Archives for category: Exhibition

Gavin Turk, born in 1967, is a British artist and is considered to be one of the Young British Artists (also known as the YBAs); the loose group of visual artists who first began to exhibit together in London in 1988. Many of the artists graduated from the BA Fine Art course at Goldsmiths, in the late 1980s. Turk’s oeuvre or ‘theme’ plays with issues of authenticity and identity, engaged with modernist and avant-garde debates surrounding the ‘myth’ of the artist and the ‘authorship’ of a work of art. In the Herbert gallery, there were two pieces of work by Turk called ‘Signature Car Boots’, both 2007 (picture below, my photography as I ‘think’ it was allowed in this part of the exhibition).


IMG_20130321_112245These 3d pieces are stunning in person. As an avid car fan (even though I’m still only learning how to drive, and have no intention of getting a car when/if I pass), I really loved these sculptures (if you can call them that). There wasn’t too much ‘about’ these boots – they were both stripped of number plates and then signed by Gavin Turk himself. All the sign signature remained, and the signature acts like another piece of information about the car – so it poses as a collaboration between Honda (bottom image) and Gavin Turk (the artist).

A question/hint I read at the exhibition:

“Have you ever written your name on a piece of artwork you have done? Why did you do this?

Find the artist’s name on this artwork. Would you think differently about the artwork if it wasn’t signed?”

I think this sums up the concept behind this piece perfectly. It’s very simple and make it a very personal piece for Gavin Turk – as the artwork is ‘made’ by him signing it.


Johnathan Barnbrook of Barnbrook Design, was born in 1966 and is a British graphic designer, film maker and typographer. He trained at many institutions including the Royal College of Art. Barnbrook is arguably most-recognized for his design of the cover artwork of David Bowie’s 2002 album Heathen (pictured below) which featured the debut for his ‘Priori’ typeface.


This is particularly appropriate as Barnbrook cites record cover artwork as an early design influence, and possibly the interest that drew him to graphic design. Barnbrook is also a well known font designer. These are released through ‘VirusFonts’ and include Bastard, Exocet, False Idol, Infidel, Moron, Newspeak, Olympukes, Sarcastic, Shock & Awe.

At the Herbert Gallery, there was only one piece of work my Jonathan Barnbrook (I think). Pictured below, As Long As We Know What We’re Fighting For (1992) was featured on the longest wall of the exhibition next to the likes of Kennardphillipps and Blek Le Rat, and like these artist, stood out to me greatly.


I absolutely love this design. Standing in front of it, I ‘googled’ the title to find a High Res digital file, but couldn’t at the time so I left it til I got home (and still to this very day can’t find a single image on the net bar the above). I think the one of the single things that pops out to me is the use of branding. Texaco, the huge fuel company appear on this design. As Barnbrook founded his studio in 1990, he started to produce anti-advertising and political work in the aim to inform and educate people about social and political issues. In this above work, the US Air Force logo has been removed and replaced with the Texaco branding, making clear his feelings about the real reason for the war – fuel.

Apart from the concept behind the design, I also love it as a piece of design in it’s layout and shape. It looks very current and digital – something I’m finding an awful lot with Art & Design from the past. I know this is only 20 odd year old, but it looks something that the Illustrator would be perfect for. The use of photograph and illustrations (both of planes) is brilliant – the use of transparency with the illustration and the layers of shape give the piece a real depth – combining with the angle of the planes really gives you the birds eye view angle – making the piece look more realistic like a map/photography.

In whole, this was probably my favourite piece of design from the whole exhibition, and I really wish I could view a high res photo or even to see is with my own eyes again. This really makes me want to go back to Coventry before July when the exhibition closes to view this and many more pieces again.

KENNARDPHILLIPPS  are a collaboration (Peter Kennard and Cat Picton Phillipps) who have beed working since 2002 to produce art in response to the invasion (and war) of Iraq. It has evolved to confront power and war all across the globe; focusing mainly on the UK’s political figures. The work is made for the street, the gallery, the web, newspapers & magazines, and his lead to workshops that develops peoples’ skills and help them express their thoughts on what’s happening in the world through visual means. There were a number of Kennardphillipps’ work in the Herbert Gallery, many of which I loved.


The first piece I saw, which is pictured above, was a image called Photo-OP (2005), and has become synonymous with anti-war movements and has appeared in numereous publications, newspapers and television programmes since it’s release.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair (pictured above) strongly supported te foreign policies of the US in his reign from 2000 to 2008. Together the US and Britain led the invasion of Iraq in 2003. This met with strong political and public opposition and millions across the world protested. The playwright Harold Pinted accused Tony Blair of being a war criminal, and this lead to this very design.


