Food Photography of the Year

May 18, 2023


The Guardian has a marvelous selection of winners of the 2023 Food Photographer of the Year. These were my favourites

Candy Man by Jon Enoch

Selling Fish, by Md. Mahabub Hossain Khan

Drying Fish, by Kanh Phan Thi

Mural Needed for People’s Co-op Bookstore

May 18, 2023


Many of my readers will know that the People’s Co-op Bookstore at 1391 Commercial has a range of $2 books that they sell from shelves they designed to sit outside the store. The stock is protected each night by wooden shutters which tend to get targeted for graffiti. Some officials have complained about the graffiti and demanded that the store do something about it.

Painting over the graffiti time after time seems a pointless exercise as nothing attracts taggers more than a freshly-painted surface.

Therefore, the store has decided to run a sort of competition to offer the shutters to local artists as a canvas for murals. So, Artists, please let the store know if you have any interest in painting their toonie shelf lids! Email with your ideas to

More World Press Photography Winners 2023

April 20, 2023

The global winners of the 2023 World Press Photography Awards have been announced. Many of these awards recognize full portfolios of work. The following are my favourite images from the collections:

Mariupol Maternity Hospital Airstrike: Evgeniy Maloletka

The Price of Peace in Afghanistan: Mads Nissen

Battered Waters: Anush Babajanyan

Previously announced winners of regional awards can be found here.

Sony World Photograph Awards 2023

April 14, 2023

The winners of the 2023 Sony World Photography Awards have been announced. My favourites of the bunch are:

Womens Peace Movement in Congo: Hugh Kinsella

Riverland and Other Projects: Marjolein Martinot

Loss and Damage: Fabio Bucciarelli

World Press Photo Awards

March 29, 2023


The regional winners of the 2023 World Press Photo Awards have been announced. Here are some of those winners:

International Garden Photography Awards 2023

March 21, 2023


The Guardian has a good gallery of award winners from this year’s International Garden Photography awards. These are my particular favourites:

Laponia II, by Stuart Chape

Stream Garden, by Caroline Piek

Misty Lochlan, by Jay Birmingham

British Wildlife Photography 2023

March 17, 2023


The British Wildlife Photography awards for 2023 have been announced. There are so many fine images that it was difficult to select just a few.

“A Look To The Future” by Charlie Page

“The Three Little Graces” by Virginia Grey

“Shades of autumn” by Philip Selby

Women Photographers

March 8, 2023


As part of my tribute to International Womens Day, I want to draw attention to the fine work accomplished by women photographers around the world. This site — Women Photograph — has an enormous collection of fine images from 1,410 artists; these are just a few I chose at random:

Image: Diana Larrea

Image: Michele Mishina

Image: Jennifer Adler

Peyote’s Brilliant Visions

March 6, 2023

The last time I used magic mushrooms was more than forty years ago.  In the spring of 1980 I was deeply depressed having disastrously screwed up a wonderful love affair; the mushrooms grabbed my depression and acted like an iron anchor tied to a drowning man. I remember spending an entire long weekend hiding under the covers of my bed, unable to move and scared to emerge. When I got straight, I didn’t want to repeat that depth of despair and so I never used them again.

However, I had had good times with them before then and, re-reading a marvelous piece in The Public Domain Review called Brilliant Visions: Peyote Among the Aesthetes, I was reminded of those better days.

The extract looks at the discovery of peyote by Havelock Ellis and his band of friends, including W.B. Yeats and Arthur Symoms, at the very end of the nineteenth century. In those days, peyote buttons could be obtained from a particular pharmacist in London and Ellis purchased a few and decided to make some notes on their effect:

“Having acquired his sample, Ellis proceeded to make a liquid decoction of three buttons which he drank slowly in Symons’ apartment over two hours. He began to feel faint, his pulse weakened, and he lay down to read … [H]e first noticed the visual effects as they impinged on the note-taking process: ‘a pale violet shadow floated over the page around the point at which my eyes were fixed’. As evening closed in he was gradually enveloped by … ‘a vast field of golden jewels, studded with red and green stones, ever changing.’ From this point on ‘the visions continued with undiminished brilliance for many hours’.

In an article published in the following year called Mescal: A New Artificial Paradise, he expanded on these effects.  “Every part of the colour spectrum competed in his visions, he wrote, and yet

“there was always a certain parsimony and aesthetic value” in their combinations. He was “further impressed, not only by the brilliance, delicacy, and variety of the colours, but even more by their lovely and various textures — fibrous, woven, polished, glowing, dull, veined, semi-transparent”. He compared the patterns that formed and dissolved to the “Maori style of architecture” and “the delicate architectural effects as of lace carved in wood, which we associated with the moucrabieh work of Cairo”. They were “living arabesques”, constantly in flux yet with “a certain incomplete tendency to symmetry …

When Ellis became exhausted by the visions in darkness, he turned on the gas light. The shadows that leapt to life reminded him of the “visual hyperaesthesia” of Claude Monet’s paintings.”

