September 2012 Archives

Book Art and Cover Designs

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I've recently been inspired by book art after seeing "Maze of Books" in South Bank this summer. This was a part of the London 2012 Festival. This consisted of a maze of 250,000 books in a room. 

I've also been considering the importance of the book spine. The book's spine is normally the first element of the book that the book browser in a shop (or in a library) sees. Of course, people do "judge a book by its cover", and that makes the spine all the more important. According to Sinclair (2), the book spine is often neglected by designers.

What elements make up a book design? The designer has to consider text direction, font size, and colour.

Berry (1), a book designer, gives a few pointers on text direction for book spines. The most readable book spines would be thick enough to list the title and author on the spine without the user tilting their head. However, most books are not thick enough to allow this, so the words must be written down the size. According to Berrry (1), viewers in North America read the spine from top to bottom; in Europe, they read from bottom to top.

Berry also states arguments for the book title or the author to be in larger font with the rule: If the author is well-known, it is best to have the author's name in larger font (1).

Fixabook is a consultancy that looks at book designs and gives guidance based on the spines (amongst other book-cover-related elements) (2). 

Readability of the font and the correct use of typography is the best indicator about a book and also determines if the book will stand out on the shelf. I have included some examples of good book spine designs.


Coralie Bickford-Smith has had several awards for her book covers for Penguin Books. I have included a selection of her work below, but more of her work can be viewed on her website at:


Jessica Hische is another designer who has worked on Penguin books, and she uses bold typefaces.
More of her work can be found on her website at:

An artist uses books and book spines to create artwork:


Mike Stikley creates paintings on the fronts and spines of books. Many of the pieces use stacks of books created with the three-dimensional artwork, and some of them are floor to ceiling. Most of the paintings feature human or human-like figures, and they are Tim Burton-esque in appearance. More of his work can be discovered on his website here:

1) Berry, John. D. Putting some spine into design. [July 26, 2001].

2) Sinclair, Mark. Look after your spines, book designers.

Jamie Shelman's "The Dancing Cat" Artwork

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I've recently come across Jamie Shelman's shop (The Dancing Cat) on Etsy. Although many of her illustrations feature felines, some are of rabbits, squirrels, or inanimate objects (coffee/chairs/bicycles). I love these whimsical illustrations, which are often accompanied by witty text. "Fat Mess 2" and "Belly Smackin' Good" are two of my favourites, and they feature plump felines in funny poses. What I love about these illustrations is that they are whimsical, fluid, and they capture the essence of the cat; they are not too serious.


Jamie Shelman graduated from Rhode Island School of Design and studied in various places around the world. In describing her art, she states that she likes to laugh and "seeks to capture the essence of a its simplest form." (1) The illustrations are drawn with pen and paper so that the viewer can appreciate the simplicity and fluid lines.

The style of artwork also reminds me of Jen Ray's work; her shop Corduroy can be found here:

View Jamie Shelman's website and shop:


1) Interview Series: Jamie Shelman. Ana Pina. [13 July, 2011].

Day 9: Exploring Sarajevo in May in ... Snow?!

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Looking at my photographs of Sarajevo, you would not expect them to have been taken in the middle of May. The previous day (The great Bosnian Road Trip) having been a wash-out but the previous days being warm and beautiful, I don't think anyone expected snow in the middle of May in Sarajevo. Least of all, this was not only a little snow; this was a considerable amount of snow that settled on the ground and branches of trees in full bloom and leaf, breaking them with the extra weight.

I discovered the snow at about 5:00 in the morning as I noticed the brightness coming from the hotel window. I was shocked, to say the least. The snow was still coming down thickly and would continue to for the rest of that morning. Needless to say, we did not expect to have snow on our holiday to southern/south-eastern Europe in May, so our clothes were not the warmest. Despite this, we soldiered on to make the most of it. Unfortunately, many of the places we wanted to visit were closed due to the snow, and the viewpoints around the city had restricted visibility due to the snow and mist. We hired a guide to take us around and give us a tour of the city.

In short, Sarajevo is a multi-cultural city. Churches, mosques, and synagogues are within close proximity of each other and help to create a diverse skyline and architecture of Sarajevo. As a result, the city has much character. It has also seen much change from the beginning of its history; it became influenced by the Ottoman Empire, Astro-Hungarian Empire, and has seen more modern glories (host of the Olympic games in the 1980s) and downfalls (war in the 1990s).

The Sarajevo Clock Tower, Sahat Kula - Gazi Mosque next to a tree in full bloom. This clock was made in London.

The old part of Sarajevo has eastern influences in architecture. A common sight to see in this area are buildings with large arched doorways and internal courtyards. Many of these were used as old inns for traders and travellers, and these could hold hundreds or people and horses each night. Many of these are now converted into shops or restaurants.

(Left image) Looking out of the doorway of an inn in Sarajevo, now converted into a shop selling carpets. (Right image) Detail of the roof architecture of the Kuršumlija Madrassah, which was a school and is now used as a market area.

One of my favourite areas in old Sarajevo is Coppersmith Street. The street is built in the eastern style (from the Ottoman Empire) with small buildings and shops and cobbled streets. All of the shops on this street were selling metal goods, and this street reminded me of the souks I visited in Morocco and Egypt.

