If you’ve ever been to a children’s playground and wondered why there isn’t anything for adults to enjoy? There’s no doubt that sculptor Bob Cassilly thought this at some stage too. He has built many inventions, installations, art works, statues and public attractions that kids of all ages can play on. His most ambitious project has been in development since 1983, and constantly draws thousands of visitors. The space – called City Museum, in downtown St Louis, Missouri is an “eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel.” (Source) All components of Cassilly’s wonder-world is repurposed and made from reclaimed industrial objects.
Cassilly and his wife at the time, Gail Cassilly purchased a 250,000-square-foot (23,000 m2) complex in downtown St Louis, Missouri. The couple started construction on the area in the mid 90s and opened it up to the public in 1997. Within the complex is a 10 story shoe manufacturing warehouse, which now houses a long list of attractions. It contains 2 airplanes, a firetruck, enchanted caves filled with sculptural stalagmites, a fully functional bar made from marble, an aquarium filled with sharks, rays, sea turtles, snakes and alligators, a skatepark, a circus area, and even a Ferris Wheel on the roof. It is also home to the largest continuous mosaic in America. The complex has even put on music gigs and events.
After the City Museum was deemed a success (it has attracted more than 700,000 visitors since it opened in 1997), Cassilly moved on to another project and started construction on Cementland – in what was an old cement factory. Tragically, Cassilly died in a bulldozer accident while under going work on Cementland in 2011. His vision is continued by a team of 20 or so sculptors affectionately called the Cassilly Crew who manage and add to his existing projects.
Make sure you indulge your inner child at City Museum soon, or at least build your very own playground to enjoy. (Via This Is Colossal)
The first question Maurizio Savini is asked about his work is one he hates to hear: does he chew every piece of gum he uses to make his sculptures? He admits this question is very annoying, but if everybody is still genuinely interested, then no – no he doesn’t chew the gum. Instead he has two full time assistants unwrapping each stick of gum and melting the pink sticky stuff into layers of usable material. Savini begins his lengthy process by layering the sheets of gum around plaster molds which give his sculptures stability and shape.
Working with the gum for over a decade, he has created some amazing pieces. One sculpture – ‘La Lupa‘ (the figure who nursed the founders of Savini’s birthplace of Rome back to health) is made from 14 kg of chewing gum. He has animals bearing different flags, business men clutching pillows, chandeliers and women’s shoes among many other things. His work is usually loaded with some sort of socially and/or politically focused message.
He says chewing gum has a unique cultural context. It is connected to art history, industry and world history, and is a loaded symbol for Savini. He says after being introduced to Europe when WW2 was ending, the material became a symbol (along with Coca Cola and nylon stockings) of a new era.
When Savini began making his chewing gum sculptures, he has the misfortune of several pieces disintegrating. He now combines the gum with formaldehyde and anti-biotics to preserve it, so the high sugar content doesn’t destroy the pieces. You can see some of his new pieces at the upcoming Art-Southampton, July 9-13, 2015, or find out more about how he makes his creations in the video above.
Fiona Roberts‘ new show Intimate Vestiges is a collection of wonderful and weird objects. She loves taking mundane items and adding creepy details to them. Items that we are used to seeing in our house everyday now seem to be encroaching on our personal space, and even seem to be a bit threatening. Roberts has transformed a simple chair into an anthropomorphized Frankenstein creature: the leather sections now feature tiny pink gaping mouths, baring their teeth and ready to chomp at whatever touches them. The menacing orifices are bordered by shiny plaited strands of hair; the legs of the chair wrapped in the same hair. The chair seems to have murdered the occupant of the house, and now wears the attributions of it’s victim on the outside.
