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Art

A Tiny Lizard Attends Miniature Gallery Opening to See ‘American Gecko’ and ‘The Birth of Gecko’

April 17, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Jill Young

The Gecko Museum’s opening only had one visitor to consider its most prized pieces: a mango-loving crested gecko that goes by The Mayor. Arriving around 7 p.m., the nocturnal lizard visited his personal gallery earlier this week, stopping to contemplate “American Gecko” and “The Birth of Gecko.” Dallas-based Jill Young, who both painted and curated the miniature museum’s permanent collection as part of a humorous quarantine activity, told Hyperallergic that “The Mayor was particularly fond of my ‘American Gothic’ spoof, ‘American Gecko.’ I guess he’s in an American Modernism phase.”

Similar to the brothers, Pandoro and Tiramisù, that disregarded signs requesting they not chew on the furniture or artworks in The Gerbil Museum, The Mayor ignored the red rope cordoning off the artworks. “I now understand that The Mayor’s relationship to art is a necessarily tactile one, which I can appreciate,” Young said. Despite her gecko’s unconventional approach to art, though, Young hopes to see the small-scale trend continue. “Every pet deserves a cultural outing,” she said.

 

 



Design Photography

Massive Wild Animals Wander Russian Streets in Surreal Composites by Vadim Solovyov

April 14, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Vadim Solovyov, shared with permission

Seeing a raccoon washing its paws in the rivers of Saint Petersburg or an octopus tumbling out of a city bus would be a startling sight for most city dwellers. Artist Vadim Solovyov, though, takes those surreal scenes a step farther as he imagines massive rooks, penguins, and chameleons invading the Russian city. While many of the composites feature the animals in nature, some position them in spaces typically occupied by a human, like a sloth behind the candy-covered counter of a convenience store.

Solovyov tells Colossal that he began the uncanny series as a way to explore strange events in his real life. For example, he said the giant raccoon and its presumptive counterparts “quietly make their way through the deserted evening city to the embankments and shyly rinse something in the water there. Thoroughly. Not less than 20 seconds,” which is a reference to current handwashing suggestions to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

The artist says he values his work’s visual and textual components equally.

Giant animals (are) only one of the features of this world. Their origin, the history of the world itself can be found in fragments from the texts under the posts. Many posts exist in the context of actual events in my city and country. Through my work, I often convey in a veiled (and sometimes weird) way important for me issues or problems of society (attitude to animals, politics, social flaws). But this, of course, does not exclude the fact that some works are an ironic “visual game” without additional deep meanings.

For the complete collection of the meandering wildlife and their respective stories, head to Solovyov’s Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

 



Art

Two Curious Gerbils Visit (and Chew on) a Miniature Art Museum Made by Their Quarantined Owners

April 7, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Filippo and Marianna

Stay-home orders around the world have inspired people to fill their time creatively—think the recreations of well-known artworks and “Coronavirus Tourism Bureau” posters we mentioned last week. But rather than fashion a mock art exhibition for themselves, this London couple thought a little bit smaller. Filippo and Marianna created The Gerbil Museum, a miniature gallery space for their two 9-month-old gerbils, Pandoro and Tiramisù.

Complete with cardboard benches and scribbled museum labels, the wood-floored gallery houses humorous versions of iconic works. The couple told Hyperallergic that at first they hoped to paint miniature productions of more obscure pieces but decided that portraying  “The Kiss,” “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” and other classics with gerbil subjects would be funnier.

As you can tell, though, Pandoro and Tiramisù lack museum etiquette and have been chewing on some of the furniture, despite the sign that advises restraint. (via Hyperallergic)

As promised, this is the full video of our gerbils visiting the museum. No gerbils or gallery assistants were harmed in the making of this. from r/aww

 

 



Illustration Science

Geometric Insects Navigate Sparse Flora in Pastel Illustrations by Hoàng Hoàng

April 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Hoàng Hoàng

Based in Ho Chi Minh City, graphic designer and illustrator Hoàng Hoàng merges science and art into a series of illustrations that mimic both insects in their natural habitats and those pinned in display cases for preservation. The Insect World Collection is comprised of varicolored stripes, semicircles, and other angular shapes that form multi-hued wings and rotund bodies. Set on pastel backgrounds, each arthropod features both Vietnamese and English translations of the insects’ common and scientific names. Head to Instagram and Behance to check out more of Hoàng’s geometric illustrations.

