Category Archives: Book

Beautiful Evidence


Book artist Thomas Allen pours through old encyclopedias, primary readers and science books to extract figures for these perfectly composed illustrations.







See the rest over on his blog.




Drawing London


After a lifetime drawing London, the watercolorist David Gentleman set out to discover if it’s possible to look afresh at the place where you live. He spent a year immersing himself in the metropolis, capturing the teeming crowds and the ever-shifting light of its changeable skies. Here he introduces a selection of images from throughout the year, and tells how his familiar world was transformed.


Evening, Camden Town
I spent all of last year drawing London, a place I’d lived in for over 60 years and felt I already knew perfectly well. That turned out to be wrong


Olympic park
It’s changing fast, as its remaining empty spaces get built on and its mushrooming skyline bristles with new landmarks that dwarf everything else


The Thames from 80 Strand
To look at the cranes you wouldn’t think there was a recession on


Primrose Hill
I enjoy London’s variety, its contrasts of old and new, grand and ordinary – of Georgian, Victorian, Gothic Revival and the shiny glass and steel tower blocks of the City and Canary Wharf


I love the Thames, for the space and openness it provides in a crowded city, and the way it gives one a chance to look across the water and survey the tightly-packed City from a safe distance


Regent’s Park
I enjoyed drawing its profusion of green spaces – heath, parks, gardens, squares – and the gleam and peace of its canals. Exploring some unknown parts revealed surprises and delights in Wandsworth, Deptford, Walworth and distant Rainham Marshes


I’m less keen on the city’s paranoid security and surveillance, its numerous war memorials, its growing abundance of tourist attractions and pseudo-heritage, its traffic, expensiveness and increasing unfairness, and the constant sense that Londoners are being squeezed out as the better bits are snapped up by the unimaginably rich


Whitechapel Road market
But these drawbacks are offset by many virtues: the presence of the ordinary Londoners, polite, cosmopolitan and tolerant; the city’s grandeur and its cheeky street markets; the feeling of energy and vitality that pervades it


Drawing its people, places and things made me look hard, notice, understand and remember them. It was a packed and fascinating experience

The new collection brings to life the city he’s lived in for 60 years, with 400 pages of London loveliness. Here’s a short interview with the author to whet your appetite.

You can buy London, You’re Beautiful by David Gentleman from or



Freud’s Photographer



Over the course of several days in May 1938, Edmund Engelman, a young, talented and resourceful Viennese photographer, immortalised the home and offices of Sigmund Freud in a series of pictures that represent the fullest visual documentation of the setting in which Freud lived and worked throughout almost his entire career. He also photographed Freud, his daughter and his wife. These photographs are best known through a book that also contains a memoir of Engelman (Engelman, 1976). The photographs have been recognised primarily for their documentary value and not appreciated for their artistic merit. Through a series of interviews with Engelman and members of his family, biographical data about the artist and information about the photographs has been gathered that heretofore has not been published. This historical note elaborates on Engelman’s life before and after taking the photographs, and places the photographs in the context of the life of the photographer.









Today in the Freud Museum in London.



T-Rex Trying…



I love artist Hugh Murphy’s highly amusing Tumblr, T-Rex Trying, in which the most infamous of dinosaurs is depicted attempting to do every day things such as stowing his hand luggage into the overhead locker, trying to make a move while watching a movie and trying to be a matador. It’s simple, silly and sweet, all at the same time.





















Psycho – 52 years of Fright Complex



52 years ago Alfred Hitchcock show for the first time on the cinemas PSYCHO, one of his best movies and one of the best movies of all times.

I haven’t have the pleasure to watch Psycho at the cinemas, only on DVD, and for me is one of my top 10 movies. I remember feeling such tension that my eyes start to hurt because I could not blink. It was and still is amazing.

I think it’s incredible the way he puts terror in the public mind and not necessarily on the screen.