In addition to the copper and metal items for sale, visitors could also purchase many different types of souvenirs created from bullet casings. I assume that these casings were discovered after the war and created into various items for tourists. 

Sarajevo's Coppersmith Street

Coppersmith Street in Sarajevo has many decorated copper pots for sale. 

Souvenir planes made out of bullet casings for sale on Coppersmith Street; the bullet-planes could be engraved when purchased.

The people of Sarajevo love coffee, and these coffee grinders are for sale in Coppersmith Street.

More tin goods for sale; I assume that these little tin jugs are for the Sarajevo coffee experience and may be used to hold milk.

A close-up of the copper and tin goods on Coppersmith Street.

Looking down Coppersmith Street; by this time in the late afternoon, the snow had melted.

Walking up a couple of blocks from Coppersmith Street, the architecture changes. This is where east meets west. The architecture is large and decorative, designed with the Austro-Hungarian influence. (The buildings reminded me of ones I saw in Prague.) We had a drink in one of the nice hotels in this area and admired the architecture and ceiling detail. Neither of us are coffee-drinkers, so we had hot chocolate, but coffee is the drink of choice in Sarajevo.

The people of Sarajevo were friendly, but I could not help but to notice poverty in some areas. I often saw a few older-looking ladies hunched over and walking slowly barefoot with a cane. We were approached a couple of times by beggars, particularly on the walk up to the Olympic stadium, which is disused. [Note to London: I hope London has plans for the stadium as I've been to many cities - Sarajevo and Barcelona - where the stadiums are just left to ruin.] Unfortunately, due to the snow, we were unable to see the Olympics bobsled track. I've seen pictures of the track, and the graffiti on this looks cool, so I am gutted to have missed it. It was also a pity to miss good views over the city due to the fog. 

An older lady walks along a busy street in Sarajevo.

Over the years, Sarajevo has held historical importance. On one of the picturesque bridges over the river, Latin Bridge, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. This event ultimately started World War I.

All eyes were on Sarajevo again in the 1990s when the city was under siege. One of the first places we visited in Sarajevo was the War Tunnels. The War Tunnels helped transport people and supplies into the city under siege. Upon arrival to the museum, we watched a video about the siege and saw some of the areas we had visited during the war. We also saw photographs of celebrities who have visited the war tunnels.

The War Tunnel's Museum, riddled with bullet holes.

A section of the War Tunnels in Sarajevo that is open to the public.

It is hard to believe that this war happened not so long ago, and there are many reminders of this war around the city. Some of the buildings around Sarajevo have holes in them from bullets, and others had to be rebuilt or are currently in the process of reconstruction. "Sarajevo Roses" are also seen around the city. These are areas of the pavement painted red to mark where someone was struck down. Many times the damage to the pavement can be seen. I missed seeing the "Sarajevo Roses" during my trip, though I may have seen one but did not understand the significance at the time. Monuments have also been set up in Sarajevo for rememembrane of those who suffered in the war. 

The eternal flame remembers those who passed on in World War II, but it also bears significance to the recent conflict 


A memorial to the children who perished in the war. The names of children are inscribed around the monument.

The remaining time spent in Sarajevo was spent exploring the central part of the city. A lot of the snow had melted from the streets by the late afternoon, but the city was still covered in the mist and fog, so it was not possible to get any views of the city's skyline.

The building in this picture suffered from war damage; the owners appear to make the stones for Muslim graves.

This hill leads down to the centre of Sarajevo, and some of these buildings have suffered damage.

The small fountain, Sebilj. This is a centre point in Sarajevo. Water fountains were popular in Sarajevo.

Many pigeons gather to keep warm near a shop window next to the Sebilj.

This street art cat reminds me of the Cheshire Cat with its wide grin. I am not sure why the cat has wings or the meaning behind it.

Damage on a building in Sarajevo.

I saw the "Istina Za Vedrana!" graffiti in many places in Sarajevo; this translates to "Truth for Vedrana!". Apparently he was a football fan killed by the police, but some think that the case into his death (accident or not) was not fully investigated. 

Have you visited Sarajevo? What do you think of the city?

15 Companies Using Pinterest Successfully

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I've been using Pinterest for nearly a year now. Pinterest makes bookmarking inspiration easy. For those of you who do not know about this social media website, let me explain.

In short, Pinterest is a social media website that allows web users to 'pin' a web page featuring a recipe you'd like to try, a craft idea, a pretty dress or shoes that would complement your wardrobe, a hairstyle you like, or anything else that you find on any website while you browse the web. The 'pin' is stored as an image with a reference to that web page. These pins can be organised into various boards and revisited at a later time. Instead of a text-only bookmark description of the page, the items 'pinned' are stored with an image, and these are displayed in a grid layout on the page. That way, they can see all of their pins and remember that nice dress or the delicious-looking chocolate tart recipe that they wanted to try.

While I have been using Pinterest for my own inspirational benefit, I have also been researching how companies are using this relatively new social media tool to promote their businesses. Generally, I think companies using and embracing social media websites need to follow some rules, and I am not convinced that Pinterest will work for every company. (Why jump on the bandwagon for the sake of it and without a clear direction?) I also find that some of these companies to have missed opportunities and missed what their followers want to see. I've drawn up a few rules below.

