key characters in favor of imaginative landscapes which stretch out endlessly in ever-unfolding shades of violent and saturated and unnatural colour. In Adam and Eve Entertaining the Angel Gabriel we see our our main characters rendered as tiny luminous nudes; pale in comparison to the vast meadows, lagoons, and snow-capped mountains against which they are posited. In other works we find the King of Babylon barely visible amidst the colossus of his crumbling urban paradise, and the Pharaoh of Egypt a tiny figurine against a brooding sky clogged with lightening and cloud. Even when our boy Jesus makes an appearance in The Final Judgement, its the yawning chasm of hell-fire and careening debris which draws our eye in first.

Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion. 1812 
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. 1852
The Fall of Babylon. c 1835
The Final Judgment. 1851
The Great Day of His Wrath. 1852/53
The Plains of Heaven. 1852/53

But what's most interesting to note about Martin's work is the so called "controversy" that surrounds it - mainly the fact that his work has alternately fallen in and out of favor with critics who have called it distasteful, sensationalist, redundant and low-brow. His popularity as a traveling exhibitor often seemed to work against him, giving grounds to his reputation as a painter who pandered to the crowd and was generally guilty of making things that were just too much fun to go and see.

Such commentary is not entirely misplaced; Martin's paintings certainly tend towards obscene theatricality, and given the choice between restrain and excess I would say he'd usually go for the latter (Why use a hundred foot-soldiers when a hundred thousand would do?). But its this indulgence of his obviously overactive imagination which invites us to indulge our own. Getting lost in Martin's images feels good. It would be foolish to overlook the dramatic vision (not to mention exquisite execution) which made Martin both a very talented and very likable painter, simply because his paintings are too readily pleasurable to look at.

It's a strange tendency of ours isn't it, this masochistic urge to question ourselves for enjoying anything that seems just a little too easy? Martin immortalized a world of Christian moralism where licentious kings, libidinous whores and sin-soaked cities met their demise at the hand of a greater, more rational authority. And while these tales certainly reek of flagrant sermonizing, it is our inclination to critique our own "devious" enjoyment of Martin's works which feel truly heavy-handed.

There is a reason eating is fun, sex is exciting and the sun feels wonderful on our faces... simple, uncomplicated pleasures that directly stimulate our senses and make us happy. No need to feel guilty, just accept it. Enjoy it. John Martin is still, 150 years on, one of the greatest pleasures in the art world. So go and see him. It doesn't mean you're weak.

King Arthur and Aegle in the Happy Valley. 1849

John Martin is at the Tate Britain until 15th January, 2012.