This is the 2nd out of 3 or 4 pieces by Kennardphillipps in the Gallery, this one called Solider 1 or ‘Soldier’. It was displayed on a (estimate) a 22ft long, 8ft high wall in the middle of the main art exhibition room. We also discussed this piece in a lecture the following day (back at Uni), and it was very interesting to find out what other people thought about it, including people who could distinguish hidden factors that helped us come to conclusion of what the piece meant. As you can see, the main focus of the piece is the Solider kicking through a door in this very bold, strong, action-filled pose. Below him, is what looks to be a flip flop lying on the floor – this could have something to do with the standard attire of an Iraqi, and then relating to the object we often wear in the ‘heat’ of summer – whether it be a rare occasion in England, or a trip into Europe and the rest of the world in the summer months. You then see very subtle, blurred silhouettes of what seems to be humans – probably intentionally the people of Iraq, signifying us (the UK/US Soldiers) are infiltrating their country, their homes and more importantly their lives.

This piece of work has been displayed in many different forms of media – usually billboards, or in exhibitions, but I love this version, where Kennardphillipps have made more of a 3D model using printouts and just gave the solider his own space off the canvas:


Shortly after entering the Herbert, and after seeing the first piece of work by Banksy, my eye was drawn to these two colourful typographic pieces by Michael Peel. The two pieces the Herbert featured were War Graves (1991) (top image) and Warning (1996) (bottom left image, other two completed the series but weren’t featured in the Gallery.).



These two pieces of work featured in The Herbert are part of Michael Peel’s Modern World series; were the designs were created in response to the First Gulf War & Political events, and use images and pieces of text taken from the media. ‘Warning’ comment on the conflict in Yugoslavia, and War Graves was design about the soldiers in Iraq; with the images being rather ghostly implying that’s what they will inevitably become.

These pieces are designed using visual hierarchy that is designed to bring the eye into the piece and guide it around smoothly. You can therefore imagine how this was one of the very first pieces of work I was drawn to. I really like both these pieces – they both use very simple grid arrangements, using a back background, with borders varying between white, grey and black, and then a black and white image. He then uses newsprint type on top on the image as the title, using highly contrasting letters, rotating the use between type and background each letter. The more subtler type in these piece are what interest me an awful lot. They make the pieces look very informative (which they are), like a poster, but the way they are under lapped and ‘faded’ in with the backgrounds make it all seem very fluid.

I also love (on War Graves) how Peel has let type ran off the page into black space (without a page border). It makes me want to read more in to the artwork – finding out what the sentences would say complete and the meaning behind why they are used. It also gives a very nature and un-edited feel – like the articles was simply roughly cut out off a newspaper – but very clean in the process as the edges are smooth, crisp and form a perfect rectangular shape. Again, subtle uses of colour in the circle and plus signs in each bottom corner give the piece more personality, and more reason to doubt and question why they are there.

At entering The Herbert Gallery in Coventry, we immediately (as a group) went in to the main art exhibiton room, and on the very first wall infront of us, were pieces of work by Banksy. I have been a huge fan of Banksy since (around) 2006 as I saw a piece of his work on Brick Lane, on my first EVER visit to London. I have previously talked about Banksy in an ITAP Lecture – rather in the same way he was portrayed at The Herbert. The first piece of work by Banksy, Napalm, 2004 (pictured below), was situated next to Suburban Summer Evenings by Bob Barron (pictured below), painted in the early-mid 80’s.


(c) Bob Barron; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

They both feature versions of Nick Ut’s 1972 Pulitzer Prize–winning photograph of nine year old Kim Phuc; the girl that ran down a road nude near Trang Bang after an Air Force napalm attack in South Vietnam. Banksy is somewhat ‘known’ to be this ‘original, new, street artist’ – and don’t get me wrong – I love Banksy and his work, but there were people before him, such as Blek Le Rat (to be featured later), who had similar ‘outrageous and controversial’  styles to Art, known as Satirical Street Art. You can see in these two images how both artists have used the iconic image in a controversial manor; taking the mick a bit with how they have been used and concept behind the piece. Out of the two, I prefer Banksy’s take on this iconic 20th Century photograph, as it has more of a visual concept and the viewer can easily understand it’s meaning. Banksy probably learnt from Barron’s ‘mistakes’, and then obviously applied his own style. The below images, Bomb Hugger (2002), top image, and CND Soldiers (2005), bottom image, were also works by Banksy both featured at the Exhibiton.



CND Soldiers was positioned next to Desert Storm by Blek Le Rat (image below). Another little ‘play’ by the exhibitors placing artworks next to each other that one was clearly an influence to the other (Le Rat being the influence to Banksy).


Both are forms of Satirical Art, with Banksy playing on the Soldiers supporting CND and peace – which is the total opposite of their profession, and Blek Le Rat using the desert camouflage pattern (which is quite big and has made it’s comeback into fashion at the moment), with birds and bats camouflaged in, and the stenciled design of the solider (with no eyes), and the symbols of execution.

