Sails, Stripes and Sartorial History: Rosalind Jana reviews Nautical Chic

April set sail in style with the launch of our latest fashion title, Nautical Chic and a fabulous partnership with Beyond Retro, Sailor Jerry’s, Vintage Vacations and Red Funnel Ferry Travel. We’ve also teamed up with a bright young voice from the world of vintage fashion blogging Rosalind Jana of ‘‘ to bring you this guest blog post. Here Rosalind responds to the themes of the book and unearths forgotten treasures from within her own wardrobe.

What can fashion tell us? Well, look at the clothes being worn in any particular era and you’ve immediately got access to some of the interests, anxieties and events of that age. Our sartorial choices aren’t made in a vacuum – they’re responsive to what’s going on around us. Whether it’s a dazzle camouflage swimsuit emulating the look of WWI warships or Coco Chanel’s beach pyjamas transforming a working man’s uniform into leisure wear, people have often adorned themselves with things pointing to particular moments or preoccupations.

Amber Jane Butchart’s Nautical Chic pinpoints this meeting of time, place and personal appearance perfectly. Her study of naval style is located exactly where it should be: at an intersecting point between power, nationhood, aesthetics, cultural change, the odd flight of imagination, and some bloody great outfits. All of those colliding influences and shaping forces point to something neatly summarized by Rosalind Ann Jones and Peter Stallybrass in Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory: ‘Clothing is a worn world: a world of social relations put upon the wearer’s body.’ And if there’s anything that Butchart’s exploration of the worn world of naval chic proves it’s that ‘the story of high fashion on the high seas’ is a smart, multi-faceted narrative – a rich thread to unravel and pull at.

The history of various nautical trends and looks is completely interwoven with what we might term BIG themes like war, the economy, working lives, sexuality, gender, class, and aspiration. Although I knew some basics like the cable knit’s transition from fishermen to fashion statement, or the continuing popularity of sailor shirts, or the status and wealth inherent in American sportswear, these sketchy estimates lacked any of the minutiae or context offered here. I had no idea that epaulettes originated in the French military – but were viewed with some distrust by Lord Nelson. I’d hardly considered the striped top’s transition from pragmatic working wear to catwalk (a transition emphasised time and time again throughout these pages), instead happy to rely on some hazy image of sails and decking brought on by the label ‘Breton top’. And the influence of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise on Jean Paul Gaultier and Marni was a complete revelation…

To me, that’s what the best fashion books do: enlarge and illuminate things one might have been vaguely aware of, giving them so much more solidity – and a backstory too. Before reading, a pea coat was something I mainly saw as a gorgeously cut garment. Now I’ve seen the movement charted from early 18th century navy to 60s YSL reimagining to present status as ‘style classic’. I also have a novel respect for various items peppering my own wardrobe: the navy blue 80s Jaeger blazer, the funny little leather fisherman’s hat I picked up at a flea market, the children’s straw boater, the striped tops, cotton sundresses designed for beach lounging, and a particularly fabulous shell print Liberty two piece. Still on the lookout for my ideal sailor dress though.

However, I might be in luck on that last point, as Amber has teamed up with vintage treasure trove chain Beyond Retro, picking out items from their vast collection with a distinctly naval feel. Oh so appropriate for a vintage chain with an anchor for its logo. Incidentally, the first dress I bought from Beyond Retro, back when I was a skinny fourteen year old – all bony knees and waist-length hair – was a mint green shift, resplendent with naval style gold buckles stretching down the front. But now there’s potential for setting sail (I’m sorry, so sorry) in any number of sartorial directions, with shorts, shirts, skirts and swimsuits a-plenty. It’s an ideal collaboration, not least because the presiding strength of Butchart’s book is not merely in the history – but also the cross-cultural links to contemporary designs. She drew out more of these links in her engaging talk at Beyond Retro last night, shaking out the history of items from Schiaparelli’s trompe l’oeil sailor jumper to Jean-Paul Gaultier’s regular use of Dixie-cup hats – though, as she pointed out in the spirit of true “fashion geek” observation, one of the muscled men in his Le Male ad is wearing the wrong style hat for that particular striped top…

