I Cannot Tie a Reef Knot


Well last week was fun. The art world is often weird, wacky, scandalous, and fun, occasionally it is serious, but rarely is it mundane. The same is true of the world of technology and media. Last week a 350-pound inflatable pumpkin went on the rampage after breaking loose from Arizona’s Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, and following on the Halloween tradition of Pumpkins, it was always inevitable that we would see the introduction of the Trumpkin. A pumpkin created with the face of Donald Trump. If he wins the Presidency dear U.S friends, you will be in for so much more of this.

Rocky Horror finally returns, Fox are adapting the seasonal cult classic for TV, and it will star Orange Is the New Black’s Laverne Cox. In other entertainment news, The George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art has finally been approved by the Chicago City Council. I think I need a ticket for that one already.

In California, a weed focused art show – “Marijuana in California” will be opening next year at the Oakland Museum, and Zola, who is on Twitter but who is also a Hooters waitress and exotic dancer, has become an internet sensation for her serialized story about the secret life of strippers. Although the story is a little long, it is full of suspense and suspenders.

A new Andy Warhol exhibition, Andy Warhol, Stars of the Silver Screen, opened recently. Andy Warhol’s ultimate movie star had the hairline of Greta Garbo, the eyes of Joan Crawford, the nose and cheeks of Marlene Dietrich and the lips of Sophia Loren.

How do we know this? He showed us, in a composite celebrity visage he worked and reworked through sketches, photo montages, prints and paintings he made about 1962. That’s the same year this shy movie fan from Pittsburgh, born Andrew Warhola, rose to international fame as an artist.

His celebrity composite series is viewable at TIFF Bell Lightbox, along with nearly 1,000 other artifacts, art pieces, films and videos, as part of the Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen exhibition running Oct. 30 — Jan. 24. The new home for TIFF is a beautiful, welcoming five-story complex at the corner of King and John Streets in the heart of downtown Toronto.

For fans of Jeb Bush.. He will be creating an event during Art Basel Miami, called Pop Art, Politics, & Jeb. It really should be quite stunning. Really. In a more upbeat story, Central Saint Martin’s student, Brooke Purvis is taking a rather unique approach to deal with hos debt, he is planning to burn all of his student loans for his project, “Everything Burns”.

Red or White
Red or White with the M&Ms?


If you are a lover of wine, candy and chocolate we now know that Starbursts, Reese’s, and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate all pair perfectly with a light red wine. I’m thinking a St. Laurent, Pinot Noir, or a Gamay.

Still undecided?

The wonderful folks behind the wine app, Vivino, created a Halloween Survival Guide for Adults. Pairing popular candies from Nerds to Hershey’s, they clearly did a sterling job.


The British Museum is launching a program to work with Iraqi conservationists, curators, and archaeologists to protect the country’s cultural heritage. In the future, the project, for which the museum has won a £3m government grant, may be able to help tackle disasters such as the recent destruction of ancient monuments in Palmyra, Syria.

Also mentioning Iraq, it looks like the founders of the Museum of the Bible in D.C. may have illegally imported ancient artefacts from Iraq.

Meanwhile the Victoria and Albert Museum in London has turned down the opportunity to exhibit former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s clothes. The gallery had said that it had been in discussions about acquiring some of the items from her wardrobe, but has now said that they only collected items of “outstanding aesthetic or technical quality” and no formal offer was made.

The 300 plus items will now be sold at auction next month, following The Right Honourable the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven’s death some two and a half years ago. The auction will be held at Christie’s, and will include her blue velvet wedding dress and various power suits worn during her tenure in Downing Street, and the sale will also include handbags and jewellery.


Mrs. Thatcher - Property from the Collection of The Right Honourable The Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, LG, OM, FRS - London, December 2015

London – Christie’s will offer Mrs Thatcher: Property from the Collection of The Right Honourable The Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, LG, OM, FRS in December 2015. In the year that ‘The Iron Lady’ would have celebrated her 90th birthday, approximately 350 historic and personal lots will be offered across two landmark sales: a flagship auction presenting 150 lots will take place in London at Christie’s headquarters on Tuesday 15 December, and an online only sale comprising 200 lots will open for bids on Thursday 3 December and run for two weeks until 16 December.

These sales are taking place 25 years after Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) left Office, at the end of her 11 year high profile tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979-1990).

Providing public and private insights into the trajectory of a political titan, these sales present items relating to Margaret Thatcher’s time in Office, including her red leather Prime Ministerial Dispatch box (estimate: £3,000-5,000), signed copies of key speeches and an award presented to her from President Ronald Reagan, alongside jewellery, clothes and handbags.