This was one thing I wasn’t expecting from the exhibition prior to going to see it, and was pleasantly surprised at finding two of my favourite street artist had been featured in it.

Mel Brimfield was another artist I missed the first time around BMAG. This work by was commissioned by the Government Art Collection for the exhibition, ‘Commissions: Now and Then’, held at the Whitechapel Gallery, London from June to September 2012, and then moved to the Birmingham Art Gallery for the exhibition we visited. Unfortunately, I was stopped from taking photos of this work, so the images below (and the history) are from the link provided. This was probably my favourite series from the whole trip, and why I’ve left it til last. The space consisted of many objects, including a self playing, illustrated piano, and the two pieces of work displayed below.



My favourite individual piece in this series is the image on the left (featured in a higher quality below). All the pieces were related to Roger Bannister, the famous 1500m runner. The piano had type reading “Prepared Pianola For Roger Bannister”, and both designs included facts about his winning event. I reason I love the below image so much is the feel of celebration you get from reading the individual facts. The design on it is absoluetly fantastic – I love the shade of blue used in the background, and then the white type with the red shadow to allow it to stand out. I reminds me of the colours used (in design) for the original tinted lenses 3D glasses. That could have been something Mel Brimfield designed it for; as it being an ‘old’ event, She could have implied its age by using the old 3D methods. The design to me seems very simple even though there isn’t too much ‘blank space’. The design all flows together by the use of curved lines and strong type. The design on the right of the running blocks with the partisipants name, countries and then their starting race path is absolutely fantastic.



This below image is also fantastic. Something I notice immediately is the aspect of the design being ‘pinned’ up in a frame – so uncropped, and this is something I’m seeing more in ‘ammeter’ design on blogs I use such as Tumblr. It’s an easy and effective method that makes something look that little bit more real. Its sometimes paired with crease marks, from shadows and gradients people have applied in Photoshop or Illustrator. This crease effect isn’t used in this piece, and looking at the print up close, it looks very clean and well designed. It’s extremely detailed in the overlapping of circuits, and the use of the orange on grey/white is perfect – and a colour scheme I find really effective (as you can see from the appearance of my blog).


I hope to find some more Mel Brimfield pieces similiar to this on the internet or from the libary, because it is something that really appeals to me. I may use Mel as one my final heroes IF the research I do pays off.

Katsushika Hokusai was one of the first artists we noticed on our first trip to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. There was a series of Japanese work, in an exhibition titled ‘The Aspects of Japan’. I remember the name of Katsushika Hokusai as soon as I saw it on the information slip. He is most known for his image ‘The Great Wave’ (pictured below). I have always been a huge fan of Hokusai, in particular his huge attention to detail. All of his work are Colour Woodblock Prints, which require a huge attention to be perfectly accurate as every single mark you make into the wood, will be shown in your outcome. There has been many variations of this below image, were it has been remastered to give a more ‘bluer’ sea, a brighter sky and development into the mountain you can see in the middle near the bottom, but I believe this is the original as Katsushika Hokusai intended. Many people have also tried to carry on The Great Wave, by designing the other side of the wave (to the right, off the canvas), but I think this is the best edition. The colours are all so natural and look purely intended. The subtle changes in the sky; from a light yellow to white are incredible.


Picture below is the image I took inside the Art Gallery of Katsushika Hokusais’s featured piece. It is titled “A Journey to the Waterfalls of all the Provinces: Ono Waterfall on the Kisokaido Road”. The description from inside BMAG reads like this:

“Published in 1832, this is one of a series of eight prints featuring views of famous waterfalls in Japan. The Ono waterfall is located by the Kiso River, near the town of Agematsu in Nagano. A group of travellers pause on a bridge to marvel at the magnificent view of the waterfall. There are two buildings nearby; the central one is a small shrine, while the one on the left is a teahouse for travellers.”



This piece is a beautiful as The Great Wave and should be as noticed as the more familiar. The attention to detail is also so high, and contrast between the blue of the waterfall and the river to the strong browns of the tree trunks creates a strong visual hierarchy were your eye is drawn to certain areas of the image, and allows you to cast your eye into the piece to find the detail.

Another of my great loves in design is Japanese and Chinese lettering and type. For many years, I have been interest in Japanese art, and emulated something using a strong cartoon style in my A-Level Art course – but nothing like this. I hope to sometime use Chinese/Japanese lettering along this Uni course, and if not, then I will just do a little experiment for myself. I kind of see the shapes as pure shape and not a lettering, so I think it would be nice to redesign a type face combining the typical typeface, such as Helvetica and symbols from images such like this.


