Apr 30 2012: Ten Colour Interiors from Curtains Make The Room (Rufflette Limited, 1960s)

One year on from its beginnings, this gallery of plates from a 1960s curtain catalogue, produced by the marvellously-named Rufflette Limited to advertise its varied designs, brings The Serendipity Project to its conclusion. Since May 1st 2011 every day has seen an image, gallery, sound-file or some other thing (hopefully something of interest) archived here: … Continue reading

Apr 16 2012: Eight Kitsch Dream Images by Salvador Dali (Coronet Magazine, 1950)

Coronet magazine seems to have been, in format and approach, an attempt to imitate the success of Reader’s Digest. In among its pages of amusing anecdotes, abridged stories and other human interest material fairly typical of its time, however, are some intriguing advertisements and a definite curveball, given the journal’s otherwise rather conservative idiom, in … Continue reading

Mar 6 2012: Six Photographs of Grottoes, Canyons and Other Rock Formations (from Unknown Encyclopedia, 1930s)

The interiors of bodies and geological formations have been fused together in a few of the visual equations of Robert Holcombe before now, and occur again (several times) in a series of poems I’ve been writing under the working title A Cycle of Songs for the Body’s Interior, modelled somewhat obliquely on the rather compelling seasonal songs produced … Continue reading

Mar 3 2012: A Gallery of Twenty-Nine Postcard Collages and Portraits (i.m. Wislawa Szymborska, 1923 – 2012)

When I heard news of the death of Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska on the 1st February 2012 it can’t have been too much of a surprise, given her advanced years and the presence of a cigarette in pretty much every photograph I’d ever seen of her. But, in an irony she’d perhaps have appreciated, a … Continue reading

Enfants Terrible : How The First Wave of British Pop Art Got To Stick Around (NVA, 2012)

“Pop did not count ‘ephemeral’ as an insult. It was for the present, and even more for the future: it was not for the past, and saw nothing to regret in the changes which had come about in England since 1945…” [John Russell in Pop Art Redefined, Thames & Hudson, 1969] “Hockney’s range is maybe … Continue reading

Ian Breakwell’s The Elusive State of Happiness (QUAD Gallery, 2010)

There has been some confusion about this exhibition, which was initially billed as Breakwell’s first solo retrospective, then later re-branded as the first since his death in 2005, at the relatively young age of 62, but whichever it might be, it’s definitely his biggest showing to date in his home city of Derby, and one … Continue reading

Towards A Post-War Aesthetic: The Design Research Unit and This Is Tomorrow (NVA, 2011)

“In other words, what is required as a preliminary to any practical solution of the division existing between art and industry is a clear understanding, not only of the processes of modern production, but also of the nature of art. Not until we have reduced the work of art to its essentials, stripped it of … Continue reading

Diane Arbus and Gert & Uwe Tobias at Nottingham Contemporary (NVA, 2010)

In C.J.S. Thompson’s The History and Lore of Freaks (1930) the author begins with a blunt statement of fact: “From the earliest period of the world’s history abnormal creatures or monstrosities, both human and animal, have existed…and excited the wonder of mankind”. These two exhibitions demonstrate that the ancient interest outlined by Thompson’s survey remains … Continue reading

Angels of Anarchy – Women Artists and Surrealism (NVA, 2009)

So many misconceptions about Surrealism are unquestioningly peddled as historical fact in the public domain that addressing the subject often feels like approaching a thicket of weeds with a machete. Reviews of the current exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, curated by Patricia Allmer, have offered a case in point, with broadsheet critics repeating various myths, … Continue reading