Alex (full name Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz) is a French “Self-taught Homecook / Self-taught Filmmaker” and he managed to find a way to make a foodsafe kintsugi hack. The video starts in September 2017 in Alex’s studio with a small bowl which he drops and, naturally, it broke. He then discusses how much he loved it and goes through his kitchen, showing all the other broken utensils he had patched up.
So, rather than send his favourite blue and white bowl to ceramic heaven, he took it to Mizuyo Yamashita, a London-based ceramic artist who specialised in kintsugi. But it’s not only Japanese artforms she uses:
I work now mostly on the potter’s wheel and apply surface decorating techniques that stem from Japanese and Korean traditions such as shinogi, mishima and kohiki or carve the clay surface using Japanese chisels for wood-printing.
I love kintsugi, visually and philosophically. It’s a beautiful technique that teaches so much about life and the objects in our lives. Minimalism is portrayed as an antithesis of our post-postmodern maximalist world. But a lot of it does the opposite with nothing more than licks of white paint and expensive items – even if there aren’t many of them.
Kintsugi offers a chance to repair something beloved; that holds a value in our lives – and gives it a new golden life. Sure, Alex’s “hack” cuts the time down and might remove that time of contemplation but you still have a beautiful bowl that brings you joy. Marie Kondo would approve.
So film posters like the ones Matt Needle produces are a stroke of artistic genius (and that’s meant in the true definition of the word). Matt is a Cardiff-based illustrator and graphic designer who specializes in editorial illustrations and film poster design. He’s worked for the likes of Warner Bros, Disney, Marvel, and the BBC to name a few.
And when you look at his work, you can see why. His posters don’t all follow a particular art style, allowing him to mould and remix the film genres with aesthetics that aren’t associative. As an example, take a look at this poster for Star Wars: The Last Jedi:
The film was released in 2017 but its style wouldn’t look out of place in the 60s or 70s (particular when you think about the Tokyo 1964 Olympic designs for example). It’s subtle yet effective. Three key elements and a minimal colour palette. Enough to want it on your wall.
My creative process would begin normally with me sitting down with a pad and a pen scribbling down notes and sketches, bringing that all together and drawing up a plan, I would then get on the computer and make the idea happen using Adobe creative Suite (namely Photoshop & Illustrator).
He’s also called Saul Bass one of his biggest inspirations, alongside Salvador Dali, Escher, Milton Glaser, Bauhaus, and Surrealism amongst others.
While Matt Needle doesn’t follow a specific art style, every design he creates unearths complex beauty from within himself and the subject matter. Movie posters of this era lack that because they’re churned out quickly and lose any semblance of meaning as they pass through the design chain. Matt has the luxury of a more considered approach and it shows in his work.
I want to start by saying I’m writing this because I love hippos. I donate to a pygmy hippo charity every month and I think they’re wonderful creatures. Unfortunately, the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) is classed as Vulnerable (pygmy hippos are Endangered) which absolutely sucks because they’re wonderful creatures and they’re being killed for meat, their tusks, and “sport”.
But this is a positive article and it’s dedicated to ten hippos from cartoons, literature, animated movies, and anything else I could think of.
Dirk Dickerdack from Tom Poes
Tom Poes (or Tom Puss in English) was a Dutch comic launched in 1941. Its author, Marten Toonder wrote the comic until it was discontinued in 1986 and it became one of the Big Three of Dutch comics.
The main characters were Tom Puss, a little white cat, and his friend Oliver B. Bumble, a big brown bear who was the lord of a castle. Dirk Dickerdack was an affluent hippo who was mayor of Rommeldam, their home town. Unfortunately, he seemed to suffer from affluenza and cared more about the town than those who lived in it.
Hyacinth Hippo from Fantasia
Hyacinth made her first appearance in Disney’s Fantasia back in 1941. She was a ballet dancer who appeared in the segment, Dance of the Hours. She represented the 12th hour, or “noon”. She also made a cameo appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Her only line was “Oh, excuse me,” when she passed Eddie Valiant. She was voiced by Mary T. Radford in the movie.
Hilda Hippo from The Busy World of Richard Scarry
Not to be confused with Hilda Hippo from Mickey and the Roadster Racers (voiced by April Winchell, daughter of Paul Winchell who used to voice Tigger from Winnie the Pooh). Hilda was awkward but pleasant and was allergic to roses. She appeared in numerous forms of Richard Scarry media, including the animated series which I loved as a kid.