What’s apparent from Butchart’s book (and her talk) is that past and present are always colliding on the catwalk, but here those intricate relationships are drawn out with dexterity. Mermaid bodices, bell bottoms, thigh high boots, skull insignia, penny loafers, striped wide skirts, knitted jumpers, decadent waistcoats – all these items can be traced back to watery beginnings, whether on the back of a captain, a pirate, or a keen yachtsman. The term ‘naval’ is as equally applicable to Tommy Hilfiger as it is to Vivienne Westwood (an unlikely pairing in the same sentence). It is indeed a wide-ranging ‘world of social relations’, whether those relations are all about rank, status, uniform, subversion, celebration, or imagination; each outfit or garment a material marker of our relationship with the sea, whether somewhere for work or play.

Nautical Chic, by Amber Jane Butchart, is a glorious celebration of the perennial nautical style, tracing the history of its trends and impact on the clothes we love.

Rosalind Jana is a writer, blogger, sporadic model and full-time student. Her writing has been published in Vogue, Apartmento Magazine, Guardian Online and Teen Tatler. Her debut book ‘Notes on Being Teenage’ is released next year –

Check out the Nautical Chic Collection curated by Amber Jane Butchart for Beyond Retro!

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A Monster Reader Review

Ever-curious to hear what people think of our books, we asked our Twitter follower @barry_richards, a designer from Cardiff, to tell us about his favourite Thames & Hudson title. The answer he gave us was pleasantly surprising! Read on for Barry’s in-depth review of Monsters by Christopher Dell


‘Many of Europe’s museums and art galleries contain large collections of gothic, renaissance and baroque art. Walk around an exhibition displaying art from these periods and you’ll find flattering portraits of noblemen, scenes from classical mythology and panoramic pastoral idylls.

You’ll also encounter a lot of Christian artwork; stunningly beautiful, elegantly composed and technically magnificent. But there are only so many ways to venerate the holy trinity or the saints. After a while the genuflexion, piety and reverence of these artworks leave you with the feeling that, while the artists’ skills are soaring into the heavens, their imaginations and creativity remain resolutely on terra firma. Then you spot a painting of hell, of demons tempting a saint or Satan himself, and you see something wonderful has happened: the artist’s creativity and imagination has been unleashed. An impression builds that the artist truly enjoyed creating this painting, revelling in the freedom afforded by biblical descriptions of purgatory, demons and the devil. So when I spotted Christopher Dell’s Monsters: A Bestiary of the Bizarre on the Thames & Hudson website I knew I’d found a book where artistic imagination had been given free rein; to shock us, horrify us, scare us, warn us, and move us using our most base fears and emotions. And I knew that I would enjoy it immensely.


Monsters brings together beasts from land and sea; from the heavens and Earth; and from the depths of history and mythology to the nightmares of gothic fiction. Sitting alongside familiar monsters — Beelzebub, the Minotaur, oriental dragons and werewolves — are more obscure examples — Japanese Kappa, the Aztec Quetzalcoatl, the Mesopotamian demon Pazuzu, the Tibetan demon dMu and many more.

Through clever organisation of the chapters, the author draws parallels between the roles of similar monsters in different cultures, and discusses how they pass through time and place to crop up in different stories, such as the Sirens and Mermaids found in both Homer’s Odyssey and Arabian Nights. The discussions also provide greater context, helping the reader to appreciate the role of each monster within its own culture or belief system. In parallel to reading Monsters I was also reading the ‘Mabinogion’ — the Welsh collection of pre-Christian and Arthurian romance tales. These stories are full of giants, shape shifters and creatures from Annwfn (the Celtic otherworld). Reading both books together helped me to appreciate that the monsters were a reflection of the fears of and threats to each culture, and thus helped me gain a greater understanding of those cultures.

The only thing I felt was missing from the text in Monsters was a discussion of the role of dinosaur fossils in the origins of the monsters in the book. For example, the Gobi desert in China and Mongolia is a particularly fertile ground for palaeontologists, and the resemblance of oriental dragons to dinosaurs is surely more than a coincidence. Perhaps this is beyond the scope of Monsters; the ‘Further Reading’ section gives useful recommendations for readers wishing to explore the subject in more depth.