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make with their social media websites (Pinterest) is to post irrelevant information and imagery. The simple rule to follow is that if the image does not relate to the brand or product, then why post it? Companies must also ensure that images posted also represent the brand and connect with the brand's followers. For example, image you are following a shop that specialises in furniture and the furniture brand posts imagery with cute animals in amusing posts with cute quotations. This generally does not relate to the brand.

Another common mistake is uncertainty of using Pinterest and how to use it for the audience - including what type of content to post and how frequently to post it.

Another fact about Pinterest to help: Most of the users are middle-aged females. In an article written by Jainchill (1), she describes Pinterest as a 'scrapbooking' website, which has a large following of women interested in creative endeavours to organise memories. 

Naturally, specific products and industries are adopting Pinterest more than others. Fashion, food, interior design, style, and travel are all areas that have made a success out of Pinterest. 

In the travel industry, companies are adopting Pinterest to show exotic places to visit. According to Lisa Cohen of Voyages Group, "over 50% of Facebook users make buying/brand decisions based on photos of their friend's pages." (1). The travel industry are excited by the demographics of Pinterest, (females between the ages of 25-44 with a household income exceeding $100,000). (1). As travel photographs (and photographs of exotic locations) features heavily on Pinterest, I know many re-pin photographs of places that they would like to visit someday. (I have, and I used to collect this data in a document with a link to an URL, but this simple text entry does not do the same justice at remembering what I liked about the place as a photograph does.)

I've taken a look at companies who are using Pinterest across different industries and have rated each one.

Sephora (Rating: 5/5)
Sephora sells beauty products, and their Pinterest site showcases their products and current fashion and beauty trends. Their Pinterest website lists fashion tips, images from Instagram, products, make-up colours, and examples of make-up from other users (such as fingernail art). This site is all about beauty and trends.

Gap (Rating: 4/5)
Gap's Pinterest site showcases its clothing ranges and different styles, including providing gift ideas around the holiday season. They also provide several Pinterest boards featuring the T-shirt design company, Threadless, and boards that feature several different craft ideas using old clothing. While I feel that the boards do promote the brand, I was confused about the connection that the company have with other brands, such as Threadless. Also, while the craft products encourage fans to be creative, I am not sure that this is a good place. If anything, I would combine these boards into one.

Benefit (1/5)
The cosmetics company list many of their products on their Pinterest site along with make-up tips. However, the company seem to be confused as to what to do with their Pinterest page and have listed several boards that have nothing to do with the brand, such as a random selection of travel-related photographs, food, and summer photographs (organised into separate boards). I feel that these do not belong and that they should focus more on their products and not on creating boards filled with imagery from other pages on the web. While "creamy coconut pops" and "multi-coloured snow cones" look and sound great, this and photographs of random travel resorts, cosmetics, and other food or fashion items doesn't relate to their products. It may fit the demographic, but I don't want to visit the company's Pinterest page to view unrelated imagery. I want to see where I can buy the sparkly glitter lip gloss, but as it is linked to someone's random website, I believe that it is not even their own cosmetic product.

Links of London (Rating: 5/5)
Links of London is a designer jewellery shop. Their boards showcase press releases, celebrities, and their collections of fine jewellery, organised into different product categories. The company created boards for various Olympic events and marketing campaigns during the Olympics. They also have created boards for their fans to submit images for different competitions. Overall, I feel that the boards do focus on their products and brands and also allow others to contribute. (I am over-looking the fact that one of their boards does contain imagery that do not focus solely on their product or brands.)

IKEA UK (Rating: 5/5)
The Swedish furniture and home store's Pinterest page displays several of their products organised into different boards (by room) for quick inspiration. The boards and photographs of the items contain good descriptions (and, in some cases, a cost associated with the product). They have also created special albums for special days (Father's Day) to help customers decide what to buy.

Innocent Drinks (Rating: 2/5)
Innocent Drinks make healthy snacks and drinks and support charitable causes. The company like to be thought of as 'fun' with some of the pins and imagery that they produce. They also get their fans involved by posting images in a board of items that their fans have sent them. The drinks company have not done a lot with their Pinterest page, and I could argue that some of their boards or pins do not represent the products or the brand. Also, some of the boards look bare.

Taco Bell (Rating: 4/5)
Taco Bell, the American fast food chain, use Pinterest to promote their brand and products. Some of the pins feature imagery created by fans, such as tattoos and tacos being eaten in various places in the world. I'm not really convinced that tattoos of the brand (that don't completely follow the brand) really should be on these boards. I personally feel that they could do better and also have better descriptions on the page and images/boards.   

Auntie Anne's (Rating: 1/5)
Auntie Anne's is an American company specialising in pretzels. The shops are usually to be found in the cafe court areas in large shopping malls. (They have recently made their way to the UK as well.) The Pinterest page for this company contains several boards. Some of the boards show the company's history and headquarters city. Others show their followers' photographs relating to the company's products. Other than that, the remainder of the boards (all nine of them at the point of writing) have little or nothing to do with the company. I do not understand what drawings from children, random quotations, fashion and wedding boards have to do with pretzels. Other boards feature random pretzel recipe ideas and pretzel-inspired items (jewellery and handbags). I am fairly confident that many followers would find most of these boards too much of a diversion and question why Auntie Anne's pretzel company is posting a photograph of yellow women's shoes with the caption "Still on my mission to find the perfect yellow shoes."

