10×10

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So this year We Made This is 10 years old. Getting on a bit right? I mean, not quite a teenager, but heading in that direction (so expect some tantrums, angst, and questionable fashion decisions over the next few years).

To celebrate our birthday, we decided to make a book, 10×10, featuring 10 short stories all about the number 10. We produced the book in a limited edition of 100, with 10 different colour covers, of which there are 10 copies each.

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The book is 10″ x 10″ square, and each of the stories is just 10 lines long, and set in 10pt type. Each story title is a single word which ends in the letters ‘t’, ‘e’, and ‘n’. Here are the spreads for the stories Brighten, Heighten, and Often:

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To give you the flavour of it, here’s the first of the stories, BITTEN:

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She was the last.

She hadn’t been anyone special before it all began.

She wasn’t sure how she’d survived so long, but she had.

She’d thought that was a good thing, but now… it seemed more like a curse.

She’d watched as everyone around her had fallen to the sickness.

She remembered how it began with the dogs and cats, their terrible eyes and bloody mouths.

She remembered how it spread to the people, their eyes just as terrible, mouths just as bloody.

She’d hoped for a cure, they all had, but that hope seemed stupid now.

She’d finally been bitten that morning, while searching for water.

She was ten.

 

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The books were beautifully printed by our friends at Benwells, using just a single spot colour - metallic silver (Pantone 877 U). The text was printed on 170gsm Munken Pure Rough, and the covers were printed onto 350gsm Colorplan with a cord emboss. Both stocks are from the good folks at G·F Smith.

We’ve sent the book out as a thank you to all the people who helped us get this far. Here’s to the next 10.

Tooth Fairy Resigns

The Tooth Fairy may be resigning! Here’s Francesca Simon, author of Horrid Henry, telling the beginning of the story.

Francesca’s tale is also featured on the inside wrapper of the Milk Tooth Chocolate bar from Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. It’s a smooth milk chocolate with delicious chunks of delicately roasted milk teeth (a really monstrous treat).

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If you know a young writer, maybe they could come up with the ending? If they send their story to info@monstersupplies.org by 31 December 2014 they’ll be entered into a prize draw to win 30 bars of Milk Tooth Chocolate (enough for a whole class of little monsters!)

Find out more at the Ministry of Stories.

Turner colour experiments by Olafur Eliasson

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We nipped over to Tate Britain over the weekend to check out the Late Turner exhibition, which is more than worth the trip if you have time. His use of colour and light is quite extraordinary, and it’s incredible to think that he was painting his stunning, almost abstract canvases in the 1840s, a good sixty years before Monet started doing the same.

But, what really caught our eye was the separate show, upstairs in the Clore Gallery, of colour experiments by Olafur Eliasson, based on J.M.W. Turner’s work.

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The colour experiments are part of an ongoing series of oil paintings by Eliasson, working with a chemist to mix paint colours for each nanometre of light in the visible spectrum. The seven on show at the Tate are direct responses to seven of Turner’s paintings, some of which are on in the Late Turner show, including The Burning of the House of Lords and Commons:

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Over on the Tate site, Eliasson has this to say about them:

‘For each of his paintings, I bring the colours and light into a schematic system which is then transferred to a round canvas without a centre. This shape generates a feeling of endlessness and allows the viewer to take in the artwork in a decentralised, meandering way. The fading colours in each sequence deter the viewer’s eye from resting on a single line or spot. Instead, the eye must negotiate its way around the work, which creates a sense of personal narrative.’

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Eliasson’s canvases are truly beautiful – unfortunately there’s not much indication of how they are produced, just that they’re oil on canvas. Though this studio shot over on Eliasson’s Facebook page is rather lovely:

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This short Tate film explains more about the project:

Lovely stuff.

Random Spectacular Two

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The good folks at St Jude’s Prints recently sent us the second issue of their rather wonderful periodical, Random Spectacular, and it’s quite fantastic.

As with the first issue (which we reviewed back in January 2012) it’s a “collaborative exploration of the visual arts, literature, music, travel and much more”.

For instance, there’s a wonderful piece by typographer, designer and teacher Catherine Dixon about the letterpress scene of Buenos Aires (featuring the fantastic work of both Gómez Broncería Artística and Prensa La Libertad):

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and a lovely set of images from photographer Finn Beales, all shot on an iPhone.

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There’s also a lovely feature about Ralph Steadman’s illustrations of extinct and nearly-extinct birds:

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and an article by James Russell about the Submarine series of lithographs by Eric Ravilious:

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The format, somewhere between A4 and A3 (240mm x 350mm), means that the imagery is all gloriously detailed.

