Deadly Plants Squashed Under Plastic by Artist Ant Hamlyn Question the Paradox of Preservation

September 29, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Daffs,” 120 x 95 x 15 centimeters. All images courtesy of Moosey Art Norwich, shared with permission

The botanical works of West London-based artist Ant Hamlyn are studies of dichotomies and paradoxes. Polarities of the organic and synthetic, comfort and danger, and preservation and destruction emerge from his sculptures, which are comprised of playful, stylized interpretations of natural life pressed under sheets of acrylic.

On view as part of his solo show Tread Softly, Hamlyn’s most recent pieces include yellow daffodils, nightshades, and a pink flowering cactus that, although alluring for their blossoms, are extremely harmful if touched or ingested in real life. This sinister undertone pervades the body of work, which broadly addresses the precarious boundary between life and death. All of Hamlyn’s squished fabric specimens, for example, are depicted at their prime while being suffocated under a polyurethane coating and plastic panel. The artist shares:

When I think about the past time of ‘pressing flowers,’ I think about how when we crush a flower to preserve its beauty, we essentially destroy it to preserve it. These works are at once a celebration and a critique. The human relationship to flowers is a complex one in the way they symbolise love and loss simultaneously. For example, we give dying flowers to each other both in celebration and in grief.

If you’re in Norwich, you can see Tread Softly through October 8 at Moosey Art. Otherwise, head to the artist’s site and Instagram for more of his squished botanicals. (via It’s Nice That)


“Fly Agaric,” 120 x 95 x 15 centimeters

“Deadly Nightshade,” 120 x 95 x 15 centimeters

“Pink Flowering Cactus,” 120 x 95 x 15 centimeters

Left: “Thistle,” 120 x 95 x 15 centimeters. Right: “Red Dragon Fly Trap,” 60 x 50 x 8 centimeters

“Lily of the Valley,” 60 x 50 x 8 centimeters



Art Craft

A Menagerie of Contemplative Animals by Mila Zemliakova Weave Textile Traditions and Nature

September 29, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Mila Zemliakova, shared with permission

Using vintage textiles from both her personal and her family’s collection of bedspreads and home decor, artist Mila Zemliakova sews plush animal sculptures that connect various traditions of her Belarusian heritage. She draws correlations between her chosen creature and each pattern, color, and type of fabric, capturing the essence of a deer in floral brocade or that of a bison with tufted gray wool.

Largely oversized and perched in chairs, the anthropomorphic characters are expressive and often photographed outdoors in states of contemplation and solitude. In a note to Colossal, the artist shares that she sees the growing menagerie as embodying “the connection of Belarusians with their nature, as well as with their traditions, which are now in a dangerous position and under repression.”

Some of Zemliakova’s sculptures are available for purchase from Art Center or on Instagram, where you can also watch her at work.






Explosive Photos by Ray Collins Capture the Ocean’s Mercurial Nature As It Erupts in Extravagant Bursts

September 29, 2022

Grace Ebert

“VII.” All images © Ray Collins, shared with permission

Ever fickle, the ocean and all its excitable energy provide endless fodder for Ray Collins (previously). The Australian photographer, who is based in Wollongong, is known for his dramatic images that capture the diversity of textures and forms that emerge from the water. Waves undulate into scaly walls, fine mists erupt in the air, and surges turn in on themselves, creating eerie, patterned tunnels. Each image emphasizes the capricious nature of the water, which Collins shares as the impetus for his practice. “I’m fortunate that my subject, the ocean, is never the same. There are always new emotions and feelings to capture. As long as I show up with a blank slate I will find new and beautiful moments,” he says.

Collins has several books and prints available on his site, and you can find a massive archive of his photos on Instagram.


“Tree of Life”



Left: “Aberrant.” Right: “Convergence”


Left: “Fortitude.” Right: “Cauldron”





Elegantly Sculpted Busts by Massimiliano Pelletti Interpret Art History Through Imperfection

September 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Venus de Medici” (2020), pink onyx, 67 x 34 x 45 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

Italian artist Massimiliano Pelletti (previously) gravitates toward imperfection, and his practice revolves around transforming presumed defects like impurities, cracks, or chips into elegantly carved figures. Pink marble sliced to reveal the stone’s pillowy, crystalline insides bisects the artist’s interpretation of Venus de Medici, while in “Blue Venus,” marbled sodalite and Mexican white onyx are spliced together into a fully formed bust. Contrasting smooth segments with the rough texture of unpolished stone, Pelletti evokes art history and ancient sculpture traditions through the lens of flaw and fallibility.

