Thursday, 15 December 2011

Illustration Friday - Separated

"Dora and Cora were twins - Siamese twins if truth be told, although they had been separated shortly after birth.  Despite the physical divide, the two girls remained mentally and spiritually bound to each other, and one girl never strayed more than a yard from the other's side."

My mother is an identical twin, and I've always been intrigued by the special otherness of twins, the way they are separate people but at the same time there's this bond that's different to that of mere siblings.  I know the twin process begins so early in the womb that it hardly makes an impact, but there's something magical about the idea that one could be half of someone else, and yet a whole person of one's own.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Paper Cutting

A friend of mine just showed me this amazing book, Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists, Timeless Craft, compiled by Laura Heyenga. I thought I'd show you some of my favourite artists from the book, in no particular order.

Fall (2008)

Peter Callesen is a Danish artist who regularly combines large areas of plain white paper with intricately cut and folded paper to create dramatic compositions. 

Impenetrable Castle (2005)

He also does quite a lot of pieces on A4 paper, where the you can see how he cuts out the parts and folds them together to make a 3D shape!  Quite a lot of them are buildings, and I noticed in his bio that he studied architecture.  

 Traces in Snow (2005)

Callesen's work is often darkly humorous, such as the above Traces in Snow, where man and bear meet...and only the bear keeps walking.

Eros & Thanatos (2007)

Kako Ueda's incredibly fine and detailed papercuts are influenced by her Japanese heritage (she was born in Tokyo but moved to the US when she was fifteen). In Japan, paper stencils are used to decorate kimono fabric.

detail of Eros & Thanatos

On her website, Ueda says she is "interested in organic beings - insects, animals and human bodies - how they are born out of nature but constantly being influenced and modified by culture."  I am amazed at the sheer scale of Eros & Thanatos, and the way in which the viewer becomes mesmerised by the detail - tiny spiderwebs, peacock feathers, lizards and insects.

Pandora Opens Box (2009)

I'm sure you've seen Su Blackwell's altered books before, but I had to include them because I find them so enchanting.  

  The Girl in the Wood (2008)

detail of The Girl in the Wood

Specimen (II) Poppy (2005)

Justine Smith lives in London, and currently her work is "concerned with the concept of money, and how it touches every aspect of our lives."  She makes collages and prints, but it is her sculpture that I am interested in, such as her set of floral specimens, displayed under bell jars, and made bank notes. 

The poppy is made from Chinese Yuan, but she has made other flowers in the series out of  Libyan dinars, Turkmenistan manat, Saudi riyals...

detail from The Calculation of Loss (2009)

...and of course the British pound note.

 Influx (2008)

Mia Pearlman makes site-specific cut-paper installations.  I am astounded at how she actually constructs these incredible sculptures, a process which is apparently "intuitive, based on spontaneous decisions in the moment."  

detail of Influx

 Here, Pearlman documents in photographs how she constructed Influx, a fascinating process.

Hina Aoyama, a Japanese artist living in France, has been making paper cuttings since 2000.  Her work is incredibly fine and intricate and would be impressive just as black line drawings.  Cutting it out seems sheer wizardry.

I was amazed to learn that she apparently uses scissors to do her paper cuttings, and you can see some videos of Aoyama at work on Design:Related (scroll down a bit to find them).

I've been following Elsa Mora's blog for a while now.  A Cuban artist, she paints, draws, and works with ceramics and mixed media, but she also makes some wonderful paper sculptures.


To my mind, there's something a little reminiscent of Frida Kahlo in her work, all the naked women and hearts and leaves, and lots of red.

Fern Eyes

Well, that was a look at some of my favourites.  There are 26 artists in Paper Cutting, so it's worth having a look if you can get your hands on a copy.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Mexican Folk Costumes - Jalisco

I'm in love with Mexican folk costumes at the moment, and today I thought I'd share with you the outfits from the Mexican state of Jalisco. Many things thought of as characteristically Mexican, such as tequila, mariachis, sombrero hats, and ranchero music originated in Jalisco.

 The style of these dresses was an imitation of Spanish court dress, but make in cotton rather than expensive silks and brocades.  The dress grew in popularity during the Mexican Revolution (which began in 1910 and lasted into the 1920s) and was worn by a number of famous female soldiers.  

