Wednesday, 29 January 2014

To infinity and beyond, via Milton Keynes

So this guy in Milton Keynes has a project to turn the spaceships from the Sci-Fi paperback covers of my youth into impressively detailed models, an artform guaranteed to bring joy to members of generation Thunderbirds. His first model is based on Colin Hay's artwork for a James Blish novel, Star Dwellers.

Colin Hay's style of illustration irresistibly calls to mind the insanely detailed, brightly-coloured craft created by that giant of Sci-Fi book cover art, Chris Foss, so a lot of us would be delighted to see Foss's designs getting the Grant Louden treatment, too (come to think of it, Chris Foss also did the original illustrations for The Joy of Sex, so ... no, let's not go there).

And apparently, Chris Foss is up for it, although he might have reason be wary about artworks "inspired by Chris Foss", given what happened when one Glenn Brown, A Serious Artist, made a bigger hyper realist reinterpretation copy of a Foss original and declared the copy to be 'serious art', (it must be 'serious art' because it's been made by A Serious Artist, who must be A Serious Artist, because he says he's A Serious Artist...). The hyper realist reinterpretation copy sold for £3.1 million at Christie's.

Grayson Perry said 'In art, seriousness is the most important currency' and, at an exchange rate of £3.1 million for one great big knock-off with added artybollocks, I wouldn't argue. I hope Grant Louden, who seems to have Chris Foss and the other artists who've inspired him fully on board, makes a decent fraction of that sort of money, although I expect he's not quite Serious enough.

Images © Colin Hay and Grant Louden, I guess, (unless you're A Serious Artist).



gRant said...

Hi Andrew, interesting piece on my piece.
Am I Serious? In that context, nah, not that much. When I'm creating a ship I treat it like creating a piece of artwork, as opposed to just making a cool model, and give it the same amount of background thought that I would an artwork. But do I see the finished item as 'art'? Not entirely, but floating somewhere amid a museum quality replica, a unique collector's piece, and a sculpture.

Andrew King said...

Cool models, replicas, sculpture, art, whatever, they certainly appeal to me. Why? I don't relly know - my response is as hard to pigeonhole as the pieces themselves. It's part nostalgia for childhood days when happiness was an SF paperback, or a tube of poly cement and an Airfix kit.

But why did that aesthetic appeal in the first place? After all, those old SF starships may look striking, awesome or cool (at least to my inner 12 year old), but most are several light years away from being beautiful. To see what I mean, look back at something you blogged a few years back ("Panel beaten with the Ugly Stick - 9 of the ugliest F1 cars").

Take any one of the ugly racers from your list, take off the wheels and blank off the driver's cockpit and you're left with a weird shape that's already 80% of the way to looking like some bulgy or wedgy Chris Foss-style deep space vessel, complete with bizarre fins, scoops and other strange protuberances - just change the style of the paintwork and replace the sponsors' logos with some alien-looking heiroglyphs.

Ugly they may be, but the shapes are also striking, odd and great fun. Add to that the meticulous attention to detail of the original artwork, or the level of precise craftmanship that goes into your replicas and I find myself looking closer and being drawn into the fantastical universe these craft inhabit.

Keep up the good work!