Intimate Vestiges deals with questions of the ‘other’ – what is human, and where do our human bodies, memories and experiences end? We undoubtedly transfer these emotions into the objects around us – but what keeps them as foreign bodies? As writer Stephanie Lyall asks:
What can constitute humanity? At what point does a collection of disparate parts become a being? How much of a body can be rearranged before becoming something ‘other’? (Source)
Roberts’ sculptures have a beautiful philosophical poetry embedded in them. She has pillows made from plaster frozen in the middle of a kiss. They seem frozen and unable to enjoy their passion. They pillow lovers are able to extract empathy from us immediately. She has a rug made made from hundreds of ceramic fingers that might make us think twice about treading so heavily on our own carpets at home. Roberts has the power to make us re-evaluate the inanimate objects around us we take for granted and combines our outside worlds with our inside worlds.
There’s a new attraction in Mallorca, Spain just in time for the summer hoards to experience and emerge themselves in. Architecture duo who work under the moniker A2arquitectos have been specializing in designing luxury urban oases for a while now, and have done it again with their latest project. They have dreamed up an immersive, super-size kaleidoscope-inspired installation at the Hotel Castell De Hams on the holiday island. In what used to be a children’s playground, the team have built reflective tunnels reaching 29 feet long and 6.5 feet wide and unreal spaces that visitors can explore their way through.
Strange doorways and circle cutouts in walls open up to larger spaces decorated with colorful patterns and infinity mirrors that spoil your sense of perspective. Staircases disappear into patterned gaps that appear around corners. A larger room has been painted hot pink with white dots of varying sizes with desks for people to rest at. The outside environment is also utilized to feed into the space inside – light, movement and color are all manipulated to produce an Alice In Wonderland effect.
The architecture team of Juan Manzanares Suárez and Cristian Santandreu Utermark enjoy building, urban planning, interior design, furniture design, and renovation. They specialize in project related to the tourist sector and have undertaken a project at the Hotel in Mallorca in the past. They created a Smile Pool for guests to swim in and laugh at. Basically, a neon yellow smiley face, it stood out in it’s surroundings and grabbed everyone’s attention for the right reason – making sure everyone there knew it was time to relax and enjoy themselves.
Masters of relaxation – A2arquitectos are a team to keep watching what they will come up with next. They have an interesting collection of images from past projects and dream projects on Pinterest here. (Via Yatzer)
Artist Takumi Kama is trying to confront and conquer his fears of high school girls by turning them into strange reptiles and animals. By anthropomorphizing teenage girls, he makes them less threatening and harmful. The Japanese drawer has imagined one girl as a snobby, gangly giraffe, holding it’s head up high and standing displeased with everything around it. He has drawn another one as a frightened armadillo huddled in the fetal position, looking terrified and uncomfortable. He has sketched the girls he would see on the train as a group of primates, absorbed in their cellphones; the book nerd in the school corridor is now an awkward frog beast holding her book in her weird hands, furry tail wrapped around a bottle of soda pop.
Kama has studied both the poses and mannerisms of the girls and also the beasts he has turned them into – combining them into one and the same. His immaculate pencil renderings create a convincing impression of these strange creatures, and it is easy to see them the way he does every time he encounters the demographic. Kama admits:
I am terrified of high school girls. If I encounter a group of them on a train there is a high possibility I will escape to another car. (Source)
This certain sub culture is often dissected, or referred to in popular Japanese culture. Called Joshi kōsei (女子高生) they feature in manga comics and videos as well as being fetishized in pornographic videos. Kama is also obsessed with the idea of this social group, but in his series Schoolgirl Animals, they are seen as something a bit more imaginative and humorous than the usual schoolgirl fantasy. The collection of his pencil drawings were on show at BAMI gallery in Kyoto until May 31, 2015, but you can still enjoy more of the images after the jump. (Via Spoon Tamago)
Flicking through Colin Crane‘s photography is like playing a game of hide and seek. It’s joyful, light-hearted, flirty, a bit adventurous, and will make you smile. Crane has the knack for capturing the happiness in his subjects and images. It may sound so simple, but the effect is not to be underestimated. His photographs are like a celebration of many different aspects of life, but mostly about curiosity, enjoyment, wonder and inhibition (or lack of).
