July 2013 Archives

Creating Gromits with Aardman Studios

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

This past weekend, I visited Bristol to partake in the charity sculpture walk "Gromit Unleashed". I have been looking forward to this since January, when I first heard the press release. Bristol hosted Wow! Gorillas in Bristol a couple of years ago, and I enjoyed visiting them and marking them on the phone application. This may sound a little bit sad, but I have been looking forward to "Gromit Unleashed" more than anything else this year. (For those of you wishing to see photographs of the sculptures, I will be posting them as soon as I have had a chance to sort through them.)

For those readers who do not know, Gromit is the famous canine companion of Wallace in the Wallace and Gromit short animations. They are clay (plasticine) figurines that are animated using stop-animation. The duo appeared in a full-length feature film a few years ago called 'The Curse of the Were-Rabbit'. Aardman Studios, the company that created Wallace and Gromit, also created the film Chicken Run. These films and animation shorts are well worth seeing if you have not seen them.

'Wallace and Gromit' model at the exhibition at @Bristol

Aardman Studios are based in Bristol, and they are sponsoring the "Gromit Unleashed" sculpture charity trail along with other local businesses. In addition to the trail, they have also launched plasticine Gromit-making workshops at the @Bristol museum, run by one of the company's model-makers. (The museum also features a display on animation and Aardman Studios.) 

As I enjoy the Wallace and Gromit animations, this was an opportunity to create my own plasticine Gromit. The bloke and I signed up for the afternoon Gromit model-making course, and we were taught by one of Aardman Studios' model-makers on how to make our Gromits.

We were led to the room for an hour-long workshop in the museum where plasticine strips were laid out in front of each seat at a long table. There were three long strips of a 'stone' colour (as the Aardman employee described them), a small strip of brown, a smaller strip of black, and an even smaller bit of white plasticine. Each table had a couple of sheets of paper with the moulded bits of shapes that make a Gromit. We were then talked through how to make our Gromit sculptures.

From top left: The plasticine strips; the poster describing how to create a Gromit; creating the legs; adding the legs onto the torso; finishing the legged-torso; the Gromit body waiting for the head; smoothing down the plasticine Gromit with a wet towel to 'polish/smooth' it.

After we created our Gromits, we put them on the table at the front of the room to display them. We liked how ours turned out, and it was good to see everyone else's Gromits; each one was unique.

The Gromits on display

We took a photograph of our Gromits next to the Gromit that the Aardman model-builder built while he was explaining to us about how to build our Gromits. His is the one in the middle.

Finished Gromits

After the excitement, we carefully took our Gromits away with us. The best thing is that plasticine never fully dries, so you can always re-sculpt it and improve it (or use it for something else completely). The plasticine can be 'smoothed' down with a wet wipe, though care is needed when working with different colours so that the plasticine is not 'contaminated' with the other colours. As plasticine is re-sculptable, it is perfect for stop-animation. The @Bristol museum had an area where visitors could learn how to create animations using this technique and encouraged us to make our own animations using our Gromit models.  

Remembering the Olympics

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

A year ago, the Olympics were under way, and we watched the opening celebration ceremony for the Olympic games. As a tribute to last year's games, I have discovered some of my unpublished photographs of Olympic-related street art that I recently discovered. (I've got another entry full of Olympic street art here: http://jenikya.com/blog/2012/08/street-art-london-olympics-gra.html)

Code FC. (Piece has since been covered.)

Sadly, most of the Olympics street art has been painted over. However, such is the nature of street art that it gets replaced over time; the street is always evolving. Most pieces survived for several months. 

Various Olympics pieces. Bricks with the Olympic colours can still be seen in some areas, and the beefeater mascot (by Mark Hayward) is still on Brick Lane. A few paste-ups may still be seen on Blackall Street.

More Olympic-painted bricks. I'm not sure who the artist is.

A very worn piece from Code FC, located just off Brick Lane.
Otto Schade

Chocolate-Themed Afternoon Tea

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

The Podium restaurant at Hilton Park Lane in London celebrated the return of the Rolling Stones to Hyde Park (and Glastonbury) this summer with themed afternoon tea. The afternoon tea included a choice of tea, sandwiches, scones, pastries and chocolates. The pastries were provided on an edible plate made of chocolate. Earlier, we had just gone for a walk in Hyde Park as the weather was pleasant. It was the perfect day for a walk in the park, followed by afternoon tea.

