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August 14 2013

July 25 2012

Lego birds: the tropical collection - in pictures

Following on from his series of British birds made out of Lego, Thomas Poulsom has designed a collection of tropical birds

Sponsored post

May 18 2012

Birds made from Lego - in pictures

Lego enthusiast, avian admirer and professional tree surgeon Thomas Poulsom has taken inspiration from birds to create this brilliant series of Lego models

December 16 2011

Alice in Wonderland, Tatlin's Tower and Action Man – the week in art

From shows offering an escape from Christmas to the most beautiful gifts of all time, here is the art not to miss this week

Five exhibitions to escape from Christmas shopping

Alice in Wonderland
Children and adults alike can enter the enchanted and surreal world of Alice at the Albert Dock this Christmas.
• At Tate Liverpool until 29 January 2012

Re-creating Tatlin's Tower
If you are in London's West End and feel very, very sick of the Christmas commercialism visit the Royal Academy, where a reconstruction of the spiralling abstract tower designed by Vladimir Tatlin serves as a reminder of the communist dream. Imagine no possessions.
• At Royal Academy, London W1 until 29 January 2012

Modello for a Statue of Hebe
Close to Christmas shopping's dark heart, London's Oxford Street, you can escape into a world of ormolu fripperies and Fragonard paintings at the magical Wallace Collection. It is free, as is this display of a sensual nude by Canova.
• At Wallace Collection, London W1 until 16 April 2012

Ford Madox Brown
The Victorians invented Christmas as we know it and here is an artist who captured both the realities and fantasies of 19th-century Britons.
• At Manchester Art Gallery until 29 January 2012

Magic Worlds
I love this exhibition which genuinely has delights for all the family, with exhibits ranging from Harry Potter toys to Albrecht Dürer prints.
• At Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London E2 until 4 March 2012

Five incredible Christmas presents (luxuries and toys that made it into art museums)

Action Man, Palitoy, 1970s
OK, OK. Action Man was my favourite toy and they have his tank here, too. But every child and grown-up will find toys to coo over in this lovely museum.
• At Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London E2

The Morelli-Nerli chests, Tuscany, 1400s
Among the most splendid luxuries in Florentine Renaissance palaces were gilded and painted chests made for newly-weds. Two of the best-preserved of these fairytale objects are in London's Courtauld Gallery.
• At Courtauld Gallery, London WC2

The Royal Gold Cup, made in Paris, France c1370-80
If the Magi really wanted to impress they might have given the newborn this astonishingly rich Gothic treasure. It is like an attempt to recreate the Holy Grail, whose legend was so central to the chivalric literature of medieval France.
• At British Museum, London WC1

Baffo Harpsichord, made in Italy, 1574
If you are looking for the ultimate gift and have limitless funds ... you still won't be able to buy anything like this. Unless one came up at Christie's I suppose. But let's not think about that. This musical instrument is painted with beautiful delicate designs and once played tinkling notes to accompany sweet voices in candlelit palaces.
• At V&A Museum, London SW7

The Silver Swan, 1773
This popular object is a musical automaton with a mechanism by the British inventor John Joseph Merlin, a famous 18th-century ideas man who was portrayed by Gainsborough. It compares with the luxuries of the Tsars in the Winter Palace and, in 19th-century Paris, it impressed Mark Twain. A glittering legend.
• At Bowes Museum, County Durham

What we learned this week

Protesters may prove to bring down the Tate-BP partnership

Why John Berger got it all wrong about Cézanne

What happened when photographer Mark Laita brought together polygamists and pimps

How Helen Chadwick developed the unique methodology for her Piss Flowers

Why Tracey Emin is officially top draw

Image of the week

Your Art Weekly

@rachelguthrie8: @Gdnartanddesign Shaw's 'Scenes from the Passion' series is romantically clothed in factors unfactual: memories, feelings+fantasy #artweekly

Have you seen any of these shows? What have you enjoyed this week? Give your review in the comments below or tweet us your verdict using #artweekly and we'll publish the best ones.

