I love a bit of ‘touchy feely’…

8 12 2009

Don’t engage your dirty minds for this title… I’m talking about art. I realised that I hadn’t blogged about this yet so thought I’d do a quick post about the amazing exhibition ‘Pop: Jann Haworth’ that I’m working on.


The exhibition, which is open at Wolverhampton Art Gallery until 10 April 2010, is by the American artist Jann Haworth. It features a range of her work from the 60’s to the present day, including her infamous sewn-cloth sculptures and doughnuts. Jann is best-known for designing the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper LP (yes, that infamous cover) with her then-husband Peter Blake, but in actual fact Jann’s legacy is much more than that. Her ‘Old Lady’ sculpture, which features on the cover, is part of the exhibition though!

‘Donuts, Coffee Cups and Comics’

I went to see ‘Pop: Jann Haworth’ just before it opened to the public and I was amazed. I had already seen pictures of her work but nothing compared to seeing the oversized charm bracelets (and by over-sized, I mean huge) and old man ‘Frank’ in real life. Jann’s work is a direct representation of the influences in her life, especially the set of doughnut works, which represent her struggle to adapt to British lifestyle after moving here from America.


I’ve included some pictures, which were taken by the fantastic Lee Allen, but if you get a chance to go over to Wolverhampton do… it’s such a great exhibition. But if you’re like me and love to touch things, I’d take a friend to restrain you because all you want to do is pick things up and play with them.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: I’ve written a nice piece on the exhibition for the next issue of Art of England.


The Trend of the Jack-in-the-Box Shop

18 11 2009

Image Credit

The term ‘pop-up shop’ seems to have been thrown around quite a lot recently; with fashion designers, artists and well-known brands opening temporary shops across the country. The trend for these fashionable units is a result of both the recession and throw-away fashion; what better way to stay on top of the style game than to close shops after just six months and move on to ‘the next big thing’?!

Last year London became thoroughly ‘pop-tastic’, with shops, restaurants and art galleries taking over the city’s coolest areas. There was a massive rise in portable restaurants, like the Reindeer Restaurant and Flash, and also art galleries like the Proud Gallery, which started merely as a marquee over a car park. Even retail expert Mary Portas opened a hyper pop-up, open for just one hour and selling vintage clothes, and again this year she teamed up with Grazia to open a charity shop in Westfield.

The trend has continued to grow with On|Off, Doc Martens, and heritage brand Baracuta joining the list of pop-ups. Even London Fashion Week fuelled a host of pop-ups across the Capital.

But it’s not just London benefitting from these shops, this year the trend has come to Birmingham.

Back in September, Councillor Martin Mullaney headed up the Style in the City fringe, Pop Up in the City. Using an empty unit on Corporation Street, he worked with a 14 local designers to open a market-place for shoppers during the three-day fashion and beauty festival.

Now that Christmas is here, Harvey Nichols has re-opened their Christmas pop-up gift shop on Level 3 of The Mailbox, selling the best Christmas gifts and to-die-for hampers. They are also holding a Festive Fete for shoppers on 30 November.

Jewellery festival Brilliantly Birmingham has also jumped on board the pop-up train. Teaming up with Pavilions, the temporary boutique will be open from 5-24 December and will showcase a number of designers, giving shoppers the opportunity to buy original hand-crafted jewellery and commission bespoke pieces.

But the latest and one of the most exciting of the pop-ups to arrive in the city comes courtesy of Punch Records and the Sauce Gallery. Pioneering typographer, sleeve designer and artist Swifty will be setting up shop at the Sauce Gallery in Custard Factory from Saturday 12 December 2009-10 January 2010. From originals and one-off prints, to T-shirts, skateboards and stickers, Swifty fans will have plenty to choose from. Partly inspired by Peter Blake’s ‘Toy Shop’, it will also feature Swifty’s Newsagents installation and be home to the A-Z of Swifty Show. For more info, go to www.punch-records.co.uk.

So, it looks like the pop-up trend is going strong, and I have to say that I’ll champion it all the way. An article by The Times summed pop-ups up perfectly, calling them “The epitome of our high-speed, short-attention-span culture.”

Not only do pop-ups keep the cool crowd entertained but they also gives artists and young designers a platform to showcase their work. They also makes the most of empty and under-used units. A win-win all round, I’d say!