Do Not Feed the Culture Vultures?

Glasgow does visual arts so very, very well and every year we get the added bonus of a four-day art fair. Guess what? It's that time of year again.. Today we went to the Glasgow Art Fair and enjoyed ourselves tremendously. Last time we went, we nearly ended up buying a Lucy Campbell painting (specifically one extremely similar to this one). We both liked its fairytale qualities and I felt strangely comforted by its Philip Pullman-ness. Today I'm glad we didn't buy it. I think Campbell has her definite strengths but I think they lie within the realm of illustration rather than painting.

This time the Art Fair was visibly affected by the recession. Saturday afternoon was simply not that crowded and quite a few vendors confided that they were having a tough time shifting anything. Interestingly this year also saw galleries from Spain, Vietnam and the Czech Republic trying their luck. Diversifying or maybe the stands came cheaper this year? The Vietnamese stand was spectacularly crap, incidentally.

Ever the pop culture aficionado, Dave spotted Carl Moore's work immediately and was very, very taken with his Animals Who Want To Be Other Animals series as well as the Robot Dreams series. I'm not sure about the robots, but I loved the Animals series too.

Proving that I have way more taste than money, I headed straight to Jonathan Wolstenholme's watercolours (the cheapest one was £2,900 - that's a lot of sweaters!). The website does not do them justice, but try looking at The Descent of Books with its clever, humourous details or Murder in the Library which ticks all my boxes. Wolstenholme's watercolours may not be cutting edge or setting the art world on fire, but, gosh, they'd look nice in my imaginary library.

And for any woolshop/yarn shop (however imaginary), what about a few David Blyth prints? We had a good natter with David M. of Peacocks Visual Arts (who represents David Blyth), which made a nice afternoon even better.

On days like these, I just love living here. I really do. Art and beauty nourish my soul.

Life's A Cabaret, Old Chum

Some time ago my partner, David, bought us tickets for the one-year anniversary of Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School - a burlesque-meets-art school monthly event. David and a pirate had attended a previous Dr. Sketchy's and loved it.

What happened? A lot, I tell you. I sang along to Cole Porter songs and my partner produced this:

Some of you might know that in my former life as a quasi-academic, I worked and published on Alasdair Gray, the writer and the writer-artist. Who would have thought I'd end up sitting next to him at a burlesque-meets-art school event? Or that David would think it funny to draw Ally Gray and have him sign the drawing? It beats my signed first edition hands down, damn him.

Another boon was that the founder of Dr. Sketchy, the very lovely Molly Crabapple (NSWF, possibly) was present as well. I've long nourished a minor internet crush on her and her illustrations. Sigh. And we absolutely loved Kitten on the Keys (quite NSFW) and David drew yet another fabulous portrait. I'd post it but it'd completely ruin his ego.

Mmm.. I'll be humming Cole Porter songs in my sleep, methinks.

Webs We Weave


How badly do I want this uppercase scarf? Pretty badly, I tell you. The scarf led me on a typographic journey of the net which yielded new interesting sites: the & Blog, Bembo's Zoo which is seriously cool, FontStruct which lets you design your own (very basic) typefaces, and, er, The Swedish Furniture Name Generator.

Hey, I can't be all arty and intellectual all the time!

How about A.S. Byatt on textiles, textures and texts, then? It marries all my loves: books, texts, literary theory and, ahem, yarn.

Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger on a spindle, the Lady of Shalott is entwined in thread, Silas Marner is enclosed in his loom - why have spinning and sewing so often been associated with danger and isolation? (..) We think of our lives - and of stories - as spun threads, extended and knitted or interwoven with others into the fabric of communities, or history, or texts.

Brain Bling

How good are you at recognising fonts? I got a measly 24 right out of 34. At least I still know my Helvetica from my Arial. It's all in the curves, baby.

I have actually been watching quite a bit of TV lately. BBC4 is having a rather funky Medieval Season, so I've been lapping up programmes on Thomas Aquinas, Abelard and the aformentioned Stephen Fry & the Gutenberg Press (which was pr0ntastic, incidentally). I get to flap my arms around excitedly and repeatably which is really nice. TV, I forgive you your multitude of sins when you indulge me like this.

Finally, I'd like to thank everybody who asked for my mother. She was discharged from hospital on Tuesday and is back home again. It is a relief.

They Used Wine Presses, You Know

Me mam's apparently doing a bit better. It's slightly strange to be in another country and not being able to rush to the hospital.

Somebody at BBC is my new friend. Stephen Fry & the Gutenberg Press is showing on BBC4 tonight so whoever greenlighted that show gets to be my friend. Yes I'll sit there with popcorn shouting at the telly whenever they say something vaguely incorrect (or get too carried away with the entire 'cultural revolution' - too Eisenstein and not enough Johns for my taste. I just know they'll fly on the wings of the "printing press as agent for change" thing and there are so many problems with that idea..). Oh, my heart be still.

Related-ish: two ways of debasing/defacing/recycling books (delete as appropriate):
+ Nicholas Jones - Book Sculptor
+ How to make a handbag out of a book

I'm not sure I approve.

Stranger Things Have Happened

If somebody could explain to me why I spend an entire day feeling excruciatingly guilty over telling my manager that I'm still ill and, no, I do not know when I'll be back at work, then leave me a comment. I shouldn't feeling guilty for telling the truth but I suspect it's that old authority thing. You know, you see a policeman and you instantly feel like you should be locked up for some crime? Okay, maybe that's just me .. I can't remember where I found this, but it's actually very good: Garfield Without Garfield. Remember that 1980s comic strip about a fat cat and its owner? That comic strip is actually still in circulation back where my parents live. Whenever they send me a parcel, they always wrap things in the local paper* and Garfield's there peeking up at me with some bad pun involving lasagna. Gah. But Garfield Without Garfield is different. There is no fat cat spouting lasagna puns; it's been removed. And the result is a comic strip that's far funnier and stranger than you might expect.

*click only if you are really bored, able to read Danish and have an unhealthy fascination with farming communities.

Yarn Mention Of the Day: I ordered some yarn off teh interwebs thinking it'd be burgundy with a few freckles of pink. It turned out to be chocolate with quite a lot of pink. I feel like I'm knitting with Neapolitan ice cream.. which is bad for my sweet tooth. Mmm, ice cream..