Who’s who in the Zoo

Wind in the Willows has always been one of my all-time favourite stories, not in the least because it features English woodland creatures – a rat, mole, badger, toad – running around dressed up like people in waistcoats, hats, glasses and jumpers. Toad even gets hold of a car at some point and manages to crash it into Toad Hall. I also loved Paddington Bear. Zoo Portraits reminds me of these wonderful stories, with a whole citizenry created from almost every animal imaginable. Each has it’s own style and their personalities really do shine through their outfits. The bear in the woolly winter jumper, a Mod wolf, the flying Cheetah. Photographer Yago Partal has certainly taken care to match the clothing to the animals personality and the result a brilliant!

The Zoo Portraits project came about after Yago had created several portraits mixing fashion with the animal kingdom, and was inspired by his own memories of childhood wildlife stories. The project is meant to be nothing more than a fun look at what animals might be like as people, and it’s just really cute! Check out the website and find your favourite.


To Mars or not to Mars?

Today I saw some cool posters that had been created for SpaceX, Elon Musk’s private rocket and spaceship building company (is there anything this man isn’t doing with tech!) and it got me thinking. Elon is planning at some point to ship a bunch of supplies, technology and people up to the red planet in order to colonise it, similar to what Mars One is keen to do – though forgive me if I am a bit hazy on the details – I haven’t been following this that closely.

What fascinates me is our long history of living in fear of Martian creatures and our longstanding obsession with this planet. HG Wells surmised that extra-terrestrial life lived beneath its surface, close to the planet’s core where it was still warm, and looked upon our own blue planet with envy. Countless stories have told us that aggressive Martian’s will attack any human visitors to their red planet (though that’s a pretty fair call as look what happens to other aliens when they visit our planet – E.T, Starman, the poor aliens from District 9 etc. I mean these films are not a great advertisement for inter-planetary relations) and yet we have never visited out closest planetary neighbour except by living vicariously through rovers and pods.

Human beings are still in the very early stages of exploration, and while Doctor Who promises that eventually human kind will spread throughout the Universe, that’s not going to happen for, let’s face reality, at least 50 - 100 years from now (I mean we still don’t have our flying cars or hoverboards damn it and they were supposed to be available this year!). So are we rushing it? Mars One seems ill-prepared at best, and while Elon might own a few rocket ships and have a ton of cash up his silky sleeves, there is a huge difference between having the tools and being able to apply them, and sustain life! These are massive considerations, not to mention that if we have learned anything from Doctor Who it’s that we should be very wary of any water found on Mars…. so I’d like to see a full environmental report before I consider picking up sticks and getting my ass to Mars. That being said though, a quick two week holiday there would be grand.


Shades of a revolution

From Kafka to flying fish, the illustrations of Björn Griesbach in muted tones remind me of how I imagine London would have appeared on a grey day back before the turn of the 20th Century. That is not to say that they are at all dreary, but there is a different kind of magic at work here. Like the hour of the day when all photographers sigh happily, and subconsciously reach for their image takers, these illustrations remind me of a special time, when the world was on the cusp of change, or perhaps it was a time after the industrial revolution had painted everything in shades of grey and brown? You can just imagine through all this grey that every now and then you might see something bright and wonderful peeking through the everyday glum. A flower, a red bicycle, perhaps a glimpse of red lipstick. It is this feeling of a secret glance at something brilliant breaking through that Björn’s work inspires. Enjoy it.


Follow the breadcrumbs

Run away to an enchanted forest where bears chat with Northern Cardinals and skull-faced young children play with Beatrix Potter-esque bunny kids. Subdued shades splashed through with dashes of vibrant colour create a divine contrast, leading your eye on a little journey towards the gorgeous finer details in Candice Tripp’s work. Dark and light mingle in innocence and knowing, taking you away to a place where you too can rest in the bow of a gnarly old tree and just forget about life for a while. 

 Born in Cape Town, South Africa, when she was around 19 years of age, Candice ran away from home all the way to London town. After a few years in the big smoke of the bustling city, she picked up sticks and moved a little further out so that she could focus all her attention on her wonderful art, which she now works on full time the lucky thing! On her website she reveals her secret for never getting lost - no matter where she goes she says a trail of breadcrumbs will lead her home.


Where the dark things grow

When I was undertaking art classes in high school I developed a love of Carravaggio. His paintings are dark, violent, aggressive, beautiful, and reflect the damaged person that he himself was. Carravaggio is not what you would call a likeable person, with his violent tendencies and arrogance making him a hard artist to admire if ‘not being a jerk’ is at all on your list of the required traits. Personally I can look past that. According to most accounts, towards the end of his short 38 year tenure on this planet, Carravaggio would wander from court to court deliberately seeking out ways to exercise his aggression. He carried a sword at his side, even though as he was not part of the nobility this was illegal in Rome at the time.

This longing for violence seems to have seeped into much of his work, which is saturated with the darker side of humanity, myth and religious iconography. Even in the cherubic faces of the boys he painted there is a dark menace. He was a master of the grotesque, and his paintings are a wonderful study of the horror of the human condition, and the torturous stories we create to try and suppress our nature by enforcing religious law and order through fear. At the end of the day this is simply one group’s desire to have power over another. Priests versus paupers.  Yet Carravaggio’s realism was a double-edged sword, with his work sometimes rejected for being vulgar, as was he, with his talent being tempered by his inclination to violence.

Things that go bump in the night

What a long and crazy week it has been. I think my brain is wearing thin, like a wonderfully worn old t-shirt that has gone through the wash too many times and is now being held together by a fragile web of cotton and grim determination not to disintegrate. I was looking for a break and to rest my weary cortex when I came across the marvellous work of Varya Kolesnikova. Her illustrations are enchanting, and like a children’s story they have a brutal innocence to them. At a glance they are endearing, inviting and sweet, but the closer you look and the deeper you go the more of the dark side you will see. Enjoy!