While the prose is fascinating, this is also just a beautiful book. Christopher Dell has selected excellent source material; work by renowned artists such as Bosch, Goya, Hokusai and Raphael sit alongside paintings, statues and masks by unknown artists from various African, Asian, European and pre-Columbian cultures. A whole page or spread is given over to each artwork, with judicious use of cropping to focus attention on the monster under consideration. While many art books place captions alongside each artwork, reducing the space available for the image and lessening its impact, Monsters collates this information at the end of each chapter, letting the reader appreciate the artworks without distraction. Elements from relevant artworks are also used to illustrate the key and summary pages. All this ensures that every page is a ‘monstrous’ treat!


The monsters themselves are fantastic, in all senses of the word; a collection of bizarre, grotesque, gruesome and strange creatures that are a testament to both the artists’ imaginations and our collective capacity to create nightmarish beasts. My favourites include the Tripodero, a tripedal creature ‘discovered’ by loggers in North America in the 18th century; a 15th century cyclops with unfeasibly long rabbit like ears and arms that appear to be jointed to its jaw bone; and an 18th century harpy with two tails, fangs, horns, large clawed feet, a lion’s mane, wings and, incongruously, two large human breasts — after which, presumably, the artist either ran out of space or body parts to add.

I have many art and design books, but Monsters instantly became one of my favourites. I can’t recommend this book enough; both adults and children will enjoy leafing through its pages. The fascinating prose and magnificent monsters are both illuminating and inspiring. I often find myself doodling strange creatures in my sketchbooks for my own amusement. This book will definitely inspire future doodling and I know I will find myself picking it up again and again, losing myself amongst its ghastly and horrific creatures.’

Barry Richards is a designer based in Cardiff, UK. Visit his website here

Want to find out more? Read about Monsters on our website

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Hermitage Revealed – review by Jo Walton

To mark the 250th anniversary of St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, and the completion of a new building designed by Studio 44 (captured in our handsome publication), a fascinating film takes viewers deep into the museum’s remarkable collections. Thames & Hudson’s Jo Walton saw the film on its release and shares her review below.

The State Hermitage Museum, in St Petersburg, is one of those vast cultural landmarks that I have yet to get to grips with properly. Two very brief visits, while on whirlwind tours of the Baltic, have offered only tantalising glimpses of this extraordinary collection – while proving by their exhausting speed that the museum buildings are truly enormous and jam-packed with treasures.

© Vladimir Lemekhov (Studio 44 Architects)

© Vladimir Lemekhov (Studio 44 Architects)

2014 sees the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Museum by the Empress Catherine the Great, herself a hyperbolic figure with a lust for collecting paintings, gemstones, furnishings, porcelain, palaces and lovers. She collected artworks not just because they were beautiful and fashionable – she was determined to modernise her nation and bring Western education and culture to her realm. Starting in 1764 she gathered up collections of paintings, prints and drawings that became available across Europe, managing to create the core of the Hermitage collection in just under thirty years. She extended the network of buildings alongside the Winter Palace, on the banks of the River Neva, to house her treasures, including building a scale replica of Raphael’s great Loggia from the Vatican in Rome. As well as being a repository for her collection the Palace complex was also the home of the Imperial family, and her heirs would continue to collect, enlarge and develop the Museum across the next century and a half.

© Will Pryce

© Will Pryce

The opulence and staggering Imperial grandeur of the Hermitage is splendidly conveyed in a new film by Margy Kinmonth – Hermitage Revealed – which offers both a tour of the museum complex, and a potted history of the collections themselves. Across an hour and twenty minutes the film explores some of the highlights of the collections. It lingers lovingly over details from the paintings, relishes the extravagant glories of the Palace architecture, investigates behind the scenes, and even meets the colony of ferocious looking cats that inhabit the basements.

The key figure in the film, and in the life of the Museum, is the Director – Mikhail Piotrovsky, who has the unusual distinction of having taken over the job from his father. Boris Piotrovsky was Director from 1964 until 1990, and Mikhail claims to have had the Hermitage as his childhood playground. To emphasis this, the image of a small boy, gazing through the snow-covered gates of the Palace, then skipping and trotting through the corridors and State Rooms, weaves through the film.

