Friday Inspired: A Graffiti Tour with Lauren Psyk


We’ve always been inspired by the grit and talent of street artists as those who make art to express themselves and never for posterity. For this week’s Friday Inspired we have photographer Lauren Psyk share her inspiration from a London East End graffiti tour.

As a photographer I am always looking for shooting opportunities and new subject matter, so I was delighted when a friend recently bought me tickets for the Graffiti Tour of London, organised by Great British Tours. The tour is based in Shoreditch and takes in well known spots such as Brick Lane, as well as some more hidden away places that I never knew were there. 

Jimmy c
Jimmy C


Paul Don Smith
Paul Don Smith


The most striking thing I learnt on the tour was how little I knew about street art!  Sure – I had heard of Banksy and I’ve always admired good graffiti, but I had no idea there were so many highly regarded street artists with a signature style and instantly recognisable work. My personal favourite from the tour is a guy called Stik, so called because he draws stick figures.  They are always made up of just six lines.  It was amazing to see how expressive and memorable simple stick figures can be – I guess it’s partly about the choice of location for the work.  Some others I discovered for the first time included Jimmy C, famous for a colourful ‘drip’ style, ROA, a Belgian artist who paints unusual looking animals all over the world, and Paul Don Smith, who uses stencilling. 



The other great question posed by the tour is: “what is graffiti?” We were shown some works of art that to all intents and purposes looked like graffiti. But the guide pointed out that these had been commissioned – by brands, shops, cafes etc.  Are they therefore strictly graffiti, which by definition is about vandalism, and is therefore illegal? And if works by artists such as Banksy now sell for six figure sums around the world, are they really that far removed from commissioned works of art? Can this still be said to be graffiti? I left the tour thinking through these issues, with a list of eye catching street artists to explore further.’



Thanks Lauren! What say we do another one of these soon?

To see more of Lauren’s work click here and follow her on @laurenpsyk


Friday Inspired: Dhaka Art Summit


For this week’s Friday Inspired, Veerangana Solanki shares with us some snapshots of the recent Dhaka Art Summit that took place in early February 2014. In its second edition, the Summit focused on art from the South Asian region and included solo art projects, curated shows, and art fair style booths by galleries that had been specially invited to participate. Visited by representatives from several international museums and foundations, and with an audience of over 50,000, the Summit has been seen as a great success, albeit with the reckoning that participants have taken greater risks than are usually seen on the art fair / biennial stage.

Veerangana, an independent curator and writer based in Mumbai, also curated an exhibition titled ‘Citizens of Time’ at the Summit that featured works by Remen Chopra, Vibha Galhotra, Riyas Komu, Baptist Coelho among others.

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All images (c) Veerangana Solanki

Maya’s Ideas


For this week’s guest post we have the wonderful Petra Hudakova sharing with us her inspiration for the week. And it comes in the form of a 13 year old entrepreneur / environmentalist / ‘everything you wanted to be when you grew up, but she’s done it now’.

Here’s Petra on what makes Maya’s journey an inspiration for anyone who wants to strike out on their own. As Maya says, all it takes is an idea from the heart. The innovation and the opportunities will follow.

Meet Maya Shea Penn – the amazingly inspiring, professional and creative force of nature, and a sweet 13 year old girl in one. 

Maya is an artist. She is also an enterpreneur, environmentalist, philanthropist, designer, animator, illustrator, and writer. Living her life with passion and purpose, she makes every day an art through her beautiful eco-friendly fashion line.. Maya founded her company- Maya’s Ideas in 2010 when she was only 8 years old, and adorns the world with handmade, artisan crafted, one-of-a-kind, eco-friendly accessories and clothing, made from 100% organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo, as well as recycled vintage materials.

Her parents taught her about recycling, organic gardening, and being environmentally aware from an early age. Her Mom taught her how to sew, her Dad showed her how to take apart a computer and put it back together and that sparked her interest in technology and animation.

Mayas creations

I love that she is part of a new wave of enterpreneurs who not only seek to have a successful businesses, but also to have a sustainable future.

As a 13 year old, Maya has recently spoken at TEDYouth in New Orleans  and TEDWomen in San Francisco, and her conviction and passion have lingered with me since. 


Here’s a gorgeous vine necklace- the Marguerite Garden, named in honour of her Grandmother Marguerite, which is one of Maya’s signature items. 



Maya has also been practicing yoga with her mom for years, and has created a whole collection of yoga headbands, t-shirts and bracelets. Her aromatherapy wristbands and bracelets are a great accompaniment to a wholesome yoga practice. 


As Maya says, “Everyone can make a change. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, how old you are – every single person can make a change if they have a passion for it.”


Thanks Petra for sharing this inspiring story, and to the inspiring little girl who is the story.

