Thursday, 11 December 2008

From Chinese Wedding Cakes to Manfredi Beninati

I see things and think, “Wow I’ve got to take a photo of that!” It’s all in the name of Visual Research. I spotted this Chinese wedding cake in a dusty shop window in Chicago. It is ticking a lot of boxes for me.

Firstly the window was dirty and the shop interior was deserted and dusty. This was strange as it was in quite a smart area on Michigan Avenue. I was walking towards the Wrigley Building for a meeting in the British consulate. (All part of my recent UKTI sponsored trip to SOFA Chicago.)
Things I love about this cake
It’s so OTT. There was not just one cake but five all joined by fantastic fairytale and “gloriously” iced bridges.
It was Chinese but seemed to me western in a weird sort of American way?
But most importantly it was the light fittings and extension lead that really “turned me on”.

So it’s a lit up wedding cake! And with so many lights that it needs a multi socket extension lead. But the sockets seemed to be miniature. Like a caravan or better still a dolls house. This is how my mind works; I’m making connections all the time.

I loved my dolls house. It was handed down to me by my dad’s second cousin and it was old. Sadly when I was only about 5 my grandmother took it to a dolls house repairer. He stripped all the wiring out, well the lights didn’t work anyway and they must have thought that I wouldn’t notice or mind. But I did. I remembered and, believe it or not, I even dreamed of these lights working again. For me it’s so often about the tiny details.

I even had a miniature dolls house within my dolls house. So when we visited Manfredi Beniati’s fantastic installation as part of Liverpool Biennial MADE one of the best details for me was that he had made a dolls house within his staged perfect house.We knew that we were looking for a hole in a scruffy billboard on Renwick street but it wasn’t until my second visit that I noticed the other details. One of the posters on the peeling billboard is actually a photograph of his dream installation. In the photograph there is a boy with a hammer in his hands and he is bashing at something.

When you look inside through the viewing hole you see a hammer lying discarded on the carpet. This is the hammer that the boy was using. The hole that you are looking through is actually the hole that he has made; the one he was making in the photograph. Honestly, it look me two visits before I put all this together. I love mind twists like this. Theatre, make believe and a twist on reality. It’s fantastic.

My only excuse for not getting this all on first viewing was that I was so entranced by the dolls house that Beninati had made and placed, meaningfully, in the middle of the room.
It’s all about possibilities and these are within each viewer’s mind. Possibilities can have more power than physical reality. In my dreams of my dolls house the working lights were chandeliers not plastic dolls house fittings with clumsy switches.

And here's the minature house from my dolls house.

My second trip to Liverpool Biennial was with a group of other artists also part of Eastside Projects Extra Special People.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Family visit to RIBA prizewinner Accordia Living.

Much of my inspiration comes from interiors and architecture, especially memories of houses visited while I was still a child. So how will today’s cutting edge interiors affect my children? How will they affect my own work? I enjoyed watching the RIBA Stirling Prize when it was broadcast on TV recently. It has started to be a family event. We watched last year and now that my 13 year old daughter is planning to study architecture its great … another excuse to visit interesting architecture. A few weeks ago we “popped in” to check out Accordia Living by Redeham Homes.
These apartments have disguised parking below. Always one for detailing I was interested in the caged granite walls.
A street. Could our family ever live in a place like this?
This is it. Front door with garage to the right. Only room for one car though and no extra space for stuff. Really interesting garden space . I can imagine parties and entertaining here but a trampoline is a no no.
This is the 4 bedroom house that we were able to spend time in. It was certainly very interesting. It made me ask questions about what I like about my own house. What inconveniences I live with and accept on a daily basis? What I think I need but sometimes don’t use much? It really made us think about what we as a family do. We have a lot of things musical instruments, sewing machine, art equipment, lots of cooking and kitchen items and an eclectic range of furniture. No matter how well designed a building is show homes are still spooky. BUT, when compared to all other new build suburban housing (you know, the mock Georgian stuff), then Accordia is in a completely different league and that’s why, in my opinion, it rightly deserves the RIBA Stirling Award.

Monday, 6 October 2008

What's in a name?

