Place, People, & Identity —

A few things that go together:

At the moment I’m on the look out for instances where people visually communicate where they’re from in bold and colourful ways. 


I first got interested in the film The Warriors as part of a workshop I was running, around the topic of urban spaces and identity. It’s an amazing film that sees a gang dislocated from their main Coney Island turf and subsequently fighting their way back through a series of rival gangs. Each group wears their back story on their sleeves, The Orphans wear rags and have razor blades whilst The Baseball Furies are a baseball gang with the fiercest face paint I’ve ever seen. Each member has an identity built from their gangs kit of parts (hair cuts, uniforms, weapons, patterns), this results in a sophisticated ‘same but different’ look amongst the members of each gang and the cumulative effect is both visually striking and laden with narrative.


I saw these Asafo flags in the Artist and Empire show at the Tate Britain. From what I can gather the Asafo Companies were and are a hierarchical people’s militia of the Akan societies of Ghana, with influence extending more broadly to act as social and political organisations. The areas colonial past can be read in the morphed Union Jacks in canton (meaning the upper left quadrant of the flag), each flag has a wide, patterned border, and each depict allegorical fight scenes. These flags become identifiers for the various Companies of Asafo. Their interest to me is in their variety within the constraints of the vernacular graphics.


The Palio is a horse race in Siena. Characterised as violent, dangerous, and intensely political it’s been running twice a year since the 1600s. Spectators from ten city wards gather to watch their champion race for the glory of their part of town. The horses, riders, and spectators are covered in banners of the 17 various contrade colours. As Wikipedia says: “Each is named after an animal or symbol and each with its own long history and complicated set of heraldic and semi-mythological associations.”For example, Bruco means caterpillar and it’s residents were traditionally in the silk trade. The amazing thing here is the pride, fervour, and consistency with which each contrada’s colour is applied. I found it through this BBC programme: The Toughest Horse Race in the World: Palio


Matchbox Labels

Here follows a select few from a new collection. Acquired complete from a charity shop in Harrogate, these matchbox labels are legitimately allowed to take up vital space in my flat as they are small and can be considered 'work related' being as they are graphics. For these reasons they get a pass, that and they are also gorgeous. I love the variations in the same manufacturers labels over time.


I have a problem with collecting- It takes up time and money and space. I've come up with a way of dealing with some of these collections and that is to document them and then let them go.  It ties in with an idea I had whilst doing my collections project about sequential collecting. A good example might be the motor enthusiast who has only limited resources and so might decide to own certain cars in succession- a Jaguar E Type then sell it, an Aston Martin DB5 (a step up!) then sell it. I have neither the money or space for very many things, least of all cars- these coins took my fancy. Little metal objects I like and engineering and scientific legends I also like. These coins have now been released back into the wild.

High Arctic – United Visual Artists

Epic new installation at the National Maritime Museum as part of their new Sammy Ofer Wing. (Kin have a new Compass Lounge there also - more on that later). You're equipped with a ultra-violet torch which reveals text in the space and is used to interact with a series of projection 'pools'. All with the aim to highlight the effects we're having on the environment up there, and in particular the melting of the glaciers. Once you get over the novelty of the torches and twig it's UV light altering the projected 'ice' it becomes quite poignant. A very different and unusual exhibition for any museum, much more like an immersive art piece experience.

Links: Websites

Another new vs old thing going on here. First up a site which is preserved perfectly in the 90s. A great example of the world wide web before facebook got it's hands on it. A truly individual effort and something which should be preserved, maybe I'll start a museum for such extraordinary pieces. Serisously- "A fully independent site designed and created by Godfrey Dykes (c) Powered by electricity!" Link:here

Then we have the new- It's a music video for 'You Broke My Heart Baby'  by Solange La Frange. I guess this is like html 5 or something but it's super cool. A nice simple idea executed really well and one of those things I wish I'd done first. Get clicking: here.