Among the most personal lots is Mrs Thatcher’s wedding outfit, as well as much loved early English porcelain, silver and gold boxes. The most valuable lot is an Art Deco emerald and diamond necklace by Chaumet (estimate: £120,000-180,000). The property is being sold on behalf of beneficiaries of Baroness Thatcher’s estate as part of the arrangements following her death in 2013.

These auctions present unique opportunities, across price levels, for collectors around the world to acquire property from the longest serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the 20th century and the only woman to have held Office to date. Estimates range from £200 up to £180,000.



Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher

On 13 December, 1951, at the age of 26, Margaret Roberts married Denis Thatcher at Wesley’s Chapel in the West End of London, becoming Mrs Thatcher. Marking the start of the couple’s married life together, the wedding outfit will be offered on 15 December, comprising Mrs Thatcher’s midnight blue velvet wedding dress, with a sweetheart neckline and long sleeves, labelled Constance Gowns and Suits, Old Bexley; a blue velvet soft brimmed cap with a curled pink ostrich feather and a blue velvet muff, with an Art Deco double clip silver and marcasite brooch (estimate: £10,000-15,000).

This outfit is said to be inspired by Gainsborough’s celebrated portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. The wedding reception was held at 5 Carlton Gardens, the home of Sir Alfred Bossom, one of Margaret Thatcher’s earliest and greatest supporters.


Highlights from Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister are led by her red leather Prime Ministerial Dispatch Box, embossed with the royal cypher of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, inscribed ‘Prime Minister’ and numbered ‘1’ (estimate: £3,000-5,000).

A piece of political history, the sale also includes a signed and bound copy of ‘A Grand Finale, The Rt Hon Margaret Thatcher’s Last Speech As Prime Minister’, House of Commons, 22nd November 1990 (estimate: £500-800).


Illustrating the high regard in which Margaret Thatcher was held in America and specifically by President Ronald Reagan is a 20th century Kaiser bisque figure of an American bald eagle, modelled by Gerd Pitterkoff (estimate: £5,000-8,000).

The inscription reads ‘Presented to the Hon. Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain for staunch and spirited support of the market economy principle. The Award was presented by the Hon. Walter H. Annenberg with the best wishes from Ronald Reagan President of the United States, June 13th 1984, and was presented at the Foreign Office of 10 Downing Street.


The daughter of a professional dressmaker, Margaret Thatcher was “brought up to know the importance of cut” and recognised the potential power of fashion to enhance, project and mirror individual stature, as well as its role in commerce for the country stating “anything I can do to heighten the spotlight on British fashion, I do…” (Vogue Interview, August 1985).

Wearing carefully selected outfits, her look became synonymous with ‘power dressing.’ These sales present an extraordinary array of immaculate attire worn on countless historic occasions throughout Margaret Thatcher’s life.

Highlights include: the iconic ‘Tank’ raincoat by Aquascutum worn during a visit to British Forces at a NATO training ground near Fallingbostel, Germany in September 1986 (estimate: £10,000-20,000, including the beige silk headscarf, with ‘Hôtel Ritz, Paris’ into the border); a black and white hound’s-tooth tweed wrap, that reverses to fuschia pink, which was worn during her visit to Washington in 1988 (estimate:£800-1,200); and a camel-coloured cashmere coat with a stranded mink collar by Aquascutum that she wore on her official visit to Moscow in March, 1987 (estimate: £1,500-2,500).

‘Power Dressing’ outfits include a suit of Royal blue wool crêpe by Aquascutum which was worn in parliament when Mrs Thatcher was serving as Prime Minister, circa 1989-90 (estimate: £2,000-3,000) and a grey wool suit by Francois Neckar which is depicted in the Norman Parkinson portrait. Complete with two associated blouses of printed grey silk, one with a rouleaux ribbon necktie (estimate: £800-1,200).

Among the evening attire is a black cocktail suit by Tomasz Starzewski that Margaret Thatcher wore to her 70th birthday party at Claridge’s, October 1995, which was attended by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II (estimate: £1,000-2,000). Woven with baroque motifs, the suit is trimmed with outsized pearl and paste floral buttons with a matching evening skirt.

‘Handbagging’ is a verb which the Oxford English Dictionary notes was ‘coined in the 1980s by Julian Critchley, Conservative MP, with reference to Margaret Thatcher’s ministerial style in cabinet meetings’, the dictionary defines it as ‘(Of a woman) verbally attack or crush (a person or idea) ruthlessly and forcefully’.

