Tag Archives: pictures

Food love – Mochachocolatarita’s cute Valentine’s foodie illustrations

hong kong valentine's xiao long bao

I’m not one for Valentine’s Day AT ALL… but when I saw these cute and fun V-Day foodie illustrations by my fabulous blogger friend, Mochachocolatarita (try saying that when you’ve had a few!), I knew I just had to share!

hong kong valentine's boloh bao

Rita has taken some much-loved matches-made-in-HK-food-heaven and turned them into very sweet, loved-up illustrations for Valentine’s Day. Forget cheesy giant teddy bears and half-dead bouquets of flowers… these pictures are much more fun!

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Mid-Autumn Festival Hong Kong 2011, Moon Fun Playground lantern exhibition: Fairground attraction!

Mid-Autumn Festival is rolling round again (four day weekend, hollaaaa!), so what better time to bring you… a full year late… the gorgeous lanterns from last year’s festivities?!

My advice is to bypass the crowds at Victoria Park and instead head to Tsim Sha Tsui’s Cultural Centre Piazza, where every year they have an awesome thematic lantern exhibition. It stays on display for a full month (much longer than the ones at Victoria Park), is less crowded (especially if you hit it when everyone else is having their dinner or when they are otherwise occupied with the Symphony Of Lights show), provides almost an hour’s worth of photo opportunities and intense study of all the amazing close-up details of each lantern, plus you can then get the Star Ferry home and admire HK’s amazing skyline… its very own modern cityscape of a lantern show.

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Forgotten Fine Art: The Cityplaza Copper Suite

In Hong Kong, you can often find pretty things in the strangest places… which often means discovering fine art in the most mundane of anonymous corporate offices.

Such was the case with this stunning series of plaques entitled The Cityplaza Copper Suite by Australian sculptors Joan Walsh Smith and Charles Smith in Tai Koo’s Cityplaza complex of buildings.

I was taken aback by the level of detail in these – you could spend ages poring over these still find even more interesting and clever little vignettes revealing themselves in the copper artwork. The style reminds me a little of Jan Pieńkowski’s silhouette illustrations for the Joan Aiken books I used to read when I was little. Click on each photograph to enlarge and zoom in  and you can check out some of the detail for yourselves!

Each ‘Rondo-Progression’ has a different theme (unfortunately, I forgot to note them down, bad blogger, slaps wrist!) but I believe they were The Arts, Food, Leisure and Work. My favourite is probably The Arts with its striking centre-piece of the two Chinese theatre masks and loads of other dynamic pictures surrounding it – it’s almost like it’s alive with movement!

You can’t really tell from the pictures (which have distorted the light reflections weirdly) but these are made from copper, which is even more stunning and vivid in real life – and I loved the way the light reflected and bounced off these pieces, making them even more vibrant.

It seems a shame that these are tucked away in a place most people wouldn’t even notice so hopefully this post does its bit to show them off to the rest of the world!

Calendar Girls

Every year, I (or someone I know) treats me to a Marilyn Monroe calendar. Alas, I couldn’t find one for just Marilyn this year (of course, I couldn’t move for ones of Audrey Hepburn) so this Heiner Meyer art calendar, Glamour, was the best I could do.

Meyer uses a mixed media approach, painting over and around photographs of classic stars from the 50s and 60s to create new images, often with pop-art influences. My calendar tells me: ‘Meyer’s art is always re-creation (never repetition), while his visual vocabulary is declined and conjugated differently in each work’. Got that?!

Fancy lingo aside, I do really like many of these pieces – he’s created dynamic, vibrant and visually-appealing palettes and textures, making something new and interesting out of things that were old and static. I’m glad he’s also used some less obvious stars like Rita Hayworth, Natalie Wood and Lana Turner… hell, in these Hepburn-obsessed times, even Elizabeth Taylor is a bit of a curveball! That being said, my favourite is the banner picture of Audrey Hepburn – I just love the romantic swirls of colour and the sense of whimsy that’s very Audrey.

Those of you that can count will notice that I’ve only featured eleven images, despite there being twelve months. That’s because one was of Kate Moss, who I just don’t think fits in with the rest of these true iconic beauties. Censorship at its best!

