The eye takes in so many images every day. Literally millions of individual snippets of life enter our mind every twenty-four hours, and these all go into what we see and imagine in our mind's eye. What goes in, comes back out again, and we hardly notice it. So in our humdrum lives, with the television programs that everyone watches, the national shopping experience, the paper that's in every waiting room and cafe, we are crying out for something a bit different.
Artists not only reflect what is already there in new and interesting ways, they also add to what is by revealing truths we may have forgotten. Getting knee deep into the artistic vaults of bygone eras can help jog those subconscious memories into spinning fantastic and interesting tales which resonate in ever deeper and subtle fashions.
It is a lot of work to trawl through the immense collection of over ten thousand master drawings in this one archive. The scope of work stretches centuries, and with styles from every kind of expression, the ideas can keep flowing. If you need a character, a setting, or just a great and original meme image, this is a brilliant start. Getting ahead of the crowd with something a bit different can be done with a bit of research, a knowing wink, and some fabulous ideas. What are you waiting for? Get inspired.
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During the 1960s, the world was treated to swathes of quality science fiction and fantasy writing. The regular magazines were well read and new talent was continuously bubbling up to the surface. With an editorial eye always ever watchful, the cream of this crop could then be highlighted and turned into a nationwide phenomenon. In the stereotypically male dominated science writing sector, seeing a woman's name in the credits must have been extremely promising for other women and girls who knew they could also write well. The prejudices seemed to be fading, and they were as now even more women feel able to and capable of releasing great writing.
Ursula Le Guin's work touches on the human emotions and the subtle interconnectivity of political and factional priorities. She had an incredible reach with the imagination, showing that she could write convincingly in many genres and styles. The science fiction was only one of many routes taken by Ursula, however it was in this genre that she won the most recognition. She's also turned her hand to fantasy, poetry, children's writing, and lectures.
As a child, with her two siblings, Ursula was encouraged to read. Her family had friends from varying cultures in America, including Native Americans. Having this unusual tolerance enabled Ursula to understand dynamic and frictions between cultures from all sides. This no doubt helped her to create full and wholesome writing. She's struggled with technical subjects at school, but found science fulfilling to write about. Ursula clearly had the imagination and the scope, just perhaps not the logic required to do long division.
Ursula died on the 22nd of Jan 2018 in her home in Oregon.
Listen to a free dramatisation of a selection of her books.
Find all the Ursula Le Guin you can ever need on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
If you love the energy and vibrancy of the city lifestyle, Saudi Arabia's Dharan has something special for you. The recently opened King Abdelaziz Centre for World Culture takes all that is good about humanity and promotes it in various forms. There are concerts, symphonies, lectures, musicals, and exhibitions that all communicate the ideas of the world.
Architects Snohetta have out-shined themselves once more with this new creation. Their designs speak in art and style, with smooth and appealing shapes. The main tower is made to look like a boulder, jutting out from the ground as if urged upwards by volcanic forces. Could this be symbolic of the purpose of the venue?
See more images from the King Abdelaziz Centre for World Culture on Fubiz.
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Thanks to a keen team of historical artists with computer know-how, we can watch the little medieval figures of 1066 move around and re-enact the old fashioned comic strip of the birth of Norman Britain.
At some point in the future, the Bayeux Tapestry is set to visit the UK. French President, Emmanuel Macron, is expected to announce the temporary relocation during his visit tomorrow.
The stitch-work masterpiece is nearly 1000 years old and depicts the sequence of events that led up to the Battle of Hastings . This decisive skirmish saw Harold, the King of England, killed and replaced by the invading Norman William the Conqueror.
There was a good reason for the battle, as William had been promised the crown while befriending the previous king during his exile in France. The oath of a king was not to be broken without consequences and Harold had to face these.
The tapestry was made in France several years after the battle and has remained there ever since. That is until now, when the antique cloth will be moved for the English to gawp at for a limited period of time. Perhaps we can trade in a Spitfire to make things even.
No need to wait until then, catch up with the iconic tapestry now with the animated video.
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Cities are fascinating places. Like the termite hills of the human world, we build them according to well laid out plans and designs that have evolved over time. So we do it externally, with paper and pen, and the termites have somehow wired the knowledge into themselves, but the principle is the same. Through our natural behaviour, learned and evolved, we build giant structures of stone, metal, wood, and glass.
Artists turn to the city for many reasons. For some it is the dimensions of the buildings, with perspectives and gradients aligning with the light. For others perhaps it is the people that congregate and walk through. Every face has a story and a list of plans, places to get to. This can all be explored with art, and cities provide excellent material for all these fantasies.
Gwen Yip has created a stunning array of paintings in a collection called Backs. These show people in remarkably bland city scenes, mostly with their backs to us. The angles and lighting play dominant roles in the works, with individuals propping up the scenery with their generously generic presence. We are invited to ask them who they are, and what they are doing. The individuals each have their own subtle symbolic language that can spur leaps of the imagination for us to enjoy.
With selected paintings made in London, New York City, and Hong Kong, the Backs Collection is the latest in a touching and humanitarian portfolio.
But what about cities from the past? Surely they also have interesting stories to tell. The history of our cultures cannot be ignored and as we find ourselves in the present day with systems and traditions, to understand and appreciate why things are as they are we really need to look to the past. By admiring what the previous generations have done for us and what their challenges were, we can begin to see how our cultures today have built upon the wisdom of the past to face the challenges of today.
A new virtual tour website is available online. With excellent quality video, it's possible to sight see the ancient cities of Greece. Supported by the University of Athens, the virtual tours are available for free and are hosted by the Yougoculture website. It's incredibly inspiring to see these places, and if you're like me, it's not easy to travel either. Thanks to the internet we can go for the second best option and not feel too left out.
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This wall-paper transported me back to the Park Hill council estate where I spent fourteen years living as a resident. Termed Brutalist Mural paper, it is designed to mimic bare concrete. Any home can now be made to resemble the interior of urban brutalist architecture. Like Park Hill with its bare concrete fascias, mottled with time and vandalism, the designs are made to have the old and lived in look that typical brutalism shows.
So, it's possible to read a book of poetry written under a brutalist roof while sitting in a mock-up of the place it was conceived. What does brutalism do to the creative mind? How does harsh and rough surfaces in beige and off white affect our daily thought processes and decision making? The subtle suggestions from the various graffiti tags, club night posters, and noisy workmen mixed in with angular and shadow rich surroundings can do things to a man, or woman.
For me, the experience of living in brutalism sprouted many creations. My most well read being “A Poet, on Park Hill?” which is now almost ten years old and still sells copies today. I also wrote a lot of poetry, which has been compiled into “Echoes of a Concrete Cocoon”. The most significant creation for me, however, is "Scum, Behind The Concrete Curtain". I wrote it as a fiction loosely based on my experiences in Park Hill and what life was like while living there. Being fiction, I was free to really dig deep and find truths and concepts that were safe to embellish and garnish for the purposes of entertaining cultural recording.
Whether anyone buys the brutalist wall paper is another story, I am always stumped as to why someone would choose to live there. For me, it was necessity and not choice. Given the choice, I left the area for a quiet suburb. However, the records and humanity there are valuable resources for cultural understanding, and that is why although I am no longer A Poet on Park Hill, I was and always will be.
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