Charity paintings

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ages ago (before I started working there), I did a painting course at the Horniman Museum.

At the end of each class, there was usually some paint left over on our makeshift palettes (cereal packets). I hate to throw unused things away, so I would get this paint and smear it on to paper in the hope it would make interesting patterns and pictures.

And then I held on to these "paintings" for years...

A few months ago, I was giving some small picture frames to a charity shop, and thought how much nicer they'd look with images inside them.

So I dug out the paint-splash-paintings, added some circles, and put them in the frames. Here they are...

I wonder who bought them, and what they make of them...

Juraj's map of Slovakia

Monday, October 10, 2011

Even though it took me some time, I didn't have to look far to find someone to draw a map of Slovakia.

Juraj, who I work with, was happy to draw this great map of Slovakia. 

Slovakia, drawn by Juraj

This takes my tally to 41 with only six countries to go: Monaco, San Marino, Andorra, Bosnia, Cyprus and Moldova.

Philipp's map of Luxembourg

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

There aren't many Luxembourgers in the world, but some of those in London meet at a pub every month. I went along, hoping to find someone to draw me a map.

The friendly gentlemen I found there happily helped, taking it in turns to draw the perfect map.

Luxembourg, drawn by Philipp

Luxembourg, they said, was shaped like a shoe on its side.

Phillippe's map shows some of Luxembourg's cities and towns including the small village Schengen which gives its name to Europe's open border visa arrangement. So three cheers for Luxembourg, the powerfully petit Grand Duchy.

Thomas Struth @ Whitechapel Gallery

Friday, September 09, 2011

I went to see the Thomas Struth exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Many of the photographs in the show are of city streets and urban landscapes. In some cases - like New York, Tokyo, Las Vegas - the architecture tells the location.

But in many, the architecture doesn't give away where the photograph was taken. The photographs lined up side-by-side highlight the same-ness of buildings, and (mainly) Western European architecture. It could be anywhere.

Only the street signs, the shop signs, and advertising gives clues to where the picture is.

Maybe it doesn't need to be obvious from the architecture where these streets are, but, somehow, it feels a little sad that it's not...

Notebooks are go

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Remember the notebooks that I'm selling on Folksy? They're made from unused envelope paper, and covered in lovely old map paper.

I'm going to be selling them at an eco-event called New Gallery Jumble this coming Saturday 20 August - it's at 92 Peckham Road, sort of between Camberwell and Peckham, from 1pm until 5pm.

All the details can be found on facebook here, so do drop by if you can!

Steve's map of Malta

Saturday, August 06, 2011

About six weeks ago, I put some ads up in art shop noticeboards hoping to find people to draw maps. And happily a reply from Steve from Malta popped up.

I met him the other day and he drew this lovely map of Malta.

Malta, drawn by Steve

"Malta looks a bit like a fish," Steve told me. I'd never noticed it before, but Steve - who is an illustrator and designer - obviously has a good eye for detail. He has also put in the original Maltese names of the islands Comino and Gozo.

We spent a nice couple of hours talking design, London, accents, geography, Scotland, African fabric, and all sorts of other interesting things.

He has a great website here: with some excellently interesting design projects.

So now the idea of a new map of Europe is taking shape - I've only eight more maps to collect, with 'leads' for several of them. But the tiniest are the trickiest: Andorra, San Marino, Monaco! I may have to take a trip.

EuroGlobe, a map of Europe by Europeans

Baki's Kosovo map; Ladi's Albania map; Nikita's Czech map

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I took a trip to Kilburn to the Queens Arms pub, which has recently become a centre for Kosovars and Albanians in London.

There, I met Baki and Ladi who drew their maps of Kosovo and Albania for me.

Kosovo, drawn by Baki

Albania, drawn by Ladi

(Things were a bit complicated: all these guys were Albanian, some of them from Kosovo. So I asked Baki from Kosovo (who is Albanian) to draw Kosovo, and Ladi who is Albanian to draw Albania...)

Both were part of a group celebrating a friends' birthday. I stayed with them a while and had a wide-ranging conversation about tourism in Albania, Serbian women, mad people in Ireland who support Nazis, the NHS and how the name Adrian is very international.