If you’re reading this Meyer, next stop please – Veronica Lake!

Tan-tastic Pixar posters this way…

Movie website Slash Film churns out so many posts that amongst all the half-stories, rumours and non-news, there’s inevitably some pretty cool stuff too. If you know me, you’ll know I love all things Disney so these concept posters for various Pixar fims, by artist Eric Tan, are totally up my street.

Once I was redirected to his blog, I realised I was familiar with Tan’s work already – the two posters above were designed for Disney’s beautiful coffee table book, The Art Of The Disney Princess, which features various artists’ re-imaginings of Disney princesses in all sorts of styles, although it lacks much description of the inspirations and processes behind the artwork (expect to see many more Pretty Things posts taken from this in the future!). These pieces instantly stood out as I love these strong stylised graphics with a hint of retro behind them – I particularly love the super-cute fairies on the Sleeping Beauty poster and how Aurora’s hair is turning into licks of flames.

Tan’s posters are all based on the retro posters for Disney rides found in all Disney theme parks. They generally have a 50s/60s travel poster vibe (even the newer posters are designed to ape the old style) and are bright, simple but striking and immensely charming. These probably deserve a post all of their own but for now, you can check some out here, here and here.

Don’t get me started on how wonderful, beautiful and lovely Up is (I now manage to start crying even before the title-card, just because I know what’s coming) and the film itself has a very colour-saturated, whimsical feel to its artwork, which is totally captured within Tan’s posters too. They look dated in the best way possible, like they’ve been much loved over the years and could have come straight out of Ellie’s Adventure book – Tan has cleverly even drawn in fold-marks too!

The Incredibles is right up there on my list of favourite films ever, never mind favourite Pixar films, and these posters fit in perfectly with the retro superhero aesthetic that those superb opening credits instantly encapsulated (I’m now humming that bombastic score in my head as we speak!). I really love the strong dynamic colour palette used in these posters – have Jack Jack and Edna (in the banner) ever looked cuter?!

Meanwhile, the posters for Wall-E are retro-futurism at its best and could be added to the posters for Tomorrowland errr… tomorrow and not feel out of place. M-O was a bit of a scene-stealer for me so I can’t help but raise a smile on seeing his poster… a few more character-led posters might have been nice but you can’t help but appreciate the nature of the artwork itself.

Finally, Tan’s posters for Ratatouille. These were based on the artwork of A. M Cassandre, an artist I wasn’t familiar with by name but whose style is instantly recognisable in these prints. These are more reminiscent of vintage adverts for French food and drink but again, fit perfectly with the design and concept of the film itself (alas, not one of my favourites so I have slightly less love for these posters than the rest, hence my not featuring all of them – sorry Remy fans!).

Completely charming, highly creative and utterly delightful. Let’s just hope Tan gets to work his magic on every Disney/Pixar film in the foreseeable future!

Read my article about the Pixar: 25 Years of Animation Exhibition here

Australia’s Next Top Model, Cycle 6: Wrong winner, right everything else

By now, you probably all know about Australia’s Next Top Model, Cycle 6 – for all the wrong reasons! This was the season that made international headlines after host Sarah Murdoch announced the wrong winner, a huge shame for someone like me, who had been quietly and avidly following the show for weeks only to find massive unavoidable spoilers all over the Internet before I had even set eyes on the finale! It was also a huge shame for the show, which had enjoyed its strongest year yet and undoubtedly, it’s slickest live finale (lest we forget the car crash telly of Jodhi Meares’ face-palming Season 3). And yes, the cock-up of all cock-ups was even more cringeworthy when you watched the final in its entirety, where runner-up Kelsey Martinovich was allowed to celebrate winning for a good minute and a half whilst Murdoch’s face slowly turned a shade of green her Botox never thought it could manage.