When we went to BMAG, the main feature was the Government Art Collection. Outside BMAG, huge posters hung advertising this exhibition, with Andy Warhol’s design of the Queen (pictured below) on this poster, as it was the main attraction. Unfortunately, the first time we went around BMAG (on the Thursday), I missed the room the main Government Art was displayed in, along with many more great artwork my fellow students were talking about. When walking around with my friend, I think we went into the Museum sections before we had seen all of the artwork, so I went back early the following week to see what I had missed, and found some of the artists I will be talking about on here.


I have been a great lover of Andy Warhol and his work for many years; throughout my Art course at High School & College, it gave me the ideas to do more ‘graphic’ pieces than traditional fine art – and this was perfectly fine to all my teachers. His work gave me the opportunity (and provided reference) to create piece that would be more describable as Illustration, as this was the method I preferred.

One of his most famous images; Marilyn Monroe (pictured below), was the first piece of Warhol’s I ever saw. The artwork is now pictured in huge galleries all over the world, such as The Tate, but my favourite thing about this image is it’s age. Created in 1962, but it looks like something someone has drawn up on Illustrator and Photoshop. Printed as a Lithographic poster on paper, the famous piece looks extremely contemporary, like a very recent piece that someone has drawn up in the past years.



In terms of Design, I a huge fan of the way Andy Warhol has used strong shapes of colour in many of his pieces. Used as background or inter sections on a face (both shown above), his choice of colour & shape and positioning is incredible. The tones he creates – on the Government Queen piece create the tones of the Queen we see – such as on a bank note and then in photo’s/television. His use of rough line – probably a result of the printing processes he went through, such as I did when printing from Lino Cuts, is incredible. The colours all look so bright and consistent which counteract the roughness of shape and line, to create some truly stunning pieces.

The second feature from this day trip comes from an artist featured at The IKON Gallery; Timur Novikov. Novikov was a Russian Philosopher, Graphic Artist, Designer, Painter, Art Theorist and Curator. He sadly passed away in 2002 aged 44. The pieces featured in the IKON were a series of big material pieces, printed on cloth, hung from the walls. In total there were about 8 pieces and an animation of one of pieces. As my Dad is a bespoke Tailor, I have always had an interest in Cloth and textiles in general. These prints were fantastically simple, but so detailed at the same time. There wasn’t a single image I didn’t like – and many of my fellow students (and lecturers) didn’t like IKON as a whole, where this exhibition stood out to me. I think I could easily recreate these piece as Vector Illustrations, and may do, because I like them that much. Picture below are photographs I took at the Exhibition of the pieces I loved.


This piece above was my favourite out of all. All the designs have an aspect of perspective or shape – like setting the scene. Many of his pieces feature horizons, such as the Aeroplane Design above. This is one I really want to persue into Vector Design. The contrast between the yellow ‘sunset’ sky and the blue and white stripes (which is coincidentally my football team’s colour’s) is amazing. The detailed print of the aeroplane taking off (or coming to land) is fantastic. There is also a ‘signature’ of type at the bottom in the center (which appears somewhere in every single piece), which I also think is wonderful – it just adds a personal element.


This Image was the design I mentioned that was animated. The design features black and white halfes with penguins jumping from the white into the black. The Animation was a simple stop frame animation of penguins coming into the canvas and jumping into the ‘sea’. There is also type on this design in the centre, which just adds a little personality.


This final image just shows the detail of the prints on each piece of cloth. This design was below waist level so I was lucky enough to get an in focus photo on my phone (where the other two were well above my head). I think these prints would be done by some sort of mono print (or a similar technique), as from looking there is no resin left on the cloth, and the print is very smoothe so I doubt it would be paint.

Overall, I really enjoyed looking through Timur Novikov’s work. I had never heard or seen any of his designs again, but the very first thing I thought about was the Vector ‘translation’ of these, so I might study my photos and create some images in Illustrator and post them back here.

As part of our Uni course, we went on a day trip to two galleries – IKON Gallery & Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Eva Weinmayr was an artist featured in BMAG, and was one of my favourites designers of the day. ‘Today’s Question’ – the series featured in BMAG (pictured below) uses simple colour palettes in each design. As you can see, her style is very simple and clean – the designs themselves each feature one individual typeface. The theme of the designs are a question followed by two ‘buttons’ – offering the answers. They usually are all quite quirky, and suggest the things wrong within the society of today. I could use the phrase ‘white-space’ to critique these designs, but Eva Weinmayr often uses a 1/3 grey as the backgrounds to her design, and then a strong, bright colour, usually primary or secondary, as the font colour and detail.


I am a huge fan of series’ in Graphic Design – like when an artist does a series of images (more than 2/3) and they all match in both design and ‘meaning’. The little things, like the ‘shadow’ on the buttons to show the depth, and the uniformed recantangle background for the main question, make this set of designs very clever and effective. I would love to see more of these designs come from Eva Weinmayr, and I hope they get the recognition they deserve. A simple idea makes a design, in my opinion.


Images from