The adult Piotrovsky admits that his rule of the Museum is, “very totalitarian” as he genially introduces us to the different departments and their curators. Hidden from public view, even the endless corridors contain treasures. The porcelain store is in a lavish former Imperial Bathroom, while a staggering collection of engraved gems repose in beautifully made cabinets in a narrow passageway. Drawer after drawer is opened to reveal hundreds of precious gems, each with a tiny handwritten luggage label of identification. Even the Director’s Office is remarkable, filled by a large desk which had belonged to Tzar Alexander, and is heaped, three foot deep, with papers, pamphlets, manuscripts and books. Russian bureaucracy, it seems, demands everything in more than triplicate.

The modern history of the Museum has been tumultuous, with revolution, war and Stalinist Purges taking their toll. In 1941 curators worked night and day, through the ‘White Nights’ of the summer, to pack and evacuate two train loads of objects before the appalling Siege of Leningrad tightened its grip on the city. (“Cats are sooo deliiiicious” claimed one retired curator, who had survived the three-year Siege as a small child, fed on anything that might be available).

© Margarita Yawein

© Margarita Yawein

Now, of course, the Hermitage has joined other great cultural centres across the world as a hub for tourists and the film repeatedly showed time-lapse sequences of crowds skittering across the screen at top speed. To cater for the millions of visitors new spaces, displays and technology are needed. Over the past couple of years the complex network of buildings has been enlarged still further, with over 800 rooms and five courtyards in the General Staff Building, just across Palace Square, being adapted to create a new space to show 19th and 20th century artworks and for exhibitions of contemporary work – something that has been lacking in the city up to now.

© Will Pryce

© Will Pryce

The film shows some of this work, by the St Petersburg architectural practice, Studio 44, including a vast glass covered courtyard which doubles as an amphitheatre. The scale is majestic, the finish clean and bright. These new rooms have just opened with Manifesta 10 – The European Biennale of Contemporary Art, on show until October.

Margy Kinmonth’s film is gentle and affectionate, with a sense of wide-eyed wonder at the scope and size of this museum behemoth. It certainly makes you want to visit – but perhaps to undertake a strenuous fitness regime first, in preparation for the miles you’ll have to walk and the millions of objects you’ll be able to see.

Hermitage Revealed can be watched on BBC iPlayer (from within the UK) until the 6 February – click here to visit BBC iPlayer

The Hermitage XXIFor the 250th anniversary of the founding of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, a decision to convert the eastern wing’s General Staff Building into a museum of 19th- and 20th-century art led to an international architectural competition. The scale and dramatic outcome of the new building – the most important new cultural museum in Russia for a generation – is captured in this handsome publication and will inspire architects, museum visitors, curators and anyone interested in the next chapter of Russia’s rich cultural heritage. Available for £34.95 from the Thames & Hudson website.

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2014 British Book Design and Production Awards

Last Thursday evening was a very special one for Thames & Hudson – at the British Book Design and Production awards we took home three awards including ‘Book of the Year’ for The Sick Rose, making us the overall winners of the night!

The awards

The Sick Rose by Richard Barnett and What’s inside? by OKIDO won in their respective categories: ‘Exhibition Catalogues’ and ‘Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Education’.

The winning books

Judges commended ‘Book of the Year’ winner, The Sick Rose, saying: ‘This beautifully crafted book held the judges attention and provoked our imagination like no other this year’. The evening celebrated everything that is great in British book design, and with a record number of books entered (450 in total), the judging process was harder than ever.

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Jesse Marlow on Capturing Lazer Vision

With the release of The World Atlas of Street Photography, we asked Melbourne-based photographer Jesse Marlow to describe how he captured ‘Laser Vision’, his award-winning photo that features on the front cover of the book (UK edition).

The World Atlas of Street Photography

‘An old fish and chip shop in the outer suburbs of Melbourne had caught my eye as I had driven past it many times over the years. The distressed graphics and angle of the shop window, which in turn picked up the painted pedestrian crossing, was what had attracted me to the scene. It was a case of storing it in my memory and hoping for nice light the next time I drove past.

I was out that way again one day when the afternoon sun was hitting the window just in the right spot, so I stopped the car and hung around hoping for something to happen. Working in this style can often lead to leaving a scene disappointed and empty handed. This day was different. I shot 2 or 3 frames as the elderly lady made her way past me to post a letter.