The biggest wisdom we’ve taken from this is as Maya says –

We live in a big, diverse and beautiful world, and that makes me even more passionate to save it. But it’s never enough to just to get it through your heads about the things that are happening in our world. It takes to get it through your hearts, because when you get it through your heart, that is when movements are sparked. That is when opportunities and innovation are created, and that is why ideas come to life.


Friday Inspired: London’s Iconic Murals


This week’s Friday Inspired has Ruth Miller, mural expert and founder of The London Mural Preservation Society, give us insight into why she finds murals inspiring, and how she has grown up alongside some of Brixton’s most important murals.

‘With a father interested in local history, art and architecture, as a child, I was always encouraged to look around me and observe all the interesting sights and sounds of the places we were visiting. My everyday space was Brixton of the 1980s – an area full of character; the grand architecture of a Victorian Suburb contrasted against the new build housing estates, the hustle bustle of the busy market and the communities of West Indians, squatters, and the Irish, all adding something to the recipe that created the neighbourhood.

During this time, murals started to appear, often visible to me on my regular route to school or visits to Brixton market. There were two that I really liked. One is a portrait of local people at the local adventure playground. To little me, then about 10 or 11, I was so impressed by the fact the artist had created portraits that actually looked like the individuals. And I felt privileged to know people who someone thought were important enough to be painted on the public wall. This feeling of ownership to the piece was delightful and now when I see it, it triggers so many memories of playing at the adventure playground.

Slade Gardens Adventure Playground Mural, Lorn Road, Stockwell, London


The other mural which I noticed was Brixton’s Nuclear Dawn – a painting of a skeletal man dropping bombs on London whilst the Government hides in a bunker under Parliament. As a little child, the political message of the piece was lost on me, however there was a very real threat of the bomb being dropped on us while we slept; my siblings and I constantly talked to my mum about this. And the mural was (and is) a constant reminder of that fear.

Nuclear Dawn, Carlton Mansions, 387 Coldhabour Lane, Brixton, London


But asides from the moments of nostalgia with these paintings, they also taught me things about art, showing me strong compositions, use of colour and good technical skills. I’m sure too many of my own art works featured skeletons or a figure striding across an urban landscape such was the subliminal impact of this mural. Today I run the London Mural Preservation Society in the hope that we can collect and save the stories of these pieces and repair some of these murals so they can inspire future generations.’

Walking Tour of Brixton’s murals organised by the London Mural Preservation Society 


Children at Play mural, Brixton Academy, Stockwell Park Walk, London


The London Mural Preservation Society run walking tours of London’s murals in spring and summer. Keep an eye out on the website for future announcements.

Ruth’s sister Hannah Lee Miller has also made an animation featuring the Nuclear Dawn mural, which echos what Ruth says about murals becoming a part your everyday if you grew up in London in the 80s.


Thanks Ruth, for sharing your inspiration behind the London Mural Preservation Society with us.

To join or learn more about the Society, visit the website, blogFacebook, Twitter, Flickr or send Ruth an email.

All images courtesy The London Mural Preservation Society.

Friday Inspired: The Artist’s Voice

This week’s Friday Inspired has artist Tulika Ladsariya giving us insight into her artistic practise, while sharing with Beanstories images of her recent work.

‘A bookseller on the street who cannot read, children labouring towards making bricks whilst living in houses made of tarp, construction workers living in slums, a woman washing clothes for others wearing a dirty sari- the sad irony of India- and yet most of these people are grateful to even have a job. I do believe that education can play a big role in elevating the condition of life and hence I say that my work is a social commentary on the division of the Indian society through the iconography of labour.

Bookseller, 2013
Bookseller, 2013


“Who is under my carbon footprint?” A quotation that I want to make my art about. There are so many luxuries that are part of my daily landscape and so many people who provide them who go unnoticed. Through my art, I want to bring them to the forefront.

My paintings are figurative with elements of abstraction, my sculptures are painterly with detailed text decorating them. I hope to someday delve into making more public art that is accessible beyond the walls of the gallery and home.’

Graceful burden
Graceful Burden


Brickworkers (diptych), 2012


Bricks, 2012
Bricks, 2012


Bricks, 2012
Bricks, 2012


Clothesline - Kapda, 2013
Clothesline – Kapda, 2013


Spinal construction - Makaan, 2013
Spinal construction – Makaan, 2013


Mother and Children, 2012
Mother and Children, 2012


Haath Gadi, 2012
Haath Gadi, 2012


The Edifice Butterfly II, 2012
The Edifice Butterfly II, 2012


Tulika Ladsariya is a Chicago based artist who gave up a career in banking to follow her calling. And it looks like she was born to make art .

We love her work especially the way she makes her canvases come alive. Thanks Tulika for sharing this with us.

