Monday, December 15, 2008


Photograph of one of Peter Beard's many African journals

It was a hot weekend and all we felt like doing was flopping inside, sipping long glasses of iced ginger tea. I however, cannot sit ...or flop...and do nothing for long so I hauled out a pile of my favourite books to get my mind off the heat.

When re-reading my books there are certain pages that I return to over and over again. Pages that either inspire or stir my curiosity enough to send me off on a google frenzy. Actually it doesn't take much to stir me into a google frenzy!

I thought I would share some of my favourite pages with you. The pages that stop me in my tracks even though I've seen them many times before.

The first one, from Africa Interior Design is a beautiful room in a farm house in Cape Town. The carved door from Mali caught my attention but the rest of the room is just as gorgeous. This house is featured in many books and magazines here in South Africa.

The Basket Room, Hotel Le Saxon, in Johannesburg --from At Home With Art by Tiddy Rowan.

The home and studio of sculptor Axel Cassel in Normandy. I love the mingling of books, african artefacts and ethnographic objects with his own pieces. From Contemporary Natural by Phyllis Richardson and Solvi Dos Santos.

An old favourite which I picked up on a sale for next to nothing, many years ago. Henry Moore: My Ideas, Inspiration and Life as an Artist by Henry Moore and John Hedgecoe. Seeing artists working in their studios is a big thrill for me.

This page from Art Making, Collections and Obsessions by Lynne Perrella is so my cup of tea!

In Amulets by Sheila Paine there are hundreds (431 to be exact) of intriguing illustrations. This cabinet is an 18th-century apothecary's cabinet filled with amulets dating from antiquity to 19th-century, France.

South African artist, Norman Catherine sitting amongst his giant fibreglass sculptures. They all have humerous names and are far more impressive in life than they are here in the book, Norman Catherine by Hazel Friedman.

There are so many pages that I gravitate to in The Artful Dodger by Nick Bantock but I'll share just the one of a collage which is included in Bantock's book The Venetian's Wife.

Last but not least are a few pages from Peter Beard's African journals. Many of the pages in Taschen's double volume, PETER BEARD, leave me feeling quite gobsmacked.

Can you believe the size of this mighty croc?

...And the young Peter Beard himself.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Ptolemy Elrington transforms hubcaps and shopping trolleys into the most fantastic creatures.
The fish, in particular, are ingenius creations made from discarded hubcaps.

"My fish try to say things about our wasteful society and about our prejudices towards value. Hopefully they will encourage people to reconsider before they discard something which apparently has no purpose."

This piece was commissioned by Anglian Water to highlight river pollution. Elrington created 10 river creatures out of discarded shopping trolleys. Read more about it here.

There are more amazing photographs and an excellent interview with Polemy over at Layers upon Layers.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Swan's Nest Maze , 40m diameter earthwork.

Since everyone enjoyed the Nest post I thought it would be a good idea to follow up with an Egg post. Each masterpiece has been a revelation, from the tiniest Netsuke egg to the biggest landscape sculpture. The Swan's Nest Maze above, is part of a series of works interpreting nests and habitats of wetland species. This site is well worth a visit. A maze "leads into a central area where people discover a series of large stone egg sculptures containing carved alabaster representations of the three main stages of swan embryo development."

"Displaced Egg" by Max Nowell - Westmorland green slate. 7 feet tall.

There are some magnificent stone sculptures on Max Nowell's site. If you like Andy Goldsworthy's work you will like Max's work too. In fact he has worked with Goldsworthy.

"Stone is a fascinating material. It is easy to think of it as an inert, never-changing, lifeless substance, but I think of it differently. Geologists know that every rock or stone that we look at today has a history of change and movement on an immense scale. My work gives the same stone a chance to express its life more immediately. Whether it is a sinuous carving of a knotted rope or an imposing dry-stone sculpture representing an egg or a seed, the ever-changing play of light and weather on the rough-textured surfaces provides endless interest, and the slow changes wrought by mosses, lichen, insects and birds only add to the richness of the piece." - Max Nowell

Carved eggs hewn from massive oaks by David Nash

Turul Egg by Yin Peet. (Turul is the legendary Guardian Bird of Hungary)

Downsizing to Susan Wraight's carved wooden Netsuke.

"Netsuke (pronounced "netskay") originated in Japan. It came about because traditional Japanese dress didn't have pockets. A woman could put small things in her sleeve, and samurai could hang small objects from their weapons, but this really wasn't ideal so they began to suspend everyday things from the sash (obi) with a silk cord. The netsuke was a little carving that was positioned at the top of the sash to stop the whole thing from falling to the ground - it acted as a fastener.

Netsuke is a small, thumb size sculpture that is figurative and highly detailed. The carving can be of animals, figures, mythical creatures or almost everything to do with everyday life. Traditionally, ivory and wood as well as other organic materials such as bone, shell and coral were used. Half the appeal was that they were using a non precious material and giving it a highly decorative, precious treatment." -

Carved Egg by Wang Jinyi

The Rothschild Faberge Egg (estimated at $18,000,000 by Christie's)

I couldn't leave out the famous Faberge Egg, "one of the most impressive and exclusive works of art ever made. "

The Rothschild Egg contains an automaton diamond-set cockerel which pops out of the top on the hour. It flaps it's wings four times and then nods his head three times while opening and closing his beak, crowing at the same time. Each performance lasts about 15 seconds, before the clock strikes the hour bell.

"The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities." - James Allen

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Delicate Wait III (detail) by Giselle Hicks

Who wouldn't be amazed at the beauty of a tiny Hummingbird's nest covered in moss and lichen.....or watching a Thrush feed a nest full of chirping, gaping mouths.........or at finding a clutch of speckled eggs in a hollow nest, still warm from the mother bird.

Passage by Giselle Hicks. I took this photograph from that wonderful book 500 Figures in Clay.

Giselle Hicks writes in her artist statement...

"I am fascinated with the idea that skillful construction with delicate materials can yield a structure strong enough to house and protect the fledgling inhabitant of the nest. This process demands diligence, patience, careful craftsmanship, commitment and resilience. These same qualities are required to build and maintain relationships to a person, family, and community. "

Bird in Nest, Etching by Scott Fitzgerald

Bird Nest by Antonia Munroe. See more of her delicate bird nest paintings here.

Joe Pogan's Bird and Nest made from found objects.

Fiona Hall has made a series of nests from shredded dollar bills. Lifelike aren't they?

Nils-Udo Clemson Clay Nest 2008 Installation.

Man sized nest created by Benjamin Verdonck. (There is an egg in the well as a man)