It’s a question I’ve been asked many times. Why Frillip Moolog? Why not just use your own name, Kirsty Smith?
Well back in April 2006 when I first set up my website I discovered that Kirsty Smith is really quite a common name but more importantly, if you Google, “Kirsty Smith”, you get a porn star. Not wanting to be confused with this blonde beauty I decided to go for something completely different.
Frillip Moolog originates from an essay that I’d written a few years earlier. I’d been inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. I made an installation which investigated a world where objects weren’t fit for purpose and broke free from their normal rules of use (the genesis of my current art practice). Lewis Carroll famously made up his own words; chortle and burble are two examples and his poem, Jabberwocky. So Frillip Moolog is a name that I made up originally making reference to things not being as they seemed and how they could be in an alternative world. Visually Frillip moolog alludes to mirrored words. I like the look of the name and if you roll your “R”s as we do in Scotland, then it sounds good too.

Since 2006 my practice has developed. I have investigated many areas of the art world to find where I fit in. Not easy to categorise being on the fringes of textiles, craft, sculpture and design. Although craftsmanship of execution is very important to me the concept, the narrative and the context in which the beings are seen are all crucial to my practice. I think as a Fine Artist but so often initial comments refer to how “well made” my work is. So I need to explain Frillip Moolog more simply, more clearly and in two concise sentences. I practiced my elevator pitch but still confused people by mentioning, “Beings from a Parallel Universe”. I was told that some might confuse this with some sort of religious cult…..
To try to create more awareness for Frillip Moolog I exhibited using it in place of my name to ensure that it would feature in the catalogue. This certainly led to more confusion. Was it an alter ego or a nom de plume? Was I using the name just to get attention? That would suggest that I wasn’t confident of getting attention on the work alone.
A few years ago I was advised to get the "Kirstyness" out of my work. But without the "Kirstyness" what would remain?

Frillip Moolog beings will never be just a product.

In a nutshell.
Frillip moolog is a name that I made up. It is a place in our minds or even a mindset where objects actually have personalities. They don’t actually walk and talk … but they could… if you let your imagination run wild. In my mind each of my sculptures or beings has his/her own unique personality. It is informed both by the materials and form of the piece and it evolves during the making process. I am interested in writing diaries of their fictitional lives but have held back as I don’t want to dictate how viewers interact with the beings. I don’t want to confine them to one possible personality. I want viewers to develop their own relationship with each Frillip Moolog being.

The beings can be seen as meditative objects. They bring back feelings, sensations and memories. They act as portals for us to return to a childhood space/ place in our minds. The name that I have given to this place is Frillip Moolog.

Alyson B. Stanfield’s articles on artist’s names and business names seemed to have been written for me. and

The key thing that she said in her newsletter back in July is,
“Decide how you want to go down in the history books and stick with it.”
Simple really… Kirsty E. Smith. Frillip Moolog is part of me something that my work is currently about but I will always be Kirsty E. Smith.
And…. my Google ratings are doing pretty well now. No need to worry about the porn star!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Is there any venue that can't host a Being or two?

Wirksworth Festival is a fantastic three week event. Today I set up four Beings in this wonderful window space at The Bookshop. It's on market Place at the bottom of a very steep hill. Thanks very much to Richard Barrett who was very patient while I took over his shop window space. The festival is on until 21st September. Go to for full programme details. I'm looking forward to the Arts Trail tomorrow. It's a chance to view a wide selection of art by contemporary artists. The unusual thing is that the work is displayed in private houses that the owners have volunteered as exhibition space. It's clear to see that I am as interested in the domestic interiors as I am in the art. Interior design and furnishings gives me a buzz!
You may have noticed Bettina. She's the new babe with 12 lemon squeezer legs. Studio shots on the website soon.

Friday, 29 August 2008

It's good to share

After the calm comes the party! It's weird but looking at these photos just makes me feel even more sure that the Beings are private. You relate to them in moments of quiet. I'm not so sure that they're as much party types as I am. But then Chubby Blue ... I've always said that he's a cocktail boy.

