Victoria Wagner is an artist who is fascinated by unlikely pairings. Her set of gem-like sculptures called Woodrocks are comprised of wood and decorated with color, as she explains, “My eye generally and naturally tends toward tessellation and pattern, seeking a rhythm that mimics regular pulse. On the one hand, visual order provides a place for the senses to rest, while color relationships create problems for the brain to solve. I like this simultaneity.” The natural material and the unnatural oil pigments combine to create a precious object that’s small enough to be held comfortably.
Woodrocks serve as an iconic reference to the downed tree. They’re salvaged from local materials and painted to follow organic growth patterns and feature gradient spectrums.These sculptures were influenced by two books that Wagner read: The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer and The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. “Both pseudoscientific works that examine sentience among carbon-based life forms and human revelation, practical and metaphysical,” she explains. “Both books forced a recognition in my life-of my own personal reverence for the trees being downed in the forest surrounding my studio.” The result? Woodrocks.
Galleries come in all sizes, even in a really, really tiny scale. Swedish graphic designer and illustrator Henrik Franklin has created an installation that’s something you’d be more likely to see in a dollhouse than anywhere else. But, instead of a bedroom, it’s located at the Odenplan underground station at Gallery 1:10 in Stockholm, Sweden. The group exhibition is titled If You Tolerate This – an exhibition about resistance. Franklin’s piece features a library of colorful books, all small enough that you can hold between two fingers.
In a show centered around worries of the future and the holding on to hope, Franklin’s tiny books represent how important literature is in our development. It teaches us the lessons of the past so we won’t be doomed to repeat them; prose also encourages and inspires us to dream and to think differently.
If You Tolerate This – an exhibition about resistance is on view until December 6.
Sally Hewett is a UK-based embroider who gives new meaning to a sculptural approach to the craft. Instead of stitching subject matter like flowers, puppies, and generally happy scenes, she fills embroidery hoops with butts, breasts, and genatalia. The circular compositions rise from the surface and Hewett uses well-placed stitches to give form to these bulbous shapes. In addition, she’ll use dangling threads to simulate public hair, both trimmed and natural.
In her artist statement, Hewett states that she’s interested in ideas of beauty and the things that people do because of it. She writes:
Men and women almost ritualistically shave and remove hair from their bodies – beards, underarm hair, pubic hair, leg hair etc, whereas other hair – hair on the head, eyebrows, eyelashes – are valued and encouraged to flourish. But there is other hair which not everyone has. Sometimes this special hair seems to be reason to feel ashamed. A large number of women and men submit their bodies to extraordinary procedures in the name of convention or beauty – liposuction, implants, scarification, surgery, laser treatment, electrolysis etc.
Embroidery is often see as an innocuous craft, and part of the reason that Hewett works this way is to see how the medium affects how the content is seen. Is it more shocking, amusing, or beautiful simply because it’s portrayed with a needle and thread?
Modeled after the iconic Terracotta Warriors, artist Prune Nourry’s series Terracotta Daughters is an installation featuring eight life-size sculptures modeled after eight Chinese orphan girls. It’s meant to reflect upon gender preference in China through the familiar symbolism of the soldiers, and Nourry created an army of 116 figures using the same clay that was dug up over 2,000 years ago for the original warriors. In this project, the artist also learned the local copyists’ technique based off the ancient practice.
Together, India and China represent ⅓ of the world population and both have a similar gender imbalance. This is because of the preference that parents give to having a son; the number of single men has been increasing since the 1980’s as well as the misuse of ultrasounds to choose the sex of the child. This has detrimental consequences for the women in Asia including kidnappings of children and women, forced marriages, prostitution, and more.
Nourry met the 8 orphan Chinese girls that inspired the artworks through the non-profit organization The Children of Madaifu. She photographed the girls during her visit to their villages in August 2012 and used the portraits as models for the sculptures. Nourry series that go beyond the sculptures and does good, too:
With the idea of continuity in mind, Prune works hand-in-hand with The Children of Madaifu to support the education of the 8 little girls for a minimum of 3 years thanks to the sale of the 8 original sculptures. In addition, each one of the little girls will be invited to the exhibition in Beijing in order to meet their terracotta double. The girls will also receive a 30 cm artist proof of Prune’s Mini Terracotta Daughter.
Thus, each collector who acquires one of the 8 unique original terracotta sculptures supports the project, as well as 3 years of the education of the little girl depicted in the Artwork.
Terracotta Daughters has travelled the world, and now they are in New York City. From September 11 to October 4, you can find them at China Institute.