Krispy Kreme (Rating: 4/5)
The doughnut company, Krispy Kreme, have used professional photographs and Instagram photographs on their Pinterest page. The page features a few boards that relate to the company, and these boards remain true to the brand. Of course, doughnuts and branding feature prominently. The photographs are professional and seasonal. (At the moment of writing this, they have a county fair board as it's the time of year for county fairs and a "Talk Like a Pirate Day" giveaway.) Other boards feature coupons that dedicated followers can print out. The boards are spot on, but many of them seem to be fairly empty. I'd like to see more photographs of doughnuts. 

Cosmopolitan Magazine (Rating: 5/5)
The women's magazine Pinterest page contains boards that relate to their magazine's features: health, beauty, fashion, food, cute men, and magazine covers. The boards contain links to the features from Cosmopolitan's website mentioned in the pins. The content is relevant and ties in with the magazine.

Fossil (Rating: 3/5)
The fashion company Fossil have created several boards with various items that inspire them. While the boards are organised well, I felt that some of them did not fully showcase the brand but are simple re-pins based on the style or theme of the board. I feel that this is a little too much noise and that their Pinterest page should focus more on their products. Their selection of pins seems to have some relevancy to their products and the brand, but I feel that there may be a little too much noise.

Southwest Airlines (Rating: 3/5)
Many of the boards on this page feature holiday destinations that the airlines flies to, its fleet, vintage photographs, employee photos, and travel-related products and items. There are a few random boards and images that seemed to miss the mark, in my opinion.

Etsy (Rating: 5/5)
It would be difficult for an art/craft-seller's marketplace Pinterest website to turn out wrong, particularly when many of its users are women (and women who do appreciate art) and fit the Pinterest demographic. This page features many boards with sellers' items, all organised. I cannot fault it. In fact, Etsy had already been doing something similar to Pinterest even before Pinterest, with its user-created Treasury lists. (Sure, it is executed a bit differently, but it is essentially the same idea.)

Real Simple Magazine (Rating: 5/5)
Similar to the same demographics as Etsy and Pinterest, this page lives up to the brand.

STA Travel (Rating: 4/5)
This Pinterest page features many travel boards and travel products, but I don't see what the 'cupcakes' board has to do with travel.

Susan Gunelius has also posted a few companies that seem to be using Pinterest really well. These include the beauty company Birchbox (, WholeFoods (, Scholastic (, Better Homes and Gardens (, and Michael's Stores ( Obviously, all of the above companies are more popular with women shoppers.

1) Jainchill, Johanna. Travel companies see potential in scrapbooking site Pinterest. [10 April 2012].

2) Gunelius, Susan. 5 Brands Using Pinterest Brilliantly. [13 February 2012].

Day 8: Bosnian Road Trip

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After the beautiful and warm weather of the previous day's exploration of Plitvice Lakes, we woke up to a plummet in temperature and pouring rain, mixed with flakes of snow. I was glad that we had explored the lakes the day before. The plan for the day was to journey from Plitvice Lakes (Croatia) to Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and to stop at a few Bosnian villages along the way. (This, of course, would be in the proper style of a road trip with the ability to stop off at places along the way that were not in the guide book. In fact, Bosnia does not seem to be explored much in any guide book that I could find.)

Misty and foggy hills near Bihać in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bihać is the first majorly-populated town soon after passing the Croatian border into Bosina. The area is known for white water rafting, and the landscape around does look pretty with green hills. The area around the river contained some nice-looking shops and restaurants. Due to the rain, we did not fancy getting out of the car and getting wet to take a look around. I think that most people in Bosnia and Herzegovina were indoors keeping dry because the roads and town seemed quiet.

I saw many stacks of hay like this in the countryside in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The first place we stopped at, after driving a little over an hour further, is a town called Jajce (a UNESCO heritage site). Apparently, the name of the town translates to the English word, "egg", due to the shape of the outcrop of the hill. The rain was still pouring down (it would remain so all day), but we managed to have a quick look around the quiet town. The town seemed to have many games/gambling areas, but there are historic places for visitors. A walled fortress is perched on the top of the hill, but due to the pouring rain, I could not convince the bloke to walk up it; (yes, I am mad and would have walked it in the rain). The town was quiet with many places shut, including shops and museums and catacombs, which I had wanted to visit. We were able to see the waterfall and read some of the tourist information signs (in English) around the town, and we saw a few buildings that had suffered damage in the war and were consequently abandoned. We also had a meal in the town at a pizzeria that was popular with the locals. The rain was disappointing as this looked like a nice town to explore.

A building is riddled with bullet holes in Jajce.

Jajce waterfall looks impressive.

A close-up of one of the war-damaged buildings in Jajce.

The next town we stopped at on the road trip was Travnik. We stopped at the bottom of a hill where there was a brook and pedestrian area with covered restaurants and an outdoor seating area. However, the weather managed to keep people away, but I could see that this would be a normally busy outdoor area for locals and visitors. On a day like today, the rain kept everyone away. Despite the rain, we managed to walk through the old part of Travnik, up the hill, to visit the castle at the top and admire the views around us.