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November 23 2011

Four short links: 23 November 2011

  1. Massive Wikimedia Donation -- I missed it when it happened, but the State Library of Queensland made the 4th largest ever donation of high-resolution out-of-copyright images to the Wikimedia Foundation. The image metadata are available through Wikimedia under liberal licensing terms, too. This is what your national and state libraries should be doing!
  2. -- strip all the crap from around YouTube pages. (via Ed Tech Ideas)
  3. Nabi Tablet (Toys R Us) -- ruggedized Android tablet for kids, $199 price point. (via Mark Osborne)
  4. Face-Tracking KiddyZoom Video Cam (YouTube) -- I'm always startled most when the future turns up in kids' toys. Tablets and face-tracking? Soon it'll be face recognition ("hello mommy!" says the doll), brainwave-triggered activity, and 3D printers. (via BERG London)

April 06 2011

Four short links: 6 April 2011

  1. Timeline Setter -- ProPublica-released open source tool for building timelines from spreadsheets of event data. See their post for more information. (via Laurel Ruma)
  2. Return to Shenzhen Part 1 -- Nate from SparkFun makes a trip to component capital of the world. It's like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for geeks. a special market that dealt exclusively with bulk cell phones. That's right, you could buy a pile of cell phones. [...] This market was truly amazing. It was one of most dense I've been to, shoulder to shoulder with very little standing room. Every device imaginable was available (checkout the pile of iPads) and people were literally negotiating a spot price minute by minute. The raw phones were sold for cash and then taken to other parts of the market for parts, resale, or recycling.
  3. Suwappu Toys in Media (BERG London) -- a concept video for a toy project. This is not primarily a technology demo, it’s a video exploration of how toys and media might converge through computer vision and augmented video. We’ve used video both as a communication tool and as a material exploration of toys, animation, augmented reality and 3D worlds.
  4. Predator Eye-Tracking Video (YouTube) -- neat technology. The source was released, retracted, reposted to GitHub by a third party, then retracted but rumours are it will be properly released soon.

September 24 2010

April 19 2010

Your hidden treasures

If a Superman comic can fetch $1.5m - as one did recently at an auction in the US - then how much could the toys, records and furniture in your house be worth? Emine Saner puts a price on some unlikely collectors' items


During the war, the only American comics that made it to the UK were brought by US sailors docking at Southampton, who would swap them for sweets and cigarettes. Sadly, that means the chances of finding a comic in your attic to rival the 1938 issue of Action Comics No 1 (the first Superman cartoon), which sold recently for a record-breaking $1.5m, is remote. Nonetheless, says comic expert and auctioneer Malcolm Phillips: "Any British comics from the war years are very collectable. There would be a lot of propaganda in them aimed at children, which was very interesting. You'd get a picture of Hitler hanging by a rope, dead."

Phillips is well placed to judge. In 2004, he sold a copy of the first Dandy from 1937 for £20,350. "What was rare about it was it came with its original free gift – a whistle," says Phillips.

A Beano from the early 40s could go for up to £40, and special issues can be double or treble that. In a pile of 50s comics, Malcolm always looks for issue 452 – the comic in which Dennis the Menace makes his first appearance.

It isn't just comics either. Phillips recently auctioned an almost complete year of Melody Makers from 1963, which includes its first Beatles cover."We are inundated with people wanting to sell stuff, but we turn a lot of it away," he says. Most comics from the 70s onwards, in good condition, are still only worth a few pounds.


"There is a massive market for 20th-century toys," says antiques expert and TV presenter Jonty Hearnden. Indeed, last month a collection of toy cars fetched £100,000 at auction. Anyone who has ever watched an antiques show will know that collectors prize mint condition, but even if you weren't one of those odd children who never took their robots or Batman models out of their original boxes, there is a chance your old toys could still be worth something.

"I was at a car boot sale last year and there were all these old Sindy dolls," says collectables expert Tracey Martin. "They were in terrible condition – their hair had been chopped off, some were missing feet – but I bought them for £1 each because I liked their outfits." Then she put them on eBay and they all went for £70-80 each. "It turned out they were rare, which goes to show that even something in awful condition can be worth a fair bit if it's rare enough."