 

 



Photography

Lounging Seals, a Ravenous Pelican, and a Startled Owl Top Impressive Entries in Nature Photography Contest

April 1, 2020

Grace Ebert

Florian Ledoux’s “Above the Crabeater Seals,” taken in Antarctica with Phantom 4 Pro+. Aerial view of crabeater seals resting in a group on the ice after feeding at night. “The aerial view allow(s) us to better understand how the wildlife use the ice to rest and give birth,” Ledoux. Image © Nature TTL/Florian Ledoux

Replete with stunning shots of Tuscan farmland and close-ups with spiders that reveal their prickly legs, the Nature TTL Photographer of the Year competition garnered an impressive array of images from creatives in 117 countries. Out of the 7,000 entries, Florian Ledoux won the top prize in the annual contest with his aerial photograph capturing nearly two-dozen seals resting on an ice mass floating in Antarctic waters. Categories range from wildlife and landscape to macro, providing an expansive look at nature’s most impressive qualities and characters—Caitlin Henderson exposes a Lichen Huntsman spider that’s attempting to disguise itself on teal-speckled tree bark, while Paul Holman serendipitously captures a fluffy owl in the midst of a surprise. We’ve gathered some of the entries below, but for a complete look at all the Nature TTL winners, check out the contest’s site and Instagram. (via My Modern Met)

Robert Ferguson’s “I’m not going easy,” using Singapore using Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 200-400mm f/4. “This is the Great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), struggling with a non-native fish. These wonderful birds are free to roam, but have established a large colony on one of the artificial islands in the old Jurong park in Singapore. I had set up my camera to take some portraits and watch their behaviour, and noticed one particular bird that had caught one of the big fish from the pond. I watched, intrigued, as the bird swam in circles, dipping his bill, taking water, then raising his beak to attempt to swallow his large prey. But every time the fish extended its sharp spines on its fins – you can see it hooked on the beak here – and lodged itself firmly. This went on for over 20 minutes, with no sign of either party tiring. I was fascinated to see the intricate veins in the bird’s throat pouch, as the overcast day backlit the thin skin, and I had to move and crouch low to the ground to get the shot,” said Ferguson. Image © Nature TTL/Robert Ferguson

Dipanjan Pal’s “Coexistence,” taken in Iceland using DJI Mavic Pro. “This is a scene very close to one of the popular mountains of Iceland. While flying my drone to the mountain with my drone’s camera pointed downward, I suddenly noticed this beautiful landscape with the blue river perfectly popping against the black sand. The sun peeking through the clouds added more drama to the scene,” said Pal. Image © Nature TTL/Dipanjan Pal

Paul Holman’s “Startled Owl,” taken in the U.K. using a Canon 7d II, Canon EF100-400 Mark II. “The baby little owl made an appearance within the window during a burst of early morning sun. A couple of jackdaws spooked by his presence started dive bombing him. After a few passes I noticed the jackdaw’s reflection in the adjacent windowpane and decided to try and capture this behaviour. The startled look on the little owl’s face adds a little humour to the image,” said Holman. Image © Nature TTL/Paul Holman

Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz’s “The Cradle of Life,” taken in Hungary using DJI FC300C. “Late winter in February, the soda lakes are full of life in Hungary. These lakes are the sanctuary of wide variety water birds. There is a nice, but unknown, hidden lake between the village of Tömörkény and Pálmonostora which is surrounded and covered with cane and sedge – therefore impossible to observe. I took this aerial photograph by a remotely controlled drone. I use a special technique to slowly approach the birds from very high altitude, which is a method also used by conservation experts to count the population of the birds. In the picture the wild ducks roil in the muddy water and leave lines in the yellowish-brownish, sometimes purple, water coloured by organic materials coming from decomposition of cane. The sparkling colour pallet of the image is composed by the blue sky and the white cloud reflection on the water’s surface,” said Koncz-Bisztricz. Image © Nature TTL/Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz

Jesslyn Saw’s “Home Sweet Home,” taken in Malaysia using Olympus EM5 mark II + 60mm f2.8 macro lens. “While on holiday at my family home in Malaysia, I set out to document as many different types of jumping spiders as possible in a fortnight. Battling the rain and heat and humidity of the tropics, the best time to hunt these spiders was early in the morning and late afternoon. It was on one of these late afternoon jaunts that I saw this colourful jumping spider and discovered a nest nearby. Hoping that the nest belonged to this particular spider, I came back again early the next morning to photograph it in its nest. To my delight, I saw that the nest did indeed belong to this spider. However, it took me another two days of early morning visits to finally successfully photograph the spider in its nest,” said Saw. Image © Nature TTL/Jesslyn Saw