Image from Tuscon Citizen

The dress is actually a skirt and blouse of the same colour.  The full skirt is edged with a ruffle, usually about 35cm wide, which is decorated with ten strips of ribbon in contrasting colours to the skirt.  The blouse has elbow-length sleeves, and a v-shaped ruffled which starts on the shoulders and descends to the waist at front and back.

 Image from Solpersona
These days they are worn by dancers from performing a traditional Mexican dance form called Baile Folklórico.  Literally meaning "folkloric dance" in Spanish, the dance is a combination of local folk dances with balletic moves such as pointed toes and exaggerated movements. In Jalisco it is danced to the music of a mariachi band.

Each region in Mexico is known for its own particular dances, and the dance form is also found in the Southwestern US, and Central American countries. Each region also has its own particular costume, with the most well-known styles coming from Jalisco, Vera Cruz, Sinaloa and Yucatan.  

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Eye Candy - Housewife Fashions 1950

Just a little eye candy for your Tuesday afternoon.  These Housewife Fashions are from the Australian Women's Weekly, Feburary 10, 1950, as reported by the Fashion Editor Mary Hordon and sketched by Dorothea Johnston. I love the dress with the red bodice and purple and blue skirt, and the sugar-pink skirt with the big patch pockets.

The outfits on this page are all for dressing up while giving dinners at home - so fancy!  I think the "white pin-spotted muslin redingote" is a gorgeous idea over a plain black dress.  Would you ever dress up this much at home?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Darling Dita in Melbourne

Everybody's favourite stripper burlesque artist, Dita von Teese,  has been very busy since last time I posted about her outfits in July.  She even managed to squeeze in a trip to Australia!

Here's Dita in Melbourne launching her capsule clothing line at David Jones. I was so cross that the launch was at 10am on a Friday, so I was at work and couldn't go!  The collection, called 'Muse', consists of five pieces, which will be priced at $600-$900 a piece. The dress Dita wore to the launch is part of the collection, and has what looks like a bias-cut skirt with a fitted, draped bodice, and three red shoe-string straps on the shoulders.

Dita tweeted a photo of her cat, Aleister, lying on some of the silk print used for this dress.  You can see up close that it has a pattern of roses and elegant hands with red fingernails (with Dita's signature half-moon manicure!).  This fabric has a blue background, and the one that Dita is wearing has a pink background, so it's probably available in two colourways.

Dita attended Derby Day at the Melbourne Cup, wearing the 'Follow Me' dress from her Muse collection, a one-shouldered red dress with a full skirt, draped bodice, and a floating panel/train at the back. It's very classic.

Here is a sketch of the design, which will be available in black or red, and a look at the label.

This is the black version.

Dita's hat was  by Philip Treacy.  I love it, the colour is wonderful, and it's so over-the-top but quite feminine too.

Dita tweeted a picture of herself wearing her 'VIP Coat' from the Muse collection, so that makes three pieces so far.  It looks like a classic trench, but the colour!  Wow, I would love to get my hands on that!

It also comes in black.  Love the nipped in waist, and the full skirt.  I think if I were to splash out on one piece from the collection, it would be this.  I bet it will be the most expensive though!

 This is the 'Showcase' dress from the Muse collection. A black velvet, sleeveless sheath dress, very fitted.

Here's a closer look.  Personally , I really like it, it's simple and elegant and very sexy. 

And last of all, this dress. I can't find any other information about it, but it looks like a fitted jersey dress with a high neck and long sleeves.  Plain but very versatile.  Hope it's in a wool jersey!  The 'Muse' collection will be available at David Jones in January 2012.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Bellique at Whitehorse Spring Festival

I forgot to mention that the belly dance troupe that I am part of, Bellique, danced at the Whitehorse Spring Festival a couple of weekends ago.  That's me, third from the left.  We are wearing our new costumes, which are Desert Swirls, from the Bellydance Store.  They were the cheapest ones we could find that still looked good, and had a range of colours and sizes.

Seems I am doomed when buying costumes off the internet, as similarly to last time, there was an issue with the colour.  I ordered the costume above, thinking it would be hot pink like in the photo, but as you can see, when it arrived it was a rather violent evil Disney villain purple.  Still, I kind of like it now, it seems to make my skin look extra white, which is always a bonus!

