Archive for the ‘art’ Category
SF awards season has begun and, to be honest, I imagine you are already well aware of this. So I’m not going to post the shortlists for the BSFA Awards or the Kitschies. I would, however, like to discuss the Best Artwork category for the BSFA Award and Inky Tentacle for the Kitschies. The BSFA Award is open to all artwork, not just book covers, but this year it happens to be made up of five covers so a direct comparison is possible. I am going to start with that award since, as a BSFA member, I get to vote for this award so these comments also represent my ballot. (I’m going to reproduce small images to give some context but it is worth checking out the award sites to see the full details of each cover.)
5) Ben Baldwin for the cover of Dark Currents (Newcon Press)
This is, as far as I’m concerned, a nothing image. The content is uninteresting, the execution is poor (the relative sizes of the different elements are all out of whack and look like dodgy photoshop layers) and its got a crap ‘pirate’ typeface slapped on the top. If you look on Baldwin’s website pretty much everything on there is better than this.
4) Dominic Harman for the cover of Eric Brown’s Helix Wars (Rebellion)
A traditional science fiction cover and my response to traditional SF covers is much the same as this. You wouldn’t catch me reading this on the train. We have explosions, we have a fancy spacesuit, we have a lot of lazers and even more orange. I also can’t help but notice that our stalwart hero is looking directly at the reader whilst rather caverlierly firing his gun at something out of his (and our) line of sight. And why does a laser rifle need a massive banana clip? Appropriately, this is worldbuilding every bit as shoddy as you’d find in a Brown novel.
3) Si Scott for the cover artwork for Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden (Corvus)
A good match for the novel which takes place on a planet without sun is therefore illuminated only by bioluminence from its flora and fauna. The specific image of the insect is then embellished with abstract whorls which make the whole thing appear uncanny and disquieting.
2) Blacksheep for the cover of Adam Roberts’s Jack Glass (Gollancz)
An inspired idea to translate the iconography of science fiction into the iconography of Christianity. I’ve no idea if there is any relevence to this beyond the title of the novel but it works perfectly.
1) Joey Hifi for the cover of Simon Morden’s Thy Kingdom Come (Jurassic London)
Joey Hifi is, simply put, the best cover artist currently working in SF (Hugo nominators, take note). His work for Lauren Beukes and Chuck Wendig has been outstanding and this cover doesn’t disappointing. He layers two simple images – the radiation symbol and an atomic explosion itself – over other and then sketches the results of these into the image itself. I particularly like the little details where the rifle and the mushroom cloud break the line of the symbol. Nice placement of title and author too.
This makes an interesting link to the Inky Tentacle since, due to the relationship between Jurassic London and the Kitshies, Hifi’s cover is ineligible. This is a shame and makes me doubly keen for it to win the BSFA Award. In contrast tot hat award, the Inky is a juried award which this year was judged by Gary Northfield, Lauren O’Farrell and Ed Warren. They are all professionals so you would imagine it to be judged to different criteria than those used by the members of the BSFA but I was still surprised that there was no overlap. I had thought the Blacksheep cover for Jack Glass might make it.
I’d like to start by discussing two images: Peter Mendelsund’s cover for Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus (Granta) and Dave Shelton’s cover for his own A Boy And A Bear In A Boat.
Both are bold images that lack any genre reference point. The cover for The Flame Alphabet, in particular, fits very neatly into contemporary literary fiction design and conveys little about its contents. The novel itself is obviously science fiction so the cover is equally obviously eligible but is this enough? A Boy And His Bear In A Boot is less abstract – a clever joke, in fact – but the same applies. Well, if it is good enough for the judges.
Next we have two of my favourite cartoonists: Tom Gauld’s cover for Costume Not Included by Matthew Hughes and Oliver Jeffers’s cover the Terrible thing That Happened To Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne.
Gaunt is just Gaunt which is to say marvellous. God on his laptop is a classic Gaunt touch and I love the reptillian hood smoking a fag at top right. Just a shame it has to have the Angry Robot logo (even re-drawn) on the front. Unfortunately, whilst I am a fan of Jeffers’s own work, this image does nothing for me. Which leaves La Boca’s cover for The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman.
This has really grown on me. As with Thy Kingdon Come, the designer has taken a classic image (in this case the famous Lousie Brooks profile) and repurposed it. By simply stuttering the image, La Boca manages to evoke the setting, genre and tone of the novel whilst creating a memorable cover that stands on its own feet. This is my undoubted winner and I suspect the judges will agree with me. Rash, I know.
