Welcome to the latest Studio Spark, where the CWA design studio shares whatever has been sparking our creative imaginations over the past 7 days – whether that be Art or Design, Film or Theatre, Music or Dance, Technology or Nature…

Here’s this week’s roundup.

Censorship paper cut poster series

Written by Karen Hall
Psiphon Instagram poster
This week Canadian design agency Rack & Pinion Creative produced a clever cardboard cutout poster series for Psiphon.

Psiphon “… serves a specific and simple purpose: to grant users open access to the internet when information controls are arbitrarily imposed within any given country.” In layman’s terms, Psiphon have developed an app that helps people regain their access to blocked parts of the internet.

R&P’s posters help spread awareness about internet censorship. The focal point of each poster uses a small colourful cardboard cutout model based on an individual search engine or social media logo. However, the logo has been distorted to reflect the headline, which states an error with the site. For example Instagram’s headline, ‘Failed. Tap to retry’ shows Instagram’s logo but with a lens cap on the camera. Smart, right? Check out what they have done to the other four.

Rack & Pinion’s concept of reflecting a problem with a search engine/social media through thoughtful copy and fun, vibrant cardboard cutout models brings a lot more life into what could have been a boring project.

It gets a “like” from me.

For more information about Psiphon, click here or for more about Rack & Pinion Creative click here.

Stained class

Written by Chris Nobbs

A.Thomson-Creation sequence

This week I’m highlighting the work of stained glass artist Aidan Thomson. He’s an old school friend of mine (in fact my wife and I were lucky enough to be given one of his windows as a most brilliant and unique gift when we got married) but there’s no favouritism here, hopefully you’ll easily see that his work stands here entirely on its own merit. His windows have been installed in a range of churches, schools and chapels throughout the midlands and beyond, and his work adds a vibrant, contemporary twist to often traditional subject matter.

Speaking this week exclusively to Studio Spark, he told us more about how he got started: “I have always had a love of rich colour and developed a deep fascination with art and architecture at an early age; in time I gravitated towards studying a medium that … seemed so unlike any other, a glowing translucence that performed a kind of magic trick with the light, converting it to pure colour and transforming architectural space. There are so many mediocre windows out there that fail to lift the spirit, but I could see that when something was good and harnessed the full potential of the medium, its power was sublime, and that was a world I wanted to belong to.”

Having served his time with a studio making and restoring traditional windows, he subsequently went independent, allowing him more freedom with his own designs. Although humble about his work, Aidan does concede that he has “developed a ‘hallmark’ style/approach that people seem to recognise”. He’s being modest – his unique style has made him one of the most promising contemporary stained glass artists in the UK. “I do have a penchant for swirling movement in my windows,” he says, “I feel this engages and uplifts the viewer far more than the many static images one sees in church windows.”

He doesn’t make life easy for himself either, with his windows usually featuring complex leadwork as well as plenty of painted detail. And he even had to remake one of these windows from scratch (his ‘New Jerusalem’ rose window for St. Nicholas’s Church, Radford Semele) after his original was destroyed by a fire in 2008. He admits, “taking the quickest or easiest option when it comes to designing is a pet hate of mine, I may end up over-complicating my task, but wouldn’t have it any other way!”

You can find out more on his website and see more on his Flickr page.

An Embroidery of Voids

Written by Martin Lovegrove

There is very little information online about Daniel Crooks, the creator of this art piece that takes the viewer on a journey through various back streets all stitched together as if one long tunnel.

Daniel’s projects tend to work along the theme of time, and how it can be manipulated and this project is no exception. It’s incredibly calming to watch, especially with headphones on.

Abandoned places

Written by Teresa Bembrick


Have you ever come across a photograph and wondered what the story was behind that image?

A few of us here at CWA are fascinated by images and stories of abandoned places. Some images are eerie, others are so scary they can give you nightmares but all have the making of an amazing story.

There are a band of talented photographers out there venturing into these unknown (and often forbidden) places to capture these forlorn moments in time. One of the best abandoned photographers is Dan Circa. His images have a faded tone and texture to them which is gritty yet compelling. The Red Dress Manor series (a derelict dairy farm in Llanymynech, Powys) seems to tell the story of a house abandoned overnight. Everything is still in situ… untouched. The owner, Ellen Jones, died in the 1970s, leaving her red dress hanging on her wardrobe. The building has been long forgotten and very few people have ventured inside it.

Some of the most fascinating pictures are of whole communities that have abandoned their homes. The most famous of which would be Pripyat which is a few miles from Chernobyl. And there are plenty of equally fascinating abandoned places that you have probably never heard of like Varosha which is a abandoned area of Famagusta in Cyprus and Kolmanskop in Namibia which is a small ghost mining town swallowed by sand dunes.

Some abandoned places are modern, like the city of Ordos, Inner Mongolia. Huge amounts of money were invested in this newly created city for a growing population which never took up residence.

However, the most scary photos are of abandoned asylums. True horror story material.

It’s staggering the amount of abandoned places there are across the world and also just on your doorstep. It could be an old underground station like Aldwych in London or hidden flooded communities like Measand and Mardale which made way for the Haweswater reservoir in the Lake District.

Flickr have a whole host of abandoned pictures from around the world. Also have a look at The Ultra Linx website.

It just goes to show that there can be unexpected beauty in the most unusual places long forgotten by the modern world. Next time something catches your eye, don’t forget to take a photo.

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