Fascinating Histology-Print Plates

histology

Another one for lovers of anatomical-themed treasures. Medical illustrator Emily Evans has created these beautiful plates printed with images taken under the microscope of human tissue. They’ve been stained in pretty pastel colours, and you could eat your dinner off a section of the testicle, oesophagus, thyroid or five other designs. They’re selling out quickly, get them while you can! I’d seen Emily’s work before, and I love how she combines in-depth knowledge of anatomical science (she teaches dissection in addition to her illustration work) with art.

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Bitter Aftertaste: The Depressed Cake

When I was a teenager I remember baking a black forest gateaux in the heart-shaped tin. It was a dense, moist cake, and after icing it started to sink, creating a large crack down the middle. I was reminded of this rather melancholic broken-heart cake when I saw the plans for Miss Cakehead’s ‘Depressed Cake’ pop-up.

Part of London’s ‘alt-baking scene’, Cakehead and her company ‘Eat Your Heart Out‘ are beyond other creative culinary events that involved grotesque and grisly baked goods covered in blood and boils, offensive adult-only confectionery and anatomically-correct cakes in the form of organs, bones and famously, vaginas. The new pop-up shop plans to generate awareness of mental health problems and raise money for related charities. Currently enticing bakers to get involved, Miss Cakehead has been asking people to wonder If a cake was depressed, what would it look like? (Luckily the depressed theme will apply to the appearance, and not the taste!)

“One in four people will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives – The Depressed Cake shop (opening in May for 3 days) will provide a unique (& delicious cake) platform on which to discuss mental health issues (with a focus on depression), whilst at the same time raising valuable funds for mental health charities. We’re also actively seeking sponsors for this charity event…

The symptoms of depression can be complex – and vary widely – and so will our cakes. But as a general rule, if you are depressed, you feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy. The professional and hobby bakers contributing work to this event will be creating cakes that visually represent this… For example barely decorated cakes or cookies will communicate how depression can affect your ability to work, the grey & dull consistent color scheme that all fun can disappear from life. Remember they may look sad but inside each will be bursting with flavour and colour.” 

Examples already submitted have included grey meringues and black chocolate teacakes (with rainbow marshmallow hidden inside). I think this is a playful concept that will hopefully draw attention and generate discussion on a serious issue. I also like the idea of trying to translate what can often be a very difficult and private experience, tricky to convey to others, through this tasty medium. As many experience at least mild levels of depression at some point in their lives, I think the cakes will strike a chord with a lot of people.

It got me thinking, what would a depressed cake look like to me? I imagine a cake that looks very pretty and normal on the outside, but has a big empty space in the middle. A cake sinking under the weight of heavy objects a-top it. A drab, grey cake with all the sparkling icing dripping off away. A heavy jar of edible medication. A cake stuck full of pins or shaped like a deflated balloon.

Although the event will focus on depression  I think it would also be interesting to think about cakes that represent other mental health problems such as bipolar and panic attacks. If your depression was edible, what do you think it would look like? And would you take a bite out of it?

Gift ideas: Pop and low-brow art prints

The problem I find with Xmas shopping is that I’m continually finding things that would be just great for me, but less so for other people…

Given I’m not a fan of crowds and I’m pretty lazy, I’m trying to do all of my shopping online. Mostly from bed. You probably already know from my blog that I’m a fan of illustration, graphic novels and surreal-pop/low-brow art. I think a print is a great gift for someone, it’s a piece of art they can use to decorate their home and it has a lot of personality to it.

I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite finds so far:

Sellers of wonderful dystopian literature-print tees, The Affair now do one of my favourite designs as a poster! (Just emailed my brother asking if he’d get me this for Xmas). £19.90

Tim Doyle ‘Tears in the Rain’ Blade Runner print. On sale at Greenwich’s Flood Gallery, £80.

