Subvertising: If you’re gonna look, then look again…

Art by Matt Bonner

Art by Lindsay Grime

Art by Michelle Tylicki

What is subvertising? Broadly, it is the art of making spoof advertisements from corporate and political actors with the aim of making the public think of the damage caused by those actors. The term was coined in 1991 by the cultural critic Mark Dery, and is a portmanteau of the words subvert and advertising.

Subvertising can take place physically on our high streets, with billboards hi-jacked to give an alternative message. They can also appear digitally as memes and spoof political slogans.

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Paris 22: The World of Banksy – the immersive experience

I’ll let the images speak for themselves, other than to say what better chance to see a ‘collected works’ of the artist Bansky than this immersive experiece exhibition, which I attended in Montmartre, Paris this August.

Kudos to the design team in replicating Banksy’s art with a degree of atmosphere… the moody lighting, the props of litter, abandoned spray cans, flowers and candles, the sound of sirens and helicopters – just as if you were strolling along some dark street or alley and came across his work by chance.

Enjoy 😀

Banksy. A wall is a very big weapon…

Banksy. Mobile phone lovers.

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Paris 22: The Spiral Staircase of 59 Rivoli

On my recent stay in Paris I visited 59 rue de Rivoli – a contemporary art gallery and studios unlike anything you might see in Paris. I took photos of the impressive six-story spiral staircase – la cage d’escalier – adorned with work from some of its resident artists. Just like the art on the facade of the building does, the staircase art changes periodically to reflect the creativity of the artists associated with this vibrant and special building.

History:

59 Rivoli’s history can be traced back to November 1999 when three artists – Kalex, Gaspard and Bruno (collectively called the KGB), along with other artists broke open the cemented-over door of the state-abandoned 59 rue de Rivoli in the centre of Paris, with the intention of turning the premises into a creative workplace for artists.

Once inside, the group took over as squatters and called themselves “Chez Robert, Electron Libre.” They opened the premises to the public, organising shows,  performances and concerts, while facing eviction orders from the French state scheduled for early as the following year. Intervention by the collective’s lawyer, Florence Diffre, earned them an eviction delay of six months, while the press became interested in the phenomenon of to “squart” – a contraction of ‘squat’ and ‘art’. The media interest was such that the French state didn’t pursue the eviction matter for several years, though, for the collective, the threat of eviction still hung over the rooftop of N°59 like a swirling cloud ready to unleash its storm. 

Image: Facade of 59 Rivoli in 2006

Then along came a political ally…  Bertrand Delanoë was the then candidate for the mayor of Paris, and during his campaign Delanoë visited the squat and fell in love with what the collective was doing, promising to legalise the premises if he were elected mayor. Following his electoral success, Delanoë kept to his word and made 59 rue de Rivoli a protected site for artists. Merci, monsieur le Mayor!

Today, the building and its collective is called 59 Rivoli and remains open to the public. It has 30 artist studios, exhibition and performance space, and welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year, claiming its spot of one of the three most visited sites of contemporary art in Paris.

Information adapted from the official site: History and life of the place – 59 Rivoli

My photographs of the spectacular six-story spiral staircase, going down…

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A Translation + Draig Tân + Project #2 update!

Poetry…

I’ve written more of it than I can remember, and have been fortunate to have had some of it published. But I can honestly say I’ve never had a poem translated into another language – until recently.

The images you see are unique artworks by my good friend and collaborator Spira who translated into the Hellenic language the poem part of our 2020 collaboration when we marked the 2500th anniversary of the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis which took place in 480 BC during the Greco-Persian Wars.

The poem is entitled The Breaking of Bread and you can read it in its original English language version here along with its companion sculpture in the Spira/Ford collaboration project #1.

It is an honour and a treat to see my work translated, and for it to be done in such an artistic way is a treasure to behold .


Draig Tân (Welsh Fire)

In 2018 my eldest cousin and I, armed with ancient family photos and documents, and a subscription to a well-known online ancestry site, made some research on our family tree. We already knew about the paternal side – all from England, Birmingham, Peaky Blinders land, ay! But we knew little of the maternal side other than links to Shropshire and Worcestershire, and the intriguing but unproven link that our Great Grandparents came from Wales – thanks to elder family members remembering something about a ‘Welsh connection’.

Well, it came as exciting news when my cousin and I learnt from the documents we supplied that our maternal Great Grandparents and the lines before them came from Powys in Wales. Finally the dots had been joined. Welsh blood ran through us! Get in there you red dragon and up the Manics!

Then… 

Back to Spira, who I told of this news, and who made a sculpture not only in celebration of our collaborations, but with a nifty ‘red dragon’ nod to my new Welshiness.

Draig Tân (Welsh Fire) by Spira.

The sculpture is called Draig Tân (translated to Welsh Fire). Please check the rest of the images here


My thanks to Spira, a Wizard of our age, and the finest person I could wish to collaborate with  😎


The Remains of She

And talking of collaborations… what news of Project #2 coming later this year?

I can tell you that the sculpture parts I’ve seen so far are both haunting and beautiful. Ancient anachronistic awesomeness awaits! I can tell you that the recent writing parts I made are organically pushing me to incredible boundaries and beyond.  

There will be more Welsh fire. Hellenic spells. The Wizard and the Shaman will give precious gifts to the one who will bring renewal to the Earth. Look to the skies. The spring. A resurrection. Friends, in these dark times there will be a light to save us all.

Project #2. The Remains of She. Exclusive extract


The Remains of She. Coming in 2021!

More random book cover designs, and a spotlight on British Salvationist illustrator Jim Moss

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. 1999 Harper Collins. Cover by J.R.R. Tolkien.

We have you covered… again!  (See part one here)

Today’s book post features design covers and illustrations published between the 1920s and 2010s, courtesy of a generous donation of old books to TVTA!

What happened was this… an English teacher working in France was moving home and job, and before leaving she decided to give away a number of her old books. Finally, after a Pandemic-lockdown-observed-meeting outside the local park gates, two bags of wonderful books were handed over for the reading and scanning pleasure of those inside TVTA Towers – cue happiness 🙂

Some of the titles will be instantly recognisable, others obscure, some have been adapted for stage, film or television, but all are equal here in having interesting covers to bind their tales.

Enjoy your donated book!

1920 William Heinemann.

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