The first 'course' of the afternoon tea included a glass of champagne and egg, cucumber, smoked salmon, and ham sandwiches.

Sandwiches: ham, smoked salmon, egg, and cucumber.

The sandwiches were followed by tea and a three-tier stand of pastries, scones, and chocolates. We started from the bottom up.

Our three-tier stands of pastries.

The scones were plain and raisin. We also had three types of 'filling' for the scones: chocolate spread, clotted cream, and strawberry jam.


Next, we had the cupcakes, and some of these were named according to the theme of the Rolling Stones. The flavours were: chocolate (Swagger), strawberry, raspberry (Let it Bleed), and toffee. They looked nice, but they were a little bit too sweet for my taste.

Cupcakes and lollies


Raspberry cupcake

After the cupcakes, we had the main pastries. These kept up with the Rolling Stones theme. They included: cherry biscuit lips, "Tattoo you" cheesecake, "Exile on Main Street" marzipan dice, "Between the Buttons" chocolate macaroon, a shot glass of silver 'pebble' chocolates with two lollies: "She's a Rainbow" marshmallow lolly and "78 records" liquorice lolly. All of these were served on top of an edible plate made of dark chocolate.

Rolling Stones pastries

Rolling Stones pastries.

The pastries were very sweet, and there was so much chocolate. Most of them ended up being taken home with us.

Street Art: Dan Kitchener

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Dan Kitchener is a street artist from the UK, and he sometimes signs his work 'DANK' (Dan K.). His artwork includes street scenes and portraits. In particular, one wall on Brick Lane constantly evolves with his work. This work is comprised of night city street scenes with people, cars, and bright lights. I enjoy seeing these, and a selection of them is posted below.


The following street scene underneath Usain Bolt (by artist Jimmy C) was painted in the summer of 2012 by the artist. It no longer exists.


In addition to the street scenes, I have taken a few photographs of Dan's portraits. The same image of the dark-haired girl is repeated on various shutters and walls around east London.


Have you seen his work around? Feel free to leave a message to let me know what you think. For more information about this artist, visit one of the following links: http://www.saatchionline.com/dankitchener or http://dankitchener.bigcartel.com/

Champagne at Tower42, Vertigo42

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Friends and I got together to visit the champagne bar at the top of Tower 42 in the city of London. The champagne bar is known as Vertigo42. We had a bottle of champagne to share between us and enjoyed the views over the city. The views from the tower are spectacular.

A glass of champagne and a nice view over East London.

Champagne and bread; a view of the side of the Gherkin and Canary Wharf.

From top: the Shard and south of the Thames; a view of the Thames and the west, including St. Paul's cathedral; view of Moorgate and the Barbican; Finsbury Circus and Liverpool Street Station.

Street Art: Anna Laurini

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Earlier this summer, I came across a few brightly-coloured sketches of women's faces across east London. A few of these had an encouraging message, such as "be yourself". More kept popping up, and I eventually saw the artist painting the long wall near Shoreditch High Street station during one of my lunch breaks. She was adding to the wall, which already contains street art, and around the existing street art. The artist is Anna Laurini. 

Anna Laurini studied art in London, and she has worked in London and New York. She enjoys using bright colours and adding positive messages for the visitors. Her work uses a lot of expression, such as the quick and fluid shapes of the figures she creates.  

I visited the wall again when it was finished and snapped up a few more photographs. Anna's new additions of artwork to this wall add a bright splash of colours and encouraging messages for busy and stressed Londoners. Some of the encouraging messages are:

  • "The world we will invent"
  • "You make me real"
  • "To live means to be aware"
  • "Let your children play"
  • "Unveil yourself, and things will be unveiled"
  • "The street is life"
  • "Take a long holiday"
  • "Together, we are stronger"
  • "Art is to enjoy"
  • "Where there is love, there is life"


I captured a few more photographs of Anna Laurini's work across east London. These could be discovered on and just off of Brick Lane, near Old Street (at the end of Rivington Street), and on Redchurch Street. Like the previous wall, these had messages:

  • "I don't explain"
  • "My blue romance"
  • "If you can keep me, I like to stay"
  • "Such a perfect day"
  • "It's time for something great"
  • "We should all shine"
  • "Be yourself"


I found some shutters decorated by Anna Laurini on Redchurch Street.


