Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween fashion and fitness fun

My efforts to avoid Halloween related activities over the weekend were thwarted. What I love about sporty people is that they’re always ready to make an occasion out of any opportunity, especially if it involves dressing up and having fun.

Even after two hours of Zumba partying, the fabulous folk at Maloca in Putney were happy to pose for a photograph in their strangely sweaty Halloween outfits.

And at my local gym, curiously creative Terry (formerly a fashion designer) from the front desk had produced a work of art from a pumpkin, as well as re-styling the fixtures and fittings, with the addition of spiders, zombies and other corpse-like curiosities.

Our lovely instructor, Kien, also got into the spirit of things by handing out horribly unhealthy sweets at the end of a Body Attack class. How thoughtful…

Anyway, now I'm going to try and hide myself away from trick or treaters for the rest of the day. If I wear a designer morphsuit no one will see me, will they?

Have a happy Halloween!

Will you?

PS Check out ShopCurious's latest Curious Trends post for more quirky, cover-up clothing…

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Let them eat Dodo cake...

Last night’s Experimental Food Society event at the Victoria and Albert Museum was full of surprises – even for ShopCurious.

Curious culinary trends included food landscapes and architecture, vegetable cupcakes and edible fashion.

But it was remarkable sugar artist and cake sculptor, Michelle Wibowo, who stole the show. Who would ever have imagined that a curiously cute kid with a passion for baking would grow up to create a severed head cake for a Halloween birthday party?

Wibowo's latest curiosity cake creation was a giant Dodo, made especially for the Experimental Food Society’s annual ‘Spectactular’ in London last weekend. I say was, because last night we ate it.

And here she is performing the cutting ceremony:

I bet you want to know what Dodo tastes like?

Do you?

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Toying with arbitrage in contemporary art

Contemporary artists are increasingly using retro toys and recycled curiosities to make a statement, like Joe Black, whose work is shown here (photographed at Scream Gallery’s stand at the Moniker Art Fair last week).

Similar plastic toy soldiers are used to convey a different message, at fraction of the price (...though admittedly the scale is not the same - and the density of soldiers used is lower) in Love Not War by Dinah Dufton (bottom right), whose work can be seen at London's Affordable Art Fair.

Read more about bargain hunting in the art world in my latest post at The Dabbler.

And see more curious collages from the fair, along with work by street and graffiti artists in ShopCurious's Curious Trends posts today.

Will you?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Arty, attention-grabbing accessories

Last week’s unusually warm and sunny weather had me skipping out all over the place to arty events, hence the lack of blog posts. One of the more glamorous was a party at Sketch in Mayfair, to celebrate Shingai Shoniwa (of the Noisettes) and hatmaker Katherine Elizabeths’ new millinery collaboration.

One of the biggest hat trends is customization. Hats are being embellished with all sorts of curiosities and turned into works of wearable art. It’s fun to create your own millinery masterpiece too – in fact, Katherine Elizabeth holds hat parties and day-long millinery classes, at Craft Central in Clerkenwell. The next one is this Saturday 22nd.

Now the weather’s taken a wintry turn though, I feel more like hibernating. Forget going out to fashion tribe gatherings, all I want to do is sit in front of the television and cozy up to something soporific, like the X-Factor, with a nice mug of cocoa (Ha! That must account for the curious spelling in my latest post at The Dabbler…)

This morning it was actually cold enough to contemplate wearing gloves - which by the way, also seem to be getting an arty makeover this season. I’ve been waiting for ages to try out the luxuriously embroidered new gloves by eccentric Englishman Mark H at ShopCurious. Mark’s oddly extravagant OR WOT! designs are a small but valiant contribution towards saving niche handicrafts of the British manufacturing industry… Now I’ll raise a cup of cocoa to that.

Will you?

Monday, 10 October 2011

Weaving life's rich tapestry

Have you noticed how old fashioned handicrafts like needlepoint and lacemaking are coming back into vogue lately? I’ve spotted embroidery, crochet and patchwork everywhere from art galleries and craft fairs to niche boutiques and trend-setting chain stores.