Like in the movie Psycho, has a horrible (and very famous) scene on the beginning, the girl being murdered in the shower, as the film develop has less and less physical horror in to it. The horror was left in the mind of the audience – less and less violence but the tension in the mind of the viewer it has been increased. By the end there was no violence but the audience was screaming in agony. Simply genius!!!










Based on Stephen Rebello’s 1990 classic Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, will be released a film entitled “Hitchock“ scheduled for release on the big screen sometime in 2013.

The Fox Searchlight production began filming in April of 2012, co-starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, directed by Gervasi and produced by Alan Barnette and Tom Thayer. Black Swan co-writer John J. McLaughlin wrote the first screenplay drafts; subsequently, Stephen Rebello wrote additional drafts that shifted the focus of the film to the complex personal and professional relationship of Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville, during the filming of the life-changing Psycho.

Scarlett Johansson was announced on March 2, 2012 to play the original 1960 film’s biggest box-office star, Janet Leigh, along with James D’Arcy as Psycho’s lead, Anthony Perkins and Jessica Biel as Vera Miles. On March 21, additional cast members were announced including Toni Collette as the director’s trusted assistant, Danny Huston as screenwriter-playwright Whitfield Cook, Michael Stuhlbarg as powerful agent and studio boss Lew Wasserman, Michael Wincott as psychopathic murderer Ed Gein, Ralph Macchio as screenwriter Joseph Stefano and Richard Portnow as legendary Paramount Studios boss Barney Balaban and Wallace Langham as graphic designer Saul Bass.



You’ve got time, so I recommend that you check out the book beforehand. It’s a great read for Hitchcock (and classic cinema) fans.

Click here for more information about Rebello and his work! Also here’s a link to an excerpt from the first chapter of Rebello’s Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. Warning: it’s not proper reading for the weak of heart or stomach. It’s a look at the real-life serial killer- a man who was actually psychotic- who inspired Hitchcock to create Norman Bates.

And here are five things you didn’t know about the making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello:




The Lost Art of Brazilian Photograph Painting



Throughout the late 19th century up until the 1990s, these captivating and strangely painted portraits (retratos pintados) were a common practice in rural northeastern Brazil. Family portraits were retouched with a heavy hand, painting over the original image with bold brush strokes which transformed family members into the rich, healthy and beautiful… even the dead ones.

The images are part of historian Titus Riedl’s collection of the images displayed in his book Retratos Pintados. Throughout the period when these images were being created, street-traders (called bonequeiros) would commonly attract clients in remote rural villages, then with images in hand, they would travel to bigger towns where they would hand over the materials to puxadores who would enlarge the photographs. Then painters, often in small, improvised studios, would create the final image. Returning to the original village, often weeks later, the image was finally delivered to the client.

With the advent of modern technology and the lack of readily available photo paper, the unique tradition has largely died out. It has now been replaced with modern digital techniques like Photoshop and printed on inkjet printers… often with an elaborate phone card, postcard or screensaver motif as their background. For more about these unique pieces of cultural history, see the interview with Martin Parr (who wrote the intro to Riedl’s book) at












You Make Your Own Luck…


It plays such a huge part in our lives, but what exactly is luck and what impact can it have on the individuals and the world around us?

Fortune favours the brave. Luck has got nothing to do with it. He who dares, wins, Rodders.

We use these mantras all the time in our daily lives and some of us even follow them, but just how big a role does luck play in what we do?

According to Ed Smith, author of Luck: What It Means And Why It Matters, published last month, good and bad luck have a huge effect on our careers and our personal lives.


He should know. Mr Smith is a former cricketer who tasted success and disappointment through the game.

In a brief Test career with England, he fell foul to a bad LBW call from an umpire and never represented his country again.

He doesn’t blame the umpire, but his own poor form the following season, for not being selected.

It was another incident, however, that made luck the subject of his latest book.

‘The prompt if you like was when I was captaining Middlesex in 2008 at Lord’s,’ said the 34-year-old, from Kent.

‘I was doing the most innocuous thing you can do on a cricket field which requires almost no athletic ability, which is running a two. The ball went to the outfield, it was an easy two and I ran it at 80 per cent and I just turned, touched my bat in and collapsed in a heap.’

