Sunday, 21 October 2018

Right Map Making

Here is a copy of Right Map Making: Five Ways to Make Maps for a Future to be Possible by Steven R. Holloway. It's a great 'manifesto' and I am posting it here as it is readily available online and I think he wouldn't mind it being on this blog. Dr. Holloway is an academic in the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia in the US, specialising in urban geography and diversity.

Holloway says: "The problem for the makers of maps being that our maps are, in part, engaged in the wanton destruction of the world".

You will need to download the image, or zoom in on your screen, in order to read the manifesto itself.



Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Art History’s ‘Wriggle and Chiffon’ Fashion Movement

When I worked in Trafalgar Square in London, I loved to visit the National Portrait Gallery. In the 1990s I remember working my way through its floors. I did one floor per week. It was a walk through history in terms of portraiture. At the time my favourite portrait was Giovanni Boldini’s Gertrude Elizabeth (née Blood), Lady Colin Campbell (1894) (below). She was an art critic, journalist and socialite and had a troubled marriage, plus much scandal surrounding her (mostly of a misogynist nature, it seems). I like this portrait as I think there is something defiant in her gaze.

This short post is a quick look at the way the chiffon is represented in these paintings and the effect I think it has on the subject of the painting: the women in these portraits. It is a style coined by Walter Richard Sickert: ‘wriggle and chiffon’.


Boldini was also known as ‘the master of swish’ which clearly lends itself to the movement in the chiffon, the ‘wriggle’ side of it clearly making reference to the female body that resides within it, although I am guessing that Sickert isn’t using this term in a positive way at all. There is something of an ‘illustration’ style to Boldini’s portrait, which makes it somehow familiar to us. You might expect to see this in a magazine rather than on the wall of a stately home.


While the above image is from many years later (late 1930s), and is a design illustration rather than an oil painting, you can get a bit of a flavour of what I mean. In Boldini's painting the dress is a pretty important component of the image. One might say that is the subject of the painting. However, I see the dress rather more as a vehicle to help represent the subject of the painting (Lady Colin Campbell, herself).

Also, of the ‘wriggle and chiffon’ moment is John Singer Sargent. Below is his portrait Lady Speyer (1907). He was also put under scrutiny by critics, with Roger Fry stating that it was a surprise that his work had been “confused with that of an artist”.


I think these critics, in their disregard of this moment in the representation of women’s dress in portraiture, have missed the point entirely. The painterly way the brushstrokes free the chiffon - indeed its ‘wriggle’ when it comes to life when being worn by the subject of the portrait – is what gives life to the image and the wearer of the dress!

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fashion!: 'What academics put on their office doors (and why)'


I read this article in Times Higher Education magazine - 'What academics put on their office doors (and why)':

"Lecturers who fancy themselves as creative types adorn their doors, any available pinboards and wall space with exhibition posters, their own artwork and a studio-standard black and white image of themselves. Or the very, very important scholars, who advertise their books, provide copies of their journal articles in a special door-pocket, and may find a moustache has been drawn on their impressive visage glowering full-size from a finely framed photo” 

...and I have created my first door notice (above) for when I start at the Manchester Fashion Institute on Monday 18th June!

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Merlin Coverley’s ‘Psychogeography’ – Revised & Updated Edition


I have been reading Merlin Coverley’s revised edition of Psychogeography, first published in 2006. This new edition, with a lovely green cover (2018), has an updated information, a new preface and appendix, and a much updated ‘Psychogeography Today’ section, which also includes Nick Papadimitriou’s Deep Topography.

When I first got into psychogeography in 2009, this was ‘the bible’ of psychogeography and I think it still is. It was my first psychogeography book, followed swiftly by Will Self’s Psychogeography (2007). I always recommend Coverley’s books to my students as an intro to the subject (now alongside Walking Inside Out, of course, however that wasn’t available till 2015).

I think Coverley’s revised edition signals the current popularity of psychogeography, its latest phase, its contemporary resurgence, its newest incarnation/interpretation... Maybe this new edition also acknowledges the ‘New Psychogeography’ that I mooted in Walking Inside Out. Either way, I’ve really enjoyed revisiting it and would highly recommend it to anyone as an intro to the subject, or as a top-up if you haven’t read the original for a few years, like myself...

Saturday, 4 August 2018

A Visit to Alexandra Park


It transpires that my local park, Alexandra Park in Manchester, is only about 10 mins walk from my house, so I trotted off there today to check it out.


This lovely lodge (designed by Alfred Darbyshire) is gothic-inspired, as you can see, and this Victorian park is known as 'The People's Park'. There were lots of people about - playing table tennis, walking their dogs, watching cricket, visiting the car boot sale, and just moseying on down in the sun - so it was true to its name!


There was a big flagpole (not pictured as it was a bit boring) and this drinking fountain, which I got a quick snap of when the young woman wasn't looking.


One of the most exciting things was seeing these lovely terrapins(?) which some young girls had spotted on the log. They were telling me that there was a spot around the corner of the pond where lots of them often hang out. They seemed to know a lot about them and I was pleased to see their enthusiasm about the natural world. This is the best photo I could get on my phone, as I had to zoom in quite a bit. The two on the right were smaller than the other one, and I wondered if they were the babies of the larger one. The one on the far right lifted his leg up from time to time - maybe he was trying to get good sun coverage, or perhaps the wood was too hot for his tiny feet.


I spent a nice couple of hours there and will definitely go back. The car boot sale wasn't too good, however I think they have gone downhill since their heyday in the 1980s. There was so much 'tat' there. Some of the stuff was being sold for way more than you would pay in a charity shop and a lot of it was only worthy of landfill.

I had a coffee in the cafe (the old pavilion) and watched the cricket for a while, then wandered back home to the existential degu...


Wednesday, 18 July 2018

'Concrete, Crows and Calluses' - Alternative Covers


I was putting some images into frames for my desk in my new office at work the other day and, while I was looking for the digital cover of Concrete, Crows and Calluses to frame, I came across a number of different covers I had experimented with when working on the cover design. So, I've loaded them up below as I think they are interesting.

While the one I finally settled on is probably more 'aesthetically pleasing' it doesn't have the psychogeographical grittiness of the three that I rejected. However, the one I chose did actually become a talking point as it's an interesting derelict building in Armley, Leeds (that I call The Water Shed) which was also painted by Judy Tucker. Anyway, here are the images. The last is the final one, but the other 3 - probably more edgy, or at least more quotidien - were also considered. In a way, I actually now prefer the first two for their suburban ordinariness..