This focus on the material determines much of the artist’s work—his studio is conveniently located in Pietrasanta near caves filled with the precious stones he utilizes—in addition to the way green onyx or black marble, for example, interacts with light. Understanding absorption, reflection, and illumination has grounded his practice and is a skill he’s developed for decades. He explains:

When I was a child, I used to go downstairs to my grandfather’s studio, and I could find him working marble, always next to the same window; from there, during certain hours, a magical light entered that could make the sculpture almost alive, with a soul. When I pointed it out to him, he answered me: “My dear, the light is so important. There are some works that should be sold with the window that lights them up”. 

Pelletti is currently working toward a solo show slated for May 2023 in London, in addition to a series of sculptures set for display in a public square in Italy. Until then, follow his practice on Instagram.


“Blue Horizon” (2022), sodalite and Mexican white onyx, 64 x 33 x 40 centimeters, 16-centimeter iron base. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Bowman Sculpture, London

“White Venus” (2022), Mexican white onyx, 173 x 31 x 43 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Galerie Bayart, Paris

“Green Hermes” (2022), green onyx, 177 x 26 x 26 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

“Le due Grazie” (2019), Mexican white onyx, 65 x 65 x 48 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

“Venus de Medici” (2020), pink onyx, 67 x 34 x 45 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

Detail of “Blue Horizon” (2022), sodalite and Mexican white onyx, 64 x 33 x 40 centimeters, 16-centimeter iron base. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Bowman Sculpture, London

“White Venus” (2022), Mexican white onyx, 173 x 31 x 43 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Galerie Bayart, Paris



Art History Illustration

A 500-Page Book Explores the Japanese Folkloric Tradition of the Supernatural ‘Yōkai’ Entities

September 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of PIE International, shared with permission

Translating to “strange apparition,” the Japanese word yōkai refers to supernatural beings, mutant monsters, and spirits. Mischievous, generous, and sometimes vengeful, the creatures are rooted in folklore and experienced a boom during the Edo period when artists would ascribe inexplicable phenomena to the unearthly characters. Japan’s Miyoshi Mononoke Museum in the Hiroshima Prefecture houses the largest yōkai collection in the world with more than 5,000 works, and a book recently published by PIE International showcases 60 of the most iconic and bizarre pieces from the institution.

Encompassing a range of mediums from painted scrolls and nishiki-e woodblock prints to kimonos and metalworks, Yōkai is a massive volume of 500-plus pages of colorful illustrations, paired with text by author, collector, and curator Koichi Yumoto. The book reproduces rarely seen works by artists like the renowned ukiyo-e printmaker Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, showcasing the pieces in incredible detail and contextualizing their role in the broader tradition and art history.

Yōkai is currently available on Bookshop.





Carved Gemstones Embed Intricate Patterns from Ancient Symbols, Architecture, and Nature

September 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images by Jeff Mason, © Bryan D. Drummond, shared with permission

Fractals, grids, religious symbols, and ancient architecture are among the eclectic patterns translated into elaborately engraved gemstones by Bryan D. Drummond. The Las Vegas-based artist carves naturally occurring motifs and geometric designs into jewels like blue topaz, citrine, and tourmaline, adding depth to the glimmering surfaces.

Whether displaying the hexagonal configuration of honeycomb or imagery referencing the sun’s rays and stars, most of Drummond’s patterns are produced with custom equipment—he modified a 16th-century-style woodworking machine designed to carve rosettes and epicycloids so that it handles the precious materials, for example. The artist shares that the surface area and color help to determine the motif, which once carved, embeds the light-catching jewel with additional layers of shadow.

Currently, Drummond is cutting Californian amethyst and sunstone from Oregon that he mined himself. See more of his designs in his shop and check out his process on Instagram.