Self-proclaimed “metal evolutionist” Brian Mock is turning scrap metal into beautiful and intricate sculptures of animals, musical instruments, people, and even a deity.
The Aloha-based sculptor spent his young life drawing, and much of his adult life painting and wood carving, before his creative passions turned to sculpting with recycled metal in the 1990s. Brian Mock then taught himself how to weld, and he has since gone on to create all manner of beautiful objects from scrap metal – everything from nut, bolts, spools and more.
Brian Mock said: “Giving old, everyday objects a new life as one sculpture is an artistically demanding, yet gratifying, process. My work is designed to emphasise resourcefulness and encourage viewer engagement. Audience reactions fuel my creativity and help me bring my visions to life.”
Among the recycled metal sculptor’s artworks is California Brown Bear made using various wheel spools and other metal parts; an elephant end table; and a lion, among others.
Brian Mock added: “My sculptures are made entirely from reclaimed items and materials (almost all metal, but sometimes I’ll add bits of plastic for color). I like that people interact with them; they have fun looking for objects they can identify. It started as a hobby, but as I got better at sculpting, I turned it into a full-time profession.”
Urban artist Sonny – known for his giant murals of endangered species adorned on walls worldwide – has created a new series of animal paintings which seek to explore themes of tribal connection and ancient wisdoms.
Putting tigers, a lion and an ape within the context of their natural environment, the Johannesburg-based artist has a deep interest in ancient traditions, tribal relics and heritage where it relates to the value of the natural world.
Fascinated by wildlife from a young age, the British-born artist has since become known worldwide for his wonderful large-scale wildlife murals that are scattered across the globe.
Endangered species and conservation are just some of the environmental issues that Sonny has taken to the streets of London, New York, Ireland, Johannesburg and more to illustrate on walls as a way to imprint into people’s awareness and to encourage them to protect the animals for future generations.
From the tigers, lions, polar bears, grizzly bears, birds and rhinos emblazoned on walls, Sonny’s artworks are beautiful and fascinating, capturing the true essence of these mighty beings of the animal kingdom with every intricate detail – honouring the true beauty and power of these animals.
In 2017 Sonny launched his To The Bone project with a global mural tour that brought some of the world’s most iconic and endangered animals into urban environments around the world.
The animals depicted in To The Bone once roamed freely and in numbers across the globe, before intruders invaded their land and pillaged their forests, killing for profits and power. To The Boneconveys a deep love of and respect for the animal kingdom, as well as a sense of anxiety, guilt, and outrage towards crimes perpetrated against our wildlife.
The To The Bone project, which culminated in Sonny’s first solo exhibition in New York in 2018, was accompanied by a series of skull sculptures, made from polyurethane resin which “with their golden teeth ablaze, the skulls [of endangered species] invoke an appreciation of the might and power of these creatures, while serving as a tangible symbol for what the future may hold”.
It’s a fact: “we are facing an ecological emergency”. The likes of young environmental guardians Greta Thunberg, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Artemisa Xakriaba and their peers have voiced these facts for the world to take note and take action. Eco-Visionaries: Confronting a planet in a state of emergency, an exhibition that is currently on at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, on the other hand takes those facts and visualises them to encourage people to take note and to take action.
Tackling issues from climate change to food shortage, species extinction and resource depletion, Eco-Visionaries brings together artists, designers and architects from around the world who accept and acknowledge the hard facts, and are reconsidering the relationship between humans and nature.
Each visionary offers their alternative visions on how the future may look, encouraging visitors to rethink their own lives, make changes, and most importantly, to reconnect with nature. Recognising that without a connection to nature people are unlikely to take action, the exhibition invites the audience “to interact with the environment in a more respectful way, putting nature and other species’ needs before our own”.
While discussions about climate change more recently have focused on “future generations”, Eco-Visionaries serves to remind viewers that the planet is experiencing environmental changes right here, right now – as the exhibition’s introduction draws light on: “we are no longer discussing an environmental catastrophe that might impact future generations, but a catastrophe that will now drastically affect our own”.
Mother Nature waits for “no man”, so to speak, and that is what one of Eco Visionaries’s highlights, win >< win seeks to address – the mortality of humans and their demise as a dominant species. The 2017 installation win >< win, by the art collective Rimini Protokoll, which as entertaining and engaging as it is, highlights a few “home truths”: that humans are the most endangered species on this planet and so too face extinction.
Using jellyfish, one of the few species in the world to actually benefit from the effects of global warming, as a focal point, viewers sit in a small auditorium wearing headphones before the lights dim and a screen ahead unveils a mirror. The male voice poses questions to the viewers about their age and mortality, as they look at themselves through the mirror, asking them to respond with gestures such as pointing and putting up their hands. The mirror soon fades away and the audience then becomes witness to a tank of live jellyfish.