The final work from this artist was discovered on the way to Broadway Market one weekend. I snapped a photograph of the following wall with more bright colours, faces, and writing.


For more information about the artist, view her Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/anna-laurini/) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/annalaurini) or official website (http://www.saatchionline.com/annalaurini).

London's Mobile Orchard

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

One of the main attractions for the City of London Festival for 2013 is the Mobile Orchard. This art installation shows an urban orchard of man-made and natural fruit trees. The man-made fruit tree includes shelter from the branches and seating on the root, lighting, and the leaf-like structures represent the London boroughs. The tree also includes fresh fruit, which can be picked by members of the public and is refreshed daily.


The tree moves across the city each week until the 27th of July. After the Mobile Orchard finishes its City tour, the real fruit trees will be donated to schools. The man-made tree will tour the UK for the next five years. For more information about this work of art, visit: http://www.mobileorchard.info/


Street artist Malarky is from Barcelona, and he painted brightly-coloured artwork on shutters and walls around Shoreditch/Spitalfields in London. Most of his artwork features cartoonish fox-like or cat characters. He created a lot of new work in 2011 and 2012, but I have not seen anything from him recently. He also collaborates with other street artists; Lucas, Billy, and Mr. Penfold. All of these artists have a similar style of work. I like the idea of these happy, urban foxes.

More of his work can be seen here: http://malark.blogspot.co.uk/

A Malarky 'fox'
Mr. Penfold
Like street artist Malarky, Mr. Penfold uses bright colours and a signature cartoon character in his work. He is originally from Cambridge.
More of his work can be found on the official website (http://www.mrpenfold.com/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mr-Penfold/32281712075)
Mr. Penfold
From top: 1) Mr. Penfold, Lucas and Malarky. 2) Malarky, Lucas and Mr. Penfold.
Billy also creates artwork, and she has been producing street art. Her work features along with Malarky's on shutters around Shoreditch and Spitalfields, and bright colours are also used. She lived in South Africa for a while, and her work looks like it is influenced by a 'tribal' theme and design.
From top:   1) Malarky 2) Malarky and others 3) Malarky 4) Lucas and Malarky 5) Malarky 6) Malarky and Billy 
Malarky and Lucas 
Lucas is a street artist from Northern Ireland. Similar to the previous artists, he uses bright colours and characters, mainly plump-looking faces with large eyes.
I have only photographed a few examples of these artists' work as there's so much of it in east and south London. As many of these are located on the shutters, I suggest visiting the area (Spitalfields/Shoreditch) after hours if you wish to see more of their artwork.
Malarky cat
Malarky fox
Malarky cat

Go! Rhinos are Loose in Southampton

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

As you may have read from my previous entries, I enjoy visiting "animal parades" that are organised by a community to encourage an interest in the arts as well as to raise money for charity. There are a few of these taking place in the UK this year, and I have been looking forward to them since the beginning of this year. (Past ones that I have created entries for include Spot the Lions in Bath Using Mobile Barcode TechnologyVisiting the 'Swans of Wells' Art SculpturesWow! Gorillas in Bristol, and Parading Artistic Elephants in London.)

Today, I went on a rhino-spotting walk around the city of Soutampton. I was not the only one; the warm weather did not keep everyone indoors. I had a lovely time discovering the rhinos. I've posted a few of my favourite photographs of these and managed to track down all of the ones in the centre of Southampton in a couple of hours.

Beatrix - Stewart Waite Davidson designed for Terence O'Rourke.

Go! Rhinos has been launched by Marwell Zoo for its 40th anniversary. The event was launched this weekend and continues until the 22nd of September. The rhinos will all be on display in the middle of October at Marwell Zoo. The charity helps the conservation of wild rhinos.

Glint. Sven Odendaal.

