Monday, 30 May 2016


This blueprint of the Victoria and Albert Museum, in the form of a colossal mechanised creature, is a rarity of the golden age of Victorian engineering. The recently unveiled diagram shows an elevation and cross section of a hugely ambitious project that heralded biotechnology a century before it became a reality.

Envisioned by Prince Albert (husband of Queen Victoria and prominent reformer and innovator of the time) as an itinerant art storage facility, it would have been able to bring knowledge of art and design to the working classes of the British Empire and beyond.

Designed to be self sufficient, its operation requires a crew of hundreds including pilots engineers, curators, wardens, conservators and maintenance among others. Because it almost was a moving autonomous city, the project –in obscurity until now– was nicknamed Albertopolis. Back in the days of the Great Exhibition this term had been coined by the press to mock Prince Albert's ambitious redevelopment of Kensington into a museum quarter.

Powered by steam technology, considered highly sophisticated by the standards of the age, it would have been able to displace itself over long distances and be fully operational for days. One of its peculiarities is a defence mechanism inspired by Prince Albert's Mughal court sword which was intended to be used as a deterrent to potential enemy attacks during planned educational campaigns into foreign territory.

In 1891, Aston Webb, the architect of the V&A's current facade, redesigned Albertopolis' already anthropomorphic shape to further resemble the Prince Consort; in homage to the visionary reformer.

Unfortunately, Albert's untimely death and the outbreak of World War I indefinitely delayed its completion. However, Albertopolis still lies dormant underneath the museum today, waiting for the lightning spark that will ignite its beating heart.

This edition of fifty A1 digital prints is inspired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington. It celebrates Prince Albert, figurehead of the Great Exhibition of 1851 that led to the creation of the world's first design museum.

Grand Entrance with Experienced Pilots

 Dacre Beasts and Sculpture Gallery

 Cast of David

 Trajan Column in the Cast Courts

 Medieval and Renaissance

 British Galleries and Sacred Silver

 Jewellery and Tapestries

Paintings and Glass 

 Members Cafe and Glass Lift

 Technical Services 

 Underground Water Storage

 Staff Changing Room and Dragon's Lair

 Sewer and Heating System

Central Computer and Ceramics Galleries

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

A Fictional Map

Last year I was contacted by a client looking for a very special birthday present; a map of a fictional city made of meaningful places for her boyfriend and for them as a couple. Almost like a biographical map.

What you see here is the result of hours of hard work, research and intense client-artist feedback cemented on an A2 print, made of several hand-drawn and very detailed inked drawings which were coloured and pieced together using computer software.

The idea, although daunting at first was soon followed by awe. What a great chance to create something I had been toying with for a long time, designing a completely made up town from scratch; not fanciful but bound by a pre-defined set of rules and a relative logic.

The process would be long and slow but a method was eventually developed successfully and can now be used in similar commissions. After an initial geographical brainstorm, the landmark list was narrowed down to the most symbolic. The next step had the client supplying screen captures of maps which I then isolated and turned into puzzle pieces. I juggled with these for hours during one of the most intense parts of the process until I came out with the first few roughs of the map.
First rough of the map
Because of the variety of landmarks mentioned –towns, cities, states and whole countries– I had to find a foundation to begin building on; a place that helped merge all these seemingly random places together. Not because it was a requirement but because I wanted to create something one would look at and think real until closer inspection. Then the map would slowly reveal impossible connections between real locations thousands of miles apart from each other. Almost like a geographical Frankenstein.

At this stage I was looking at old maps, from early depictions of American land woven on tapestries hanging from the walls of the Royal Alcazar in Seville to Victorian maps travellers could buy at train stations. Most of the landmarks were coastal or had rivers nearby and all that water and urban pockets made me think of Stockholm, which I visited a few summers ago and absolutely loved. An archipelago city, a system of islands and interconnected waterways where there is room for big chunks of developed land and road transportation – unlike a purely water-based city, like Venice for example. 

