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!