Later, I realised that one of the bar staff came from Czech Republic, so asked her to draw a map for me. Nikita's response was, "are you really serious?" but she drew this great map anyway.

Czech Republic, drawn by Nikita

Gaļis' map of Latvia

Monday, August 01, 2011

In search of people to draw maps, I recently went to 72 Queensborough Terrace, a Latvian guesthouse and bar. There I met Gaļis who drew this map.

Latvia, drawn by Gaļis

Gaļis was born in Liepāja where there are beautiful beaches. He has been living in London for 5 months, and wanted to practice his English, so we chatted for a while.

"You are most welcoming to stay," he said, encouraging me to spend a very fun/random evening, which included the following:

  • A man who was considering visiting friends in Kyrgyzstan

  • A man conducting anthropological experiments. I took part - he asked me to stare into my eyes in a mirror for 10 minutes. Weird.

  • A strawberry cider called Fizz!

  • Latvian versions of Cabaret and Those Were the Days with satirical political lyrics.

  • A woman sat next to me. She told me that so many times others had tried to "con-queer Latvia". But she didn't let it bother her.

  • I spent an hour talking to a man called Zinters who had fled Latvia after World War 2 to go to what he assumed was a safer Germany. From there, he was moved to England in a government guest worker scheme, working first in Yorkshire, then in Scotland. During the 1950s, he moved to Dublin, trained at the Royal College of Surgeons, worked as a brain surgeon, but eventually moved back to London. Later, he spent time in Uganda working under Idi Amin, left there, retrained to be a radiologist and eventually settled in Mansfield. Wow.

  • One of the final things Zinters said to me was, "Ireland: it's for the Irish, but Britain: it's for everyone". 

Eyewitness at the Royal Academy

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I went recently to see an exhibition of Hungarian photography at the Royal Academy. The exhibition is called Eyewitness (open until 2nd October), a very appropriate name - it shows how the history of Hungarian photography acts as a witness to many of the most significant best/worst historical moments throughout the 20th century.

Artistic trends such as Bauhaus and abstraction are reflected in the photography, as well as giving a chronicle of how photography developed from amateur photo-players to professional fashion and journalism.

Much of the photography was incredibly angular, shooting at acute and implausible angles. Whereas now we can zoom in and out of the world at the click of a button, then this must have felt revolutionary.

There were lots of photographs to enjoy, here are just some of my favourites.

This photo by Robert Capa shows a French woman who had a baby with a German soldier during World War 2 being led through the streets of Chartres. The photo below - also by Robert Capa - shows  the destruction of Budapest's Elisabeth Bridge.

The photo below - Harvest by Erno Vadas - shows the beginning of abstract patterns and shapes.

Cornell Capa's image of Winchester College shows implausible angles.

To which Lazlo Maholy-Nagy's image from Berlin's TV Tower adds abstract shapes.

Martin Munkácsi's fashion image from Harper's Bazaar

Probably my favourite image: Procession by Erno Vadas

And finally, this book cover by Gyorgy Lorinczy shows how many Hungarian photographs found an excellent subject in the skyscraper and concrete world of New York.

An anonymous map of Macedonia

Thursday, July 28, 2011

On a bus to somewhere else a few weeks ago, I noticed a closed shop with a Macedonian flag in its sign. I made a mental note to return in search of someone from Macedonia.

When I did go back, I found a very small shop selling Macedonian food and whatnot, and a man watching the charts from Macedonia on TV (Kylie Minogue was performing Get Outta My Way - fancy that.)

The man (he didn't tell me his name) did not speak English. Somehow I convinced him to draw a map of Macedonia for me. And then when he folded it up and looked like he was going to keep it, I convinced him to give it to me.

So here it is, showing Makedonia's place in the Balkans.

Macedonia, by a man

Burce's map of Turkey

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

At the weekend, I went to Turkish Fest which was held near London Bridge.

It was a jolly celebration of all things Turkish, including stalls selling watermelon, kebabs, tourism, as well as a stage with interesting musical acts. As I was there, everyone stood to sing the Turkish national anthem.

I stepped up to the London Turkish Film Festival, where I met Burce. I asked her to draw a map of Turkey.