Mr Smith broke his ankle and his cricket career was over.

‘When I was sitting there with my ankle in a cast it led me to think about the role that luck had played in my career and also my life in a much broader sense,’ he said.

‘I realised that far from being a hard luck story I had actually benefited from a huge amount of good luck, both random luck of circumstances, who I’d met and where I’d been at what time but also the non-random luck of going to a cricketing school where I’d been coached very well and had access to very good facilities.

‘I had benefited from a huge amount of luck even though I was kind of obviously cursing my luck in the short term.’

In the book, Mr Smith recounts how luck also played a part away from the crease – he and his wife met on a train neither had initially intended on taking.

‘Some people call that fate. I don’t think I would call that fate at all. I think of it as a good example of just pure luck,’ he said.

‘It’s all these tiny links in the chain that lead to things that ultimately change our lives.’

Mr Smith says luck is something we have no control over.

‘A lot of people argue about the meaning of luck. For example, if I have an operation and the surgeon makes a mistake and it’s a disaster, that’s not a matter of luck if he’s a bad surgeon – it may be a question of inability.

‘But to me, as the recipient of that bad operation it’s a matter of pure luck. Bad luck. To be the recipient of the thing which you can’t control is a matter of luck. That’s why I use the phrase “non-random luck” when talking about education. The facts that go into forming where you grow up and all those sort of things are not random necessarily, but to you as the kid it is a matter of pure luck. You’ve no control over that even if some other people do.’


Mr Smith claims moments of luck can dramatically change the course of history, pointing out that Winston Churchill had a narrow escape when struck by a car in New York in 1931 and that the financial meltdown of 2008 helped Barack Obama in his campaign to win the US presidential election.

And what of successful sports stars, how much does luck help them collect their titles? Could it be something they are born with?

‘It isn’t luck, as in lucky net cords or lucky line calls, that makes Roger Federer win 16 Grand Slams,’ said Mr Smith.

‘But in a big picture, talent is a matter of luck. Genetic talent. Innate talent. You don’t get to determine whether you have the potential to be a great athlete.

‘There is a matter of luck in winning the genetic lottery and having that predisposition to be a great athlete.’

But for the rest of us mere mortals, there could be ways of using luck to our advantage.

Mr Smith said: ‘What you can do is put yourself in the way of as much opportunity as possible.

‘There are two things in life. There is the hand you get dealt and then there’s the way you play it. The hand you get dealt is a matter of luck, the way you play it is a matter of skill and resilience.’

Prof Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, has carried out studies on luck and its effect on people. He believes lucky people follow their instincts.

‘It is very easy to take an unscientific approach to luck and simply speculate about what does and doesn’t make people lucky,’ he said.

‘The best work into the topic has involved scientific research and discovered that luck is indeed all in the mind, and that people can change their luck by thinking and behaving like a lucky person.’




Darth Vader and Son



What if “Luke, I am your father” wasn’t the beginning and end of pop culture’s tensest father-son relationship? That’s the premise of comic artist Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader and Son — a sweet, funny, charmingly illustrated story that imagines an alternate universe in which the Dark Lord of the Sith actually raises his son. From potty training to lightsaber batting practice to ice cream runs, the endearing absurdity of the duo’s dynamic makes for a remix treat of the most entertaining variety.















“Er, he looks just like you, Lord Vader!”



Music: Ways of Listening



Music has a powerful grip on our emotional brain. It can breathe new life into seemingly lifeless minds. But if there is indeed no music instinct, music — not just its creation, but also its consumption — must be an acquired skill. How, then, do we “learn” music beyond merely understanding how it works? How do we “learn” to “listen” to music, something that seems so fundamental we take it for granted?

From the wonderful vintage book Music: Ways of Listening, originally published in 1982, comes this outline of the seven essential skills of perceptive listening, which author and composer Elliott Schwartz argues have been “dulled by our built-in twentieth-century habit of tuning out” and thus need to be actively developed. Perhaps most interestingly, you can substitute “reading” for “listening” and “writing” for “music,” and the list would be just as valuable and insightful, and just as needed an antidote to the dulling of our modern modes of information consumption.