ANYWAY. The downside of it being the best year contestant-wise was that, drama-wise, it was actually a little dull. The funniest moment was when the obligatory crew-cut at makeover, Sophie Van Der Akker (skin possibly entirely composed of foundation, below) attempted to re-attach her ratty hair extensions back at the house. So they cut her hair even shorter instead! Kudos also to the evil genius who decided to send the girls to Japan for their overseas trip, where they made bemused appearances on a ‘Super Kawaii!!!’ show, where they had to hop like bunnies and dress as schoolgirls and Lolitas, whilst their midget stylists burst into tears of happiness/sadness/randomness at every opportunity.

Drama came courtesy of the most beloved of all AusNTM tropes – the bogan (see Eboni Season 2, Leiden Season 4, Cassi Season 5). This year, it was Gold Coast Meter Maid (think Hooters girl, but in charge of parking fees) Kimberly Thrupp (above). Alternating between giving ‘110%’ and not being arsed, she objected to a shoot concept as, at the grand old age of 20, she ‘didn’t believe in true love’, swore during a presenting challenge and, despite saying her ‘butt’ was ‘grabbable’ at a jeans promo, took issue with having to model swimwear and flounced off to pack her bags (needless to say, she didn’t leave and instead continued to give ‘110%’ whilst admitting she wasn’t trying her hardest). Alex Perry called her ‘so annoying I want to stab myself so it can all be over’.

When she was finally given the boot for her attitude, renowned photographer (and AusNTM Nigel Barker-lite) Jez Smith tried to offer some encouragement about carrying on. Instead, dear Kimberly stuck her chin out, told everyone she wasn’t going to carry on modelling and was going to ‘do something with my life’. Renowned supermodel Sarah Murdoch told her she had ‘the goods to make it’, to which Kimberly maturely replied, ‘Don’t want to. Learnt enough… need to find something else to entertain myself with now’. Hear that sound, Murdoch? It’s a 20 year-old Gold Coast Meter Maid pissing all over your entire life’s work and career! Sadly, the cameraman had gone to sleep, too busy segueing to the moving elimination soundtrack, and was too late to capture the reactions of the panel (can you imagine how Alex Perry looked?!), allowing us to merely hear their ruminations about how they should have kept the previously-eliminated girls instead. Kimberly then refused to hug anyone (‘Is the car out back?’) and made her exit. Kimberly was last seen fishing around for a model agency.

kelsey martinovich ausntm mad men

Fortunately for the lack of drama in-house (the final two, Kelsey and Amanda, were both so sickeningly nice and beautiful that they make Elle Macpherson look like a troll) was that the judges were on top form. Despite a personnel change from the catty Jonathan Pease in the Mr Jay role, to former Banana In Pyjama, the superfluous Josh Flinn (main contribution: report cards that Sarah Murdoch made a big fuss of at panel before chucking away without a second glance, occasional bursts of tap dancing, alas not in banana/pyjama costume), there were plenty of great quotes like:

I would raise my eyebrow… if I could.

(On a photo) She’s competing with the couch… and I keep thinking to myself that’s quite a fabulous sofa.

(In reply to someone saying a photo had ‘a Dynasty look about it’) More like dysentery!

Hmmm… perhaps you had to be there, but Alex Perry and Charlotte Dawson took time out of their Facebook slanging matches to continue to be the best thing about the show. Alas, they had very little reason to get bitchy, as the photos were almost universally ridiculously strong. The majority of them looked like professional editorial or ad campaigns, especially in contrast to NZNTM’s amateurish second season (more of which later).

So onto the pretty things… and too many good ‘uns to pick from! As you may have worked out, my love for all things 50s inspired meant I was a sucker for the first week’s Mad Men-inspired photo-shoot, shot by Jez Smith. Gorgeous styling, beautiful make-up and a great atmosphere, albeit more Hitchcock heroine than Joan Holloway (cue girls wondering if Grace Kelly was a man * sigh *). I love how Jez Smith actually captures some emotion from the girls’ eyes (many shoots this series, although pretty, are simply that… just pretty), often a quiet pain or sadness that’s at odds with the flawless imagery. I’ve liberally scattered this post with my favourite photos, which are (top to bottom): Sophie, Kimberly, Joanna Broomfield (wistfully romantic – love this shot), Kelsey, Chantal Crocolo (Keira Knightley’s Egyptian half-sister), Alison Ware and Sally Geach (who both didn’t even make it through the first round!). Kathryn Lyons, meanwhile, looks simply beautiful, as she continued to do throughout.

