Stitching up Banksy

It’s well documented that Banksy settled on stencilling as a faster means by which to get his art onto the streets.

The man clearly likes to cut corners, but has it all gone a bit too far?

Banksy’s limited edition signed prints now fetch upwards of $10,000 a pop, and while Andy Warhol would no doubt be proud of the rate at which he’s spewing out his ‘originals’, I fear it’s just a matter of time before we see Banksy giclées infesting every Ikea around the globe.

Does Banksy really want to be remembered as the Ronald McDonald of the art world?

To my mind, the man is at the point where he could do with some good old fashioned street cred.

Enter through the gift shop the 300 year-old art of cross-stitch. While it may be considered the painstaking province of lavender-scented hunchbacked dears in pince nez, it is in fact the perfect antidote to Banksy’s teetering veneer of credibility.

The author's work in progress

The author’s work in progress

The author's first completed Banksy original

The author’s first completed Banksy original

Urban Cross Stitch, which stocks a great range of patterns, may think of it as Art Juxtaposition or pop culture irony, but I prefer to consider it a higher purpose on Banksy’s behalf.

That is, to see the needle and the damage undone.

Cross-stitch patterns approx $40 AUD. Includes grid guide, threads and canvas..

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Froggyland – Croatia’s Taxidermy Treasure

On the whole I didn’t much care for Croatia. I recall food resembling slabs of boiled elephant, ‘fruit’ liqueurs so lurid they should have been served with a HAZMAT suit and a mournful nation preoccupied with folkloric dirges so dour the national anthem might as well have been ‘For the love of my tractor’ or ‘My heart belongs to donkey’.

Conde Nast Traveller and numerous friends have long waxed lyrical about Croatia so evidently I was there when it was having a bad hair (shirt) day, but such was my disenchantment at the time that I wondered why the sign for the town of Split hadn’t included an exclamation mark after its name as a blunt travel tip of sorts.

But Froggyland – that quixotic caravan of amphibian folly located just near the Krka National Falls – made everything better.

Froggyland was a direct consequence of last century’s deep fascination with taxidermy, which was recognised as an artistic pursuit of great importance. In the taxidermy rock star pantheon, Croatia’s Ferenc Mere was, alas, one of its quiet achievers and forgotten heroes.

In the early 1900’s Ferenc painstakingly stuffed hundreds of small frogs and then applied his singular artistry to fashion them into all manner of tableaux; a schoolroom of diligent froggy pupils hunched over desks, a seamstress whipping up a creation in spots on the Singer. A froggy circus troupe forming human(!) pyramids.

The attention to detail on display was only outshone by the willful absurdity of Ferenc’s pursuit. That after more than a century, his creations remained housed in an unprepossessing caravan off the beaten track of a small town near a waterfall in Croatia only made for a more delicious experience.

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That was some years ago now. For all I know Froggyland has since been granted the national importance it so richly deserves and Ferenc has been cast in bronze somewhere (and hopefully taking on an appropriately green patina).

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Either way, Froggyland will remain one of a clutch of truly serendipitous travel moments. For that alone, I dip my lid, ‘One Froggy Evening’ style, to Croatia.

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Lego on the tiles

Even though the only things Norman liked to play with as a child was his mother and strychnine, Norma’s boy would have been most pleased with this lovingly recreated shower scene from Psycho in monochromatic Lego pieces. The fact that the creator has stuck with elegant black and white tiles shows impressive restraint … just as Norman would have wanted it. So pristine and so … asking for a violent splash of red! Platform 72 on Oxford Street for the original, should you have a lazy $3,000 to spare.

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