La Grande Bellezza

This week we have designer and embroidery specialist Scott Ramsay Kyle discussing Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty, 2013)a compelling portrayal of present-day Rome in all its decadence.

Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty, 2013) is a combination of many wonderful things; a considered score, references to a crass contemporary art scene (only the stripper notices the child prodigy’s tears), fashion and its silhouette, and our protagonist –  a recently turned 65-year-old Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a slender, caring man, more Redford’s Gatsby than DiCaprio’s, a man who gets away with calling his cleaning lady a ‘little rascal’ without making it sound patronising or harsh.


The film opens with a group of women singing above a pool of water, akin to a Greco-Roman chorus glancing down at the narrative as it unfolds. The camera then flips upside down to reveal a throb of party goers, living like devilish demons inside a choreographed moment, as if caught within the triptych Garden Of Earthly Delights for an unending period of temptation.
As we get to know our sexagenarian Jep, he strolls along the river reflecting that at 26 he wanted to be part of Roma’s ‘whirlpool of the high-life’ and he succeeded in becoming its ‘King’. There are echoes of Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’ here, not in terms of loss or forgetfulness, but of grace and poise and allowing key actors of a certain age the opportunity to examine and reveal themselves to the audience. But La Grande Bellezza is also enjoyably contradictory, as we grimace alongside the frenetic partying of awkward ‘Mum & Dad’ dancing, booze, drugs, a failed three-some, and a 104-year-old nun, Sister Maria who beckons the producers to increase their budget to fit in some CGI flamingos.
After Jep kindly brings his friend Stefania (Galatea Ranzi) back to earth, it is with great care that he consoles her about ‘a life in tatters, just like the rest of us’, in a way that is touching and not vindictive, serious but not emotionally stifling. And again when at a dinner party someone asks him of his guest, a quiet poet, “why does he not talk?”, Jep simply replies; “because he listens.”
A beautifully constructed score, the music balances from high synth-euro pop Bob Sinclair in the wild party scenes to Georges Bizet, in the more tonal moments. But this all feels natural to the characters who live lives governed by their Epicurean hedonism, like a late 80’s Malcolm MacLaren fusion. Time however does finally catch up with some of them as we start to lose few of Jep’s friends, but it already feels like time to let them go.
La Grande Bellezza is a high-end Italian parody of reality, that makes you feel like you’ve fallen into a soap opera but without the fluro colours of Pedro Almodovar. The finish and textures here are richer, rich in wastefulness and excessiveness and we haven’t even got to the beach flashbacks, vanishing giraffe or the disappointing broken hearts yet. There is a lot to experience here and I would definitely partake in it all over again. Bello!’


A big thank you to the very talented Scott Ramsay Kyle who you can also follow on Twitter. We’re intrigued and are making our way to see this film pronto!

And here’s the English version of the trailer if your Italian, German and French are as non-existent as ours.

Friday Inspired: Portable Shrines


For this week’s Friday Inspired, we have Payal Wadhwa who’s been exploring the allure of portable shrines.

“It’s a fascination that began almost a decade ago, when I was living in Italy and surrounded by some rather devout families in my neighbourhood. A small village of Roman Catholics, I was often invited to dinners and coffees and proudly introduced to their mantelpiece shrines.

I’ve been enamoured since.
In my agnostic blur of existence, I’ve stumbled across portable shrines in the following years that have drawn me in, to the stories and scripts within these palm sized dioramas that admittedly are magnificent and almost universal in their structure, ideas and usage.

I recently attended an Indian oral storytelling seminar that re-introduced me to the world of the Kaavad, portable shrines that are now slowly evolving as a medium for communicating more stories than those religious.

Tales of morality with contemporary characters are slowly taking over the mantel gods and goddesses, once occupied to appeal to children and younger people that keepers of these shrines entertained. With tales from the Panchatantra and the Arabian Nights making it to the surfaces once sacred and guarded, what happens to these objects as humanity evolves, religions dissolve or become stauncher, and morality and faith become increasingly questionable shall be an interesting narrative to follow.

Here are some images of the most fascinating shrines I’ve seen in person or trawled the internet for. The fascination to find new ones continues, as I was recently presented with a part of the Dalai Lama’s temporary shrine. It makes for a thing of absolute enchantment, and well, a less sceptic of me.”

