A Brief and Fascinating History of Ultramarine Blue

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Left: Cropped image of Vermeer's, Girl with a Pearl Earring, ca. 1665.

Right: Cropped image of Sassoferrato's, The Virgin in Prayer, 1640–50.


Have you ever considered the history behind ultramarine blue? As a colour it has long been imbued with connotations of royalty, divinity and wealth. It turns out there is a very particular reason for this, the first and foremost being that it was outrageously expensive to have it sourced and made. Ravi Mangla narrates a fascinating historical tour of ultramarine blue in The Paris Review saying:


Derived from the lapis lazuli stone, the pigment was considered more precious than gold. For centuries, the lone source of ultramarine was an arid strip of mountains in northern Afghanistan. The process of extraction involved grinding the stone into a fine powder, infusing the deposits with melted wax, oils, and pine resin, and then kneading the product in a dilute lye solution. Because of its prohibitive costs, the color was traditionally restricted to the raiment of Christ or the Virgin Mary.


To read Ravi Mangla's full article in The Paris Review click here.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 18 June 2015 15:03

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Speechless: Comic Book Market and Colloquium Featuring Zapiro, Stacey Stent, Sean Christie and CCIBA's Andy Mason

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The month of May witnessed the successful opening of SPEECHLESS, South African Comic Artists on the State of the Nation, currently on show at Erdmann Contemporary at 84 Kloof Street in Cape Town.The Erdmann Contemporary gallery, the CCIBA and AMAK have gone one step further and will be hosting a comic book market and colloquium on Saturday 20 June where passers-by will have the opportunity to buy local South African comics and rare comic book publications from all over the world. 

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Speechless curator Andy Mason will be trading classic underground, alternative and old new wave comix to swop for good quality mainstream graphic novels/trade paperbacks. Comics and graphic novel authors include Love & Rockets/Hernandez Bros, Daniel Clowes, Eddie Campbell, Joe Sacco, Jim Woodring, Julie Doucet, Adrian Tominee, Gilbert Shelton/Freak Bros, Spain Rodriguez, Anarchy Comix, R. Crumb/Aline Kominsky/Dirty Laundry, Last Gasp, Psycho, Zero Zero and more.

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Thomas Ott's Dead End, Vertigo's Fairest featuring the writing of Lauren Beukes, Charles Burns' Skin Deep, Classic Mad Magazine, Al Jaffee, Love and Rockets, R. Crumb's Head Comix, Thor, Tintin, Asterix, Alex, Phantom, Sin City, Hyena, Epic, Heavy Metal, Peter Kuper's Stripped, Claire Bretecher's What a Life, Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest, Archie Birch's The Number One Game, Kit Beukes' Wrath, Jungle Jim amd even El Dorado for the serious collector. 

The market begins at 2pm and the Colloquium, featuring Zapiro, Stacey Stent, Sean Christie and chaired by Andy Mason, kicks off at 4pm. Artists will be discussing issues arising out of the show, of which there are many. The Blah Blah Bar will be providing drinks (including a Speechless Cocktail), and Ferdinandos Pizza will be supplying special customised comic pizzas. What a treat!

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If you're not familiar with the Speechless exhibition, click here for more information surrounding the initiative and artist bios. 

To view the digital catalogue of the show, click on this link for a sneak-peak.

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Last Updated on Friday, 19 June 2015 05:27

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Jacopo Rosati's Charming Felt Illustrations

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Cropped illustrations by Jacopo Rosati.

After growing bored with his digital illustration portfolio, Jacopo Rosati decided to start experimenting with felt. The result is an explosion of bright colours and texture in a screen-based world where tactile and non-traditional-traditional media is making a massive comeback.

Have a look at Jacopo Rosati's illustrations here.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2015 04:59

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Illustrator Sarah Glidden's Guide to Non-Awkwardness When Greeting Other Humans

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Illustrations by Sarah Glidden.

We all have those moments when we bump into someone we know, may know or have met one time but have no idea how to greet upon seeing them again. Sarah Glidden's quirky series of illustrations manage to encapsulate the ins and outs of having to greet someone and our most typical responses. Going straight in for the hug? A simple wave of the hand - despite being ten centimetres away from the greeter in question? Glidden's got it covered.

Click here to have a look at Sarah Glidden's illustration.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 June 2015 05:32

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Adams & Adams Drafts Free Non-Disclosure Agreement for the South African Creative Community

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Not too long ago law firm Adams & Adams released what the Design Indaba called a "legal gift to the creative community" catered specifically towards South African creatives. At the recent 2015 ACT | University of Johannesburg Arts & Culture Conference, Business and Arts South Africa CEO Michelle Constant challenged Mariëtte Du Plessis, senior partner at Adams & Adams law firm, to provide artists with access to a simple Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) they could use when pitching their concepts and ideas. Adams & Adams accepted the challenge and drafted a general NDA artists and creatives could use in such scenarios including when pitching to potential partners. Du Plessis stated:


South African creatives, whether they are artists, designers, actors, writers, stage/film directors or musicians, are remarkably talented... They should be acutely aware of the value of their intellectual property rights and ensure that they obtain advice before entering into sponsorship contracts.


Journalist Kelly Berman from the Design Indaba website writes:

And while these days there is a strong movement to make creative products shareable via the Creative Commons, artists and designers need to make a living from their ideas and products – and this often means protecting their work from being copied or stolen by others. 


Click here to read the full article and to download the free non-disclosure agreement.

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Last Updated on Monday, 18 May 2015 05:29

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