George from Rainbow
British readers will almost certainly know George, the pink hippo from Rainbow. His shyness was said to represent shyness and introversion shown in children, as a way to relate to viewers. He was also a little camp which may have been linked to his pink exterior.
George and Martha from George and Martha
George and Martha were a pair of friendly hippos from a book series of the same name, illustrated by James Marshall between 1972 and 1988. They were later transformed into an animated children’s series in 1999, and spawned a musical in 2011. Nathan Lane and Andrea Martin voiced George and Martha.
Gloria the Hippo from Madagascar
One of the biggest hippo characters in recent times, Gloria (voiced by Jada Pinkett-Smith) was part of the gang who were taken from their home in Central Park Zoo and flown to Madagascar by mistake, where they had to learn to adapt in the wild. Gloria was the one who put the other animals straight in true Jada Pinkett-Smith style. Her daughter, Willow, voiced Gloria as a baby hippo in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
Peter Potamus from The Peter Potamus Show and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
I never saw The Peter Potamus Show so I only know him from Harvey Birdman but he was a sleazy hippo in that. He was also lazy despite his status and success and had a weird obsession with sandwiches and strippers. His catchphrase was “Did you get that thing I sent you?”
Tillie Hippo from Cats Don’t Dance
A more obscure hippo, Tillie starred in animated movie Cats Don’t Dance. She was voiced by Kathy Najimy (Sister Act, Hocus Pocus, King of the Hill) and played a “happy-go-lucky hippopotamus who tries to find the best in every situation”. In many ways, she was like Sister Mary Patrick from Sister Act with her penchant for giggling.
The hippo from Silentnight
When I was younger, I used to stare at the hippo and chick from the Silentnight logo on my parents’ mattress. The hippo was dressed in his stripey pyjamas and I always thought he was so cute. Then, Silentnight started making TV adverts and gave him a deep Northern accent which made him even cuter (I’m Northern too so I’m biased).
Hugo the Hippo from Hugo the Hippo
The final hippo of the list might be one of the most obscure hippos of them all, from a global perspective. In 1975, a Hungarian animated film called Hugo the Hippo was released in the US and a year later in Hungary. It had a budget of $1m and the English-speaking version starred the likes of Jimmy and Marie Osmond.
The film was about a hippo called Hugo who escapes captivity in Zanzibar and flees to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Meanwhile, an advisor to the Sultan of Zanzibar tries to catch him. Interestingly, the US production of the film was run by Brut Productions, a subsidiary of Fabergé cosmetics – the same brand that made the ornamental eggs.
Basquiat’s “Flats Fix” from 1981 was the re-imagining of Autobody shops signs in Brooklyn. Of that, his father said:
“It is one of the things he remembered well and extracted multiple meanings from. He always used simple symbolism to explain complex situations.” In this case, it was the culture of his native Brooklyn and his identity as a black man within it.
So much of Basquiat’s work focussed on black identity. The way he burst onto the high brow scene literally from the streets was remarkable in its own way. Many black artists have tried to follow suit but never retained the same level of black integrity that Basquiat did, until his untimely death in 1988.
My favourite piece of advice from the editorial has to be “remix your references”. That’s my primary ethos whenever I create. When asked about a method of working, Basquiat said:
“I’m usually in front of the television. I have to have some source material around me to work off.”
He liked to immerse himself in multimedia while he created it. For others, this would have been the ultimate distraction. For Basquiat, it was essential.
While every episode had more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese, one thing did come to fruition: Cleganebowl. If you have no idea what that means, I recommend you read Vulture’s explainer on Cleganebowl. It’s basically The Hound vs. The Mountain – Sandor Clegane vs. Gregor Clegane. But there’s more to it as Vulture explained.
I’ve not put any spoiler alerts because you should have seen it all by now. But if not, tough luck. Sandor finally faced Gregor in Cersei’s crumbling castle and it was a futile battle from Sandor’s perspective. Why? Because Gregor was pretty much undead. But that didn’t stop him trying. In the end, he and his brother died at the hands of his ultimate fear – fire. But what if their sword battle had played out with lightsabers from Star Wars?
ImmersionVFX on YouTube reimagined Cleganebowl with lightsabers and it looked spectacular. It’s interesting that the sword-wielding motions translated perfectly to lightsabers; they never looked out of place, physically or visually.