How to Meditate

How to meditate? How to go back to that place of safety, that perfect moment? Maybe sometime from years ago or even just last week. Here Sophie and Richard from the Hand and Heart Gallery chill out and get into the Frillip Moolog mindset. They were fantastic at helping me set up for the Ensemble show there.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Professional photos of a prizewinner.

These shots of Reg at The West Midlands Open 08 look fantastic. It just goes to show what a difference a good camera and professional photographer can make. My thanks to Wolverhampton Art Gallery for access to these images. My thanks also go to Wolverhampton University who sponsored the Best 3D art work prize. Which Reg won! More photos from the opening night here. Sadly I was not available to collect my prize in person so Dave had to smile for the camera on my behalf!

Monday, 28 July 2008

Frillip Moolog Hits Nottingham!

Since showing at the Erewash Borough Museum the exhibition 'Future/Past' has morphed into a new show- 'EnsembIe'. Rachel Eite's installation piece will be spectacular in the large glass ceiling/window space and you can get up close and personal with more Frillip Moolog beings (sculptures). Kirsty will be exhibiting four 'beings' in the intimate setting of the rear gallery room. The Hand and Heart Gallery has a good vibe and is in demand as one of Nottingham's new exhibition spaces. Come along to the Private View on Monday 4th August meet the artists and discuss the work on show.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

More Mid Century Fans

Every day I discover that I am not alone in my enthusiasm for Mid 20th century design. Yesterday while visiting degree shows at BIAD at City University Birmingham I picked up a leafted about MODA Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture. Today it came up in a conversation with Eleanor John at of my favourite places to be.) Diamond Geezer's blog has a great post on it and from reading some more of his posts I realise that I'm not alone in my appreciation for yesteryear; Lady bird books, Magic Roundabout (the original) and Fanny Craddock to name but a few topics to explore in the future. In the meantime here's one of my favorite images. A perfect Plywood Danish Design stool and a light up Basil Brush . Say no more!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Organic and ecclectic. Inspiration before taking in Gaudi.

I'm off to Barcelona this week and already I'm thinking of organic shapes. I've had these fantastic little mesh sink drainers for a few weeks now and was planning to use them in a being which also uses the fabric from a vintage pink Crimpelene "granny suit" which I bought from Oxfam.

Yesterday I saw these galvanised rings and I feel certain that they will be significant in the new 1970's purple hessian being which has started to invade my thoughts.

It's often the way; I think that I'm all set to make one piece when suddenly forms and textures appropriate for another one rush to the forefront of my mind. I've had this image of one of Catrin Mostyn Jones vivid ceramics hanging on my pinboard for ages. I find the little protruding fins on this ring form intruiging.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

And Now it's Off to Work

Madeleine had her studio shots done and is now modelling on my listing on This is a great website and in less than 24hours I had a response to my listing on it. It runs smoothly, is easy to upload to and is recognised as a first stop site for information on anything creative, especially in Derbyshire. I have two listings on it. One for Frillip Moolog
and one for AllSensesArt

Madeleine, attention seeking and engaging

No sooner had the show at Erewash Museum opened than Madeleine had started to make her presence felt. Comments include:
-"Madeleine is lovely. I thought at first she was pregnant but now I see she is heavily corseted – perhaps wearing a bustle."
-"I decided Madeleine was rather maternal...She isn't "with child" is she?"
-"Madeleine - she's intriguing!"
Even the museum staff have started to build a relationship with her:
"Madeleine is doing well, she has her "hair" done whenever she needs it and she said to say hello!

Monday, 28 April 2008

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Future / Past at Erewash Museum

Future/Past is an exhibition of contemporary art at the Erewash museum in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. Brainchild of Alan Clarke, he has given artists Hugh Dichmont, Chie Hosaka, Samuel Mercer, Charlotte Pratley, Rachel Eite, Peter Norman and myself freedom to make work which is in response (to a greater or lesser extent) to the Edwardian and Victoran building that houses the museum. Madeleine, the latest of my Frillip Moolog beings will be installed in the Georgian schoolroom. Here she is the making.

Future/Past Contemporary Art at Erewash Museum, Ilkeston, Derbyshire
opens on Saturday 3rd May and runs until the end of July 2008.