Friday, 29 July 2011

Looking for inspiration? Then get thee to the local museum!

The local museum is an institution to cherish... when was the last time you visited yours? It could well be when you were dragged there by an over enthusiastic history teacher when you were in Year 5. If that's the case it's definitely time to go back. That's because museums are a frequently overlooked source of visual delight and inspiration. The best are also packed with more strangeness than you can wave a stick at and that's got to be a good enough reason to visit!

Museums, like shops, are subject to all kinds of design fashions and fads - play areas for the under threes, interactive exhibits, etc. - but many untouched gems still survive with their Victorian mahogany display cases and hand written exhibit labels intact and a pleasant 'musty' smell in the air.

Lecturer Tony Peart (33) loves to seek out these forgotten gems up and down the country.

Last week he ticked off quite a few...

  • High Wycombe (mostly chairs - but that's good because he likes chairs)
  • Amersham (one room in a tiny house)
  • Saffron Walden (unsurprisingly big on the saffron trade and pargeting)
  • Banbury (in a new building but with spectacular views of a canal junction)
  • Oxford (Ashmolean, Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers)

The Pitt Rivers is a truly remarkable place. It lurks in an atmospheric, semi-twilight state as an annexe to the Museum of Natural History and unlike most museums is not arranged by culture, geography or date. It's simply arranged by subject (e.g. superstition, the face, the human figure etc.) This leads to some outstanding and surprising visual juxtapositions.

What follows are just a few of the snaps he took, but hopefully they will whet your appetite to seek out the gems hidden in your own local museum.

We'd also like to see and hear about your museum and its contents (the stranger the better) so please drop us a line at:

grillust at cumbria dot ac dot uk

and we'll post them here.

The Pitt Rivers

African Masks

African fetish figure

Japanese Noh mask

Michael Jackson?

Jack White and Meg

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

we like these. summer specials

Summer, energy, youth, life, fun, friends, drizzle.

A Great Illustrator Comes to Carlisle - A Must See!

Mervyn Peake (1911-1968) is perhaps now better known as the author of the Gormenghast Trilogy, a superb work of Gothic fantasy. In celebration of Peake's centenary, the books are currently being broadcast on Sundays as the Classic Serial on Radio 4.
They were also memorably adapted for BBC TV in 2000 and are archived for your delectation on YouTube:

When not writing, Peake spent his working life as an illustrator becoming arguably the greatest pen & ink artist of his generation. The titles he illustrated include many of the classics including: Treasure Island; The Rime of the Ancient Mariner; Alice in Wonderland and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

As part of the centenary celebrations, Tullie House (Carlisle's museum and art gallery) is hosting the exhibition
Lines of Flight Mervyn Peake, the Illustrated Work.

The exhibition features 182 original works and has free

It runs from 23rd July - 18th September. It's certainly a must for all illustration students and well worth returning to Uni early to catch before it ends.

Be sure to take your sketchbooks with you!

Steerpike (from the Gormenghast Trilogy)

Long John Silver (have a good hard look at that cross hatching!)

Mervyn Peake

Thursday, 7 July 2011

A Truly Fantastic Web Site

The BBC working in collaboration with the Public Catalogue Foundation have produced YOUR PAINTINGS.

This is an online catalogue 'in progress' which aims to bring you high quality images of every single oil painting in UK public collections. So far they have put online 63,000 out of an estimated 200,000 works!

Speaking as someone who loves to visit tiny provincial museums and galleries to find neglected gems I can't tell you how happy this makes me. You will also find paintings here that are not on public display. It's the digital equivalent of been shown around the basements and storerooms of the nation's galleries.

Bookmark it now!

Here's a few tasty morsels to wet your appetite...

Mark Gertler - The Fruit Sorters (in lovely Leicester City Art Gallery)

George Reginald Frampton - A Madonna of Brittany (in cuddly Cartwright Hall, Bradford)

Mary Fedden - A Goatherd with Goats (in delightful Durham University)

Edward Baird - Unidentified Aircraft (Kelvingrove, Glasgow)

Mary Mabbutt - Blue Kitchen (Usher Gallery, Lincoln)

Joan Eardley - Children & Chalked Wall (Kirklees Art Galleries)

John Duncan - The Coming of Bride (Glasgow Museums)

Carel Weight - Fury (Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry)

Robert 'E' Smith

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Beautiful and bountiful new books aplenty

Ahhh! Can you smell that?
That's right, it's a plethora of new books being readied for the library shelf.
Big books, small books, good books, naughty books (no naughty books). Books on design, books on illustration, books on type, books on posters, books on books; all full to the gunnels with the best mind altering, visual wonderments from around the world, ready to be pumped right down your eye holes.
We, the lucky ones, took a sneak peek t'other day and can report it's all good and also, that some of the books smell simply super duper - as demonstrated below by course leader and book whif aficionado, Simon Davies (33)
Here's a few pics to whet your eye-ppetite (sorry).

Thanks to librarian supreme Claire, for the heads up. Stay tuned for Claire's book related input on this very blog soon.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Well Done Petra!

It's been a very good week for people from the Czech Republic called Petra . On Saturday Petra Kvitova won the Wimbledon Ladies Final. Far more importantly, our very own Petra Bláhová (21) of Year 3 Graphic Design has been announced the winner of the 2011 Letts - Design a Diary competition.

Petra produced four designs for the competition and the judges liked each and every one of them!!

She not only wins the £1000 first prize but also a studio internship which will allow her to develop her concepts into diaries that will go into production.

Our warmest congratulations go to Petra - her success is well deserved.

Here are Petra's designs:

Reaching Great Heights



Art Deco

Friday, 1 July 2011

Darren Liked These

Goodbye Darren

The crematorium was full to overflowing; a moving, concrete demonstration of the love, affection and high regard in which Darren was held by the wide number of people he came into contact with.

Following a woodland burial everyone returned to the University's Brampton Road campus for a Hollywood themed celebration of Darren's life.

I know some of you reading this will never have met Darren, that's a pity - you would have really, really liked him.

Here are some photographs from the day...

Brampton Road became Grauman's Chinese Theatre for the day

Darren's friends and colleagues produced a wall of memories