The cobbled stone road leads up to Travnik castle.

The view over Travnik town from Travnik castle.

This building in Travnik had much character. I like the brick-red door, tin patchwork, and doorway sealed with cement and blocks.

On the way from Jajce to Sarajevo, I noted several watermill restaurants dotted around some of the riverbanks. Had the weather been nicer, it would have been great to randomly stop at one of these. (Unfortunately, we did not even stop for photographs. The weather had literally dampened my spirits.) The riverbank restaurants contained wheels, which I assume are used to spitroast meat.

Along the way, I also discovered many little wooden buildings around the low river areas and small wooden buildings used for keeping bees. The landscape of this part contains many hills and small mountains, and it is very green. The villages are constructed of wooden houses, and some of these are brightly-coloured. Nearly all of the villages have at least one mosque, and some of them also have a church. The country is culturally diverse. I liked the blend of east-meets-west. Many of these mosques and churches look very attractive and complete the skyline for any Bosnian village or town.

From Travnik, we journeyed toward Sarajevo. Another area we drove past on the way to Sarajevo was the "Bosnian pyramids". I believe that these pyramids are man-made, and they have built them to try to draw in the tourists, so we did not stop to look at these. Despite not having a detailed map of Sarajevo, we managed to find the small hotel straight away. (I knew its approximate location.) Our hotel was central, and after a quick freshen up, we went to explore the city. 

A fruit-seller in Sarajevo.

Coppersmith Street, Sarajevo, contains shops selling metal goods. This reminds me of a souk in Egypt or Morocco.

The centre of Sarajevo, standing under our umbrella and not far from its fountain (Sebilj).

After a quick exploration of Sarajevo, we had a quick bite to eat in the bakery near Coppersmith Street and had an early night and hoped for better weather the following day. Little did we know that we would be receiving a freak snowstorm in the middle of May in Sarajevo. 

Thames Festival: Rivers of the World 2012

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Over 135 schools in eighteen countries have participated in this year's "Rivers of the World" artwork. This artwork display "Rivers of the World" forms part of the annual "Thames Festival", a celebration of the famous London river. "Thames Festival" includes events, such as a night parade, a firework displays, celebrations for different cultures, and  a celebration of London's locally-produced foods and artwork. 

I visited "Thames Festival" last year, and I had a great view of the night parade (opposite the OXO tower) and fireworks display from Waterloo Bridge. View my entry Enjoying London: Thames Festival 2011 to see my photographs of the night parade, fireworks, and other images during Thames Festival. For the 2012 events, which were held on the 8th and 9th of September, visit

For last year's artwork, visit my blog entry: "Rivers of the World" Art at Thames Festival 2011. Last year, the artwork could be seen in various places along the Thames. This year, the artwork could be seen at St. Katherine's Docks. Reproductions could be seen at the OXO Tower, similar to last year. I was unable to see the "Rivers of the World" artwork this year. However, you can view the artwork on the official website for "Rivers of the World" at I have also included a few photographs of the artwork below, and I've obtained these from the website.

1) UK: Burlington Danes Academy. The images depict the "Great Stink" in the mid 1800s.
2) UK: Chadwell Heath Academy. Students used river plantlife to depict the Thames.
3) Bangledesh: M C Academy. Students used comics to explain the story of building a dam.
4) UK: Jo Richardson Community School. Students were inspired by the printing industry, which used the water from the river, to create drawings of typewriters and words.
5) United Arab Emirates: Nad Al Hammar School. Students used bright colours, and these were used to assemble images of tropical birds and insects.
6) United Arab Emirates: Al Saeedeya School for Boys. This image depicts Dubai Creek and its importance to the city and trade.

1) Argentina: Colegio Arrayanes. Students used their handprints and images of architecture around the Thames to create this artwork.
2) Argentina: St. Anthony's College. Students were inspired by the river Thames culture.
3) UK: La Retraite RC School. Students represented bacteria by using different inks and watercolours.
4) UK: Globe Academy. The students used Argentina fonts and styling and represented horses, which are popular to the culture.
5) Argentina: Secundaria Basica no. 46. Students were inspired by the cycle of water from raindrops to the Thames, including plastic bottles.
6) Argentina: San Clemente de Tuyu School. Students created an image of the river Thames for the future, in case the river and environment were not protected.


1) UK: Haberdashers' Aske's Knights Academy. Used stencils to depict images of Korea.
2) Korea: Yunjung Middle School. Each student contributed a drawing on traditional paper.
3) Korea: Jungwon Girls' Middle School: Created waves to look like the river Thames after researching and finding colours that represent London.

4) Mexico: Francisco Javier Clavijero Secondary School (2008). This depicts the theme of a polluted river.
5) South Africa: The Children's Art Centre (2012). Represents the exchange between the UK and South Africa. 
6) Thailand: Satri Si Suriyothai School (2010). Depicts the Thai people relating aspects of their live to the rivers.

Swans of Wells Sculptures in Bishop's Palace

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Earlier this summer, I made a trip to visit the large (five foot) swan sculptures that have been decorated or painted by local artists to raise money for charity. Throughout the summer, the swans were located throughout the city of Wells, and some could also be found in the surrounding villages. You can read about the swans and see photographs of the swans in my original blog entry here: Visiting the 'Swans of Wells' Art Sculptures

This weekend marks the end of the "Swans of Wells" exhibit, and all of the swans can be seen together (for an entry fee) in Bishop's Palace in Wells before being auctioned off. 

