Something New Something Blue

On the eve of what has been an annus horribilis for many, the year 2010 already carries the weight of much anticipation of hope and change on all fronts of society. In Britain the new year will shine a light on the political stage, bringing a well over due general election that will hopefully see the falsely aspirational Labour government lose its 12-year hold on a country which is in War, can claim to have the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe, pays criminals five-thousand pounds to set themselves up in another country and has tax payers paying for politicians to watch adult entertainment. If this is 'Cool Britannia' then I'm out... and so is the rest of Britain who is need of stability and genuine leadership. In politics actions speak louder than words and if a government still persists to blame the work of its predecessor - 12 years on - then I hope the British public see the defects the Labour Party have subjected them to with an all-talk-no-action policy. Celebrate the new year with a political mind - maybe with a Conservative Party Diary... or perhaps a one-way ticket back to Scotland for Mr. Brown? Whatever you do, don't see Red in 2010, see Blue.


Christmas Rapping

Festive beats from the MVPuppets show by Nike Basketball...
Merry Christmas everyone!!!


Hot Off The Press

Emiliano Zapata and his horse, Digeo Rivera, 1932
If you're in London over the Holidays and find the cold is beginning to thaw your cultural cravings, warm up with a visit to the British Museum to see Revolution on paper: Mexican prints 1900-1960. The exhibition is a first of its kind in Europe and explores the works of artists such as Orozco, Rivera and others that encompass Mexican Printmaking in the early twentieth-century. Embraced as a passionate medium for political promotion, join in on the revolution until the 5th April 2010.


Snow Tires

When I was in New York earlier in the year I visited Allan Kaprow YARD - the exhibition that launched the opening of Hauser & Wirth's first American gallery. Celebrating the initial installation by Kaprow in 1961, the Manhattan townhouse gallery sprawled with black rubber tires and the haunting sounds from a Barack Obama-impersonator for a modern day reinterpretation. So it was a nice surprise to be sent holiday wishes from the gallery with this festive take on their very own inaugural event from 2009... Happy Holidays Everyone!


Unwrapping Some California Dreamin'

My Made in California prints are back from the framers! I produced these hand-printed bandanas in October - they are made from 100% cotton and it's the first time I have worked on this smaller scale of 18" square. If you would like further information of this work or any of my other works and projects please do not hesitate to get in touch with me at jmvelardi@yahoo.co.uk



We are already being bombarded with depressing fiscal predictions for the New Year, so if there's only one prediction we can lean on, it is the announcement today from the global authority on colour, Pantone, that PANTONE® 15-5519 Turquoise will be the official colour for 2010.

"... Turquoise evokes thoughts of soothing, tropical waters and a languorous, effective escape from the everyday troubles of the world, while at the same time restoring our sense of wellbeing".

With a statement like this, what's not to look forward to in 2010?


Christmas Window Basics

I know the hype behind Christmas windows for retail stores is limited to the world of the West but with 'holidays' and 'festive seasons' going global, leave it to Maison Hermès at their Ginza Flagship store to call upon Japanese designer, Tokujin Yoshioka to strip the standard accroutrements that are usually found in one of the most expensive window display budgets in the luxury market and bring some class back to the holiday season. The incredibly simple and beautiful installation is based on a previous commission in 2004 - thanks to Tokujin for the video that needs no introduction...

The installation is up until January 19th, 2010 at Maison Hermès 5-4-19 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo


Wild Life & Wild Things

Last week I was in Ireland - Cork to be precise - and my visit exceeded all expectations. More details to come from Cork later so for now I wanted to share what I do every time I find myself in a new city catching up with an old friend - get stuck in! And by that I mean hit the local Arts House Cinema and relax... so this is exactly what I did in the luxury of the Kino on Washington Street making myself quite at home with the aroma of coffee in the air and my mug of tea.
Fish Tank, directed by Andrea Arnold, won the Jury Prize at Cannes Film festival this year steering it away from the stereotype of another 'council estate drama' movie. Following the life of fifteen-year-old Mia, played by debutant Katie Jarvis, you are immersed in the pride and rawness of a broken Britain in Essex fuelled by aspiration through the female eyes of a father-less family. Music and television play an important parallel throughout the film - Mia is an aspiring dancer and her little sister thrives on the frivolous parties of spoilt rich kids on the MTV hit show, My Super Sweet Sixteen. Also starring is Irish actor, Michael Fassbender who plays both a love interest for Mia's mother as well as a father figure for the family in the role of Connor. But Connor's own troubles come into play causing a furore of anger and genuine emotion that thwarts any ideas of hope that were built up before. The finale is remarkable yet honest and with this honesty brings the reality that no matter what your background, class or gender may be, we all live in fish tank trying to survive and wanting more from life.

Don't forget the launch of Where The Wild Things Are in the UK on December 11th! Directed by Spike Jonze and adapted from Maurice Sendak's 1963 illustrative children's book I love everything from the film's typography to the cult-status and design collaborations that have been released in homage to Max's wolf costume! As for Jonze, what's not to like from a guy whose work includes music videos, commercials, television and film? I missed the launch in October when I was in New York so I can't wait for the release here... reviews in the UK have been critical, but this is from a country who is enamoured by a plasticine baker... I know what cult I would want to follow.


La Bella Figura

The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has fallen short of any accolades this year as a result of a tirade of scandals - from accusations of adultery to luxury gifts and parties that have been showered on a group of young aspiring models, known as veline. But while visiting the Middle East, the media mogul-turned-politican will probably believe the turbulence of the passing months was all worth it when he returns to Italy to find he has been named 'rock star of the year' by Rolling Stone Italia magazine. This rock and roll lifestyle award, usually honouring the kings and queens of rock, celebrates a not too dissimilar dolce vita between previously honoured rock legends with Berlusconi's private jets, island villas, Roman palazzos and a few sex-scandals thrown in for good measure.

Shepard Fairey designed the cover to produce a rather ironic take on Italy' s future under the control of the crass ageing billionaire. Famed for his HOPE campaign posters in support of Barack Obama, a very different cover story is being told here. Italy's lack of progression and backward political structure that is evident on the international stage sits hand in hand with Berlusconi's label as a divider rather than a unifier - as he tears the tricolore flag and dons a pair of Fairey-trademark skull cufflinks. Facing trials of bribery, tax fraud and marital divorce, he is more 'circus clown' than 'rock royalty' at the expense of Italy's reputation, it could be the grassroots of his success as a media emperor that may see his downfall with the publication - Gradisca, Presidente (Take Your Pleasure Prime Minister) - the memoirs of velina, Patrizia D'Addario that will leave a bitter, rather than sweet, taste of life for Mr. Berlusconi.


House & Garden

The quintessential English Garden has been in vogue since the early eighteenth-century, spreading across Europe with rolling lawns, architectural decoration and visions of arcadia inspired by Lorraine and Poussin. Having spent this year designing my own decorative interventions for the 104th Street Community Garden in Manhattan I am always on the look out for green spaces in urban landscapes and I enjoyed coming across this private garden terrace in the London Borough of Hackney over the weekend. The owners celebrate the beauty of nature in an effortless style bridging practicality with personality: the epitome of English Eccentricity. An Englishman's home may be his castle, but his garden is his own oil painting... click here to explore more public green spaces in the Borough.



A Question of Craft over Content?