Crane’s series Dreaming In Color is a collection of intimate, dreamy moments caught on camera. Coquettish girls lie basking in a meadow, zoned out in a blissful state. A grown adult is engrossed in a pair of binoculars as if they were discovering them for the very first time. We see a figure mysteriously emerging from colored lights placed in a forest – and can only dream about what they are up to – where they have come from and why. Adventurous faces are captured, ready to create another memorable experience that they will no doubt tell around the next campfire. Friends are profiled in surreal light, flares, and orbs, sharing something magical with each other.
Crane has a naivety to his work – but most certainly not in a negative way. It’s almost as if he is experiencing the world for the first time, with virgin eyes, and we get to share in his astonishment. His work has titles like Life Is Elsewhere, A Dream That Could Come True, and Nicaraguan Afternoon – and it certainly feels like we have entered a fictional, surreal reality when we enter the world of this young talented photographer.
Multimedia artist Alex Kiessling works with different ideas of how the future can be. He combines the ideas of fine art and high technology. He has used robots as painting assistants and exhibited it through a live stream to a worldwide internet-based audience. This series of paintings give the impression that they were made with digital help. Their colorful layers are overlapped just like a screen print gone wrong, but of course this is intentional. But despite appearances, Kiessling has achieved this striking effect by painting acrylic on canvas – by hand.
The series, titled Shift, ties in with his larger ideas of augmented reality, simulation, hybrids, and the existence between reality and dream. He explains a bit more:
In the static scenes of my paintings, the protagonists remain mostly resident between the glaring colorfulness of virtual realities and darkness, which is inherent in most of our dream sequences and memories. Both of these worlds are paramount due to their systematic character, which is connected to the simulative, and are projection surfaces of the human psyche. (Source)
His paintings have the affect of dreaming – you feel like what you are seeing isn’t really right, and maybe you should look a little harder. He has a beautiful way of describing his work:
In my work I concentrate on dreams and all kinds of dreamlike structures and explore its borders and bridges to reality. I try to visualize the “no men`s land” between the absurdity in our existence and the concrete concerns that come with our human mind or spirit. I am fascinated by the interacting vibrations between virtual reality, dreams and the basic common ground of our world`s so called reality. (Source)
Kiessling is interested in fragmented identities, and the fact that most of us now-a-days live our lives out in many different spheres or realities – in the physical as well as the digital. His painting series Shift is just another visual exploration of the theme that is becoming more and more relevant to this generation. (Via SuperSonic Art)
Romy Maxime has been experimenting with an interesting medium of late – Infrared film (typically used in military surveillance). Her series Lucid Dreaming is a soft, romantic, hazy collection of portraits of musicians based in Berlin. She uses the unusual candy colored tones of the film to evoke a strange surrealism from her subjects and their surroundings. Her images look like dramatic fairy-tales, or stills from some sort of film noir. Maxime talks about those influences on her:
This ongoing personal project was born out of nostalgia, a love for classic art films and the style and colors of photographs from the 1960s. (Source)
Growing up between Zurich, Cape Town and Cannes (she now calls Berlin home), Maxime translates her gypsy tendencies and ease with nature and quietness onto film. Working mostly in fashion photography, and portraiture, Maxime loves to create fantastical images that are like an exaggerated reality. She talks about her favorite parts of fashion photography:
It’s totally unrealistic! It’s the fantasy genre of photography – mostly an illusion with every excuse to include beautiful things. I do try to create some sort of story when I shoot fashion otherwise the clothes remain just beautifully cut textiles on a model. (Source)
She also talks about the effect yoga has had on her and her work – the calmness, serenity, and quiet that is all practiced in yoga gives her the focus she needs to capture the right mood in her shots. Read a full interview with her here on the International Foundation for Women Artists Blog. And be sure to see more of her many beautiful images on her Tumblr page and her Facebook page.