I've added some photograph's from today's exhibit in Bishop's Palace below. If you have seen the swans, add a comment and tell me what you have thought of them or tell me your favourite swan.












'The World in London' Photography Exhibit

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This summer, "The World in London" photography exhibit was on display in Victoria Park and on Oxford Street in London. The exhibition features photographs taken between 2009-2012. Each photograph shows a person (people) from each one of the 204 nations participating in the Olympic games. Each photograph comes with the story of the individual and their thoughts about various aspects of London. There is also a description from the photographer about why the photographs were taken in the locations and manner that they were.


More about the exhibition and photographs can be viewed at:

London Illuminated for the Olympics

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During the Olympics, the bridges on the river Thames and some of the buildings along it were illuminated with colourful lights. Crossing over Waterloo Bridge one evening, I noted the colours on the bridges and buildings on both sides - the OXO Tower, London Eye, bridges, and buildings on South Bank were glowing. (I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the illuminated bridges and awestruck on that evening. It made me miss London as I often do not get to visit as much as I used to.)

Although I used to always take a camera with me to capture photographs, I was unable to on this day. I also have not been to London in the evening since then to take photographs. However, I have located various photographs on the web. 


The above photographs were taken by Patrick Mayon, as cited. More of his work can be found at


London Eye was illuminated for the Olympics, and the lights changed colours. South Bank also contained many illuminated buildings, and the reflections of the lights on the South Bank, London Eye, and bridges made London feel magical.


The illuminations were organised by the Mayor of London in the event known as 'Dazzle'. (

In addition to the bridges being illuminated, the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge each featured a light show in the evenings during the Olympics. The Houses of Parliament featured Olympic glories from the past and present, projected onto the building. In addition to the photograph below, you can read more about this and see additional photographs here:

Tower Bridge also featured a light show with multiple colours and patterns projected onto the iconic towers. The bridge was lit up every night during the Olympics.


Day 7: Beautiful Plitvice Lakes (Croatia)

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After visiting the Dalmatian Coast - Split, Salona and Trogir, and spending the night near Trogir, we got up early to make the journey toward the beautiful Plitvice Lakes. The first stop along the way was Zadar to visit the sea organ. This is the only sea organ in the world, and the wind and waves from the sea go into holes along the water's side of the 'organ' and make strange and beautiful noises. The noises are more prominent in high tide and in the evenings when the sea is quieter. Visitors can sit on the steps and listen to the sea organ; outlet holes from the organ are on the steps and pavement, as in the photograph below.

Outlet holes on the sea promenade, which form part of Zadar's sea organ.

Besides the sea organ, Zadar has ancient ruins and a cathedral and old city gates. Much of the town contains newer architecture, and the city contains modern shops to visit. After this quick visit to Zadar, the drive north to Plitvice Lakes was continued. By the time we arrived, we had half the day to look around the lakes, though I'd suggest taking almost a full day and taking the time to enjoy it instead of being rushed around. 

Plitvice Lakes are a UNSECO world heritage site, and it is well-maintained with different trails that can be walked. We managed to walk a trail called "H" (which was suggested to walk between four and six hours) in almost four hours. The trail started at the top of the lakes, which included a short bus ride to the top, and we walked down. Nature was admired along the walk - chirping/buzzing frogs, beautiful flowers and plants, snakes, birds, beautiful waterfalls, insects, and fish.

I visited the lakes in early May, which is the spring-summer season. I believe that these lakes would also be beautiful in the winter and the autumn.

One of the maintained wooden walkways through marshland.

A beautiful lake in the upper lakes, Plitvice Lakes. This is where I heard the 'buzzing' noise of frogs

Plitvice Lakes is well-maintained with several wooden walkways over the wet and low areas. This also helped visitors keep to the pathways to avoid eroding away the other areas. Each lake has a wooden sign next to the walkway, and the sign lists the name of the lake and its depth and width. 

Another wooden walkway bends along the edge of a lake.

Little waterfalls join one lake, above, to another lake below it.

Many of the lakes in Plitvice Lakes joined together over time as the upper-most lake waters swirled down the edge, eroding the rocks away and making the lake deeper and one end. Over time, this erodes the rock siding away, and eventually, two separate lakes become one with the upper-most lake joining the lower lake. Waterfalls between the lakes begin to form as this gradual process takes place. There are hundreds of small waterfalls and many larger ones in this beautiful natural park.

A wooden walkway leads visitors around a bend to explore more surprising and beautiful lakes.

I discovered these purple flowers in Plitvice Lakes; I'm not sure what they are called.

I liked these the cotton-like puffy white plants; I'm not sure what they are called. 

Crystal-clear lakes are perfect for reflections. This was one of the lakes in the upper lakes region of Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Once the upper lakes were visited on the trail, a boat (leaving every thirty minutes) ferries visitors from one side of a lake to another so visitors can view the lower lakes and see the larger waterfalls. Veliki Slap (the Great Waterfall) is the largest waterfall in Croatia, and it can be seen in this area of the Plitvice Lakes National Park. In addition to several waterfalls, the lower lakes also have a large cave and beautiful views from the trails as there are varying heights to this area.