1- Develop your sensitivity to music. Try to respond esthetically to all sounds, from the hum of the refrigerator motor or the paddling of oars on a lake, to the tones of a cello or muted trumpet. When we really hear sounds, we may find them all quite expressive, magical and even ‘beautiful.’ On a more complex level, try to relate sounds to each other in patterns: the successive notes in a melody, or the interrelationships between an ice cream truck jingle and nearby children’s games.

2 – Time is a crucial component of the musical experience. Develop a sense of time as it passes: duration, motion, and the placement of events within a time frame. How long is thirty seconds, for example? A given duration of clock-time will feel very different if contexts of activity and motion are changed.

3 – Develop a musical memory. While listening to a piece, try to recall familiar patterns, relating new events to past ones and placing them all within a durational frame. This facility may take a while to grow, but it eventually will. And once you discover that you can use your memory in this way, just as people discover that they really can swim or ski or ride a bicycle, life will never be the same.

4 – If we want to read, write or talk about music, we must acquire a working vocabulary. Music is basically a nonverbal art, and its unique events and effects are often too elusive for everyday words; we need special words to describe them, however inadequately.

5 – Try to develop musical concentration, especially when listening to lengthy pieces. Composers and performers learn how to fill different time-frames in appropriate ways, using certain gestures and patterns for long works and others for brief ones. The listener must also learn to adjust to varying durations. It may be easy to concentrate on a selection lasting a few minutes, but virtually impossible to maintain attention when confronted with a half-hour Beethoven symphony or a three-hour Verdi opera.
Composers are well aware of this problem. They provide so many musical landmarks and guidelines during the course of a long piece that, even if listening ‘focus’ wanders, you an tell where you are.


6 – Try to listen objectively and dispassionately. Concentrate upon ‘what’s there,’ and not what you hope or wish would be there. At the early stages of directed listening, when a working vocabulary for music is being introduced, it is important that you respond using that vocabulary as often as possible. In this way you can relate and compare pieces that present different styles, cultures and centuries. Try to focus upon ‘what’s there,’ in an objective sense, and don’t be dismayed if a limited vocabulary restricts your earliest responses.

7 – Bring experience and knowledge to the listening situation. That includes not only your concentration and growing vocabulary, but information about the music itself: its composer, history and social context. Such knowledge makes the experience of listening that much more enjoyable.

There may appear to be a conflict between this suggestion and the previous one, in which listeners were urged to focus just on ‘what’s there.’ Ideally, it would be fascinating to hear a new piece of music with fresh expectations and truly innocent ears, as though we were Martians. But such objectivity doesn’t exist. All listeners approach a new piece with ears that have been ‘trained’ by prejudices, personal experiences and memories. Some of these may get in the way of listening to music. Try to replace these with other items that might help focus upon the work, rather than individual feelings. Of course, the ‘work’ is much more than the sounds heard at any one sitting in a concert hall; it also consists of previous performances, recorded performances, the written notes on manuscript paper, and all the memories, reviews and critiques of these written notes and performances, ad infinitum. In acquiring information about any of these factors, we are simply broadening our total awareness of the work itself.





PostSecret is an ongoing community mail art project, created by Frank Warren, in which people mail their secrets anonymously on a homemade postcard. Select secrets are then posted on the PostSecret website, or used for PostSecret’s books or museum exhibits.





The concept of the project was that completely anonymous people decorate a postcard and portray a secret that they had never previously revealed. No restrictions are made on the content of the secret; only that it must be completely truthful and must never have been spoken before. Entries range from admissions of sexual misconduct and criminal activity to confessions of secret desires, embarrassing habits, hopes and dreams. The secrets are meant to be empowering both to the author and to those who read it. Frank Warren claims that the postcards are inspirational to those who read them, have healing powers for those who write them, give hope to people who identify with a stranger’s secret, and create an anonymous community of acceptance.