My personal shortlist for a combined award would have been Si Scott, Blacksheep, Joef Hifi, Tom Gaunt and La Boca. But what were the deserving covers that were missed off both shortlists?
The resulting exhibition opened yesterday and is on at the Danielle Arnaud gallery in Kennington until 10 February.
On Sunday, I went down to the Southbank to see The Edges Of The World, the Ernesto Neto exhibition at the Hayward. It is a really fun experience, the whole think is imbued with a child-like sense of joy about the world, from the sculpture like a giant geometric toy to the colourful womb-like space the The fact you have to take your shoes off further breaks down your sense of adulthood and the actual kids were loving it.
Downstairs it was a bit more serious (but not much) at the New Decor exhibition which was essentially artists versus interiors. My favourite piece was actually the most serious: Jin Shi’s 1/2 Life which takes its inspiration from the explotation of migrant labour. In contrast, the rest of it was all rather playful (with mixed results – a lot of the Gelitin pieces looked like modern art cliches). Even the toilets got in on the act:
Is this part of the exhibit or is it always like this? Anyway, we wondered out into the sun to be confronted by a model favela outside. This was an installation artists Haas & Hahn, a sort of slum version of Home Sweet Home*:
Their social project ‘Project Morrinho’ is one that takes the form of a miniature city built by young people in Rio de Janeiro from brick, paint and other found materials inspired by the landscape, architecture and everyday life of the favelas that span the city.
In unwitting homage to the name of the project, some nob had extensively tagged it with Chelsea graffiti. This didn’t look particularly out of place though, the London kids invovled in making it obviously weren’t overly blessed with imagination.
Then it was across town to the V&A for 1:1 Architects In Small Spaces (hence the trip to Thai Square). Okay, I’ll be honest I was going there for one main reason: The Ark. It was every bit as awesome as I’d hoped but unfortunately none of my photos came out. So instead here is a picture of the equally awesome Ratatoskr (named after Drill Tooth, the Norse messenger squirrel). It was made by scanning twelve birch trees, digitally knitting them together and then cutting them out and combining for real. The result is incredibly impressive.
The Beetle House was another favourite and has given me an overpowering urge to buy a shed and take a blowtorch to it. The exhibition is free and I would highly recommend getting down (the rest of the V&A is pretty amazing too). If you can’t, I’ve got a few more photos and you should check out the concept submissions online.
* My house is the red one with flowers coming out of it at the top left of that photo.
I’ve just come back from the framer’s and I have now achieved one of my ambitions in life. I am the proud owner of an Andreas Gursky:
Now, it is hardly ‘The Rhine II’ but to be honest the chances of me aquiring the world’s single greatest photograph are pretty slim. Besides I do already have a copy of it hanging in my bedroom thanks to the Tate’s awesome printing service. No, ‘Untitled XV’ may be a minor work created for the last World Cup but it is mine, all mine.
I didn’t have any trouble with the moving picture categories but I’m struggling with the static ones. So far I have:
Best Graphic Story
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe by Bryan Lee O’Malley
- Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday
- Invincible Iron Man: World’s Most Wanted by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca
Best Professional Artist
- Adam Tredowski
- Stephan Martinière
Best Fan Artist
Any other suggestions?
For some reason I always forget to read the Berger & Wyse cartoon in the Weekend section of the Guardian. When I do catch sight of them – as I did this morning – I inevitably end up giggling like a loon.
The Pink and Blue Projects by JeongMee Yoon:
The Pink and Blue Projects were initiated by my five-year-old daughter, who loves the color pink so much that she wanted to wear only pink clothes and play with only pink toys and objects. I discovered that my daughter’s case was not unusual. In the United States, South Korea and elsewhere, most young girls love pink clothing, accessories and toys. This phenomenon is widespread among children of various ethnic groups regardless of their cultural backgrounds. Perhaps it is the influence of pervasive commercial advertisements aimed at little girls and their parents, such as the universally popular Barbie and Hello Kitty merchandise that has developed into a modern trend. Girls train subconsciously and unconsciously to wear the color pink in order to look feminine.
I went to see Transports Exceptionnels in London Fields yesterday. It was a duet between man and digger.
Speaking of London Fields, I noticed the Keith Talent gallery for the first time last week. It isn’t actually in London Fields but Bethnal Green is a damn sight closer than Kings Cross.
Edit: The Guardian has some footage of the piece.