Here we are in action!  We did two dances, and Tara (on the left in pale blue) did two amazing solos in-between.  Then we had a mini workshop with the people in the crowd.  There were lots of really sweet little girls who really got into it, which was nice.

My friend Zoë and I hamming it up in front of the matching flowers. You can't tell, but my costume is not just evil purple, it's metallic purple snakeskin!  Tack-tastic!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Underwater Beauties

I came across this amusing photograph on the net today, and decided to do some digging to find out who the photographer was.  Doing so unearthed a treasury of underwater photography, by a pioneer of the craft.

Bruce Mozert was born in 1916 in Newark, Ohio, the youngest of three children.  In the mid 1930s, his sister Zoe moved to New York city.  Zoe would go on to become one of the most famous pin-up artists and models of the 30s and 40s, and that's one of her paintings above. (I'm definitely doing something about her in a future post!).

Mozert tagged along with his sister, and began working as a photographer. It was Zoe who introduced him to Victor de Palma, a top photographer for Life magazine (shown above spruiking for the New York Institute of Photography). Mozert worked with de Palma, before moving into freelance work.  He travelled around, photographing anything that he thought would be newsworthy, and had his photographs published daily in newspapers such as the New York Mirror and Life.

1942 postcard of Silver Springs from Moody's Collectibles

In 1938, Mozert visited Silver Springs in Florida, because he had heard that Johnny Weissmuller was filming one of his Tarzan movies there. Silver Springs was a popular tourist destination, with visitors taking rides in glass-bottom boats and swimming in the crystal-clear waters, and enjoying water-skiing shows and trained porpoises.  In it's heyday in the 1950s, the Springs had 800,000 visitors annually.

 Mozert was frustrated that one of the photos he wanted to take, or Weissmuller swimming in the waters of the spring, was impossible to take.  A waterproof drum had been constructed for the movie's cameraman to shoot the underwater scenes from, but there was no room for Mozert as well.  To solve the problem, Mozert built what was probably the very first underwater housing for his camera out of galvanised metal sheeting, old inner tubes, and rubber cement.
“When I showed up at the set the next morning, they all laughed at me,” he says. “But I just walked into the water and took my pictures.”
 MGM was so impressed with the resulting pictures that they used them as publicity stills for the movie.

Mozert remained in Silver Springs and continued to hone his underwater-photography skills.  At his peak, his photographs appeared on two magazine covers a week.  He worked on many films, including all three Creature of the Black Lagoon movies (above), and also did underwater camera work for several television shows.

It is his underwater photographs, used as publicity for the clarity of Silver Springs' water, that are the most fascinating.  Mozert created scenes of people doing ordinary things - golfing, mowing the lawn, talking on the telephone...but all underwater. 

Mozert put a lot of thought into his shoots. For a shot such as this, Mozert used condensed milk to simulate 'smoke' rising from a barbeque.  For bubbles in a champagne glass he used Alker-Seltzer.

Not all his famous shots were underwater ones.  This photograph of Jayne Mansfield was taken in 1955.  The relatively unknown Mansfield was in Silver Springs as part of a publicity drive for the Howard Hughes movie Underwater. At a promotional event for the movie, Mansfield and several other swimmers took part in an underwater skit, during which the top of her swimsuit 'accidentally' came undone.  The star of the movie, Jane Russell was not impressed with the publicity this garnered for the young starlet.  Mozert had taken this photograph of Mansfield on the beach, and this picture was used for a lot of the publicity surrounding the incident.

In 2006 it was reported that Mozert was still working at the age of 91, driving to his studio (shown above) at the Springs every day.  In 2004 he brought out a calendar of his work, and he still occasionally does some ariel photography - piloting the plane himself, of course! He took his last underwater photographs at the age of 86, although he has been toying with the idea of a remote controlled boat with an underwater camera. "Why should I retire?" he asks, "I love what I do."

If you want to know more about Mozert, a book of his work was published in 2008 called Silver Springs: The Underwater Photography of Bruce Mozert by Gary Monroe.  You can buy a signed copy from Mozert's website.