All of the rhinos have been designed by local artists, and each is unique. These include painted, mosaic, mirror, and electronic rhinos. One of the rhinos (located in Marlands Shopping Centre) could interact with visitors by making rhino noises when certain parts of it were touched; it also had LED lights on its head to make it light up, and its ears could move.

From top: Will Rosie for Skandia. Artism for Ordnance Survey. Laura Schillemore for Mazars. Damien Jeffery for 3663.

From top: Totton College art students for Totton College. Drew Saunders for Crest Nicholson. Sian Storey for Festival Place.

From top: Natalie Guy for Wave 105. David McDiarmid for Balfour Beatty Living Places. Sian Storey for Radcliffe and Co. Richard Taunton Sixth Form College for 'Mrs. Hearty' for Wessex Heartbeat.

In addition to the rhinos designed by local artists, schools also sponsored and decorated their own individual rhinos. These are displayed inside various shops and museums around Southampton. One of these, decorated with several toys, appears below.


Keep reading my blog over the coming weeks to see photographs of other animal parades. For more information about Go! Rhinos, visit the following official website for the event: http://gorhinos.co.uk/

Avebury Stone Circle is an impressive group of three stone circles, dating from Neolithic times. These stones are inside a pasture, and I've been here a few times now to visit the stones and to walk amongst the stones and sheep. Avebury Stone Circle is the largest known stone circle in Europe, though there were hundreds (and hundreds more probably now gone) of these around Europe. 






South Bank's Herbfest

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

London's South Bank is home to Herbfest this summer. Herbfest consists of a temporary greenhouse filled with different herbs. Visitors can view the herbs and learn how to identify them. Herbfest is a part of the Southbank Centre's 'Festival of Neighbourhood'.

Herbs in the greenhouse at Southbank Centre.

The greenhouse outside the Southbank Centre consists of shelves of herbs in burlap bags. Tags on each plant help the visitor to identify it.  Herbfest runs until September 8. Make sure you see the herbs and visit one of the cafes that use the fresh herbs in their dishes. 

A tagged herb.

I have been noticing several stenciled roses in London over the past few months. I've started to photograph these. I like how they add a small bright patch of colour, like a rose growing out of the concrete, to dull walls and corners. The artist who has been painting these rose stencils across Spitalfields and Shoreditch is known as Flower Guy. His Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/LondonStreetArtistFlowerGuy 

I've taken a few photographs of some of these, and new ones are popping up every month or so. I just spotted two new ones near the office where I work, and one of these was right outside the door.



I posted some more street art flowers from this artist in February here: London Street Art Roses

Orkney Islands: Hoy

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

I previously posted the following articles about Orkney: Orkney Islands: Italian Chapel and KirkwallOrkney Islands: Birsay, Gurness, Brodgar and Cuween Hill and Orkney Islands: Rousay, Cairns, Mills and Farms. This entry focuses on the island of Hoy. The island is rich in history and contains many historical and natural sights.

A ferry to the island of Hoy can be caught at Houton on the mainland, and the ferry crossing took approximately one hour. The weather was not nice during the crossing, and we had rain and wind. However, we could see mountains rising from the island, particularly on the west side. The ferry crossed the Scapa Flow, a body of water where there are countless historic shipwrecks. An excellent museum about these shipwrecks is located a few yards from the ferry port on Hoy.

The island of Hoy from the ferry as it crosses the Scapa Flow.

After arriving on the island, we drove through moorland, and the road followed the coast and was situated on higher ground. There were good views of the island and Scapa Flow. We passed a small grave on the side of the road and in the middle of the moors, known as Betty Corrigall's grave. This is a sad story about a young lady who took her life after she became pregnant and was abandoned by her lover. This meant that her body could not be buried in a church grave. Apparently, the peat soil had preserved her body, so the officials had to put concrete above it to stop curious people from uncovering it. 

On the edge of the village, I discovered an abandoned, old bus.

An old bus.

An old us.

The first point of call was the Dwarfie Stone. This is a large, Megolithic rock-cut tomb, and it is unique because the other tombs are made from stones. This one is one large block of rock, carefully carved into a tomb with two chambers and a door, which used to pivot on a stone. The door long longer pivots, but you can still see the pivot stone, and the stone door is located on the ground and in front of the entrance.