New York-based artist Brian Dettmer’s sculptural, multi-layered books are so intricate that they require him to use surgeon tools in his process. He carefully carves illustrations and text out of old medical journals, dictionaries, maps books, encyclopedias, and more. Nothing inside of the books is implanted – pieces are only removed. The idea is that these subtractions will reveal new histories and memories now that the story and context has changed. Dettmer sees his work as a collaboration with the existing work’s past creators.
He writes about his creations, which are a comment on the changing landscape of technology. From Dettmer’s artist statement:
The age of information in physical form is waning. As intangible routes thrive with quicker fluidity, material and history are being lost, slipping and eroding into the ether. Newer media swiftly flips forms, unrestricted by the weight of material and the responsibility of history. In the tangible world we are left with a frozen material but in the intangible world we may be left with nothing. History is lost as formats change from physical stability to digital distress.
The richness and depth of the book is universally respected yet often undiscovered as the monopoly of the form and relevance of the information fades over time. The book’s intended function has decreased and the form remains linear in a non-linear world. By altering physical forms of information and shifting preconceived functions, new and unexpected roles emerge. (Via Demilked)
Amsterdam-based artist Cedric Laquieze has recently completed an exquisite series of taxidermy Fairies. These probably aren’t the type of fairies you’re imagining – no Tinkerbell-looking creatures here. Instead, the small, delicate sculptures are constructed using a myriad of different insect species, bones, seeds, and even scorpion parts, giving them a quasi-bug look.
Laquieze uses the brilliant blues, greens, oranges, and more to form the fairies’ wings, headdresses, and bodies. The insects are meticulously crafted and seamlessly integrate all of the otherwise disparate parts into a whole. While they might not look like the typical storybook cartoons, they are definitely more detailed and visually intriguing. The artist’s interpretation lends itself to darker, less cheery tales where fairies don’t have to be good. (Via Archie McPhee)
London-based artist Gerry Judah has been widely known for his large-scale outdoor installations. Especially noteworthy are his works commissioned for such famous car brands as Jaguar, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and others. Collaborating with the sponsors, Judah has created a series of gravity-defying suspended installations featuring scale-sized model cars shooting as high as 35 meters in the sky.
Gerry Judah has been building his car-themed sculptures since 1997. His tremendous structures have always been a sight at the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed in Sussex, England. Judah works extensively with steel. Naturally the amount of it consumed for each installation can go as high as whopping 175 tonnes (Jaguar, 2011). Despite the rugged material, Judah’s structures seem to be incredibly lightweight flexible. His works are particularly appreciated for the cohesion with the style of cars they represent. Here’s Judah talking about the design of Porsche 911 monument (above):
”The 911 is a fantastic shape that can’t be deconstructed or embellished, so in this context, the sculpture had to provide the right platform for the car to soar up and shine in the sky. <…> The concept was that each car is shooting into the sky, supporting one another, racing each other, captured in a perfect moment. Like the cars it displays, the sculpture is superbly engineered, lightweight and reflective of the Porsche 911 itself: simple, pure and built for the job.”
His latest work for Mercedes-Benz (below) features a 160-tonne steel sculpture with two Mercedes-Benz cars passing each other in midair. The installation is 90 meters long and soars 26 meters into the sky. It celebrates the 120-years-anniversary of motorsport heritage by Mercedes-Benz.
Ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper collaborate to create a stunning installation commemorating the centennial of the First World War. A scarlet sea of 888,246 ceramic red poppies will be “planted” around the Tower of London. Titled “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”, the installation pays tribute to soldiers who perished during the war.
For the past few weeks, volunteers have been carefully placing the flowers all around the famous dry moat around the Tower. Poppies burst through one of the windows and then flow loosely, forming an arch over the footbridge to the castle. Each poppy represents a soldier from the United Kingdom and its colonies who was killed during WWI. Cummings says he was inspired by a line in the will of a soldier from Derbyshire.
“I don’t know his name or where he was buried or anything about him. But this line he wrote, when everyone he knew was dead and everywhere around him was covered in blood, jumped out at me: ‘The blood-swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread.’ I believe he meant the angels to refer to his children.”
Poppy is considered a flower of remembrance in Britain. The reason is because most of the soldiers died fighting in the trenches in the poppy fields of Flanders.
The blooming field will continue to grow throughout the summer. The final flower will be symbolically planted on November 11th, Armistice Day. The ceramic blossoms are for sale for £25 ($42) each. 10 percent of the proceeds go to benefit six different charities. You can find out more about the project by following the #TowerPoppies hashtag on Twitter. (via Colossal)