All proceeds from the sale of the magazine are again going to Maggie’s Centres (which support people with cancer) - so there’s no reason not to buy a copy for yourself right now!

August? It’s over…

 

- Ring, ring, ring -

Hey August.

Hmm? Yeah, I’m good.

Yeah, that’s … look, I think we need to talk.

Um, well, yup, it is serious.

Well, it’s … it’s just not working for me.

What d’you mean ‘what’? All of it!

*Sigh*

When this began, I thought it was really going to be something special you know? I had such high hopes. I genuinely thought we might go somewhere you know. But you promised so much, all those weekends away, days lying in the park, and God I wish I’d listened to my mates, but that’s…

What? Oh, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t…

They just said you might go this way, that you had ‘form’…

Look, that’s not really the point is it?

Just listen will you?

I’m talking about us. About now. And this just isn’t working for me. I’m done. I can’t stick around in this… this miserable gloom.

No, I know there’s a only a few days left. But that’s hardly a reason to draw this out is it?

What? Does it matter? Well, yeah, if you really need to know, there is…

You don’t know them.

You don’t.

Bloody hell. Look, okay, you might have met them a few times. But only ever very briefly. It really isn’t…

*Sigh*

Okay, okay, whatever. It’s September okay?

Pause.

You there?

Well, why d’you think? Surely it’s obvious. You’ve just been.… such a disappointment. And September has always been there for me.

I know. Of course I remember that you introduced us. Of course.

Well yeah.

I know. But maybe expecting a little less is more realistic. At least I’m not gonna be let down. Not again.

No.

No.

Oh come on. I gave you so many second chances.

Look, we’re done okay. That’s it.

I don’t know. Next year sometime I guess. I’ll just have to see how I’m feeling.

No. Don’t text.

Yeah. Me too, August. Me too.

Spectra

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Over the past seven nights, London has played host to a stunningly beautiful light installation, Spectra, by the artist Ryoji Ikeda.

Installed at Victoria Tower Gardens, right next door to the Houses of Parliament, the installation (which ended at dawn this morning) consisted of a bank of forty nine static high-powered searchlights, grouped together in a 20 metre square grid, creating a single beam of light that shot up into the night sky. From afar the light looked elegant and faint, a thin line reaching up to the clouds; up close, where you saw just a portion of the whole beam, it became solid and powerful.

At the gardens themselves, Ikeda had composed an ambeint soundtrack to listen to as you wandered in and out amongst the lights. The atmosphere around the lights was remarkably peaceful, even with the large crowds drawn to the site each evening like moths to a flame.

The installation has travelled the world over the past few years, appearing in different forms in different cities. In London, presented by Artangel, it was one of a series of art commissions marking the centenary of the First World War.

Our creative director and resident photographer Alistair has been out and about for the duration of the project, photographing it from various different perspectives.

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Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album

Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, David Hockney and Jeff Goodman

Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, David Hockney and Jeff Goodman, 1963

 

The Royal Academy invited us along last week to check out their new show, Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album.

It’s an interesting exhibition, featuring over four hundred shots taken by Hopper between 1961 and 1967. Here’s what he had to say about them when they were exhibited at the Fort Worth Art Centre in Texas in 1970:

“I never made a cent from these photos. They cost me money but kept me alive. I started at eighteen taking pictures. I stopped at thirty-one. These represent the years from twenty-five to thirty-one, 1961 to 1967. I didn’t crop my photos. They are full frame natural light Tri-X. I went under contract to Warner Brothers at eighteen. I directed Easy Rider at thirty-one. I married Brooke at twenty-five and got a good camera and could afford to take pictures and print them. They were the only creative outlet I had for these years until Easy Rider. I never carried a camera again.”

The prints produced for that show were rediscovered after Hopper’s death in 2010, and this is the first time they’ve been seen together in the UK. While it’s great to see them in their original form, their size (the majority are 9.5 x 6.5 inch) and the size of the space feel at odds with one another – it’s a peculiar decision on the part of the exhibition designers not to blow any of the images up, even just as backdrops, and leaves the exhibition feeling a little sparse, and without pace. Looking through the images in the accompanying catalogue feels much more engaging and much more intimate.

The photographs themselves are an intriguing mix of social document and aesthetic exploration. It’s not as if Hopper was a groundbreaking or outstandingly talented photographer – but he was mixing in really interesting circles at a really interesting time. Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Ed Ruscha, Jasper Johns, Marcel Duchamp, Martin Luther King, John Wayne, Jane Fonda, Paul Newman, Peter Fonda, Hells Angels, hippies – they were all captured by his lens.

 

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Paul Newman, 1964

 

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Irving Blum and Peggy Moffitt, 1964

 

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Double Standard, 1961

 

The exhibition runs until 19 October at the Burlington Gardens section of the Royal Academy.