Box with Stones from the Holy Land, 6th-7th Century, Early Christian
Vatican Museums
1- box-of-stones-from-holy-lands1-1024x733

Portable Buddhist Shrine from Tibet, 19th Century AD
British Museum
a. closed
b open

2-British Museum Shrine

2b - BM Shrine

Portable shrine (this a much larger version) from Egypt, Ptolemaic Dynasty, 305-30 BCE
Freer Sackler Smithsonian Museums of Asian Art

Small black lacquer portable shrine (zushi) with a painted wood demon,19th Century

A portable shrine in the form of a tabernacle from Nottingham, 15th Century
Burrell Collection, Glasgow Museums

Miniature altar (portable shrine), probably from Northern Netherlands, 1500-20
Victoria and Albert Museum

Portable Buddhist Shrine with Two Removable Standing Bodhisattvas, a Lotus Base for a Seated Buddha Image (now missing), a Repoussé Panel Depicting the Buddha Amitabha (Amit’abul), and Repoussé Panels on the Doors Representing Guardian Figures, 14th Century
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum

Portable Mani Shrine (Tashi Gomang) of Copper Palace of Padmasambhava Bhutan,18th–19th Century
Private Collection (exhibited during Legends and Myths in Himalayan Art, Rubin Museum of Art, NY)

Recitations from a 50 year old Kaavad
Courtesy Payal Wadhwa, Image & Word: Workshop on Storytelling, New Delhi April 2013

The Kaavad Souvenir – Built by Dwarka Prasad
Courtesy Alexandra Moskovchuk, Image & Word: Workshop on Storytelling, New Delhi April 2013

And if you are looking to make your own mikoshi, you can start with this.


Payal Wadhwa runs a multidisciplinary studio in London called Inspire Conspire Retire. The studio designs for museums, exhibitions, books, cafes, hotels, events, film and stage. They also build strong brands and tell meaningful stories for those they work with. Payal moonlights as a performance maker.

Friday Inspired: Grave Watching


After the last Friday Inspired on modern architecture in movies, this week Veeranganakumari Solanki explores celebrity graves including one of our big favorites, Andy Warhol

“There’s always an element of death lurking around us, that becomes a part of our everyday.
As Haruki Murakami wrote in Norwegian Wood; ‘Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life.’
And so it is.

Compare this to the several celebrity graves that have become shrines for worshiping fans who make spiritual visits to venerate their heroes. They are celebrated like living legends and their influences are still witnessed today across generations and genres.

More recently, the Andy Warhol Museum honoured the anniversary of Warhol’s birthday (6 August) with ‘The Figment Project’, an Earthcam that provides a 24/7 live-feed of Warhol’s grave site, available for the world to see.

Not so different from Warhol is songwriter, poet, and lead singer of The DoorsJim Morrison – who pushed the boundaries of life to experiment with crowds and test psychology theories. Opting to leave life at the early age of 27, Morrison continues to gather a growing fan following with his grave site in Paris being listed among TIME magazine’s top-ten visited graves in the world!

(The irony of tourists in a graveyard never fails to amuse us!)

And Elvis Week (10-17 Aug 2013) celebrated once a year at Graceland draws in thousands of Elvis Presley fans every year and just as many Elvis impersonators. A dedicated website to Graceland offers innumerable options of visiting, learning, interacting and ensuring that all age groups are attracted to all things Elvis – thereby keeping up Elvis’ tradition of swooning crowds and unmistakable popularity.


…and finally if you’d like to look up your local legends, there’s an eager beaver team that’s got this all sorted –’

Veeranganakumari Solanki is an independent art writer and curator based in Mumbai, India’
Her curatorial work includes Barbed Floss that opened at The Guild on 31 July.

Thanks Vee, we’ve been hooked on to the Warhol camera in the hope that we catch some superfans in action.

Friday Inspired – Modern Architecture in Movies


Here’s introducing a new series of guest posts called Friday Inspired, where some of our favorite creatives contribute ideas and images that have inspired them this past week.

Independent curator Veeranganakumari Solanki’s find this week is A Brief History of Modern Architecture through Movies

“It’s like the movies!”
Incidents that seem unreal, dreams that come true, perfect settings for perfect situations – these are things that don’t occur on a daily basis (at least for most people), and when they do, we often compare them to being picture perfect or the utopic realisation from movies that we’ve seen or heard of. I recently came across this piece on “A Brief History of Modern Architecture through Movies”, which in fact reverses the above mentioned outlook and “Ways of Seeing” (John Berger would be glad!)

This post on Architizer takes one on a guided tour of architecture from Art Nouveau in Midnight in Paris all the way to Futurism in The Fifth Element! In a world of moving imagery and rapidly fading histories being swallowed with the progress of the future, this one’s a great find for architecture and movie buffs to pause time and recreate utopias! Travel through these movies to learn the history of architecture…

 Art Nouveau in Midnight in Paris (2011)


Futurism in The Fifth Element (1997)


Fascist Architecture in Equilibrium (2002)


Modernism in Playtime (1967)


Brutalism in Dredd (2012)


Digital/Parametric in Tron Legacy (2010)


Veeranganakumari Solanki is an independent art writer and curator based in Mumbai, India
Her curatorial work includes Barbed Floss that opened at The Guild on 31 July.