The Green Lady picture

This otherworldly, or sickly, depending on your taste, face of a young Chinese woman gazed down from the walls of sitting rooms across the world in the 60s and 70s, but it was particularly popular in Britain. "You could buy prints of this picture very cheaply in Boots," says Martin, "and they're still in people's homes today." This print, by painter Vladimir Tretchikoff, one of the most famous ever made, still makes snobbish art critics recoil, but thanks to the ongoing trend for kitsch, says Martin, it now sells for around £100.

Record collections

Whenever anyone finds out what Ian Shirley does – he's the editor of the Rare Record Price Guide – they always want to know how much their own collections are worth. "Obviously, it depends on what they have. They could have 200 records worth £10,000, or 2,000 records worth much less." The best way to find out is to get a copy of the price guide, or do a search on an internet auction site to see how much records have sold for. There are two things that determine value: scarcity, and mint condition (this usually means never played, even better if it has never been taken out of its sleeve). Lots of people will have Beatles or Rolling Stones records, but there aren't that many mint copies, says Shirley. Records that didn't sell well when they came out are worth much more. Vinyl from the 50s and 60s is usually collectable, and at the moment certain genres are doing better than others: 70s prog and folk rock, psychedelic, reggae. Even more recent records have become collectable – a collector will pay around £40 for a copy of Blur's Parklife, for instance.

Wedding presents

In the 50s and 60s, many couples received stainless-steel tableware such as teapots and toast racks as wedding gifts. "Look out for anything from the 50s onwards from Old Hall," says Mark Hill, co-author of Miller's Collectables Price Guide and presenter of BBC's forthcoming Cracking Antiques. "Lots of people were given teapots and other kitchenware in the 60s as wedding presents and they've been forgotten about in cupboards." A collector will pay up to £150 for a teapot from the company's Alveston range.

A popular 70s wedding present was Sheringham candlesticks, produced by Kings Lynn and Wedgwood Glass and designed by Ronald Stennett-Willson. "Again, they fell out of fashion, but now they are starting to emerge from lofts and sideboards," says Hill. They are made from coloured discs of glass, and the more discs the candlestick has, the more valuable it is – one with eight discs can be worth more than £1,000.


There are marble collectors who will pay up to several hundred pounds for a shiny sphere and a pretty pattern. What you are looking for here is late 19th- and early 20th-century marbles. "They were handmade in Germany and you can tell what they are by looking for two rough patches at the top and bottom," says Hill. What happens with all collectables is that once the very rare, early examples of an item are bought up, collectors move down the food chain to the not-so-old-and-rare versions. "So later marbles made in America by companies such as Akro Agate and Christensen are collectable too, and rising in value. I went through my collection from childhood and I found I had a few good ones." As ever, the better the condition, the better the value, so look for ones that aren't chipped and scuffed – and common cats' eye marbles aren't particularly collectable.

Vintage clothes

Items from valuable designer names such as Ozzie Clark, Biba and Mary Quant are already well-known, but there are others, says Martin, packed away in trunks or hidden at the back of wardrobes that any vintage collector would snap up. "Look for anything by Bill Gibb, the 70s fashion designer, which can be worth up to £600, or Jean Varon – this label was designed by John Bates, and a good maxidress can be worth anything up to around £400." Even modern clothes can fetch high prices on internet auction sites, particularly designer high-street collaborations, says Martin. "Matthew Williamson's 'peacock dress' for H&M can fetch as much as £250."

Ercol furniture

Chances are, you probably won't have an undiscovered Tufft table in the spare room, but more recent furniture can be valuable too. Hill's top tip is for mid-century Ercol furniture, which is particularly sought after at the moment. "Look out for the nest of three 'pebble' tables, particularly in blond wood," says Hill. They are worth around £150, with some shops charging several hundred. "You'd imagine that sort of furniture sitting unloved in a corner somewhere." © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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