The sales present a number of Mrs Thatcher’s handbags, with the auction on 15 December including a classic navy blue leather handbag by Launer, London, which will be offered together with a Washington University silk scarf (estimate: £2,000-3,000).


The jewellery to be offered in the auction on 15 December is led by an exquisite Art Deco emerald and diamond necklace by Chaumet, circa 1930 (estimate: £120,000-180,000). A firm favourite of Mrs Thatcher’s was a George III diamond flower brooch, circa 1800 (estimate: £8,000-10,000).

Margaret Thatcher was widely photographed wearing this brooch both in Britain and abroad, and is wearing the brooch in her official portrait which hangs at 10 Downing Street. Pavé set throughout, the brooch comprises old cushion, pear and circular-cut diamonds.

Margaret Thatcher was rarely seen without a string of pearls which became her trademark. This sale includes a two-row cultured pearl necklace, composed of sixty-six and sixty-nine cultured pearls (estimate: £1,000-1,500).


Providing an insight into Margaret Thatcher’s private world, the sale features 18th, 19th and 20th century English porcelain, glass, gold boxes and silver. Baroness Thatcher’s personal penchant for collecting early porcelain is highlighted by a charming Chelsea plate, circa 1760, which is hand painted with exotic birds, within shell and scalloped pink panelled and gilt-edged borders (estimate: £800-1,200).

Margaret Thatcher also collected British porcelain figures of both statesmen and people from military history. One of her favourites among the group was The Latham Centrepiece, Albuhera, 18.6.1811, by Michael Sutty (estimate: £600-1,000). Gold boxes include a striking Swiss enamelled gold snuff-box, with malachite green enamel decoration (estimate: £6,000-8,000). Other charming small boxes which will be offered include a wide selection by Halcyon Days, with estimates from £300.


The online only sale will open for bids on Thursday 3 December and run for two weeks until 16 December, the day after the London auction takes place at Christie’s headquarters on 15 December. Comprising 200 lots, with estimates starting from £200, this sale will provide a wealth of further opportunities for international collectors.

Highlights include a small Fendi holdall of black canvas, with gilt hardware and an Aquascutum silk scarf with emerald green border and hound’s-tooth centre (estimate: £700-1,000) and a glamorous dress and matching coat of shot fuschia pink silk by Tomasz Starzewski which was made for Margaret Thatcher in 2007 (estimate: £500-800). The array of jewellery offered in this online sale includes a single row cultured pearl necklace, composed of sixty-nine cultured pearls (estimate: £500-800).


WASHINGTON — in a visit with his daughters this past summer, President Obama spent nearly an hour at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the nation’s largest repository of paintings and sketches by Edward Hopper. He also could have seen a few Hoppers at home.

Two of Hopper’s classic depictions of the American landscape — “Cobb’s Barns, South Truro” and “Burly Cobb’s House, South Truro” — now hang on the southeast side of the Oval Office, to the right of the French doors that lead to the Rose Garden.

In February, Mrs. Obama unveiled a revamped design for the Old Family Dining Room, a public space that since 1961 has been largely reserved for smaller official dinners and working meals with foreign leaders.

Down came the 1902 portrait by Theobald Chartran of Edith Carow Roosevelt, wife of the 26th president, with white gloves in her hand. In its place: the 1998 “Early Bloomer [Anagram (A Pun)],” a work by Rauschenberg that features swaths of red, white, blue, yellow and brown, with hints of an American flag.

Art does tend to change depending on the current President. Most of the historical objects and sculptures on display are a part of the White House’s permanent art collection, and this collection also features around 500 paintings. Of course the President can veto anything he or she doesn’t like, a tradition that is usually upheld by every President that has held a tenure within the walls.


A court has ruled that the man arrested on suspicion of the March gun attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunisia will not be extradited from Italy. Italy refuses to extradite to countries where subjects may receive the death penalty. Separately, citing lack of evidence, Milan prosecutors asked to drop the investigation into Touil’s alleged connection to the March 18 machine gun attack that left 22 people dead, mostly European tourists.


An online venue for the homeless and disabled to sell their art has just raised $1.1 million with thanks to the TOMS shoes founder and other investors and entrepreneurs. ArtLifting enables people to browse by artist, type of art and city. For every sale, 55% of the profit goes back to the artist. In addition to selling to everyday consumers, ArtLifting also sells to corporations like Staples and Microsoft. With the funding, ArtLifting hopes to continue to grow its artist base and further scale as a public benefit corporation.



eBay - More art please?