Turkey, by Burce

Burce, who comes from Ankara, claimed not to be an expert at geography - but I think her map is really quite good.

Miloš' Map of Montenegro

Friday, July 22, 2011

Recently, I met Miloš from Montenegro and he drew me a map.

I was at Café Monte, a cafe-bar in Fulham with a Montenegrin flavour. The food was contintental, the waitress was Romanian, but happily, having had a word with her, she called over her colleague Miloš, who drew this map:

Montenegro, by Miloš

Miloš was very happy to draw his map. He listed off lots of facts and figures about Montenegro, adding these to his map. He was very proud to tell me all about Montenegro's unspoilt nature, its five national parks and how beautiful the country is.

Miloš then surprised me by speaking Irish! He turned out to be a big fan of Ireland, and had run an Irish bar in Podgorica, Montengro's 'capital town', as he calls it on the map.

Sketching Europe & Southeast Asia

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I collected these maps two years ago, but never put them online.

The first was collected at a Thailand festival in Greenwich Park (where I saw the winner of Thailand's Got Talent performing). 15 people drew their maps of Southeast Asia, so thanks to Kris, Rose, Kirsty, Emma-Louise, Hita, Jem and Catherine from the UK, Rose, Yuttakorn, Annie and Chookiat from Thailand, Chris and Denny from New Zealand, Pepper from the Philippines and Alex from Italy.

Sketched Southeast Asia


Sometime later, I went to the New European Village festival at Southbank to ask for maps of Europe. Thanks to the 11 people who drew a map: Joe, Zimbab and Janine from Germany, OQ a 'secret Turk', Sophie and Celine from France, Poppy from Greece, Baz from Belgium, JK from England, Claudia and Luisa from Colombia.

Sketched Europe


The last few maps have not been as precise as the previous two. Maybe Australia and Latin America are more defined places than Europe and Southeast Asia. Certainly, their shapes are easier to know.

This makes me wonder how to collect the remaining continents. I'm not so worried about Africa, but Asia's more unusual. Do I divide it into regions?

My first thoughts are to have Middle East, India, and China, but it's not an easy division. Where to put Russia, and the big wide middle-ground?

Drawing in the City

Saturday, July 09, 2011

I went this weekend to Take A Closer Look, a series of drawing activities arranged by the Big Draw for the City of London Festival.

That's a long sentence to say: drawing fun in the city. It was ace. Combining a bit of wandering around the city, a bit of looking at architecture and buildings, a bit of drawing and a bit of sketching, it was a superb afternoon's entertainment.

Here are some pictures.

A bus on which you could draw things about London. I drew my own version of The Pinnacle, and an elephant and a castle on their London map.

My very abstract Willis Building inspired drawing.

Building a city full of landmarks with cardboard boxes.

I went on a tour with illustrator Jorge Martin where I drew this picture of Lloyds Building.

There was a stall where you could sketch your own new buildings into a city scene. These were then digitally added and coloured by helpful people. Here are three great examples.

Finally, here is my very colourful city scene. I'm hoping the building on the right will get the nickname 'the papoose', but it'll probably be called 'the slug'.

The drawing fun continues tomorrow (Sunday, 10 July). If you can go, do!

Show @ RCA

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

I went to the end-of-year student show at the RCA last week.

I was immediately annoyed by the huge signs everywhere saying I couldn't take a photograph. How are people expected to see the students' work without that?

However, I liked a lot of what I saw, and happily some of it is online (but also some of it is not - what is this, 1992?).

So, big likes to:

Anne-Kathrin Schuhmann's night-time convenience stores (reminded me of these)

Henrik Potter's painted medals.

Wieland Payer's weird fairy tale landscapes

Fay Nicolson's wavy colourful geometrics

Julie Legault's big gemstone metal USB stick necklace

Ashley Rich's parallel lines

Victoria Campbell's slinky shimmery gowns

Darren Donati's monochrome mugs

Joseph Pochodzaj's sloganeering poster project

Yoo Kyung Shin's windswept metallic lamp

Benjamin Parton's clever use of paper - masking tape to make streetscenes for kids to make cities out of cardboard boxes and other used things like yoghurt lids for satellite dishes. And these doodle-in-the-picture picture frames.

Joseph Pochodzaj