Jesse Marlow's profile in the book

About two weeks after taking this photo I was back out that way and the fish and chips shop had been totally re-vamped, gone were the distressed but striking lines only to be replaced with some soulless, boring graphics and logo. The photo won MGA (Monash Gallery of Art) Bowness Prize in 2012.’

The World Atlas of Street PhotographyFrom New York to New Delhi, Beijing to Brighton, Havana to Hamburg, and Sydney to Seoul, The World Atlas of Street presents is kaleidoscopic adventure across the world’s continents, city by city, in search of the best urban photographic art. Available for £24.95 from the Thames & Hudson website.

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Completing Shackleton’s Dream

Our new title The Crossing of Antarctica explores the epic expedition that fulfilled Shackleton’s dream. We complete our journey across this forbidding continent through the original photographs of the late George Lowe, the veteran mountaineer and film-maker. Here is a taster of shots from the making of the book, by award-winning historian and polar guide Dr Huw Lewis-Jones.

‘Antarctica: one of the coldest, windiest and most desolate locations on Earth, a desert of ice, much of it still unexplored. Yet Antarctica is also a land of beauty and unanticipated delight, and it continues to draw men and women to test themselves among its frozen wastes. One hundred years after Ernest Shackleton set out to make the first crossing of this great white continent, our volume celebrates those who succeeded where he failed. It was a journey long thought impossible. The Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1955-58, led by Vivian ‘Bunny’ Fuchs, was one of the 20th century’s triumphs of exploration – a powerful expression of technological daring as much as a testament of sheer, bloody-minded human willpower. As a key member of the expedition, New Zealander George Lowe was there to capture it all on film.

A haul of unpublished images and other rare materials from George’s archives are gathered together in this book for the first time, along with others from the Fuchs family collection. Awe-inspiring landscapes, candid portraits and action shots evoke the day-by-day moments as the expedition travelled across the ice on a variety of vehicles and dog sledges, facing extraordinary challenges and dangers.

This is a draft of Shackleton’s original plan from 1914 and Bunny Fuchs’ proposal from the early 1950s. From the Ross Sea side, two great travellers, Amundsen and Scott had reached the South Pole overland, and so Shackleton wanted to be the first to complete a full traverse. His ship Endurance was crushed and they did not even manage to make a landfall. Now Fuchs would pioneer the way from the opposite side, the Weddell Sea, the unknown shore, with over 2,000 miles to travel. On paper three summers and two winters on the southern continent might seem a long time to accomplish a overland journey lasting just three months, but the whole undertaking required huge logistics to make it feasible. Even now, such a journey is fraught with difficulty.

At home in Cornwall, book proofs and prints are spread out on the kitchen table. I also worked with my old friend, renowned polar photographer Martin Hartley, to create images of the remarkable original prints and special expedition equipment.

Inside George’s battered expedition case we find the Leica IIIf that he loaded with Kodachrome transparency film to create shots for his lectures. For the Leica the shutter was hardly ever varied from 1/100 s with an aperture of f/8. In temperatures below minus 20°F he wore three pairs of gloves – white silk, soft leather as worn by chauffeurs, and heavy working mitts slung from a neck harness. He could change film and alter lens settings easily in just silk and leather inners for a few minutes at a time, before thrusting cold hands back into the ungainly mitts.

George had to juggle many cameras all at once, shooting on 16mm ciné-film for general release in the cinemas, medium-format black and white for newspapers and 35mm colour transparencies for lectures and books. This is George’s Bell & Howell 70DL ciné camera. During the crossing it often froze, though after he’d warmed it over the primus stove it was ready for action once more.

Martin Hartley gets to grips with George Lowe’s Leica IIIf. We created new images of special objects – old maps, original glass slides, tattered flags and snow-goggles – all of which appear in The Crossing of Antarctica for the first time. George used this Leica right across Antarctica. He slung it round his neck on a short strap, to hang inside his outer waterproof clothing. He often slept with it to keep it from freezing, until he was able to rig up a hot-box connected to a Sno-Cat’s battery. During the journey he did not process roll film but stored it in large aluminium containers, developing it in batches at the South Pole, and Scott Base. The finished negatives were sealed in tins and flown to London at the end of the expedition.

