Piece of the Week: No Seconds Series by Henry Hargreaves

What would your last meal be if you would never eat again? 

For the death row inmates, this is a real question. 


Photographer Henry Hargreaves in his series No Seconds reenacts the ‘last meal’ choices of those sentenced to death.

The Rostrum setup (shooting from above) is particularly effective for this series, as the reader feels as though they are the death-row inmate, examining what will be their last meal. These sharp, vivid images speak for themselves.

Laid out in a gourmet fashion, the composition effectively reminds the reader of the importance of life, and the small perks which we can give these people on their final departure. In combination with the text, we begin to associate a person with the food – seeing it as a final comfort, a final ‘guitly’ pleasure…

For More: http://www.lostateminor.com/2014/03/24/last-meals-death-row-inmates/
Watch ‘Life on Death Row’ – BBC IPlayer


Get Sticking!

Get Sticking!

As part of my on going art project based on our nature of ‘reading’ images, I made this collage (of my brother, again) entirely from newspapers/ other ephemera in his room. (I asked first!)

We are using these clues of him to shape a whole new idea of his psyche, which is what I tried to portray here. Hope you like it!

Pssst! If you look really closely, you’ll find that the right hand side of his nose is made from Vietnam (that was from an old atlas image in the metro)

Elizabethans Undressed – Quite Literally!

Friday saw the National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Late Shift Extra’, a huge event for the gallery which occurs once every four months.

This time the Tudor’s had a chance to showcase their era with “The Elizabethans Undressed”, to coincide with the current exhibition “Elizabeth I and Her People”
Events Included:

– Authentic Elizabethan music performances (Thanks to Mediva)
– Arts and Crafts Activities (Calligraphy, make your own ruffle, drawing models in Tudor dress)
– Dressing by costume designer Jenny Tiramani and Elizabethan Catwalk
– Talks by curator Taryna Cooper, including Elizabethan Artists, interiors, rebellion and espionage
– A rather raunchy performance of John Donne’s poem “Elegy 19 To his Mistress Going to Bed”, (with a mini-lecture on the origins of Tudor aristocratic dress)

This was a completely new take on the gallery scene for me – the portraits were surrounded by a vibrant atmosphere of music, dance, drinks and quirky activities. The NPG is all about people – and by combining our society with Elizabethan tradition we are able to view how similar we actually are.



Three minute sketches of a model wearing an exact replica of a Tudor Romeo costume. The Workshop was held by Dennis Northdruft, Curator at the Fashion and Textile Muesum.


My initials  in Elizabethan Calligraphy, courtesy of Eva Driskell, scribe!  (the ‘x’ stands for Xuan, which is Vietnamese for spring, incase anyone was wondering)



30 Second sketches of my model before he was dressed

My friend and I were interviewed about our experience. I will post the video soon when it’s up!

For more: http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/elizabethi/exhibition.php

Piece of the Week: The Swing (After Fragonard)



Artist: Yinka Shonibare
Date: 2001  (contemporary art, but based on 18th Century Rococco)
Title: The Swing (After Fragonard)
Media: Mannequin, Cotton Costume, 2 Slippers, Swing Seat, 2 Ropes, Oak Twig and Artificial Foliage

A rather humourous reaction to the original (seen below), Shonibare reunites us with Fragonard’s The Swing but with a historic hindsight. The original Swing was painted in a Rococco style – a movement packed with light and airy symbolism, popular with the French Aristocrats in the mid 18th century. 

Shonibare takes this notion and completely spins it on it’s head – he represents the female subject in sculpture, changing the fabric of her cultural dress to African print, hinting at the cultural diversity in today’s world. It is instantly noticeable to us that the female lacks a head. This can be interpreted as a simultaneous criticism of the Rococco and French aristocracy; both lack personality and moral reasoning. The head could also be a symbol of the guillotine, which was introduced to Paris 25 years after Fragonard finished his painting. It reminds us of the Royalist’s fate and our misplaced importance on materialism.    

Although Shonibare intends for the piece to be seen front view, it’s 3-Dimensional medium means that we can assume position of the two male spectators and place ourselves at the back or beneath her skirt. Something familiar is made uncanny and brings the exposition of females to a whole new level. 


The Swing – 1767

For morehttp://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/shonibare-the-swing-after-fragonard-t07952/text-summary

Piece of the Week: Gypsy Splendor


Artist: Dame Laura Knight
Date: 1939  (Impressionism)
Title: Gypsy Splendor
Media: Oil on Canvas 

The way a female artist portrays another woman is considerably different to a male’s, I find. Here the sitter, Lilo Smith (a close friend of Knight’s and her favourite sitter is pictured as she is in her home in Iver: the sheet implying she is comfortable and serene yet on display through her ostentatious ostrich plume hat.

Dame Laura Knight was the second ever woman to become a full member of the royal Academy. She was a portrait painter for all demographics; circus folk, performers, black people and those of the upper/middle classes. She insisted on taking her work in her own direction and her work as a result of this experienced a multitude of styles. 

The use of colour works particularly well in this piece: the stripes on the waggon door begin to frame in on the dark-green scarf and Lilo’s face. Her portrayal in pastel colours is juxtaposed well with the brightness, maintaining a balance between her contemplative personality and vivid lifestyle. 

 For more: Go to the Laura Knight exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (ends 13th October) 

Piece of the Week: The Raft of the Medusa

Artist: Théodore Géricault (1791-1824)
Date: 1818-19  (Romantic)
Title: The Raft of the Medusa


I find it hard to believe that this hyper-tragedy was inspired on a real-life incident during Gericault’s lifetime: The sinking of the Medusa – a french royal Navy frigate- in 1816. When the ship sunk near the coast of Senegal, over 150 of it’s passengers were forced to build a raft which saved only 10 lives. 

This piece exploits the fragility of the human condition, and is particularly effective in this Romantic style. We are able to experience the sublime of the cruel sea and face the truth: there are some things which even man cannot conquer.

The use of chiaroscuro (contrasts of light and shadow) bring our attention to the piles of bodies lapped against one another at varying heights. To me, this symbolises their hope. The higher up diagonally you get to the top left, the more you realise that these men  are  refusing to accept death, waving in agitation at a miniscule ship in the distance. Two men lie distracted with the corpses at the foot of the raft, lost in mourning or accepting their harsh fate. To the left, a wave is building strength, ready to engulf them all. 

When it was first exhibited in 1819, it received a very mixed response, with the followers of classicism calling it “a pile of corpses”. Inevitably though, that is the painting’s strength, to remind us of our short  time alive and our humility with nature. 

For more: http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/raft-medusa