Trick Or Treat?

Rose with blue and red spray painted leaves

Having stored up some brownie points by offering you a virtual treat yesterday, I thought I might get away with tormenting some of you today.

I found this rose growing on the land surrounding an art park in Austin, Texas, with its leaves spray painted blue and red. I could imagine this as an alternative greeting card, but there’s something of plant cruelty about it, assuming you agree with my sweetheart that there is such a thing.

If the rose was wearing an expression, I imagine it would be like the one old Rusty had that made us laugh so helplessly when he came back from the dog groomer looking like the spaniel version of a Chinese crested dog, closely shorn in some places and fluffed up in others, crowned with a bow. Continue reading “Trick Or Treat?”

Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree (2013)

Iron Tree (2013) by Ai Weiwei - a pieced together tree - beside a chapel

‘Iron Tree comprises 99 elements cast in iron… interlocked using a classic – and here exaggerated – Chinese method of joining, with prominent nuts and screws.’

From the Yorkshire Sculpture Park notes

Glimpsed from a distance, Ai Weiwei’s fake trees pass as real, but dead. As you draw closer, your mind engages with the forms and construction and questions arise. What is it? Why is it? Are the branches actually roots? Is it wood? Continue reading “Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree (2013)”

Life And Art: Astarte Syriaca With Onlooker

Onlooker with Astarte Syriaca by Rossetti
The onlooker seemed a modern version of Venus in the picture

Venus gazes out of the picture, wearing the draped fabric and heavy curls we associate with the Pre-Raphaelite style. Rossetti, her painter, has chosen a pose that reminds us of Botticelli’s famous image of Venus on the shell. The painting’s title associates the Roman goddess with the older Astarte.

In the background, winged spirits carry torches, and the evening star, Venus, is shown between the setting sun and rising moon.

Watching in turn, I was struck by the synergy between the figure in the painting and the onlooker who seemed to be communing with her. Continue reading “Life And Art: Astarte Syriaca With Onlooker”

Vertical Form (St Ives) By Barbara Hepworth With Reflections

Vertical Form (St Ives), a bronze sculpture, with reflections
Vertical Form (St Ives) in the window of the Barbara Hepworth Museum

I do like this picture, although it has as many accidental elements as purposeful ones: layers, patterns, textural contrasts and red herrings.

Although I lined the sculpture up reasonably well with the r/h edge of the frame, the reflections make it look all catawampus. That doesn’t just allow me to use the word my sweetheart taught me (we would say ‘skew whiff’) but it also makes the picture seem more abstract. That seems fitting.

I tried cropping closer, but prefer the picture with the distractions in. They have an unsettling effect and they provide context for a bronze sculpture that has St Ives in its name.

I suspect the reflections of the houses humanise the bronze more than if the clean lines of a gallery were behind it. The sculpture seems to gaze out, watchfully or wistfully.

The colour combination is muted – natural stone, grey, plus a languid take on the traditional blue and white that symbolises Cornwall – helping the gleaming sculpture hold its own visually in the gallimaufry. Continue reading “Vertical Form (St Ives) By Barbara Hepworth With Reflections”

Street Art, Key West, Florida Keys

Street art of a giant cephalopod's tentacles lifting a sail boat
A pink and turquoise kraken seizes a sailing boat

Kraken are giant, predatory sea creatures from the North, something like an octopus or squid. This one has, not unusually for its sort, seized hold of a passing sail boat and now has the terrified mariners at its mercy (unless, as we cannot see any onboard, they were all partying onshore when the kraken sneaked into the harbour). It’s a detail from a painting on a hotel car park wall we stopped to admire.

Strictly speaking, the second is fence art. It’s a detail too, of a large design featuring birds, animals and vegetation that runs around the back patio of a restaurant in Key West. It’s worth reading this one upwards, so you get used to each level of the story before taking the next leap.

Pink flamingos, one with a crown, painted on a fence
Pink flamingos painted on a fence

First, leafy foliage with two pink flamingos. So far so good. They wear a decorative form of eye makeup.  One is wearing a coronation crown that Queen Elizabeth II would not be ashamed of (it looks lighter than her own). The artist has added a scroll and swirl design to add movement and break up the background. A space craft is leaving the scene to fly off into a universe of stars. Continue reading “Street Art, Key West, Florida Keys”