Over the course of creating George’s Everest memoirs and gathering together materials from his rich lifetime of adventure, we came across a small bundle of letters at his house neatly tucked away at the bottom of an oak chest. With more research, yet more material came to light. In time other members of his family also shared their memories and gradually a rare collection of correspondence came together. To be able to work with his original journals and archive for the first time was a real honour for me.

This little New Zealand flag flew from George’s vehicle Wrack and Ruin. By the end of the journey it had turned almost white, bleached by the Antarctic sun. It took them ninety-nine days to complete the main haul across ice and snow, and some three years of effort, overwintering in small huts before setting out. Shackleton had called it ‘the last great polar journey’ and despite all the technological advances that had made their progress possible – Sno-Cat vehicles, radio, and aircraft support – it was still a formidable undertaking.

These prints show New Year’s Day on the polar plateau in 1958, five hundred miles from the South Pole. The wind has carved the ice into rutted fields of sastrugi, like the waves of a choppy sea suddenly frozen into immobility. At a time when man was looking to the dawn of travel into space, the crossing of Antarctica was one great journey of discovery not yet completed on his own planet.

Glass-mounted slides from this legendary expedition are gathered on my lightbox at home. After nearly five years of planning, and many gruelling months of effort, twelve men finally crossed – and learned a little more about – the last unknown continent on earth.

My daughter is always keen to join in. As the granddaughter of polar explorer Sir Wally Herbert, it’s all part of family life for little Nell. Soon we’re going on an adventure to the Arctic together, where her mum, author Kari Herbert, grew up. And, my next book for Thames & Hudson in fact will celebrate Wally’s great polar journey; the epic overland trek to the North Pole and the first crossing of the Arctic Ocean in 1969. Over 3,600 miles and 16 months across constantly moving ice floes. Now that was an epic expedition! Across the Arctic Ocean will be published in 2015.’

In this fantastic short video Huw chooses some of his favourite pages from
The Crossing of Antarctica. Watch it below or click here to view on Youtube –

Huw is also the author of The Conquest of Everest.

The_Crossing_of_AntarcticaThe Crossing of Antarctica is the remarkable visual and personal testimony of a polar expedition that rewrote the history books.
Available for £24.95 from the Thames & Hudson website.


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Q&A: Tristan Manco on Scale-Defying Art

The new book from Tristan Manco, Big Art/Small Art, showcases forty-five international artists who are pushing the boundaries of scale to create works of staggering skill and audacity; the results intrigue, surprise, immerse, disorientate and inspire. Read on to find out how Tristan approached this exciting subject.

The Silent Evolution, © Jason deCaires, Taylor 2010

The Silent Evolution, © Jason deCaires, Taylor 2010

Where did the idea for the book originate?

‘There seems to be a universal fascination for art that is created both on a grand and or a miniature scale, from architecture to jewelry, from vast edifices to intimately precious objects. Remnants of temples and coins of ancient civilizations point to this collective need to shape a society through artefacts both big and small – to make a lasting mark. As the English romantic poet Shelley’s poem reminds us, ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

While I am in awe of what history has left behind – the exquisite grave goods left in Egyptian tombs or the Roman amphitheatres that still stand today – the idea behind this book is to explore how contemporary artists are using scale to make their equivalent mark today. I have been bowled over by the scale of artworks created in recent decades, from Jeff Koons’s Puppy at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to Richard Serra’s Corten steel sculptures in New York, not to mention the colossal structures and installations that regularly dominate Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. While it was not only their dimensions that made these works so exciting, the scale of the art was a memorable and important factor in the experience. This tendency towards large-scale work has grown exponentially in current times, influenced by a number of motives that are discussed in the book.’

Monte-meubles: L’ultime déménagement © Leandro Erlich 2012

Monte-meubles: L’ultime déménagement
© Leandro Erlich 2012

How did you research/categorise the artists? Was it always obvious which category they fell into?

‘The research for Big Art/Small Art came as a by-product and a natural progression from my previous book, Raw + Material = Art: Found, Scavenged and Upcycled, in which I wanted to explore the relationship and creative approaches different artists had to materials – in particular those using low-cost and low-tech media. While exploring this topic I began to think more about scale and so my study widened to consider artists working with interesting materials but also applying them to works of extreme scales.

