In a world always hunting for the next new thing, Tilla Manya Chaya Crowne is garnering attention by taking it slow. The London-based artist's work moves at snail's pace. In preparation for a recent gallery exhibition, she seized on a non-traditional canvas: live snails. "Having revisited my childhood home and documented the rooms, I recreated them as they were on the shells of the snails, carefully making them the markers and carriers of my memories," says Crowne, whose work often involves plants and insects. At the gallery, the snails moved freely in glass boxes to create scenes that (slowly) changed. Lest mollusc advocates object, Crowne explains that she painted the snails, sourced from a snail farm that supplies restaurants, as they slept. The non-toxic paint was too hard for the snails to scrape off or accidentally ingest. "They showed no adverse reaction to having been painted. In fact, they showed no reaction to it at all," she says. "After the exhibition, I continued to care for them for the rest of their natural life spans."
An initiative across the pond has enlisted more than 2,000 arts organizations and leading artists in finding new ways to support the arts in the United Kingdom. In response to the government's recent proposal to cut arts funding by 25 percent, Save the Arts launched a creative campaign to raise awareness of the important role of the arts and the devastating effects of drastic spending cuts. Their first weapon in the battle? This charming video by Glasgow-based artist David Shrigley. Commissioned by the organization with funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the animated short conveys "An Important Message about the Arts" that is equally relevant in Louisville or London. Settle in for an entertaining few minutes with a farmer and his artless son, Antony.
The buy one/give one model of corporate philanthropy pioneered by Blake Mycoskie's TOMS Shoes is catching on with other entrepreneurs catering to design-minded customers who want to give back. One such retail venture that caught our eye: Warby Parker, a company founded by four friends who wanted to create boutique-quality, classically crafted eyewear at a revolutionary price point. The price they settled on, a wallet-friendly $95, includes not only frames fitted with prescription lenses but also delivery of another pair of glasses to someone in need, through the company's partnership with RestoringVision.org. "The Warby Parker aesthetic is vintage-inspired, with a fashion forward twist," say the founders, who recently released their first collection of 27 frame styles. Retro-obsessed and presbyopic? Opt for the monocle.
Ready to graduate from posters? A new flash sale website is offering up works by hot contemporary artists such as Terence Koh, Josephine Meckseper, and David LaChapelle for a fraction of the gallery price. Co-founded by fashion designer Cynthia Rowley and her gallerist husband, Bill Powers, Exhibition A aspires "to expand the world of collecting and the super-hot art market to a new audience." The site works closely with featured artists, whose open edition prints are available to Exhibition A members for two to four weeks. Here's your chance to get 2011 off to an arty start with a bold hyperrealist work by Richard Phillips ($75-$250) or Hanna Liden's haunting canvas of just-snuffed candles ($200). Not ready to purchase? Register for access to Exhibition A's growing library of interviews with top artists and collectors.
Inspiration alert! Art director Anna Murray and textile/surface designer Grace Winteringham have turned their love of patterns into Patternity, a creative venture that celebrates all things patterned: "from the mundane to the magnificent." The goal? To enhance the everyday by encouraging viewers to change their perspective and embrace the overlooked. In addition to their London-based design studio and online shop (we've already splurged on their screen-printed tights), Murray and Winteringham manage an ever-growing online archive of patterned finds from around the world. Click back regularly for inspiring images of everything from natural wonders and fine art to architectural details and street fashion.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared the second week of November "Illustration Week," but you can celebrate the illustrious occasion anywhere and anytime thanks to the Society of Illustrators. The 109-year-old organization hosts a growing online video archive of past lectures and conferences featuring top illustrators and topics ranging from working with reps and developing conceptual thinking to the future of comics and "split personality illustrator syndrome." Settle in for "a whimsical evening" with Peter and Randall de Sève, the husband and wife who recently joined forces on a children's book, or listen to talks by illustrators including Sue Coe, Roberto Parada, Nate Williams, and Peter Kuper.