The audio, which is akin to listening to an insightful radio documentary about global warming, explains how jellyfish, who are carnivores, are rapidly multiplying due to warmer seas and a scarcity of endangered sea turtles that prey on them. Seeing such creatures up close begs viewers to ask questions about non-native species to this planet, and the volume of unwelcome critters and things that live on this planet that seek to destroy the natural ecosystems.
At some point during the 16-minute interactive installation, viewers can then see through the tank and it becomes apparent that other viewers are sitting in a similar auditorium directly opposite. On the other side of the tank, they too are experiencing win >< win, although at a different time sequence. As the audio poses further questions of the mortality of the viewers in the second auditorium, win >< win serves as reminder of the vulnerabities of the human species and that they are not top of the food chain.
The Eco-Visionaries exhibition also displays artwork from familiar names such as artist and climate activist, Olafur Eliasson. In The Ice Melting Series, Olafur Eliasson highlights shrinking polar ice caps, getting visitors to examine how the choices and actions of humans anywhere in the world impacts the rest of the world no matter how far away a land may be from them geographically.
As visitors enter the exhibition, they are invited to view a plastic globe which spins in a tank surrounded by small green particles, indicative of plastics, which is in fact having an impact on the rotations of the planet and attempting to slow it down. The installation, entitled Domestic Catastrophe Nº3: La Planėte Laboratoire, is by the Paris-based design collective HeHe.
On closer inspection of the HeHe exhibit, the particles sit on the globe like microfibre clothing creates bobbles on clothes and just sits on the garments. When you see it in the context of the globe, it appears like a dead weight. If someone has not questioned the impact of microfibres in the context of the bigger picture before, this exhibit most certainly does that.
Madrid In The Air, a film especially commissioned for the exhibition, monitors the skyline of Madrid over a 24-hour period. The film, by London-based architect and researcher Nerea Calvillo, literally brings to light the veil of pollutants in the air seen in various illuminous colours. Another film, The Breast Milk of the Volcano, sees research studio Unknown Fields present findings from an expedition to Bolivia and the Atacama Desert, source of over half the world’s reserves of lithium, questioning the sustainability of the lithium-based batteries that power most electronic devices today.
In The Substitute, artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg enables visitors to come face-to-face with a life-size digital reproduction of a northern white rhinoceros, the last male of the subspecies of which died in 2018. Drawing upon rare zoological archival footage as well as experimental data from AI company DeepMind, viewers are reminded of animal species that face extinction.
Eco-Visionaries excells at presenting the hard facts in a way that gets people to really think about the environment and to examine the impact of their choices on the planet. It also encourages them to make changes in their own lives and to take action.
What we are witnessing now on this planet is what happens when inaction occurs, and while taking no action is an action in-and-of itself, what Eco-Visisonaries reminds visitors is that inaction comes at a price. Eco-Visionaries also suggests that for those willing to play an active role in the survival of the planet and its healing, there is “the need to relearn how to survive without further damage to the planet and coexisting with more empathy towards other living beings”.
Eco-Visionaries relays all of these messages not in an aggressive, worthy nor righteous manner, but in a most impactful way – one that is likely to serve as a visual reminder for those who have visited the exhibition as they makes choices in their daily lives, and so making for consciously-aware, environmentally-aware choices that serve a greater good for the planet and its native species.
It’s nearly impossible to visit Tunisia without noticing the beautiful doors. They’re everywhere. I often found myself lost in an ancient medina only to look at my camera roll and realize I’d spent the last 30 minutes taking pictures of doors.
In Tunisia, doors are symbolic reflecting the fortunes and happiness of the families living inside. They are generally built of palm wood reinforced with sheet metal. They are decorated with black studded nails to create complex geometric patterns. Occasionally some doors come with more floral patterns owing to the European influence.
When I visited Tunisia, I was just blown away by these doors. They’re so beautiful, and every city I visited tended to have its own unique style and color. Most doors are blue, but I saw yellow, turquoise, red, and white.
Some of the most common symbols on the doors are the crescent star, minarets flowers, and fir trees. Some of the doors have large archways allowing for a person to enter on a horse without dismounting.
Many will claim that the best doors are in Sidi Bou Said – the Santorini-like coastal town just outside Tunis – but I found that beautiful doors are located throughout the country. You just need to wander down the right side street to find the real treasures.
Most of the doors have two knockers – one for the men and one for the women. The ones on the left are used by the women, and the ones on the right are used by the men.
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