Thursday, 25 August 2011


At my workstation last week, Inspector Google and I came across this beautiful painting above of Frida Kahlo. On a whim I decided to email artist and illustrator Martyna Zoltaszek to sniff out the possibility of a sale. After some (thankfully) not-very-heavy-duty negotiating we agreed on a price and I visited Martyna tonight at Hackney's Absorb Art studios off the Kingsland Road to collect the work.

Martyna (below) welcomed me at the door like an old friend and immediately began entertaining me with funny stories like her escape from conventional marriage in her Polish hometown of Wroclaw. Other vignettes of her interesting last decade included a scholarship to study art in the US, a bohemian few months spent painting in Australia with a minted boyfriend and his artist mother and her tale of woe when a London gallery went bust without paying her a pound. The evil shysters. 

Martyna's delicate, naive-influenced paintings feature wild colourful tigers, roaring Communist bears and other animal motifs such as the minimalist, almost monochrome, stark-eyed canine pictured above. The Frida painting was the first portrait Martyna had completed and the counter offers she received over the weekend to buy the piece at the Absorb Arts open studios are a testament to her very significant talent. 

Ms Zoltazsek's little studio space in east London seemed a perfect cross-section of the creativity, passion, determination and success thriving in the city today - and an inspiring antidote to the orgy of political, financial and actual violence we have been reading about in the (Murdoch owned) newspapers over The Summer Of Shit 2011. Martyna is represented by the Enid Lawson Gallery in London. View more of her work here.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


Sticking with the seaside theme...tonight I managed to catch poet Owen Sheers examine Britain's changing relationship with the sea and its reflection in art on BBC4's 'Art Of the Sea'. I was reminded of this beautiful image (above) I had captured a few months ago, heading across the Millennium pedestrian bridge connecting the south bank's Tate Modern with the north side's imposing St Pauls Cathedral. 

Earlier in the day I had been to the Tate Britain in Pimlico to see their Turner and the Masters exhibition - comparing British Romantic painter JMW Turner's ethereal seascapes with the work of some of Italy's finest old masters. I realised that day that I hadn't truly appreciated the immense drama and passionate colour of Turner's canvases, presuming them all to be very dreary, grey and miserable seascapes. I had yet to experience the artist's utilisation of vibrant warm yellows and golds (pictured below) - as evocative and shimmering as Van Gogh's brightest paintings from his sunflower series. Capturing the photograph above, of the Thames in 2011, and seeing how successfully Turner was able to encapsulate its essence in his paintings reinforces my belief in the transformative power of art and the powerful, almost narcotic effect a striking visual image can convey. 

Above 3 images courtesy of Google.


Last night, my amiable friend Mr 'Craft Gives Me The Horn' Ginger and I headed to Clerkenwell creative hub Craft Central's pop up event, the Seaside Sisters Souvenir Shop. Exhibiting and selling an enticing array of kitsch, seaside-inspired vintage homewares and paper goods, the ground floor space overflowed with feminine retro charm, delicious home made baked goods and an extensive collection of nautical knick knacks.   

Including the charming and authentic seaside photographs above, the exhibition also featured tacky snow domes from various seaside ports, tea towels and other kitchenalia with retro nautical graphics. Customised handmade bunting, pretty cuddly toys and other cute, original gifts produced by the Seaside Sisters themselves were also for sale at the event.

The girls produce smart, iconic products reflecting an idiosyncratic, peculiarly British take on the seaside reflected in this great seaside rock cushion pictured above. The event attracted a lively crowd of creative eccentrics, dividing their time between checking out the fantastic wares for sale in the show and admiring the balmy late summer evening setting sun over Craft Central's warehouse rooftop towards St Pauls and Clerkenwell's Victorian buildings below. Read more about the Seaside Sisters collective and purchase their crafty wares here.

Monday, 15 August 2011


One of my artistic inspirations of 2010 was collage artist Matthew Rose, after seeing his October solo show at the Orange Dot gallery in Bloomsbury. Back in April of this year, Matthew was lovely enough to allow me to visit his studio in the faded bohemian district of Montparnasse on Paris' rive gauche. Ascending the grand staircase in Matthew's modernist apartment building, I was greeted by the amiable American artist and shown around his top floor studio/apartment - its warm, timber interiors punctuated by the endless stacks of cuttings, materials and messy paraphernalia characteristic of the collage artist.    

It was a real honour to finally meet Matthew in the flesh and have an opportunity to discuss his work, much of which had been featured on his various online presences including his sales blog here. Some of my favourite pieces included the the witty, tactile text-based works pictured below, each one featuring a clever satirical spin on a well known song lyric or little known artistic movement alike.  

Matthew utilises a range of imagery in his work, recontextualising innocent looking, vintage-inspired aesthetics (in predominantly pastel hues) to create nonsensical, amusing and often disembodied comic book style collages. His pieces evokes an almost feminine, retro Americana...a feeling of a more innocent time of soda pop, diners and juke box jiving. Combine this with the inevitable European influence years of Parisian residency has injected into his work and you have the makings of a very interesting body of work.   

This great poster below advertises Matthew's imminent Paris exhibition featuring his latest work and is available to download free from his blog here.