'Craft' is a dirty word in the art world, but since winning the Turner Prize in 2003, Grayson Perry has challenged our perceptions of the 'p' word (pottery) and invites us into the womb of his body of work made out of the 't' word (textiles). 
The Walthamstow Tapestry is a Bayeux-esque document of modern life and all the paraphernalia that comes with it. A truly British middle-class Madonna figure craddles her it-bag that takes centre stage in the work, while stereotypical characters of a tragic cool Britannia and the words of corporate brands they so crave surround her along this landscape of life. I appreciate the work and believe craft is almost exotic in its rarity as well as its execution but I can't help to think whether Perry is now ticking off a Women's Institute check list of accomplishments. His mediums may be exotic now, however the platform that his work now rests is global and will, I hope, accept a lot of talented outsider art into a mainstream critical arena.
The show at Victoria Miro has now closed and I'm sure The Walthamstow Tapestry will find a home ironically in one of the banks whose names are stitched across the weft. Equally ironic is the one word missing on the tapestry: a product that is as familiar on the pages of Art Review as it is in The Sun... Perry.


All Hail Wes Anderson

Yesterday I went to see Fantastic Mr. Fox in all of its stop-motion glory. This Roald Dahl classic has always been one of my favourites and anyone who knows me knows my obsession with anything-Anderson. The trademarks are all here: the old-school soundtrack, the kooky costumes and details such as the acorn pattern wallpaper transport you to the unique World of Anderson. If you're as obsessed with this world as I am check out The Scout's tour of the The Royal Tenenbaums set locations in New York. I'm trying really hard here not to use the adjective fantastic but I can't help it - every strand of fur moves in the wind - this is the definition of meticulous! The voice overs are a mix of new and old Anderson-regulars... (Angelica Huston I missed you). I think no one was better suited to celebrate Dahl's magical vision than through Anderson's eyes - it is... fantastic!


The Number of the Day is... 40

Happy 40th Birthday Sesame Street! Today celebrates the first premiere of the hit American television series back in 1969 that pioneered contemporary educational television for children - its revolutionary concept used the tools of advertising of the time to connect with a younger audience already well-versed in the bright colours and catchy music of TV commercials. I grew up with the Muppets and Co. on the street when I was a kid in the 80s and I'm sure my interest in advertising and my attraction to America is a product of this - so much so I have never forgotten the theme tune and pyschedelic animation of Pinball! The special birthday episode will feature guest appearances from Hollywood stars and from First Lady Michelle Obama, teaching us all that no other TV series is just as relevant today as it was forty years ago - tune in and reminisce here.


Achtung Baby

If you've just come out of hiding then you need to know last night MTV celebrated fifteen years of its Europe Music Awards in Berlin - at the same site the first ever EMAs were launched, the city's historic Brandenburg Gate played backdrop to music's own icons, rock legends U2. Straight out of their acclaimed 360° Tour, I didn't think anything could beat the incredible graphics that featured on set until I saw the illuminating custom fit projection that beamed onto the façade of the Brandenburg and hugged the classical columns and doric entablatures in full rythmical technicolor. Having experimented with projection silhouettes in my own practice this was inspiring to watch - if you missed it crank up the volume and prepare to be überrascht ...

Thanks to Reuters and U2gig.com


Soft Horse in Madrid!

Here's an installation view from Caucho, Telas Y Otras Pieles (Rubbers, Fibers & Other Skins) at Associación Cultural Mediodia Chica in Madrid back in September. Soft Horse looks great and I'm loving the robots - great colorways! For more information of the events at Associación Cultural Mediodia Chica click here... thank you Ig for the images!


The Devil's in the Detail

Had gallery etiquette turned over a new leaf? I asked myself. The arrogance that normally exudes from delusional art school students who work in contemporary galleries was absent in the air. The answer: I was in The Wallace Collection. Far from Hoxton Square and not too far from the scene in Mayfair, The Wallace Collection houses one of the world's finest collections of fine and decorative arts from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century that include an array of Old Master paintings and it is here that another of the world's finest - and prolific - subjects was to collide with this institution. Damien Hirst rediscovered the paint brush between 2006 and 2008 to produce 25 new paintings for the exhibition, No Love Lost, Blue Paintings.