Brave New World – Kevin Tong £60

To be continued…

Young and Naked: Vee Speers’ Party Guests

I caught sight of Vee Speers‘ photographs in an article recently in the Metro, where residents living near her Chelsea gallery show had kicked up a fuss about her work being ‘distasteful’ and ‘semi-pornographic’. No doubt the complaints have generated more publicity for the exhibition and the artist than they have deterred visitors. The exhibition, entitled ‘The Birthday Party’ features children dressed up as if to attend a party in a range of quirky and curious outfits. The pictures have an almost-painted quality, they’re pale and slightly eerie, staring doe-eyed, reminding me of the work of Erwin Olaf and digital artist Ray Caesar. The photographs are of Veers’ own daughter and her friends, though she has put together the outfits for the photographs. Some of the shots do involve nudity; a girl clutches dolls to her bare chest, a boy poses with in his underwear with boxing gloves, a girl wears a Minnie mouse-style outfit un-buttoned at the chest. Admittedly these poses might be more provocative for an adult, but I don’t think they’re presented in a sexualised way. Even the shots in which the children dress in more ‘adult’ outfits, the image seems more like ‘playing dress-up as grown-ups’ rather than imitating maturity.

Nudity in itself need not be something sexual or offensive, and in childhood it can be very innocent and playful. Often family photos of children when they’re young will involve some nudity, perhaps playing on the beach or in the garden. Sometimes kids don’t want to wear clothes! Young children don’t tend to feel embarrassed or ashamed of their naked bodies, they haven’t yet learnt to treat it as such. Where does the concern come from over these images? Is it that they might encourage others to view children in a sexual way, or that those who have an attraction to children might find them arousing? Unfortunately we can’t choose what other people get turned on by, one man’s porn is another’s M&S lingerie catalogue. Personally I find these photos rather fascinating, they seem to create a rather bizarre and perfect world ruled by children, with its own rites and customs, that we are not invited to. Sometimes children wear less clothing, but it’s for themselves, it’s their own, not for others. The photos are beautifully composed, simple yet exquisite. The combination of something soft and natural and something more fantastical. We’re all naked underneath and maybe there’s nothing inherently offensive or erotic about a nude body out of any associated context. Maybe we need to decouple the body and nudity from sexuality, which though often intertwined, can exist separately.

Amazing Legs – The Alternative Limb Project

Photo by Jon Enoch.

I recently went to see some of the Paralympics and was stunned by some of the skill and ability of the athletes. It really made me think about the strength and determination involved to rise to such a high level of ability in a world designed for the ‘able-bodied’. Indeed, seeing some of these individuals compete, it seemed strange to really think of them as ‘disabled’, they’re highly talented and possess abilities greater than the majority of the population.

London really raised the profile of disabled athletes and the closing ceremony was a spectacular example of this. One of the stars of the show was Viktoria Modesta, a singer and model who also happens to have had a below-the-knee amputation on one of her legs. Far from hiding it, Viktoria’s prosthesis is part of her unique look and she has various limbs for different occasions (and to accommodate the wide variety of platform heels she wears!). Looking through some of her photos, I spotted some more unusual artificial limbs. Viktoria has often worn pieces created by The Alternative Limb Project, who make imaginative and striking prosthetics that are also very wearable.

TALP director Sophie de Oliveira barata began her career by studying to create special effects prosthetics for film and tv and worked sculpting silicon limbs in a leading proesthetic centre before she set up her own studio. She collaborates with artists of various different mediums to create both ultra-realistic limbs and more fantastical and surreal pieces, tailored to the needs and imaginations of her clients.

These amazing limbs remind me of the carved wooden legs Alexander McQueen made for the athlete and double-leg amputee Aimee Mullens. They’re fascinating, beautiful and exclusive – pieces of art that can only be worn by a select few. My ordinary legs seem awfully boring in comparison! Work like this seems to speak about how difference can be interesting and exceptional, in the many ways in which it presents. 

Sophie in her amazing studio.

I love this: Vladimir Koncar’s Type Diary

Croatian artist and designer Vladimir Koncar collects objects and makes makes them into typography. Then he writes things with his letters, “I write my thoughts down and they are a symbolic link between the font and the reflections.” It’s simple yet fascinating. His other creations include fonts made out of condoms, cigarettes, raw meat and pubic hair.