Stockholm network of fourteen islands

With that in mind I chose New York's Manhattan island as this city's centre and basing on its surroundings I built around it, piecing in all these territories intuitively or in a way that made some sense visually. Once the jigsaw was completed I then followed with planning urban patches and roads, which are based on real infrastructures. All around it are the drawings of buildings they have lived in, studied, worked or that bear a deeper meaning. These are colour-coded and relate to the shapes on the map which mark boundaries of the places referenced.

The map is intended to open up its meaning slowly, and most importantly to the client's close circle. However, I want to think that some of these landmarks are common to anyone well-traveled and hopefully it will also make sense to those outside this particular world.

The realism of the map is questionable but I like to think that it challenges our knowledge of how nature works. It would be interesting to have a geologist challenge its organicity and confirm wether or not is blatantly man made. Interestingly though, the map bears an old feel that gives it a certain legitimacy. 

Map tapestry in Seville's Royal Alcazar

Monday, 27 July 2015

Into the Sun Exhibition

'Block' and 'Mansion' as part of the 'Into the Sun' exhibition

Last June I exhibited new work as part of the 'Into the Sun' group show at the A-side B-side gallery in Hackney Downs studios. I found the theme –holidays– very enticing and decided to produce new original work for the occasion. I knew I wanted to use wood again as I really enjoyed with the last entry to the Battersea quadriptych. This time though, I wanted to be a bit more rough and spontaneous.

These also were meant to be a set of three but time constraints meant only two were made – at least for now. Seen as a whole they might look more polarised than they really are. My intention here though is to explore the relationship between class, holidays and property and reflect on our own prejudices and assumptions concerning the symbols of wealth and social hierarchy in modern day capitalist society. I also wanted to create dichotomy between the public and the private in the way the background is split into two.

Acrylic and Ink on Wood
Acrylic and Ink on Wood

'Block' – Preliminary Sketch

'Mansion' – Preliminary Sketch
The A-side B-side gallery in Hackney Downs

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Greenwich Foot Tunnel

I was recently offered a wall in a courtyard of a house on Trafalgar Road in Greenwich, near Maze Hill station. At first the task seemed daunting since the last mural I painted was in 2010 and also because the wall is 5x3 meters approximately so rather big.

I was given carte blanche and for a while I toyed with various London landmarks. However, on the way down to my first meeting with the client I was cycling from East London down to Island Gardens to get across to Greenwich via the foot tunnel as I had done many times before. I've always found it fascinating, ever since I read the story of the Thames Tunnel, the first ever underwater tunnel and its engineers' ordeal. As I was exiting the dome at the other side I came up with the idea of these archaic creatures that guard an underground crossing hidden from public view. Similar to the underground labyrinth in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Tombs of Atuan.

By the time the Greenwich foot tunnel was given planning permission engineering had been perfected considerably so it's construction wasn't as dramatic as that of the Thames Tunnel. Completed in 1902 it allowed workers living south of the river to reach their workplaces in the London docks. Equipped with two large lifts and spiral staircases nowadays it still is a public highway and therefore opened 24 hours.

In this piece I wanted to focus on the usage of the tunnel and the idea of journeying through the innards of these huge ancient architectural beings. Will you be the same person when you get out? I did it with Aztec art and 8bit video game level designs in mind and it's hand painted with black and white masonry paint over blue spray paint.

Under water
Above water

End of the journey and the Minotaur

Early sketch

Scaling with my assistant Ana

It's hand painted. In freezing conditions.

Friday, 3 October 2014

The Burning of the Glasgow School of Art

A few months ago the architecture world was shocked after the burning of the Glasgow School of Art.

The building is an exquisite and rare example of British Art Nouveau. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh it became one of Glasgow's most beloved buildings. It's no surprise the gloom that spread amongst the locals when they saw the building turn into a fireball last May.

But the students were the truly gutted ones, as this happened only a few weeks before their degree show. A devastated crowd stood outside the building crying as they saw the fire fighters trying to save months worth of artwork.

Luckily, the impact of the fire hasn't been too dramatic. 90% of the school was saved and only 30% of its contents have been lost. Unfortunately the outstanding library was amongst the losses. Whether the building will be restored to its former glory is yet to be decided.