Kathryn (above) was probably the most photogenic model I’ve seen yet on NTM. In VTs, she was an unassuming scrap of a thing, bony, bad skin, mousy; in photos, she somehow transformed into a gamine graceful goddess, a divine creature blessed with flawless skin and a beautiful bone structure, with a touch of the Audrey Hepburn about her. My favourite photo of her was from the swimwear shoot, which literally took my breath away. It’s just stellar – stunning, sensual with a gorgeous natural ease to it. Needless to say, it’s the banner picture.

Week 2 was a denim campaign, think glossier 80s Bananarama record sleeve (above)! Jessica Moloney’s could be published tomorrow (Jessica Stam and Lily Cole’s love child, given an emo makeover). I also love the use of body shapes and lighting in Amanda’s photo, and the steel tubes and industrial setting work well with the double-denim styling to give an edgy, cool feel.

Week 3 was beauty shot time, in the presence of Harper’s Bazaar editor Claudia Navonne. With an accent pitched somewhere between one of Roald Dahl’s witches and an East European brothel madam, Claudia’s description of ‘POUFF! Magic happens!’ never fails to entertain. Kelsey’s tigress shot (above) is stunning – that fierce mane of hair, the sense of movement in a static image and eyes that connect and are saying very naughty things!

I love the whimsical feel of Week 6’s accessories shoot for Cosmo (above), with one very important accessory – a live animal! The real thought that had gone into matching the animal with the accessories is superb and works in different ways; whilst Amanda’s strong editorial look contrasts spectacularly with the cute little pig she’s holding, Jessica really captures the fun side of the shoot, interacting naturally with her Dalmatian and producing a really infectiously lovely photo.

Week 7 (are you bored yet?) and the usual NTM sadistic streak reared its head, getting models to sport lingerie in sub-zero temperatures (above). I love the vintage, Dr Zhivago-esque styling, whilst the scenery provides a stunning backdrop. The iciness really brings out the ethereal blue in Jessica’s eyes and I was banging on about how wonderful Kathryn’s photo was several days later. (Can you BELIEVE she got sent home that week?!?!).

kathryn lyons ausntm cruise

Finally, deep breath (are you worn out yet), a few moments for eventual winner Amanda Ware. A deserving winner in my eyes, who I’m proud to say I picked out right from the off, as she was about the only one in the opening credits who didn’t look either ugly or unable to walk without looking drunk. Her best photo, for which Alex Perry ran out of synonyms and intensifiers for ‘expensive’, was shooting luxury brands on a luxury yacht. She looks long, lean, entirely above it all… and yes, ridiculously expensive (although as ever, Kathryn gave her a run for her money). In contrast, Tyra Banks much-mooted ‘High Fashion’ Cycle 15 of ANTM saw contestants defying belief and actually dressing up, often in drag, as famous fashion designers. Is there any question as to which series has more class, style and intrinsic understanding of how fashion should work?!

However, my favourite thing about the whole season was the promo. Are there many greater pleasures in life than seeing Charlotte Dawson waving wads of cash at the camera as a bookie (!), 16 pretty girls pretending to be racehorses/greyhounds (!!) wearing evening gowns and going face-first into the dirt (!!!) and Dame Alex Perry, complete with sunglasses and fur, lowering his binoculars to declare ‘Expensive’!!!! The answer (for NTM devotees anyway): no. Enjoy!

Incidentally, this post means I have now reviewed every season of Australia’s Next Top Model so far! That can only mean one thing – ranking time! So if you’re wondering where to start with AusNTM, here’s my take:

BEST TV:  Cycle 5 > Cycle 2 > Cycle 1 > Cycle 4 > Cycle 3 > Cycle 6

BEST PHOTOS/MODELS:  Cycle 6 > Cycle 5 > Cycle 2 > Cycle 3 (Alas, one Burdeu does not make up for a cast of shorties) > Cycle 1 > Cycle 4

The word cycle looks strange now. My work here is done.