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

Sketching North America

Monday, July 04, 2011

It's been a while (2 years) since I went collecting continent maps at London festivals. I've decided I want to collect the world, so this weekend I went in search of North America.

Eleven people drew maps, and here they are all over-laid.


On Friday, I went to Trafalgar Square for Canada Day celebrations. There was hockey, mounties, beer and curly fries. It was all very good fun, with people wearing red and maple leaves all over. The 6 people who drew maps for me were fun and friendly.

On Sunday, I searched out 4th of July celebrations. The first event I went to (in Portman Square) was a bit too private, so instead I then went to King Edward Memorial Park where I expected to find a big American picnic.

The turn-out was in fact smaller, but 5 people obliged me. One man had a flag on his hat. Swell!

So, thanks to Alisha, Jen, Jo and Lauren from Canada, Amy, Jessica, Jon and Tim from the USA, Christina and Grem who are English, and Izzy who is English (and Austrian too). Here are their maps individually: