Review: Life Force installation by Lie Fhung

By Penny Craswell

Indonesian-born, Hong Kong-based artist Lie Fhung has created an installation work called Life Force II that was recently shown as part of her solo exhibition “Life Force” at the dia.lo.gue artspace in Jakarta.

Lie Fhung, Life Force II 2017, Photo: Sefval Mogalana

The installation features Fhung’s signature materials – clay and metal – consisting of a series of hanging elements in porcelain, glass and copper wire, dramatically lit against the matte black and dark timber-floored exhibition space. Each of the porcelain pieces is fragile, made with super thin clay. Lit as they are, some encased within glass bell jars, these objects acquire a certain precious quality, like little birds with broken wings.  Read more

The Red Room by Hiromi Tango at Sydney Contemporary

By Penny Craswell

Multi-media artist Hiromi Tango invited reflection on our emotional responses to the colour red in a striking installation for kids (and adults) at Sydney Contemporary recently. Called The Red Room, the work lived up to its name, built as a small room filled with red, within the large expanse of the art fair at Carriageworks in Sydney.

Hiromi Tango in The Red Room at Sydney Contemporary. Image courtesy Hiromi Tango

As well as featuring red walls, the space was filled with red objects made by Hiromi and her team, as well as by visitors to the space who were provided with red materials, paper and crocheted flowers to add to the artwork. Larger items in the space included red light sculptures that illuminated the surrounds and a red hanging chair, encouraging you to climb over and into the installation itself and rest for a moment. Read more

Highlights from Milan Design Week 2017

By Penny Craswell

This year, for me, Milan Design Week is all about The Milan Report 2017, a self-publishing venture that I’m launching along with the excellent Giovanna Dunmall (London design expert and writer) and Marcus Piper (multi-talented graphic designer, designer, typographer and writer).

We’re currently putting together a range of design week Q&As, themed features, diaries, picks, contributions from experts, as well as original photography, graphic design and typography – to see for yourself, pre-order here.

And, while I dedicate my time to that, check out a few highlights in picture form as follows – all photos taken by me.

A string quintet plays in the garden of Casa degli Atellani, where Da Vinci lived while painting the last supper – really! – thanks to AirBNB.

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OK Ice Cube installation at Seattle Design Festival

By Penny Craswell

Seattle-based architecture practice Olson Kundig (OK) created an ephemeral installation in Occidental Park as part of the Seattle Design Festival last month: a 10-tonne ice cube that slowly melted in the sun.

Ice Cube by Olsen Kundig as part of Seattle Design Festival. Photo: Eirik Johnson
Ice Cube by Olson Kundig as part of Seattle Design Festival. Photo: Eirik Johnson

The piece acts as a statement raising environmental awareness, providing visitors with a tangible metaphor for the melting ice caps, “marking the passage of time as its waters slowly return to the sea,” according to the architects, as well as “showcasing the stages of the natural water cycle as the ice shifts from opaque to translucent”. Read more

Review: Connect(us) light installation by Warren Langley

By Penny Craswell

A ribbon of light twists and turns above a pedestrian street in Perth’s latest urban renewal project, Kings Square, this is Connect(us), the latest light installation by Sydney-based artist Warren Langley.

Connect(us) by Warren Langley, Perth, by night. Photo: Trent Baker
Connect(us) by Warren Langley, Perth, by night. Photo: Trent Baker


Warren has been working with the medium of light and glass for over 30 years, creating individual light installations for the Shanghai World Expo in 2011, as well as more permanent lighting displays and public artworks such as a tower made of glass and light at the Canberra Glassworks and Aspire, a forest of sculptural trees in light under the underpass in Sydney’s Pyrmont, as well as major project for Parliament House Canberra, the Maison de la Opera, Amiens, France and the Centre for Contemporary Art, Tacoma, USA.  Read more

Five of the best design installations at London Design Festival

By Penny Craswell

As a fan of multi-disciplinary design as well as experimental projects, I was pleased to see so many design installations at this year’s London Design Festival. I have already covered three of the best installations in this blog: Heartbeat, an installation of 100,000 white balloons by French photographer Charles Pétillon, and two Faye Toogood installations (The Cloakroom and The Drawing Room) incorporating fashion, curatorship, making and sculpture. Here are five more and why they are interesting.

1) Curiosity Cloud by Viennese studio Mischer’Traxler at the V&A Museum

Curiosity Cloud by Mischler Traxler. Photo: Penny Craswell
Curiosity Cloud by Mischler Traxler. Photo: Penny Craswell
Curiosity Cloud by Mischler Traxler. Photo: PC
Curiosity Cloud by Mischler Traxler. Photo: PC

You enter an ornate room of the V&A filled with 264 suspended blown-glass bulbs hanging from the ceiling. In each bulb, a small insect hand-made out of transparent foil flutters against the side of the glass when it senses your movement. Katharina Mischer (1982) and Thomas Traxler (1981) met while studying at the Design Academy Eindhoven and started their practice in Vienna in 2009. Curiosity Cloud is part of their ongoing collaboration with champagne brand Perrier-Jouët exploring “small discoveries.” Read more

Review: Faye Toogood installations at London Design Festival

By Penny Craswell

The London Design Festival is a museum-focused design event, rather than a commercial fair, and this is evident in the number of installations, talks and object exhibitions included. Two of the most amazing installations this year were by London-based designer Faye Toogood: The Cloakroom at the V&A Museum and The Drawing Room at Somerset House.

Coats are made of Kvadrat fabric at The Cloakroom by Faye Toogood. Photo: supplied
Coats are made of Kvadrat fabric at The Cloakroom by Faye Toogood. Photo: supplied
I first met Faye when she visited Sydney for The Blocks, a multi-sensory installation she created for Penfolds Wine at Sydney’s Walsh Bay in 2012 (read my article here). At The Blocks, Faye reinterpreted five flavours of wine grapes using the sommelier’s notes, working with sculptors, perfumiers and artists to create the installation inspired by the description of the scent. This is typical of her approach, which is not only focused on making objects, but also includes a conceptual and curatorial element. Read more

Review: Charles Pétillon and 100,000 white balloons

By Penny Craswell

One of the most spectacular sights I saw at the 2015 London Design Festival was Heartbeat, an installation of 100,000 white balloons at Covent Garden. Arguably not a work of design at all, but an art installation (and instant tourist attraction!), the work is simple, bold and works wonderfully well. I had seen photographs of the work before I went, but in person, the work is even better, extending beyond the eye can see (over 50 metres) and rippling with the wind, reminding the viewer that this is a cluster of balloons and not a solid sculpture.

The installation is installed at the 19th Century building in Covent Garden. Photo: Penny Craswell
The installation is installed at the 19th Century building in Covent Garden. Photo: Penny Craswell

The work is part of a series of photographs by French photographer Charles Pétillon who calls his series Invasions. In each scene, the white balloon is used, transforming a simple, childlike object into a an amorphous shape that changes our perception of the scene. In each photograph, the white balloons can be imagined as a white cloud, or a growth, depending on your perception, hence “invading” the scene. Read more

Review: Archeological iPhone at New York art installation

By Penny Craswell

US artist Evan Yee has created an exhibition and installation at the offices of the Fueled Collective in New York that explores technology, future and past, and humanity’s relationship to it through a series of humorous objects, including an iPhossil, which posits a distant future where an iPhone is an archeological find.

The artist Evan Yee poses with Fuelled Collective founders Ryan Matzner and Rameet Chawla. Image: Fuelled Collective
The artist Evan Yee (left) poses with Fueled Collective Director Ryan Matzner (centre) and Fueled Collective Founder and CEO Rameet Chawla (right). Image: Fueled Collective/Evan Yee

The Fueled Collective is a co-working space for start-ups that opened in New York’s trendy So-Ho in 2013, started by Rameet Chawla and Ryan Matzner of mobile development company Fueled.

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Review: Fugitive Structures architecture pavilion

By Penny Craswell

I have been a long admirer of Gene Sherman, one of the most important figures in Sydney’s art scene. She was well known for Sherman Galleries when she shifted gears to open the not-for-profit Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (or SCAF) around eight years ago. More recently, Gene has turned her interest to the architecture pavilion, commissioning architects and artists to create garden pavilions and installations as part of the Fugitive Structures program. In this, the third year of the series, SCAF presents two works: Sway, a garden pavilion by Israeli architecture collective SRMZ (Matanya Sack, Uri Reicher, Liat Muller and Eyal Zur); and Owner-Occupy, an installation by Sydney-based architecture/artist duo Hugo Moline and Heidi Axelsen.

Sway from above
Sway from above

Gene’s connection to Israel (where her daughter lives) was the catalyst to commissioning SRMZ, who were selected from a pool of architects, briefed to create a pavilion inspired by Sukkot, an annual festival where families erect a sukkah – a temporary shelter commemorating the Old Testament story of the Israelites sheltering in the wilderness en route to ‘The Promised Land’ . Their response, Sway, is an ephemeral structure whose shape references the tents of the nomadic Bedouins, built with steel, an agricultural fabric and stitched with red string. The pavilion leads the visitor through the garden under a series of arches that balance fine stitching with a sense of being incomplete and mobile. Read more