This is a remarkable story. Atlas Obscura wrote about a woman who had recorded over 30 years of television on roughly 71,000 VHS and Betamax cassettes in Philadelphia. Her name was Marion Stokes.
Marion began her recordings in the 70s all the way until her death in 2012 and passed them around different apartments, family, and storage units, likely due to their quantity. Now, The Internet Archive is aiming to digitize every single tape. Problem is, they aren’t in any kind of order:
They got a little jumbled as they were transferred […] Although no one knew it at the time, the recordings Stokes made from 1975 until her death in 2012 are the only comprehensive collection preserving this period in television media history.
I love VHS tapes. I have two VCRs in my house – one bought for my birthday a few years ago and one inherited from my mum when she moved abroad. My collection is ~0.14% of Marion Stokes’s but they each tape is a gateway to my past. The fact that she recorded 71,000 of them over 4.5 decades is almost unfathomable. Even more so because it’s the best preservation of television history in this period. I follow a lot of YouTube accounts that upload old UK adverts and TV idents from the 80s and 90s for nostalgic purposes. I find those fascinating. This archive is something else.
I’d have to say Berlin, so far. The people were mad friendly and the architecture is stunning. There’s some parts of the city that are understandably heavy, but it seems to be a city that is thoughtful and apologetic about its history. I don’t know what it’s like to live there, but from a tourism standpoint, they don’t seem to hide it or sweep it under the rug. Every museum is like, it happened, it never should have, and it won’t again if we can help it.
What’s the most unusual item you take everywhere you go?
I take crystals to really important days, depending on what I feel I need on the day. That’s always good as an ice breaker, if they don’t think I’m the Blair Witch. I guess that’s the most unusual thing.
Why do you do what you do?
I’ve loved horror since I was a kid. I remember being about 7 and watching Scream for the first time and just… It was like time stopped. I was scared but I felt it in my whole body, but I couldn’t look away. I still think that’s a dope mask too. One of the best. And it kind of started there and exploded. I’d watched all the Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween films by the time I was 10. I’d never experienced anything like it. I was just hooked.
Then when you start trying to make it yourself, you really understand the mastery, and it gives you a deeper love for it. And then I looked around Britain and was like… We don’t back horror like America does. Like there are directors that really back and advocate for horror and see it as the pride of their body of work. They love it so much. I don’t think it’s because there’s not people that want to do it, I think it’s because there’s not visible people here that are like “Yeah, that’s my shit” loudly, y’know? They don’t say it with their whole chest.
And then when I figured out I was gonna make a go of it and commit to my love, I noticed there wasn’t a lot of people like me in it (mixed race, lesbian, etc) and there weren’t those stories. So it became even clearer and I couldn’t escape it. And my friends too. Any representation of colour I’d seen in horror, was of people my colour, so there was even less representation for people darker than me, which was so crazy to me. So, that was it. And that’s what I’m committed too. Just making dope shit with my mates, and if we scare people, we scare people. If we don’t, we sure had fun!
When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
I tell my dad and step mum a lot. You just never know. And my dog. He’s probably sick of hearing it, tbh!
Where do you go to relax?
I drive at night a lot. Go swimming. Watch a good film, but the soundtrack has to be on point.
69, 280, or 420?
280. 280 sounds good. Like an old horror film’s kill count.
How do you say goodbye in your culture?
I’m a hugger, I think. Everything ends with a hug.
If you haven’t noticed already, I love modernism and brutalism. I’ve even got a Twitter account dedicated to the movements. So when I saw this short film, I had to share it.
Soviet Modernism. Brutalism. Post-modernism. is a book that looks into the structures and buildings in Ukraine from 1955 to 1991, when the former Soviet nation declared independence. The short film is set in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, where the infrastructure is diverse and brutal as hell in all honesty.
It’s been nearly 30 years since the break up of the Soviet Union but so much of Ukraine’s architecture act as monumental reminders of a past era. The cold concrete, mottled in mildew and other environmental debris, are bittersweet in context and harsh flashbacks to others. But however people perceive them, they might not be here for much longer. Wanting to remove the Soviet stigma attached to the buildings, many are left to rot or even demolished.
As the first woman to become a professional skateboarder, Elissa Steamer was a trailblazer from early on. The Floridian lent her nickname (given to her by her father) to Nike SB’s new all-women’s film. Steamer features alongside other women from the Nike SB roster including Lacey Baker, Hayley Wilson, Leticia Bufoni, and Sarah Meurle, amongst others.