Since artists often work at different scales I sometimes had to concentrate on one aspect of their work in order to categorise them appropriately for the book. In some cases the category was not clear, for example artist Luke Jerram, who in his Glass Microbiology series creates glass sculptures modeled on microscopic viruses, the sculptures can be held roughly in two hands, but it terms of scale they are vastly scaled up models of microbes. He features in our ‘small’ chapter but equally could have been in the ‘big’ one.’

E. coli  © Luke Jerram, 2010

E. coli
© Luke Jerram, 2010

Did you discover many new artists in the process of creating the book?

‘I certainly did discover many artists, some of them very well known either worldwide or in their own country, others I would describe as up-and-coming. I was keen to eschew artists that would already be familiar to many people such as Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei or Christo and Jeanne-Claude etc, not only to keep things current but also to give readers the chance to discover new artists. Some of the artists such as Fujiko Nakaya, a Japanese artist who creates art with fog, could hardly be described as new as she reaches her 81st birthday this year!’

(c) Joe Fig, Jackson Pollock, 2008

(c) Joe Fig, Jackson Pollock, 2008

Do you have any personal favourites from the book?

‘I’m not sure I’m allowed favourites as the overall curator but I am inspired by the work and ethos of Russian artist Nikolay Polissky. Made with found natural materials such as wood, straw and twigs, he has created some fantastic and monumental sculptures that can perhaps be described as utopian, integrating principles of land art and art for social regeneration. Since 2000, most of his works have been created within the village of Nikola-Lenivets, in the Kaluga region, a four-hour drive from Moscow, and in co-authorship with the local villagers. This semi-abandoned village has been rejuvenated through art, turning it into a cultural centre with its own annual festival of landscape architecture, ‘Archstoyanie’, which has attracted further visitors.’

Body OF Knowledge © Jaume Plensa 2010

Body OF Knowledge
© Jaume Plensa 2010

Why do you think it’s important to publish books like this?

‘As a writer my goal is always to inspire, and hopefully the outstanding material in Big Art / Small Art does just that. I’m fascinating by this subject since it’s both a fundamental element in art and also a unique way to uncover innovative artists from around the globe. A sense of scale is fundamental to the way we experience the world and an important consideration therefore in the work of artists.

From installations, environmental art, public art and art inspired by science there is an extraordinary wealth of ideas encapsulated in the book, which I hope will be a fantastic page-turner for readers. Whether you are a young artist keen to discover current movements or someone looking to the world of art for fresh approaches to architecture, design or experiential engagement, I would hope there is something there for everyone!’

Big Art / Small Art‘These artworks that play with perspective will bend your eyes and your mind’ – The Guardian.

Big Art / Small Art is available for £29.95 from the Thames & Hudson website.

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Victorian Inventions That Didn’t Change The World

In this short video filmed at The National Archives in London, Julie Halls, author of Inventions that Didn’t Change the World, shows us a selection of uniquely improbable designs registered in 19th Century Britain (none of which ever made it into production) and describes the social history behind each innovation.

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Who Were the Great Archaeologists?

In our latest post, Brian Fagan introduces some of the prominent figures
from the history of archaeology, as featured in his new book
The Great Archaeologists.

Portrait of Johann Joachim Winckelmann by Anton von Maron, 1768

‘Few scientific enterprises are more closely defined by those who have undertaken them than archaeology. Among the heroes: Babylonian monarchs, medieval antiquaries, and the wonderfully eccentric 17th-century British antiquarian William Stukeley, who dined atop a Stonehenge trilithon and remarked there was enough space to dance a minuet. The Great Archaeologists describes a constellation of now deceased archaeologists from all corners of the world, especially those from the great days of archaeological discovery—Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the founder of classical archaeology, Heinrich and Sophia Schliemann of Troy and Mycenae fame, Howard Carter, who discovered Tutankhamun, and Leonard Woolley of Ur.


We visit with John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood as they reveal the Maya city of Copán to an astonished world, traverse the ramparts of Maiden Castle in southern England with the flamboyant Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who also worked memorably on the Harappan civilization of the Indus Valley. Louis and Mary Leakey transform our knowledge of early human evolution at Olduvai Gorge. Alfred Kidder establishes the chronology of the ancient pueblos of the American Southwest.