Grainstack in the Sunlight, Claude Monet

“The critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin, who would himself take mescaline in a clinical trial in 1934, wrote that the nineteenth century “subjected the human sensorium to a complex kind of training.” Visual illusions — from kaleidoscopes to magic lanterns to photography — made the transit from dazzling novelties to staples of mass culture. Magicians, mediums, and psychic investigators all probed the limits of the real, blurring the line between optical trickery, the subconscious mind, and the spirit world. At the moment when Ellis made his experiment, the world was being exposed for the first time to X-ray images and the cinematograph. “Visual hyperaesthesia” was a symptom not only of peyote but of the culture in which he was consuming it, and to which Monet and the impressionists were responding …

The brilliance of electricity was a recurring metaphor for peyote’s scintillating visions: the very first subject in the initial scientific trials in the United States in 1895 had compared them to the dazzling electric illuminations he had witnessed at the Chicago World’s Fair two years previously. But it was a literal stimulus too. It seemed that nothing delighted the eye of the modern mescal eater so much as the new electrical sublime. They arrived together as avatars of a future world of visual spectacle, equal parts scientific discovery and aesthetic delight.”

This is a fascinating article, full of insights and well worth the read.

Street Photography 2023

March 3, 2023


The Australian Association of Street Photographers are showcasing work this month. There are a great many images that I like, and I was hard-pressed to choose these three from the fine array:

Traveller Photography Awards 2023

March 2, 2023


The winners of the 2023 National Geographic Travellers Photography Awards have been announced. The two winners I like most are the following:

Image: Wildlife: Ed Hasler

Image: Food: Simon Urwin

Happy 90th Yoko!

February 19, 2023

Happy birthday to one of the most creative and innovative multimedia artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Long may she continue!

Lucian Freud

January 4, 2023

I recognize I am following the contemporary crowd by accepting Lucian Freud as our greatest artist of my generation. But some things seem so eminently true. I have never been enamoured of the BritArt YBAs such as Damein Hirst and Tracey Emin; they leave me cold. I am far happier with (I admit it) the older generation of Freud and Bacon and Hockney.

Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon are a fascinating pair to me. Bacon is like one too many hits off a Jamaican bong late at night, and Freud is the getting up next morning and eating a hearty breakfast. Bacon was often outrageous, and yet it is Freud who apparently has acknowledged more than 40 illegitimate children.

Anyway, this reverie was sparked by re-reading a fascinating review in the New York Review of Books of three recent publications on the artist. It’s a good read.

See also: and

Gilles Hebert Sculpture

October 5, 2022

Readers may recall that Gilles Hebert was assaulted and killed in Grandview Park two years ago. A long-time resident of the Drive, Gilles was also an artist and I am glad to see his work on exhibition at Britannia.

Spending Differences by Generation

September 28, 2022


The always interesting Visual Capitalist has an interesting graph showing the differences in spending habits in the US in 2021, by birth year range:


September 12, 2022

On this day in 1940, the Lascaux caves in central France were discovered by four teenagers. As they entered the long shaft down into the cavern, the boys saw vivid pictures of animals on the walls.


When the site was made available in the later 1940s, this cave art was wildly popular with the public. More importantly, it allowed everyone, both public and scientists, to understand more clearly that the so-called “cave men” were far more than the mindless brutes of previous imagination.

At about 17,000 years old, the Lascaux images are far from being the earliest known cave art today — several caves in Europe and Indonesia have art from about 40,000 years ago, and a recent “sketch” on a rock in South Africa may be much older.  However, the enormous trove of images (more than 900 animals identified) at Lascaux combined with the encouragement of tourist traffic to the location has allowed this cave complex to become the best known of all cave art.

The discovery at Lascaux marked an important anniversary in our understanding of who we are and where we came from.

A-Maze-ing Laughter

September 8, 2022


We spent some time down at English Bay today. It was sunny but blustery, and a great change from our normal routine. We always enjoy the marvelous A-Maze-Laughter sculpture by Yue Minjun which I consider one of the great public works of art.

Aubrey Beardsley

August 21, 2022

Today we celebrate the genius of Aubrey Beardsley on what would have been his 150th birthday.  He died at the age of 25:  hard to imagine what he would have accomplished had he grown older.

Orange Crate Art

June 10, 2022 has a great article about the history and development of the art we all recognize from the sides of orange crates.

Soon after the first railcar of oranges came out of California in 1877, “orchardists and fruit associations across California were using brightly colored box labels to build an identity for their orchards and advertise their produce.”

Well worth the read, with many more examples of the art.

Deconstructing Constructivism

April 24, 2022

Christie’s online magazine has a useful guide to the movement that began in revolutionary Russia and swept across the world with far greater success than the politics of the same origin.

“As supporters of the political ideologies propagated by Russian revolutionaries, Constructivists imagined art as an active agent in the Socialist cause. Art should reflect the modern industrial world, and, above all, be accessible to the masses. Members of the group strived to make art that was relevant in a rapidly changing world, that was free from academic tradition, and devoid of any emotive or subjective properties.”

“Constructivists considered their art a product of an industrial order, rather than a unique commodity, and a precursor to the factory-produced mass-made object. They often explored collective ways of working, and regarded the object-maker as a builder or engineer rather than as an individual artist … Many of their works, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional in form, are characterised by their austere, angular geometric shapes.”

Their influence in early Soviet life was profound.

Textile designs by Varvara Stepanova

However, after Stalin suppressed the Constructivists, the movement moved abroad influencing the Bauhaus, De Stijil, Zero, and Geometric schools through the 1980s.  The precepts of the movement has inspired artists such as Paul Klee, Piet Mondran, Vasily Kandinsky.

Peter Struyken, “Structuur II” (1969)

Does Constructivism survive today?

“Absolutely. Constructivism has influenced many contemporary artists making art with computer programmes, with a lot of today’s abstract art having roots in the Constructivist movement of the 1970s.”

A useful article.