But this Gizmo’s appeal and Nike SB’s aim are much broader. Nike SB is an official partner of a nonprofit organization called Skate Like A Girl. They work to create inclusive communities in skateboarding through skate nights and after-school projects in US cities like Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. They work with not only cis women but also trans and non-binary riders from the US and beyond.
Another of Nike SB’s influential riders is Lacey Baker. She worked with the sports brand to create the Women’s Nike SB Bruin High, their first skate shoe designed for women. She has also been a champion for LGBTQ+ representation in the sport.
“To be unapologetic about my image and who I am and then to have people acknowledge how important that is in the skate industry… I can’t even describe how that feels. To bring together girls who skate, queers who skate… and let those worlds collide. I’m lucky to be here.”
Whenever I listen to Broken Wings by Mr Mister, I have this vision of a warm sunny Saturday afternoon in 1994, drenched in vivid colours. Little did I know that aesthetic had already existed a decade before thanks to Hiroshi Nagai.
The Japanese painter grew up in Tokushima Prefecture and started his career in King Terry’s studio and made a name for himself in the early 80s. His depictions of West Coast America during the 50s worked wonders during Japan’s economic boom from the 80s. There was also a new genre to tie it all together: City Pop.
The easiest way to explain City Pop is to imagine soft rock meeting soft pop with sunshine and swimming pools. And sprinkle a bit of the 80s as a garnish. Metaphors aside, the genre was very popular in Japan and Nagai’s poolside paintings were the perfect visual aid.
“Without American pop art I would not have to start painting the way I did. This experience made me paint my summer skies as deep blues from that point on. That said, surrealism was also a big influence, and of course hyper-realism.”
Nowadays, we have genres like vaporwave that take cues from that era but more akin to the 90s and with more digital effects than paint and brushes. Hiroshi Nagai’s artistry is still coveted by many including myself.
Where to get Hiroshi Nagai prints
You can get “unofficial” prints from Amazon, Redbubble, and Society6. There was the MAGIC STICK collab from their Spring/Summer 2018 collection (if you can find an item from it). In that, the Japanese street label tapped up Nagai to design their limited capsule collection, including tees, jackets and vinyl bags.
I like pizza and I like typefaces. The good news is there are lots of cool fonts on Pizza Typefaces. The bad news is there isn’t any pizza. But you can’t have everything in this world. According to the pair, a friend told them making pizza was the most profitable business and it became an inside joke that they’d swap graphic design for pizza and they put it all together into one foundry.
But while there isn’t a whiff of mozzarella or tomato sauce to speak of, you can have are unique sans-serif fonts from a place of expertise. Adrien Midzic and Luc Borho are the duo in charge of Pizza Typefaces and they established the site in 2018. They’re both art directors and type designers by trade so they know their stuff.
Their current selection is as minimal as their designs but in the words of the great Mies van der Rohe: “less is more”. My personal favourite is Metal.
If you visit Portugal, you might notice all the blue tiles. They’re called azulejos and they’re a major part of the country’s heritage. They’re used on walls, floors, and ceilings and depict the history and culture of Portugal. But as modernisation takes place, some of that heritage is lost for a wider cosmopolitan feel. That means fewer azulejos and more trendy styles.
The local government in Porto realised this and decided to create a scheme to help local building owners and retain the nation’s cultural history. Banco de Materiais (Bank of Materials) opened in 2010 with a novel idea. It acts as a “museum” of tiles, decoratives stones, and other artefacts, and it’s also a bank – hence the name. Because building materials can cost money, the government give these tiles away for free to be used in consruction in the area. This helps keep costs down for architects and constructors and promotes Portugal at the same time.
Tile theft also to blame
But it’s not just a need for modernisation that has caused the azulejo decline. There was a boom in their use in the 19th century but neglect caused damage to the original tiles and thieves often stole the tiles they could find to sell to private collectors. As well as tile withdrawals, there is also an azulejo amnesty – if you find broken or fallen tiles, you can bring them into the bank.
Tourism is on the up and the restoration project is important to assist the sector. Where certain architects aim for the contemporary, the government want a more classic feel for their buildings. Azul is the colour!
How to reach the Banco de Materiais
The Banco de Materiais is in the Palace of the Viscounts of Balsemão, near the Praça Carlos Alberto. It’s open Monday to Saturday with no admission fee. You can find a map below.