All images © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. 

Comics Unmasked at the British Library

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We nipped along to the British Library yesterday to check out their new show, Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, the largest ever comics exhibition in this country.

The show is a thematic retrospective of the British comics industry, with a particular focus on the way comics from the UK have sought to subvert expected norms.

There’s a wealth of great stuff on show, including a fair few samples of original artwork, such as this piece from Jamie Hewlett’s Tank Girl:

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Hewlett also designed the show’s key marketing image, a caped crusader called Lawless Nelly :

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The show is divided into six main areas: Mischief and Mayhem; To See Ourselves; Politics; Hero with 1000 Faces; Sex and Sexuality; and Breakdowns. We weren’t entirely convinced the thematic groupings were necessary, and a chronological format might have worked just as well, if not better.

We did particularly like seeing a lot of the old strips from 2000AD though. Given how well Marvel and DC are doing by converting their back catalogue into films and TV shows, it’s odd that more of 2000AD’s rich cast of characters hasn’t had the same treatment.

This is a page from writer Grant Morrison and artist Steve Yeowell’s fantastic Zenith story, about a Generation X superhero (which is hopefully being republished in its entirety this October, after years of legal wranglings over who owns the rights to the character).

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Of course, 2000AD’s key character was Judge Dredd, the fascist law enforcer who readers were invited to both love and loathe:

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The show features excerpts from the brilliant America strip from the Judge Dredd ‘Megazine’ (above, and below), written by John Wagner and drawn by Colin MacNeil.

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Also on show is John Smith and Steve Dillon’s Tyranny Rex, seen here hanging out with a very Princely character:

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It’s really impressive to see the vast array of British talent, and to note that most of them have also gone on to become pivotal to the international comics scene, none more so than Alan Moore, whose V for Vendetta runs like a thread through the exhibition, particularly in the form of the V masks that have been adopted globally by the Occupy movement.

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The other big talent running through the show is Dave McKean, who worked as the Artistic Director of the exhibition. There’s a fine selection of his work on display, including props and original artwork from his book The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch, written by Neil Gaiman.

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Overall it’s a fascinating show. Perhaps a little bit dry, as exhibitions at the British Library can sometimes be. The lighting is set quite low, presumably to protect some of the older items from damage, but as a result you find yourself squinting to read some of the captions, and some of the comics themselves, which is a drag.

If you’ve got an iPad though, you can download the Sequential app, which contains a free companion piece to the show, Comics Unmasked – The Digital Anthology, which actually lets you feel much closer to the comics (though only selected excerpts are included). The anthology is available to download for free until the exhibition ends, on August 19.

Planting Poetry for the Ministry of Stories

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Our memories of poetry at school mainly consist of being forced to sit and read aloud various impenetrable and ancient poems in a hot and stuffy classroom while glancing out of the window and thinking “I’d so much prefer to be out there right now”.

So it’s a massive pleasure to have worked on the latest Ministry of Stories project, where poetry is written rather than just read, and where it’s done outside rather than in.

Planting Poetry is a project the Ministry runs with primary school children. It runs over the course of five sessions, with the support of a facilitator and Ministry writing mentors. For this year’s project, thirty Year 5 children (aged 9-10) at William Patten Primary School in Stoke Newington explored a garden attached to their school, responding to the various edible and decorative plants they grow there.

They then created ten poems inspired by the garden, written in the Mesostic form – where a vertical word is formed from within the horizontal lines of the poem.

We then took their poems, and turned them into 3D signs which could be ‘planted’ in the garden. (Our designs are entirely based on the wonderful ones created for the project last year by Burgess Studio.) Each line of each poem is laser cut into pre-painted lengths of wood, which are then drilled and mounted onto a rod, before being installed around the garden. The fantastic folks at Beam Laser Cutting did an incredible job, doing all the production, and the poems looked really wonderful.

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blossoms

bridge

snail

wonder

lambs-ear

green

bumblebee

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Brilliant poems, and the children from the school seemed genuinely thrilled at seeing their work made real.

See inside Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

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Thanks to the magic of Google, you can now take a 360° tour of Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. The tour shows up whenever you Google the shop, via the ‘See inside’ panel.

The good folks from Aardvark 360 came to photograph the shop on a fantastically sunny morning.

It’s a super slick operation, taking no more than an hour, and the results give you a really clear sense of the how the shop looks, inside and out (though we’d still recommend a visit in real life of course).

While they were doing the shoot, one of the shop’s regular customers, a Mr Griffin, happened to have dropped by, and agreed to be included in the shots.

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What a gent.