The exhibition has caused much media attention not only in regards to the 'bold' new direction of Hirst's work but his personal choice to exhibit in such a classical environment au fait with the traditional European style that neighbours the dark, deathly, Bacon-inspired works. The stewards at the Wallace were wonderful and enjoyed the popularity of the show which is bringing in high visitor numbers. 

Several figures have been quoted in regards to the installation of new silk walls and this was confirmed to be in the region of £60,000 - produced by silk manufacturers, Prelle of Lyon (favoured by Marie Antoinette as well as the Wallace). But the light blue striped silks in the two rooms will go with the works once the show closes and the walls will be recovered with a rich green design that is installed in the parallel wing of the house. In total however, it is believed Hirst paid a quarter of a million pounds to hold the exhibition and timing was everything. The two rooms used were scheduled to be renovated, so with Hirst funding the new floor and gilding on the ceiling, the Wallace allowed for the show to take place with half of the bill already covered to make way for the new Venetian Rooms where the collection's Canalettos et al will soon be hung.

I always enjoy the juxtaposition of setting in a contemporary art context and even though Hirst's lexicon of imagery from fags, to sharks and the exhausted skull remains, the show is a triumph - bringing new meaning to the saying, the Devil's in the detail.

P-OP Art

Pop into Pop Life at Tate Modern and prepare to be immersed in the movement of an art form that is as important today as it was at its birth. Art and commerce work hand in hand to address the power of Art on both economic and political stages - a stronger force than the superficiality that is usually perceived. The usual Pop cavaliers are here: Cattelan, Hirst, Koons, Prince and Warhol but enjoy the rare exhibits of work in the UK from American duo Pruitt Early who glamorized African-American culture in the early 1990s with Red, Black, Green, Red, White and Blue (top left), Meyer Vaisman's In The Vicinity Of History (bottom right) as well as Keith Haring's graffiti that invades the space from floor to ceiling as well as his embrace of merchandising as a medium with a version of his Pop Shop concept in the space. Takashi Murakami's practice mirrors that of Haring and his efforts of expanding Warhol's model of factory production are on display in all of its Japanese-glory. From the various directions his work has taken under his company Kaikai Kiki Co. Ltd with collaborations from Pharell Williams to Kanye West, Comme des Garçons and Louis Vuitton as well as his art fair concept GEISAI, highlights include his new work based around the character Akihabara Majokko Princess (centre). Directed by Hollywood director McG, the music video featuring Marvel Comic-doyenne, Kirsten Dunst singing the song "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors and dancing around the infamous Akihabara district. Pop Life highlights the labels between high and low Art - the furore of Prince's work of celebrity Brooke Shields being an example - but its ability to connect with society on an accessible level is where Pop's power lies and it is this power that will affirm Pop's longevity in life and history.


East Coast Recap: Art Edition

Whenever I hit New York, SoHo is one of my first stops. I don't know what it is - maybe it's something in the air, but it always sets the vibe for the rest of my stay - Deitch Projects is always my first Art stop and this time it did not disappoint. Grand Street hosts works by Kurt Kauper with his portraits of America's number one family, the Obamas. These share the space with neon-grotesque paintings and photographs by Francine Spiegel. But it was HERE AND NOW/AND NOWHERE at Wooster Street that got me in the mood. Artist, Tauba Aurebach's mixed media installation explores themes of conflicting states such as randomness and predictability, the present and the past. I was attracted to the crumpled paintings series - large raw canvases, folded and painted subtlety (Untitled Fold Painting V, below) the result was what looked like a magnified alligator skin from afar. Aurebach invited you to walk back and forth and up close to all the works on display, yet as in some cases, the magic was not lost in either 'states'.