Large waterfalls in the lower lakes area of Plitvice Lakes.

Clear waters expand the the distance of this lake, and Veliki Slap (the great waterfall) cascades down. Veliki Slap probably needed a little more rain to look more beautiful at this time; the rain fell the following day.

The pathways up the hill contained amazing views of the lower lakes, and this part of the trail led back to the finishing point where we would be getting the bus back to the car parking.

One of the most popular views of Plitvice Lakes shows the photograph above (in different seasons) with a winding wooden walkway through clear lakes.

The boat crosses Kozjak lake. This boat is arriving with passengers to the upper lakes while we travel down to the lower lakes.

After visiting the lakes, we drove back toward the bed and breakfast and had a meal at a small restaurant which operates as a ski lodge in the winter. The ski lifts could be seen out of the back of the restaurant. The pizza was delicious, and the restaurant was popular with locals. The buildings in this area of Croatia contrasted completely differently when compared with the stone buildings of the coast. The buildings in this area were wooden with pitched roofs. It is amazing how quickly the landscape changes within only a couple of hours driving.

I recommend visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park; it is one of the most beautiful places I have been to.

London 2012 Olympic Park

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Over the past month, the whole of the UK, if not the world, seems to have Olympic fever. I was lucky enough to get access to the Olympic Park, which is restricted to event ticket holders only. The park is large in size with many different venues for the various sports, sponsor buildings, pop-up restaurants, souvenir and merchandising shops, and the largest McDonalds. (There's actually two McDonalds restaurants.) In addition to the various buildings, the area was landscaped with a multitude of British wildflowers to make it appear like a country meadow. Various works of art also appeared around the Olympic Art.

The Olympic stadium made out of Lego; this is located in Westfield Startford.

One of the Olympic Mascots parades through the Olympic Park

Entrance to the Olympic Park

The floating showroom for MINI and BMW 

The royal boat.

Orbit, a massive red roller-coaster-esque sculpture, sticks out of the ground next to the main stadium and nearly towers above it. Visitors can buy a pass to enter this sculpture and to climb it for views over Olympic Park.

A close-up and photograph of Orbit

The Olympic stadium with the wildflower meadows

My favourite flowers, cornflowers, were in abundance in the Olympic Park.

RUN is a sculpture of the three letters, spelling "Run", designed by Monica Bonvicini.  The letters are made of glass and stainless steel and act as a mirror in daylight. In night, the letters light up with LED lights. The spacing of the letters changes depending on how close you are standing to the letters.

The 'RUN' sculpture.

Olympic stadium and the gardens

Messages from visitors to the Olympic Park were located in the garden.

Steles (Waterworks) are large sculptures that also function as buoys, and these are located in the canals that surround the park area. They are brightly-coloured, and they remind me of giant crayons.

bit.fall is a work of art using water and light to spell out words as it drops from a bridge above. This artwork was created by Julius Popp. The words are chosen at random from live news feeds, and this artwork uses technology.

Artwork on one of the walls in Olympic Park

One of the sponsor's exhibits, Coca Cola, functioned as a large 'beat box'. The building resembled pieces of lit red and white shards placed together. Visitors could interact with the building by touching various panels inside it to play different notes. The notes were based on the official Coca Cola song by Mark Ronson and Katy B, and the song was created by recording various sports sounds and vocals. When touching a panel, visitors to the building could hear one of the sounds (sports, vocals, or a musical instrument) used in the song. The exhibit continued to the top of the building where visitors could get a photograph with the torch and inside the building where they received free bottles of the drink and watched performances by some of the young entertainers with dance/music/performance talents.

The exterior of the Coca Cola Beatbox

Interior of the Coca Cola Beatbox where visitors can touch the panels to hear a bit of music.

There are many more works of art to be found in the Olympic Park. In addition, the main arena lights up at night, rotating between several colours - green, blue, pink, orange, yellow. 

The stadium and Orbit lit up at night.

Were you lucky enough to visit the Olympic Park or see a game in the Olympics? Let me know what you thought of the Olympic Park. 

London's Statues Wear Hats: Hatwalk

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In time for the Olympics, various statues around London have acquired hats overnight. The hats celebrate British fashion, and the project was put together by the Mayor of London and Grazia. Designers include Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones. A map of the locations of the statues wearing hats can be downloaded on the Mayor of London website here: 

Also, images and a map can be found on the Grazia website here:


One of the statues to bear a hat is the famous statue of Lord Nelson on top of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square. Lord Nelson sports a very British hat and Olympic torch. Other statues wearing hats include Duke of Wellington and Angel of Peace (Wellington Arch), F.D. Roosevelt and Churchill (Bond Street), Henry Havelock, King George IV, and Charles James Napier (Trafalgar Square), and various others along Victoria Embankment and outside the Bank of England.

The hats were placed on the statues until around the end of August; the hats seemed to be removed on September 1.

London Olympics Decorations, Part 2

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London has spent a small fortune on its painted pavements, bunting, flags, and other Olympics decorations. Each area seems to have some sort of decorations to celebrate the 2012 Olympics, but the more touristy areas contain many more decorations. By now, I think that most people have gotten used to the logo and the font. (I'm not a fan of either, but I've come to accept it.)

