Loving Vincent

Regular readers may remember that back in June I posted about Vincent van Gogh, specifically The Starry Night and the movie Vincent and Theo, a biopic starring Tim Roth. Now van Gogh is the subject of the world’s first fully painted feature length animated film, Loving Vincent, which is due to be released in 2017.

According to the directors of the film: ‘Loving Vincent is an investigation delving into the life and controversial death of Vincent Van Gogh, one of the world’s most beloved painters, as told through his paintings and by the characters that inhabit them. The intrigue unfolds through interviews with the characters closest to Vincent and through dramatic reconstructions of the events leading up to his death.’

Over sixty different painters retrained as animators to create 62,450 frames painted in oil, and 200 of the original paintings will be made available for sale according to the official website. Polish actor Robert Gularczyk voices the character of Vincent, and Irish actors Aidan Turner, Saoirse Ronan and Chris O’ Dowd lend their voices to other characters.

Van Gogh was a groundbreaking artist, a visionary, and it seems fitting that a groundbreaking history-making film takes him as its subject. The trailer looks mesmerising and I can’t wait to see Loving Vincent next year.

 

Niamh Barry

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I first came into contact with Niamh Barry many years ago when we both had jobs in the Crafts Council of Ireland. Working part-time in the shop was my job right the way through school and college (and the longest position I ever held, totalling twelve years!), and Niamh also worked there part-time while simultaneously making her art.

Last year I saw an incredibly beautiful lighting piece on Instagram and when I clicked on the picture, I found out that the artist responsible was Niamh. Niamh now creates custom light sculptures, both for private clients and for businesses (you can see one of her pieces in Optica, on Dawson Street). In addition she has exhibited extensively internationally.

I have a very very high ceiling in my kitchen which I had thought I would fill with an interesting chandelier, but no more! Now I dream of a piece by Niamh and when my budget allows I’ll be contacting her to commission something unique, timeless and beautiful.

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NASA Visions of the Future

I saw these amazing space-travel posters on a friend of mine’s Facebook feed and knew that I had to spread the word a bit further. They can be found on the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory website and there are fourteen of them. ‘As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future.’

There’s a bit more on the design of each poster available here. The NASA design team took inspiration from the iconic WPA posters from the late 30s and 40s. Despite the retro feel, these posters were created and released earlier this year.

And the best part? They are available to download and print FOR FREE! How generous is that? I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely getting a couple of these printed and framed for my walls. View and download them here.

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Vincent and Theo

The last time I was in New York I paid a visit to MOMA to see parts of the permanent collection and the Matisse cutouts on exhibition at the time. The cutouts were lovely but the work that transfixed me and left me thinking about it for weeks afterwards was The Starry Night. Having seen so many reproductions of it – on postcards and prints and fridge magnets and even mouse mats – I thought I was anaesthetised to it, so I was completely unprepared for the effect it had on me. It genuinely moved me in a way that few pieces of art ever have, and I’m not sure I can explain why or how. Next time I’m in New York I’ll be going back just to gaze at it again.

I only mention this because last week I re-watched Vincent and Theo, a biopic of van Gogh directed by Robert Altman and starring one of my favourite actors, Tim Roth. The film opens with an unforgettable scene; documentary footage of The Sunflowers being sold at auction in Christie’s for the record breaking sum of over £22 million, juxtaposed with van Gogh, played by Roth, declaring his ambition to become a full-time painter at the age of thirty. The audio from the auction plays under a fight between Vincent and his brother Theo, who was an art dealer and who didn’t have much faith in Vincent’s ability.

The brothers had a fractious relationship, with Theo unable to understand his brother’s work and unable to find a market for it. Although Vincent famously sold few paintings and was not recognised for his talent in his lifetime, he continued painting, creating great art whilst living in poverty and squalor. His work was his obsession and in little over a decade he produced over two thousand works despite frequent psychotic episodes and hospital stays.

Van Gogh is now regarded as the epitome of the romantic genius starving in a garret, but the film shows the unvarnished reality. For most of his short life van Gogh was penniless, hungry, unappreciated and frustrated. He struggled with mental illness and alcoholism, and as a result his life was chaotic and often without love, leading him commit suicide at the age of thirty-seven.

This was one of the first films of Roth’s that I saw and I loved his performance. He demystifies the artist, making him less of a god-like genius and more of a human being, albeit a human being to be greatly admired given the heroic struggle that was his life and the influence his work has had for generations.

 

Scarfolk by Richard Littler

Scarfolk is a town in North West England that did not progress beyond 1979. Instead, the entire decade of the 1970s loops ad infinitum. Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever. “Visit Scarfolk today. Our number one priority is keeping rabies at bay.” For more information please reread.

Scarfolk Council is a blog by writer and designer Richard Littler that has developed a cult following since its debut in early 2013 and now has grown so much that it was voted the UK’s funniest blog of 2015 and a book, Discovering Scarfolk, is available on Amazon. Part satire, part social commentary, and with an hilarious yet unsettling occult tone, the blog depicts life in a fictional English town which is perpetually stuck in the 1970s. The blog releases artefacts from the town: books, leaflets, advertising materials, public information posters, and the like. I particularly love a recent and very apt post where Scarfolk Council welcomes refugees.

Some of my favourites below. Check out the site for further laughs.

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‘When I Was Done Dying’ – Dan Deacon

Dan Deacon’s last album Gliss Riffer has been played in my gaff a lot over the last while. Deacon is an American composer, musician and producer based in Baltimore, Maryland, who has been pretty prolific since he released his first album in 2003. Deacon has dabbled in many genres, from contemporary classical to film scoring, and his live shows are apparently amazing. He played last weekend at Body and Soul in Ireland and the reports are great. (And kudos for his brilliant Twitter username.)

Shades of the Beta Band and Boards of Canada are evident in Gliss Riffer. ‘When I Was Done Dying’ is my favourite track so far. In March of this year ‘Off the Air’, a programme broadcast on Adult Swim, asked nine of their favorite animators to each animate one section of ‘When I Was Done Dying’, a premise which sounds like it has the potential for a ‘too many cooks’ type disaster!

The end result is one of the most interesting and perfectly expressive music videos I’ve seen for a long time. The artists obviously worked together closely and each section is sympathetic to the one that went before, building on colour and theme while still retaining individuality. It starts with a black and white hand drawn illustration and ends with a blur of neon and digital trickery and it’s just wonderful.

Some Inspirational Words from Jim Carrey

I started off the week with a post featuring a great speech from Neil Gaiman about making good art. Today I’m sharing a video which contains a snippet of Jim Carrey’s commencement speech at Maharishi University in Iowa last month. (Anyone else think that he looks a wee bit like Dumbledore in that outfit?) Carrey talks about making choices based on love rather than fear and it’s a concise yet inspiring piece of advice. Have a great weekend!