Michael Katzev and Richard Steffy determining the lines of the Kyrenia shipwreck, 1973

However, for me, it was some of the lesser-known archaeologists who made this book such fun to edit. Among them was the formidable Gertrude Caton Thompson, who excavated Great Zimbabwe and showed it was of African origin as early as 1929. Spyridon Marinatos excavated the buried village of Akrotiri on Santorini in the Aegean. Li Chi and Pei Wenzhong placed Chinese archaeology on a firm footing, while Alexy Okladnikov and Sergey Simonov did the same for Russian prehistory. We learn about pioneers of African archaeology like J. Desmond Clark, and read how Roger Green transformed our knowledge of the Early Polynesians. Some of the most thought-provoking entries describe the careers of more recent scholars, among them the legendary Vere Gordon Childe who proposed Neolithic and Urban Revolutions as a way of thinking about the remote past. There are lesser known figures, too, like the Canadian Bruce Trigger, a model of balanced theoretical reasoning and an expert on Canada’s Huron peoples, and William Sanders, an expert of ancient landscapes in Central America, who is little known outside archaeological circles.

The Kyrenia wreck

The Great Archaeologists is a global book – far more than a series of portraits of unique and engaging scholars – it’s a journey through an archaeology that began as casual antiquarianism and matured into a sophisticated, disciplined study of changes in the human experience over more than one-and-three-quarter million years. The book revolves around important discoveries and the ways in which thinking about the past has changed. Yes, there are buried treasures and gold-laden pharaohs here, but there are also insights into humbler sites, too, like 8,000 year-old Star Carr in northern England, excavated on a shoe string by Grahame Clark of Cambridge University three quarters of a century ago. He changed how we study ancient environments and the people who lived in them. This book is an archaeologist feast, designed to entertain, but, above all, to engage you in the past.’

The Great ArchaeologistsBrian Fagan has assembled a team of some of the world’s greatest living archaeologists to write knowledgeably and entertainingly about their distinguished predecessors, the result is full of fascinating anecdotes, personal accounts and unexpected insights. Available for £24.95 from the Thames & Hudson website.

Posted in Archaeology, History | Comments closed

Children’s Fashion Design Book Wins SLA Award

We were delighted to find out today that How To Draw Like a Fashion Designer by Celia Joicey and Dennis Nothdruft has won the SLA Information Book award, in the 12-16+ years category.

Marlene Johnson, Managing Director of Hachette Children’s Books

Marlene Johnson, Managing Director of Hachette Children’s Books, paid tribute to the shortlisted authors and illustrators saying, ‘it’s always a great honour to sponsor the SLA Information Book Award: every year I’m impressed by the quality and variety of the books that are on the shortlist’.

The School Library Association celebrated the 2014 Information Book Award on Tuesday 30th September with an event at the Bath Children’s Literature Festival. The SLA Information Book Award is an annual event celebrating information books, and is designed to support school libraries and to reinforce the importance of non-fiction whilst highlighting the high standard of resources available.

Between June and mid-September, schools were able to cast their vote for their favourite Information Book in the SLA’s Information Book Award. The SLA and the sponsors of the Information Book Award were keen that schools and their students should have a say in the final decision. Each school could vote online for their favourite book in each category (Under 7s, 7-12 and 12-16) and for their overall favourite.

Chris Brown, chair of the judging panel said “Congratulations to all the brilliant creators of our Award winning books. The subjects covered and the variety of formats indicates a lively market place for information books. The Children’s Choices vary from the Judges showing that any good information book that grabs the interest and attentions of a young reader is a Winner!’

Celia Joicey and Dennis Nothdruft are also the authors of How to Draw Vintage Fashion.

Mid-Century Modern CompleteBe inspired by interviews with 
top designers, including Anna Sui, 
Christian Lacroix, Zandra Rhodes 
and Valentino, and discover their 
unique drawing styles. Then step 
by step start to draw your own 
fabulous fashion designs. Available for £12.95 from the Thames & Hudson website.

Posted in News, World of T&H | Tagged | Comments closed
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