I have taken a few photographs of the decorations put up around the city. This follows up from my July post before the games, London Gets Ready for the Olympics.

A banner hangs along the railings of a square near the British Museum.

Leadenhall Market has bunting and flags.

The main crossroads in Leadenhall Market.

Officially not in the London 2012 style exactly, I felt that these figures still encompassed the Olympics spirit and looked striking against the contours of 30 St. Mary Axe (a.k.a. 'The Gherkin')

An artistic photograph of the Olympic figures in front of 'The Gherkin'.

Bunting hangs near Holborn Viaduct.

Flags hang high between the columns of the London Stock Exchange.

South Bank's tourist trail from the Tate to Cannon Street Bridge is covered with flags, banners, and painted Olympic figures on the pavement.

The Guildhall boasts several flags.

Additional bunting outside the Guildhall.

The front of Liverpool Street Station is decorated with figures; I'm not too keen on the execution here. It looks like a job with coloured duct tape.

A shop on Regent's Street wishes good luck.

BT Building, across from St. Paul's tube, has two very British phone boxes outside its doors.

London Olympics Artwork and Installations

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Many cultural displays (art and art installations) have been placed across London and its monuments this summer in order to celebrate the Olympics. There's been a lot to see in the city this year, and I've been documenting various bits and pieces in this blog over the past couple of months. This entry describes some of the work that I have seen (or have heard about) in London this summer.


Tales from the Bridge (Millennium Bridge):
As visitors walk across Millennium Bridge, they can hear music and narration (poetry) related to the Thames and its importance in London's history and to London today. "Tales of the Bridge" is composed by Martyn Ware and David Bickerstaff. While walking from St. Paul's Cathedral, it is not immediately obvious about the sound until you are closer to the middle of the bridge. Speakers are in the middle of the bridge and the South Bank area, and the poetry and sounds can be heard in these areas and while walking down the bridge.

Universe of Sound: The Planets (Science Museum):
The Philharmonic Orchestra is recorded with various songs about each of the planets. The experience is highly interactive, and users can participate in place of the conductor or one of the instruments. Users can read sheet music or see narration from what the players are thinking. They can see the whole piece combined using video in the surrounding walls so that they feel as though they are a part of the experience. It is easy to lose an hour or two listening and watching this. 

London Dresser (Shell Centre):
Designed by Westminster University, this work of art showcases London's famous skyline and architecture in seat form. Throughout the day, the work of art also functions as seating until it is placed back in a locked case once again to look like the London skyline. Passers-by can view it in this form in the locked case, which becomes momentarily illuminated. (More photographs and information is available at:

Song Board (King's Cross Station):
Visitors can create music by creating patterns (rotating coloured balls) using this large interactive board outside of King's Cross Station; the rotated balls produce a sound or a tune. This installation was designed by Central St. Martin's College. A write-up of the experience and some of the visitors is included here:

Alga(e)zebo (Euston Square):
This tree-like steel-framed canopy fits in with the environment of the square, creating shadow and light through the detailed structure. Bartlett School of Architecture designed this art installation, and more about it can be read on their website here:

Enzi Seating (National Theatre, South Bank)
This colourful seating gives visitors to the South Bank a place to sit and relax during the Olympic Games.

Gift from the Olympic Gods (various locations):
I've blogged about the enormous shot put in a previous post. Included in this same theme (Gifts from the Olympic Gods), visitors to London can also track down giant javelin or bow and arrow sculptures. Read my original blog entry and see a photograph of one of the shot puts here.

Streetscape Carousel (various locations):
The architecture of the area is summed up into a carousel. I visited the one in Borough Market, but the interactivity eluded me. Apparently, there's a crank to turn the carousel, and it uses light to reflect to imagery in the surrounding area. When I visited it, it was too bright to see the full effect, and the Carousel was hidden in an area where many others walked past without noting its significance. More information about these installations can be read here: 

Weather - It's Raining or Not (Hoxton Square):
This art installation is all about London's fascination with the weather. This art installation features parasol-shaped objects and the previous day's weather. The parasols dotted around the square provide visitors some space (or protection from the rain). 

Bloom (Cutty Sark Gardens):
This highly interactive art installation allows visitors to rearrange the pieces on the bright pink 'bloom', and the art responds to its surroundings based on the visitor's input. Visitors have a change to create and recreate works of art and allow the art to adapt. This is an extremely social art piece. Bartlett School of Architecture designed this art installation, and more about it can be read on their website here:

Tr(ee)logy (South Kennsington):
This artwork is designed to resemble metal tree-like or sign structures, and the artwork tells tales about the past events, secrets, and stories. Bartlett School of Architecture designed this art installation, and more about it can be read on their website here:

Universal Tea Machine:
This highly interactive art installation is a cross being a tea-making device, a computer, and a pin ball machine. Visitors have to get the sequence correct in order to  receive a cup of tea made correctly. The work, similar to the "Weather" installation, focuses on Britain's fascination with tea.

Drip-There Is An Island (Victoria Park):
This art installation features cloud-like canopy. It was designed by 'Drifting City' in Athens and in Los Angeles and has been removed after the Olympic Games to visit other cities.


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