Fresh perspectives as Volvo challenges photographer to use the car as camera

I love driving, sitting behind the wheel engaged in my personal thoughts, dreams and life, planning grand projects and picturing past memories, listening to my tunes as the world dances by. You feel protected from the outside world inside the cocoon of the motor car yet are very much connected. There are interactions and engagements, especially in a city like London, but there is certainly a sense of looking out… much like a movie screen. #gallery-1... Read More

Can cultural spaces and galleries be landscapes of ideas?

I have strong views on the vital role of the visual arts and culture to help shape society and vice versa. My thoughts are that a degree of social engagement is necessary, especially in these volatile times. Without which these are just decoration, an ego massage, or worse strictly commercial enterprises. This applies as much to architecture and design as it does to the fine arts, film and music. Public cultural spaces are in a great position... Read More

The World of Charles and Ray Eames

For designers context is destiny, writes Sam Jacobs half way through The World of Charles and Ray Eames. The time and place in which the designer happens to emerge is decisive in shaping their world, he argues. And in this context Charles and Ray Eames are intimately connected with mid-century California. It would be impossible to consider one without the other. Post war, California embodied the New World – the west coast became synonymous... Read More

Political art: Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy

Ai Weiwei’s work is full of contrasts and contradictions. They are at once robust and fragile, awkward and meticulously crafted, brutal and beautiful. The making reflects the message. Ai sculpts handcuffs from the precious jade, scribbles the Coca Cola logo on an ancient vase, and smashes another in a photographic sequence as a note on history, value, life. Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy of Arts is the Chinese artist’s first retrospective... Read More

Political art: Imagined Futures

With contemporary art so deeply involved with the self, drunk on the vanity of the image, and so intertwined with the world of money, glitz and glamour, it is refreshing to come across an exhibition that is not afraid to be political. Hrair Sarkissian is involved with big explosive narratives. The Syrian born artist’s work is social theatre; at once part of a rich panorama of contemporary Arab art that, not surprisingly, has politics at its... Read More

Guy Bourdin: Image maker

French fashion photographer and artist Guy Bourdin rose to fame in the 1970s for his provocative work. His first major retrospective in the UK, Guy Bourdin: Image-Maker at Somerset House, sets out to capture the 40-year career of this enigmatic creative from Man Ray’s protégé to famed photographer. In Bourdin’s fashion photography the product is secondary to the image. He almost decorates the space around his models – his images... Read More

Horst: a magician with light

‘Electric Beauty’ are four black and white photographs taken by Horst P Horst in 1939. They are a satirical comment on the futility of extreme modern beauty treatment, fashionable in the 1930s, at a time when the world was on the brink of war. We see the model undergo various bizarre procedures, yet she seems blissfully unaware – in one she is even wearing a creepy mask – of the danger of electrocution. The sinister atmosphere... Read More