Posted in Arty sparks

Sydney Saturday: Art and the Garden

On Saturday, my friend Jane and I hopped on the Art Gallery’s Art Bus with some other cool kids (not really) and went on a tour of some galleries around Sydney. Not the ooh la la, please buy an expensive catalogue, don’t touch the white walls kinda galleries, but spaces for emerging artists. The focus for this Art Bus trip was photography and, although not all of it was my cup of tea, it was interesting to visit some different places and see some (very) different art. A great way to spend an afternoon – you can check out more about the Art Bus (and our amazing Gallery) here.

It was a beautiful autumn day on Saturday and before our bus trip we wandered around the Botanic Gardens. Another amazing Sydney place (that is completely free to enjoy!) that I love, but don’t visit often enough. Jane was keen to show me some of the work of the Gardens’ 2012 Artist in Residence, Phillippa Carnemolla. There are some fantastic pieces of Phillippa’s jewellery for sale in the Gardens’ shop, inspired by plants and bugs and other stuff that Phillippa encountered during her year in the Gardens (not literally, am fairly sure she didn’t have to live up in a treehouse or anything).

The Breathing Conifer
The Breathing Conifer

The highlight was the centrepiece of Phillippa’s work – the Breathing Conifer. It was designed by Phillippa and made with the help of a lot of kids who would otherwise not have been involved in art – kids from respite centres, youth groups & disability programs. They helped by colouring in all of those beautiful panels and the Conifer now hangs in the Fernery of the Gardens. They say that it ‘pulses with a gentle heartbeat’ and it’s kinda true – there is a mechanism inside it that inflates and deflates the Conifer and it is very calming as you relax your breathing to match it. Just the thing for those stressed out office workers in the ‘hood.

If you’re in or around the Gardens, I highly recommend checking it out – especially if you could do with some de-stressing. You can read more about it on the Gardens’ website here.

Posted in Arty sparks, Sparks in the wild

Taxidermy with a difference

A recent sale at shared the work of C.G.Sparks (no relation) with the caption ‘artful animal-free taxidermy’. A niche market, to be sure. But I do like these wall trophies, celebrating someone’s skill with recycled rope and creative accessories rather than someone’s skill with a powerful weapon aimed at an animal just chillaxing in the woods. And although I’ve not yet seen a bear or lion or elephant in the wild, I’m tipping these ropey versions come in much cooler colours.

The C.G. Sparks version of a deer.  [image from]
The deer, according to C.G. Sparks.
[image from]
The mountain lion. Still scary, even in rope form. [image from]
The mountain lion. Still scary, even in rope form.
[image from]
Say what? Nah, it's not ivory - it's 'medium density fibreboard'. Phew. [image from]
Say what? Nah, it’s not ivory – it’s ‘medium density fibreboard’. Phew.
[image from]
You can check out other cool things via the curated sales at here – and although I can’t find these taxidermy friends on the C.G. Sparks website, they do have lots of other pretty great stuff (they call it ‘furniture with soul’) for your home here.

Posted in Arty sparks

Edible Art

I’m not an artist, so I’m frequently left in awe of people with artistic talent. And when an artist uses some wacky materials in their work, so much the better, I say. Which is why I was so excited to discover the work of Malaysian artist-architect Hong Yi (nickname Red) via one of my favourite sites: designboom. One of Red’s latest projects is ’31 Days Of Creativity With Food’. Sounds good. Looks AMAHZING! Here are some of my favourites…

Hong Yi's foodie version of 'The Scream', via
Hong Yi’s foodie version of ‘The Scream’, via
Hong Yi's chickens, via
Hong Yi’s chickens, via
Now these are the kind of balloons that I like, along with Hong Yi's soy sauce people, via
Now these are the kind of balloons that I like, along with Hong Yi’s soy sauce people, via
Grrrr - eat your radish, carrots and prunes, says Hong Yi's tiger, via
Grrrr – eat your radish, carrots and prunes, says Hong Yi’s tiger, via
Incredible Oreo art by Hong Yi, via
Incredible Oreo art by Hong Yi, via

You can check out more great pics on the designboom site here and there are more amazing projects on Red’s official website here. Such incredible talent and imagination, I’m truly in awe.

Posted in Arty sparks

Very Cross Stitch

I’ll be honest – I’ve never really understood cross stitch. I know there are people out there who love it and find it therapeutic or wholesome or blah blah blah, but I’ve always thought it was a little bit pointless. Until now. I have found my kind of cross stitch, created by Julie Jackson at Subversive Cross Stitch. I’ll let Julie explain: “Subversive Cross Stitch began in the spring of 2003 as a form of anger management therapy when I was dealing with a cruel bully of a boss. At my wit’s end and in dire need of some art therapy, I stopped by a craft store on the way home from work one day…”

And the rest, as they say, is history. Rather than sticking to the pattern of pretty little pink roses, Julie freestyled and added an expletive (it’s a family blog, so I won’t spell it out here) to better capture how she was feeling. The expletive was of course neatly cross stitched into the centre of the circle of pretty pink roses, which got Julie thinking about the benefits of cross stitch with attitude. And so it began – you can now get kits, tips and supplies from Julie’s website. Perfect for a home made gift with a difference, or perhaps for someone who’s cranky about having a bit of time on their hands. Probably not quite right for Granny’s 85th birthday though.

I can’t show too many examples of Julie’s fantastic work here, but I assure you that the Subversive Cross Stitch website is well worth a visit!

I really do.
The modern ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’.
Perfect for the office.
So wrong that it’s right.
One of my favourite pieces of HR advice.

That’s just a taste of the amazing things you’ll find on the Subversive Cross Stitch website here. So much inspiration, I love it!

Posted in Arty sparks

On the map

I think Karen M. O’Leary is very clever. An artist / architect based in North Carolina, Ms O’Leary creates original ‘modern map art’, in the belief that ‘a map is more than just a navigational tool – it also tells a story’. My lovely friend Aoife gave me one of StudioKMO’s creations – a map of Dublin city – as a fantastic souvenir of my recent trip to Ireland. I thought it was pretty incredible – a map of the city created entirely out of black lines – and when Aoife told me that there was an etsy shop, I was sold. StudioKMO features some amazing works of art – I’ve included some examples from Karen’s collection below.

Dublin – stretched canvas print
(c) StudioKMO
Detail of Dublin print
(c) StudioKMO

In addition to the hand-drawn maps, StudioKMO features incredible paper cut cities, like this unbelievable hand-cut map of London.

London map cut
(c) StudioKMO

And if you can’t decide on a city, you could always go for the set of 25 collector postcards.

Collector postcards
(c) StudioKMO

So, whether you’re after a unique gift to remember a city that you love, to remind you of home, to inspire you to travel, or to mark a special event…or if you just want to marvel at the incredible skill and technique of Karen O’Leary and her hand-drawn and hand-cut world of maps, you can check out her brilliant StudioKMO on etsy here.