The stone is located a short walk from the road, in the valley and at the foot of a small mountain. It is accessed via a footpath.    

The footpath to the Dwarfie Stone

A wooden walkway across peatland.

I cannot fully describe the feeling of seeing the Dwarfie Stone. Seeing it was magical, and this made me appreciate the hard work that it must have taken someone (or perhaps there were more than one) to carve the chambers in this stone.  

The Dwarfie Stone.

The Dwarfie Stone.

After seeing the Drawfie Stone, I went to Rackwick Bay to walk from there to the Old Man of Hoy, a large seastack. The walk took an hour to reach the Old Man. The first fifteen or twenty minutes was the most difficult as we had to walk up a very steep hill.   

Starting the journey to the Old Man of Hoy.

After walking up the steep hill, we were rewarded with amazing views of the sea and the coast at Rackwick Bay.

Rackwick Bay

The footpath got near to the edge of the cliff in some places.

Rackwick Bay

The soil on the footpath is very red, with black peat soil on the side of the footpath.

After about thirty minutes walking on the footpath, we finally caught a glimpse of the Old Man of Hoy in the distance, as we crossed the side of a mountain.

The Old Man of Hoy in the distance

The Old Man of Hoy in the distance

Finally, we were rewarded with a view of the Old Man of Hoy from stunning sea cliffs. We were careful not to stand too close to the cliffs as they were sheer drops, and these pictures could never do this beauty justice. Apparently, some visitors could see sharks and other sea life off of the coast here, but we did not see anything.

The Old Man of Hoy.

Mossy flowers near the Old Man of Hoy.

After seeing the highlight of Hoy, the Old Man of Hoy, we traveled to the other side of the island to visit the Mortello Tower. This tower was built in the Napoleonic Wars. The Scapa Flow was targeted in this war and in the wars with America in the early 1800s, and there were several of these towers scattered about Orkney Islands. Now, there's only a couple that survive.

hoy16.jpgMartello Towers

The final stop on Hoy was a visit to the Scapa Flow Museum. This is a fantastic museum. The museum contains shipwreck finds and information about the ships that met their fate in the Scapa Flow. A display of guns and other items from both World Wars are on display. The museum is popular as it's close to the ferry port, so the perfect opportunity is to explore the museum at the end of the trip to Hoy. I wish I had had more time at this museum as there is so much to see.

Scapa Flow Museum gun

This completes my trip on Orkney. I hope you have enjoyed it.

Street Art: RUN

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

One street artist that keeps busy painting the walls of Shoreditch in London is RUN. RUN is an Italian street artist living in London, and he recently painted the large Village Underground wall off Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch. RUN's subjects involve large side-profile heads and hands. He's also been painting telephones around walls in Shoreditch.

I photographed more of RUN's artwork at the Dulwich art house: Open Day at the Street Art House, Dulwich Arts Festival: Part 2 and Open Day at the Street Art House, Dulwich Arts Festival: Part 1. At this Dulwich art house, RUN painted telephones on the walls inside the house and a large mural of a head and figures on the largest exterior wall.

For the Village Underground wall, which is repainted every couple of months, RUN created a swan-like figure using hands and a side-profile head. These are both common trade-marked subjects for the artist, as I have mentioned. This mural has been up for about three weeks now.

The Village Underground wall

This spring, I started noticing painted telephones appearing on some of the walls just off of Brick Lane. All of these old-style dial telephones look different; some are them have the receiver on the side while others are 'hung up' on top. Others have a cord running to the ground, while some do not. Another group of telephones forms a running man. The telephones are painted with a thin outline and light and shadows, characteristic of RUN's other artwork. (More of these can be seen in the Dulwich art house galleries.) 

A selection of RUN's telephones photographed around Brick Lane.

A telephone hidden away...

Phone on a door with many tags over it

The most common trademark for this artist are the side-profile and normally large-scale heads. I have photographed a selection of these. Most of the time, the artist likes to put the heads at an odd angle, or upside-down. This really makes the work stand out on the streets.  

A selection of RUN's figures in various locations around Shoreditch.


I discovered this bird skeleton crossed with a human hand in a car park around the same time that RUN painted the large mural on the Village Underground. It was difficult to take a photograph because there's a lot of street art on the walls here, but you're not allowed to take photographs from inside the car park.