Another curious trend is that tapestry is becoming rather popular, not just for wall-hangings, but also as fabric to cover furniture and cushions.

The practice of weaving is said to be meditative as well as enjoyable, perhaps that’s why it’s become fashionable again recently? However, traditional weaving is not so much ‘make do and mend’ as DIY manufacture. There’s a real art to creating your own textiles – and don't even bank on saving money in the process…

Nevertheless, one way of cutting your coat to suit your cloth (sorry) is to purchase a second-hand loom. And, if you’re tempted to master this rustic craft, we may have just the thing at ShopCurious – a Glimakra Ideal weaving loom, which we’re selling for less than half the current market price.

If you’re already skilled at producing your own unique, homespun creations (like Edward Taylor, whose handiwork can be seen above right), this could be a curiously useful purchase - or even an investment towards your future in sustainable design. If not, you can find some lovely vintage tapestries at specialist galleries, or antiques fairs (see above left).

By the way, any weavers reading this post are invited to share their work by adding a link in the comments below.

Will you?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Memories, magic and bountiful blessings

I could easily have spent a whole day at the Wellcome Collection. The latest show, Miracles & Charms, which starts tomorrow and runs until 26th February 2012, is actually two exhibitions. The trailer video gives a taster, but is no match for the miracles and charms you will encounter:

The rooms are packed from floor to ceiling with saviours, protectors, mascots, amulets - and about as much good luck as you could ever wish for. One part is dedicated to Infinitas Gracias: Mexican miracle paintings. There are over a hundred votive paintings, depicting around 300 years of answered prayers (see above, top). There’s also a contemporary votive wall (see above, right and below) from a church in Guanajuato, filled with everything from family photographs, drawings, love letters, and examination certificates to religious relics, wedding dresses, bouquets, and baby clothes. This part of the exhibition explores the culture and people behind the votive tradition.

The other part of the show features hundreds of lucky charms amassed by Bank of Scotland cashier and obsessive folklorist, Edward Lovett (1852-1933), who scoured the city by night, buying curious objects from London’s herbalists, mudlarks, barrowmen, and sailors. They eventually became part of Henry Wellcome’s collection, curated here by Felicity Powell, and displayed as a ‘river’ of artefacts in a horseshoe-shaped cabinet, alongside some of her own contemporary works.

Powell’s Charmed Life is “A please to the votives’ thank you” and considers the strange allure of small objects, invested with mysterious potency and meaning through superstition. Like this sovereign-sized disc of paper, on which is inscribed the Lord’s Prayer (though you’d need a magnifiying glass to read it), which was taken into battle by a World War I soldier.

Other curiosities include peony seeds (for sudden incapacity), sea horses (kept by the nursing wives of fishermen to facilitate the flow of milk to their breasts), mole feet (a cure for cramp), acorn amulets (a safeguard against lightning), coral (for “sympathy with blood”, or good health), and a parade of lucky shoes (symbolizing the path of life). If you’re looking for something similar, you may wish to visit ShopCurious.

Powell’s wax images, meticulously crafted onto mirror backs, are extraordinary and worth an exhibition in their own right. Watch her film, Sleight of Hand, based on the theme of concealment – or mediate to William Basinski’s ambient music, as nebulous concepts, like hope and anxiety, are given form...

I just hope this inspires you to go along. The clincher is that it’s free of charge – the only requirement is that you’re incurably curious…

Are you?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

New antiquarian style

A growing fascination with curiosities and collecting means antique style clothing and accessories are starting to appear everywhere. Judging by some of the fashions seen on catwalks, we’re about to experience a Miss Havisham inspired phase of dressing.

Dishevelled Dickensian drapery, curious hats and quirky accessories, old fashioned curiosity brooches, bejewelled and beringed gloves will feature.

Miss Havisham’s look is available at ShopCurious. From great-grandmother style brooches to Victorian photographs in curiously collectable union cases, check out our unique selection of vintage memorabilia and curios.

Will you?

PS And embellishment will be everywhere – see our latest Curious Trends post.