The month of October is important in the retail industry, tis' the season of holidays and we all know what that means: buying. But with times a' crunching new ways of making a buck is the name of the game and the creative Art world is no art-school-dropout. The new residents of 988 Madison Avenue is none other than Gagosian from Gagosian Gallery. Offering limited edition products such as books, prints, bone china Superstition plates by Hirst to Tom Sach's version of the Hermès Kelly Bag, the store is a feast of collectible cool. The basement is installed with Hirst's butterfly wallpaper on the walls, as well as his trademark dot paintings, Cathedral prints and several skull knock-offs. All of which can be purchased at the check out desk...


East Coast Recap: Garden Edition

New York has become my second home - and 104th Street Garden my sanctuary. The project has picked up pace and it was a pleasure to meet the resident gardeners and other green-fingered creatives in the such a short space of time. As you can see the garden looks far from the snow-covered patch in the Manhattan Valley the last time I was there. It was great to see it in bloom just before the Autumn kicked in and we were able to discuss the location for my wallpaper design, which we hope to install in several parts throughout the enclosure.

Over the summer, the much anticipated High Line, opened to the public. The High Line park is a section of the former elevated freight railroad located in the heart of Chelsea - paired with the natural growth on the disused tracks, soft planting shapes the landscape with height coming from mixed-species of birch. The project was inspiring and although initial plans were met with controversy, it is great to see green-schemes being supported by Mayor Bloomberg's administration and brings a whole new meaning to walking the line...

While in Chelsea, follow the line to 22nd St and be immersed in the god-like spaces of PaceWildenstein with works by Maya Lin (below) as well as one of my favourite shows I saw by Anselm Reyle - Monochrome Age - at Gagosian Gallery on 24th St. When in Brooklyn, check out the current large-scale organic installation at DAC and Smack Mellon, where artists compete with not only the beauty of the space but the views onto Brooklyn Bridge (above).

West Coast Recap

I've been in my home away from home, the US of A for the last two months exploring art, culture and design. While on the West Coast I was able to a produce an artwork that was on my mind all summer long - Made in California (below) is a hand-printed bandana on 100% cotton - the work is a first for my practice on the scale of 18" square and I hope to work more on this size and continue to screen print onto cotton and silk on my return to England. 

Made in California, 2009

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

L.A. Times: The Getty name is synonymous with Los Angeles. The oil magnate left his collection of art and antiquities to form the J. Paul Getty Museum for the Angelenos to enjoy. Having already visited the breathtaking Getty Center, Brentwood, I made my way to Pacific Palisades west of Malibu, to the Getty Villa. Built on his estate where his private home still resides, this spectacular re-creation of the Villa of the Papryi at Herculaneum, Italy houses Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities - the collection only highlighted by the Mediterranean ornamental and herb gardens that look down to the Pacific Ocean. Although Getty himself died before the completion of the Villa, the J. Paul Getty Trust ensures that Getty's vision is as clear and magnificent as it was intended.

If L.A. gets too much for the soul, head for the oasis that is the Self-Realization Fellowship on Sunset Boulevard. The Lake Shrine provides spiritual prayer and tranquility, through the divinity of the human spirit intended by founder, Paramahansa Yogananda. This was an incredible experience - void of urban noise and digital toxicity - and a surprising find just off the busy West Sunset Boulevard. Namaste and thank you to my Angelenos friends for sharing this special corner of calm with me.

Getty Villa
17985 East Pacific Coast Highway
Pacific Palisades

The Lake Shrine
Self-Realization Fellowship
17190 West Sunset Boulevard
Pacific Palisades


Ten out of Ten

This has to be one of my favourite collaborations of the year thus far: fusing together my tipple de vivre with collaboration-connoisseur de jour, Jeremy Scott has designed a special box for Tanqueray and their premium gin label, N°Ten. The striped retro-print that lines the inside of the box harks back to an Americana cool of the Fifties, and if that's not a good enough reason to pour yourself a G&T, I don't know what is.