For more examples of RUN's work, visit the official website: http://www.runabc.org/

Street Art: Jonesy

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

I've been capturing some photographs across London of street art by an artist known as Jonesy. Jonesy creates sculptures and drawings (pasted up). There are several examples of his work dotted just off of Brick Lane and Sclater Street. A lot of these are located above eye level, and they are a bit unexpected. This artist also seems to create art related to environmental messages, birds, human head sculptures, and other installations which feature feathers. A few examples of his (or her) work are included below.

A green head on Sclater Street; a couple of drawings pasted up on Sclater Street; feathers and a bucket located on Brick lane; a steel paste-up located near Shoreditch station; a paste-up drawing on Sclater Street

Wooden and metal artworks located off Brick Lane; paste-ups located on Sclater Street

The artwork below was photographed early in 2012 in the courtyard just off of Brick Lane.

An environmental message

I am not able to find out too much about this artist around the Internet, so if you know anything more, feel free to make a comment.

Street Art: Dscreet

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Visitors to Shoreditch or Brick Lane will sooner or later walk past one of Dscreet's murals. Dscreet's artwork mainly features owls, and there are many of these dotted around on the shutters or on walls in this area of London.  

According to an interview, Dscreet preferred painting cartoon figures and used the owl image as it was quick for him to paint it and the owl had a meaning for him (1).

Recently, Dscreet painted doors of the Tramshed with a white owl and the lyrics to a Black Sabbath song.

'Black Sabbath' Dscreet owl
Located just off Brick Lane, these symetrical owls and a skull (common in Dscreet's artwork) sit on top of the tag of the artist.
Dscreet skulls and owls
The artwork below is one I walk past a lot, and it's located on some shutters. 
This mural takes a large section of wall near many other works by famous street artists, off Brick Lane.
More of Dscreet's owls on shutters.
Additional artwork by Dscreet.
This Dscreet artwork features the owls on top of an ice cream.

Have you noticed Dscreet's artwork in London? What do you think about it? Let me know by leaving me a comment. Dscreet's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DscreetArtist
1) Interview: Dscreet. London Street Art. http://streetartlondon.co.uk/blog/2012/07/17/interview-dscreet/ [17 July, 2012].

Packaging: Artisan du Chocolat

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Artisan du Chocolat, based in Notting Hill in London, sell different flavours of handmade chocolates. Black Cardamon, Mole Chilli, Tobacco, Tea, and Lemongrass are a few different flavours of chocolate sold by the company. They also have a dark chocolate range, named after the areas, such as Java, Congo, and Vietnam.

I like the designs of their packaging for their ranges and the minimal use of colours with the use of repeated patterns, such as the packages below.

(Images of packaging taken from the Artisan du Chocolat website.)

In addition to the above packaging of chocolate ranges, their other packaging consists in minimal design... and even the design of their chocolates. A few other examples are included below.

(Images of packaging taken from the Artisan du Chocolat website.)

For more information and packaging examples, visit the company's website at: http://www.artisanduchocolat.com

When thinking of the city of London, most people envision umbrellas due to the amount of rain that the city gets. Perhaps this is why there has been an art installation created at Borough Market, near Vinopolis, with hundreds of colourful umbrellas covering an outside seating area. 



A lot of umbrellas are dull and black, so it was nice to see these colourful ones on the street to brighten up an area that would otherwise be relatively dull and uninspiring. I know that these umbrellas have been here since earlier last year, but this is the first time I have seen them.


Recent Comments

  • jenn: Thank you. read more
  • Murge: Amazing post. read more
  • Herbert: good post. site read more
  • Frank Quake: Hey, This is great when you said that I had read more
  • Chappy: You mention peptides here? I have had first hand experience read more
  • jenn: Thanks! I love the work. I have got more recent read more
  • Fanakapan: Thanks for the write up. This was some of my read more
  • jenn: Yes.... but that's only for the islands. Mostar and Montenegro read more
  • jenn: Hello, the code is not mine to hand out. I'll read more
  • pantich: More info about the best day trips from Dubrovnik can read more
OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID