"Chaos is not the opposite of rhythm but the milieu of all milieus"
Deleuze & Guattari

Sunday, 26 September 2010


Since being kicked out of the right royal UK for being an illegal immigrant (she can't get back in thanks to the coalition's protectionist attitude to international talent) the Australian-born, Croatian-bred Ann Delic has left making lingerie behind to craft costumes and sets for Berlin's creative classes.

Having shed the affectionate moniker Underwear Ann, her first job in the German capital was making sets for the Volksb
ühne show Frankenstein's Little Red Riding Hood (set inspiration The Cabinet of Dr Caligari versus an American trailer park) and then for the play Worth#1 at the Ballhaus Ost theatre.

Her latest project has her working with the daddy of glitch techno Markus Popp, AKA Oval, on the video costumes for the new release from his first album in years.
The recent release Ah, from the 70-track album called O, is all sound-sculpture plinky plonky and synthy purring, which Darko Dragicevic's flesh-toned video matches in its spooky-pretty style and tightly focused frames - toned being the operative word with a ballerina's formidable leg muscles vying for attention with her erect nipples and slightly bonkers headpiece, along with male dancers in white Y-fronts who leap sporadically into view.

Like some sort of fantastically mangled dove in a blonde bird's nest that's been to Burning Man and come back via a box of pastel-coloured chalks, Ann's one-eyed mask gives the lead character's otherwise minimal outfit its Eighties avian touch. The dancer's mechanical doll-like movements and rotated limbs have something of the Surrealist poupée about them, especially as she's shot to look erotic but also vulnerable and childlike.

Ann says she got the idea for the mask from somewhere that many of us have seen thousands of times... her Mac screen saver, with its spacey images of the Milky Way. "I can't make things that are shapeless, unfeminine or mutant" she explains. "When I first made it, the pinks and greys were much brighter and it has a feather eyelash that you can't see that clearly in the video".


I have loved Rachel Whiteread's work for years, but the brilliance of her Turner Prize winning House only hit home to me on seeing it depicted in the display of her drawings which is currently showing at Tate Britain.

Here the pictures she produced before she cast the inside of a condemned Victorian terraced house in 1993, seem to show the opposite notion of the gap than the one communicated by the 3-D cast. The profound difference, which is almost an inversion, between the flat white space amid the photographs of other houses and the present absence constructed by the cast house that stood in that space really captures why her objects are so mesmerizing and the communicative value of examining and manifesting an idea across different media.

Her 1995 work Embankment was fun to be dwarfed by, made of polystyrene boxes and exhibited in the Turbine Hall, and her resin casts are fascinating with their translucent semi-presence, but her black quartered bathtub has to be her most deeply touching and haunting creation.

The palpably uncanny note of eerie welcome struck by the tomb-like bath earned it the centre piece role in the first room of the Barbican's purposefully labyrinthine exhibition The Surreal House, which ended last month.

Quoting a Radio 3 interview with her in 2006:

'Drawing and sort of painting is something I've always done. I studied painting as an undergraduate and I think it's always been very much part of my sort of every day practice, and also I think more recently, you know over the past five years or so, a lot of the works I've made have been, you know, very large, and in order to sort of work them out you know it's not like I can sort of play with a bucket of plaster to sort of make it happen, and to really sort of think through them and work them out I make a lot of drawings, and they're not technical drawings, and people are always asking me, you know, do I use computers, do I use CAD systems, do I use this or, you know I can just about send an e mail on the computer, I'm a bit of a ludite, but I do, you know I draw in my own sort of technical way and I use my own sort of perspective and it's just something that I really enjoy doing. It helps me dream a piece and make a piece happen.'

'When, you know when I first made the bathtub pieces, which were called Ether and various, they were never called Sarcophagus actually. But yeah these were using a cast-iron bathtub, I always used cast-iron because that was what I could get to rust into the material properly and to get this very rich surface on the final piece, and that was, you know I had the bathtub, I turned it upside down in the studio and I just worked on proportions and how something could look when it was finally a lump in the, you know in my studio, so that, you know I was trying to decide what height it would be and, and they were also always based on weight and how I could physically move them around the studio, you know maybe myself and someone else next door that I could knock on the door to help me just shift something for ten minutes. So all of those things were sort of considerations and they all become part of your working practice.

If you had just been, I use the word just deliberately, casting the space inside, you would have put the resin, in the case of Bath , inside the bathtub wouldn't you rather than putting the bathtub into a block of resin?
Yeah, but I've never found that space very interesting so.

Right, can't be bothered, that, that disposed of that, but you find the space beneath chairs and tables and stools like that, that is interesting?
Yeah I think it's for, for a number of reasons, one that they're, they're quite architectural lumps once they're made so, and they also stand for the absence of a body really. You know chairs are made to be sat on and whereas the inside of a bathtub is water.

And the body?
Yeah but then you have to put the body in it don't you, so it's, yeah and that, that would then become a very complicated cast and would look very figurative, the thing that I've, you know I've never used the body other than when I was a student in my work, and I'm always looking for ways of representing the body but not actually physically putting it there.'

Photo: Kirk McKoy / LA Times

Thursday, 23 September 2010


Turns out mosques in Istanbul have incredible light fittings...

www.lassco.co.uk and www.retrouvius.com sometimes have similar bits from Christian churches. Actually maybe not that similar to the epic hanging candelabra that spans the whole mosque floorspace in the last shot but...


This ramshackle beauty of a townhouse was just sitting there, door open, so we walked up the spiral staircase and snapped the bloody incredible Rennie Mackintosh-style stained glass window in the stairwell and assumed the place was abandoned. But actually people have offices upstairs apparently (with those windows?). The moulded roses around the door even have thorns... can I live here?


Built for an ailing Ataturk as he neared the end of his life in the 1930s, this trophy house hovers over the sea in a suburban setting just outside Istanbul. Still within a government complex today, you have to wander past armed guards and white timber houses reminiscent of a Floridan retirement community before you reach the striking jetty that leads to the strange building itself. Set off a straight white sand beach, it is a whole-heartedly Modernist architectural example, with light streaming into the white rectangular rooms through large sliding glass doors, long window-lined linear corridors and macho Deco furniture left 'exactly as it was'... ie. arranged as the perfect dolls house for Turkey's republican hero.

Even when inhabited by Ataturk it possessed this performative quality. Positioned precariously over the sea, his presence here was all about projecting an image of good health as well as popular condescension through his bathing on the same beach as 'the people'. Access to the beach was in fact controlled and Ataturk never stayed here long.

Once inside, the non-functionality of the place as a real home of this 'machine for living' is unnerving. The little set-like rooms - the children's rooms, study, meeting room, master bedroom and guest suite (where Wallace Simpson and the Duke of Windsor, the abdicated king, stayed) all feel flimsy and cramped and the whole place is just so exposed.

BUT it is a beautiful structure that epitomises the healthy living iconography of the Modernist project, highlighted by the completely brilliant items of clothing displayed in a cabinet in the house. Sadly I didn't take photos but laid out (in a hilariously stately fashion considering they are basically a precursor to Speedos) are some amazing high waisted navy blue swimming trunks with white elasticated belt with huge shiny clunky buckle, also some fantastic woven sandals that would look at home on a Marni catwalk and a beige linen bath robe covered in red and navy polka dots. Obviously a stylish swimmer was Ataturk.


In Istanbul construction works are shrouded in slashed fabric. We decided this one was like a goth block, dressed in something by Comme des Garçons. Perhaps the builders were doing an homage?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


The inside walls of Istanbul's Hagia Sophia are lined with insanely beautiful cut marble slabs, laid side-by-side to form a geological repeat. Lined up next to the yellow paint and floral tiling, the Byzantine architects definitely drive home their conviction that more is more.

Upstairs the painted 'restoration' is hilarious, it looks like a fierce khaki animal print all over the wall. In places it's in really bad shape and it looks absolutely gorgeous, all peeling away.

Built in 532 AD, Hagia Sophia was initially a church before it became a mosque. It's now the city's top tourist attraction, so whilst being crammed with beauty it's pretty low on atmosphere. You can imagine the incense though, and the centuries of singing.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010



Remind you of anyone?


Sixties Paris.

Andrè Courrèges prefaces Milla Jovovich as Leeloo in The Fifth Element by about thirty years (do you think this picture was in Jean Paul Gaultier's costume research folder?) with his Cleopatras of the future.

And Pierre Cardin dresses Barbarella in chainmail.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Flicking through the first few issues of i-D magazine from the early 1980s makes me laugh...

the fonts, the outfits, the humour, the front...

Monday, 13 September 2010


This impeccably coiffed designer is doing rather well for himself. Design East selected him to make a lighting installation for the new Olympics-driven mega mall Westfield East - Tracey Emin, Tom Dixon, Mary Portas and Erin O'Conner are on the panel that chose him.

His first shop collection recently launched at Heal's and Coquine, his latest bar, opened in May. And now he's having a party (music by Jodie Harsh, booze by a slick sponsor) at his Shoreditch studio, below, for his new disco glam Ollo lights, above, next week as part of the London Design Festival.

He's done some risky things our Lee - like carpet lined lampshades - but also made some simple conceptual beauties such as neon-light-lined French bistro chairs and lampshades made from cut crystal decanters (a man in the country cuts the bottoms out for him, which is tricky). He does new and often strange things from old-fashioned starting points, all in a very London way. Everyone does something new with something old don't they, but it's the level of ingenuity that sets a stand-out creation apart from an object that only has novelty factor.

The Architrave collection for Heal's, below, looks more discreet than his usual stuff because it's white, but it's actually quite extreme, the way it chops off the ends of the displaced dado rails. It's a little bit surreal and very modern.

Most of his work is for bars and restaurants which allows him to show off his flair for creating a whole look. This set-building is how he started doing interiors. Whilst studying fashion at Central St Martins he styled some bars on the side for cash. His work was so successful that he decided to give up fashion, despite interning with Vivienne Westwood.

He's a bit Cool Britannia, like Viv. He loves the Queen and he makes products that are almost wrong yet totally gorgeous. He also wears really great jewellery - diamond studs, sovereign rings and a collar cufflink - sweet!