All Roads Lead to Rome

There could be nothing more opposite than the cobbled streets of Rome and the god-like blocks that make up New York City in Tetris-formation, yet through to November you can find a slice of cutting edge contemporary art in the Eternal City from sixty artists who call downtown New York 'home' and who all capture the soul and life of "a New York Minute". From street artists to collectives, the exhibition, New York Minute - curated by Kathy Grayson - will be presented at MACRO Future Museum. Look out for the amazing O.H.W.O.W. pop up store that features work by Rafael de Cardenas and if you're in Rome this is a must-see... enjoy! Images thanks to Aaron Bondaroff


Caucho, Telas Y Otras Pieles

If you're in Madrid this weekend, check out Soft Horse at the group show, Caucho, Telas Y Otras Pieles (Rubbers, Fibers & Other Skins) at Associación Cultural Mediodia Chica from the 18th-20th September. The hand-printed design on acrylic fur is being exhibited with other artist's toys from around the world. More photos of the show coming soon - click here for opening times... saddle up kids!


Hermès pour Liberty

Hermès has collaborated with Liberty of London to create an exclusive limited edition range of cotton scarves and ties, using the the maison's iconic 'Ex Libris' design on Liberty's infamous Tana Lawn cotton prints. This unique fusion, designed by Bali Barret, Creative Director of silk at Hermès, pops up in Liberty from September 7th to October 18th. Click here for more info.


Tokyo! Tokyo!! Tokyo!!!

It seems Tokyo has it all figured out - the city has teamed up with artist Tomokazu Matsuyama to take part in an initiative to promote the arts and bring awareness of their 2016 Olympic bid. Tokyo! Tokyo!! Tokyo!!! takes place at Vacant gallery, where Matsuyama installs slick sculpture and ideas of an ideal Tokyo landscape. London 2012 has a lot of catching up to do - good luck Tokyo!. The show is up until August 30th.


360° of Rock

It is a powerful thing when Art and Design meets the Music industry, but the U2 360° Tour is pioneering its way into a whole new league of live entertainment. With its unique claw-like supporting rig, the open-air 360-degree staging and audience configuration to the multiple pantograph video screen, it is a truly inspiring experience. Designed by Willie Williams who has been with U2 since 1982, with the help of architect, Mark Fisher, it is the expanding video screen, streaming rotating digital art animations and graphics that is an absolute triumph, enhancing your proximity to the band. Having rocked it out at Wembley, London, I can honestly say a new standard of live entertainment is born. You can still catch the euphoria in Canada and the USA until late October - it's unmissable ... thank you Karolina!


tART at A.I.R.

Artist, New Yorker and more importantly friend, Anna Lise Jensen, is presenting new work in a group exhibition with the tART collective at A.I.R. Gallery in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Welcome Home: Volume One is a series of projects that documents her experiences with federal interior spaces and features the lovable and delightful Alice and Alvin. The show runs to the 29th August at 111 Front Street, #228 and the gallery is open on Wed-Sun 11am to 6pm.
Anna Lise is also the founder of HOST who is organizing the community garden project I am working on and her sterling work has gained the support of the community garden committee at West 104th Street, Manhattan and the ball is rolling for wall space in the garden for my wallpaper installation as well as my obelisk structures - more news coming soon.

When in Paris...

Hit Colette and pick up the collection of vinyls commissioned exclusively by Curated By Colette from the likes of KAWS, Jeremy Scott to my favourite, Greg Foley - you'll be the kid with the coolest stickers in town.


Artistic Attire

I found the article, 'How Artists Must Dress' by Roger White, in Issue Seven from print and web journal n+1 more entertaining than educational - especially "... a stripe painter may not wear stripes" - I wonder if the same apply for polka dots? Take note Damien.



Check out the new issue, Just What Is It That Makes Today So Different So Appealing? from curatorial platform, INTRODUCING. My Campaign series and new Door Knockers series feature as well as a specially commissioned trailer for the issue. Join the INTRODUCING mailing list here. Enjoy!