Left: Minghui Yuan’s “Chinese Painting,” taken in China using NIKON D7000, Tamron 180mm/3.5 macro lens. “I was wearing a piece of waterproof overalls in the stream of Dabie Mountain, waiting to observe this Matrona basilaris (damselfly). Matrona basilaris is the king of the stream here. There is a male Matrona basilaris every 3 meters. They were waiting for the female to fly over its territory; the male chased away a male opponent and then stopped at the tip of the grass. Against the background of the sky, I discovered the connection between the lines of the grass and the subject. Nature itself is a simple painting,” said Yuan. Image © Nature TTL/Minghui Yuan. Right: Caitlin Henderson’s “Nothing here but this tree,” taken in Australia using Canon 7D, Canon 60mm macro lens. “The Lichen Huntsman (Pandercetes gracilis) is an incredible species of tree-dwelling spider from Australia’s tropical north. Its astounding camouflage enables it to blend perfectly with the tree bark and lichens, and is near impossible to spot by day.
At night, I went searching for these spiders with a torch, using their reflective eye-shine to discover their hiding places in plain sight,” said Henderson. Image © Nature TTL/Caitlin Henderson

Marek Biegalski’s “Shadow game,” taken in Italy using DJI Mavic Pro 2. “Aerial image taken in Tuscany in autumn light. (A) flock of sheep was hiding in the shade from the sun under the shadow of a tree,” said Beigalski. Image © Nature TTL/Marek Biegalski

 

 



Art

Untamed Flora and Fauna Rendered with Mud in New Multi-Level Mural by Yusuke Asai

March 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

“The earth is falling from the sky” (2019), view from Wulong Lanba Art Festival in China. All images © Yusuke Asai, shared with permission

Part of a solo exhibition titled Gimme Something/To Eat at Anomaly in Tokyo, a multi-level project by Japanese painter Yusuke Asai considers the structure of ecosystems and the relationship between humans, animals, and nature. In his mythical installation “The earth is falling from the sky,” a central figure with outstretched arms smiles down from the ceiling. Intertwined scenes of flora and fauna encircle the entirety of the dome-shaped room, with deer, rodents, and snakes scattered throughout the untamed installation. The artist previously shared this project in the Moss Museum at the Wulong Lanba Art Festival in China.

Asai is known for using simple materials like soil, water, dust, flour, tape, pens, and even animal blood gathered from local regions to create his sprawling projects, requiring viewers to interact directly with their surrounding environments. In his mud paintings, the artist literally binds themes of nature with physical elements of the earth.

If you’re in Tokyo, the exhibition is open at Anomaly through April 18. Otherwise, head to Instagram to see some of the artist’s small-scale works. (via Spoon & Tamago)

 

 



Illustration

Vibrant New Scottish Currency Illustrated with Influential Women and Abundant Wildlife

March 11, 2020

Grace Ebert

During the last four years, the Royal Bank of Scotland launched a democratic project to capture what one collaborator termed “the more ordinary aspects of Scottish identity including otters, midges, mackerel and tweed.” The result is Fabric of Nature, a series of recently released banknotes that feature illustrated wildlife and portraits of some of Scotland’s most influential women. This week, the third installment of the project was released, presenting a new £20 note featuring a pair of bushy-tailed red squirrels.

Author and poet Nan Shepherd is featured on the £5, scientist Mary Somerville is on the £10, and tearoom businesswoman and artist patron Kate Cranston is profiled on the £20. When held up to a UV light, each polymer bill reveals a glowing image of the wildlife, in addition to an English version of Gaelic poetry from Sorley Maclean, Norman MacCaig, and Mark Alexander Boyd that’s visible in daylight. The quotes are scribed by calligrapher Susie Leiper.

A Scottish design studio, Nile, spearheaded the project, with assistance from O Street, Timorous Beasties, Graven, and Stuco. “From the typography to the featured animals, to the bespoke textile backgrounds, every element of every note has a meaning connected with the people of Scotland. The notes are a cultural capture of what is important, and heart felt for us Scots,” a statement from Nile says.

The Scottish redesign is part of a larger movement worldwide to create currency that better captures diversity. In the United States, however, the treasury stalled on releasing a $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman in 2019, saying the updated design would be released instead in 2026.

For a more in-depth look at the collaborative design process for Fabric of Nature, check out the videos Nile’s site. (via It’s Nice That)

Scientist Mary Somerville is on the £10

Tearoom businesswoman and artist patron Kate Cranston

Author and poet Nan Shepherd on the £5