More frequently high-end art auction houses are moving towards online systems to expand their customer bases and make the purchase of art more accessible.

Traditionally buyers would need to attend auctions in person, or at the very least, be on the end of a telephone to make a bid. But auctioneers such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s are increasingly making use of e-commerce facilities to sell their lots.

But they are not just using a branded corporate environment to make the sales, Sotheby’s and Doyle, are also using platforms such as Artsy and eBay, allowing buyers to make purchases on their smart phones over breakfast if they wish.

Sotheby’s has currently held a week-long online-only auction to sell 23 pieces of contemporary artwork through the Artsy platform. In November, Doyle will hold an auction of Impressionist and modern art pieces (including a work by Daniel Ridgway Knight valued estimated $80,000 to $120,000) which will include online bidding using the website Invaluable.

Invaluable, whose online marketplace holds over 14,000 auctions annually, claims the number of auction houses using its technology increased by 50 percent in the second quarter and around 180 new auction houses have joined its marketplace since April.

This clearly indicates that we are now seeing the start of a move more towards online auctions, and that they will be using regular systems that we already have the apps for on our smartphones. It’s not just the small ticket items that are being sold through this route.

The people bidding online are serious collectors. The top 10 online sales at Sotheby's between March and August 2015, and using Invaluable's bidding platform totalled to nearly $14.7 million.

Personally there is nothing that competes with attending an auction house, although I never have quite enough money to bid on what I actually want, but there is always a real buzz in the room and they can be quite nerve racking, even for those not bidding. There really is nothing quite like watching a bidding frenzy open up on a Tuesday evening.

Of course the biggest issue with online auctions, and something those of us who have lost out to last minute bids on eBay are familiar with, is the technical issues that create lag, and of course those people who use a sneaky automated bidding tool to snipe your bid in the closing milliseconds of the sale. It is the right way to go, but something has to be done with the technology to make it seriously work well.



You can't buy the Castle!

I love Disney, although I am not overly obsessive. OK, a little obsessive, I have a collection of Disney books that spans into double figures, not books telling the Disney tales of Mickey Mouse, but books such as The Art of Disney, and many about the art of Imagineering. I even have signed cells and prints from the animators that were only relatively recently removed from the Florida location.

Yes, I have always wanted to be an Imagineer, and have some experience of Disney because when I totalled it up yesterday, in the past 16-years I have visited a Disney park on 64 occasions during various vacations. Orlando – Love the place and need to retire there one day, or get at the very least to work there for a much extended period of time, I really need to get some hot Florida sun in my life.

Disneyland is a park I have never visited, although it is on my list having done Disneyland Paris in its early days. But Disneyland in California opened its gates some 60-years ago and has developed something of a cult following.

On November 21st, The Van Eaton Galleries in Los Angeles will be auctioning off more than 800 rare Disneyland collectibles in an event called ‘Collecting Disneyland’. Prospective buyers will have the opportunity to bid on rare animatronics, vintage souvenirs, and original concept art dating back as far as the 1950’s. Some of the estimates for the pieces represent a chance to pick up a real bargain piece of Disneyana.

A Space Mountain Concept Drawing is estimated fetch between $500 and $1000 and will be amongst the lower end in terms of affordability. This concept drawing was created by Imagineer Clem Hall, and depicts riders lining up in the space themed launch bay. It is a beautiful piece of work, and only lacks the crowds found when visiting the real ride. My bets are on this particular piece going above the estimates.

If you are more of a costume person, then a Pirates of the Caribbean Cast Member costume may just be your thing. I can see this as being something that would be a useful addition to anyone’s cos-play wardrobe, and was worn by cast members in the 1980’s, long before everything pirates was Deppified. Estimates put the costume at between $800 and $1000.

You will have missed out on a prop for this year’s Halloween, but if you want to prepare for next year, then you can buy a Jack Skeleton Head prop for between $30,000 and $40,000. The silicon mask was used on the rides life-sized animatronic Jack Skeleton figure for four years, and still remains in fine-show-used condition. If you are into Tim Burton, this will be a must have piece.

There are a number of original attraction posters in the auction, and each one is a vintage work of art. The Storybook Land attraction poster is a hand silk-screened work of art from 1956 and features Pinocchio’s Monstro the Whale swallowing up passengers from the start of the ride. Estimates are between £3,000 and $4,000.

One of my favourite attractions has always been the People Mover through Tomorrow Land at Disney World, and now is the time to pick up a People Mover ride vehicle from a ride that closed in Disneyland in 1995.

The vehicle doors can still be opened and closed remotely, and a control panel allows for operation of the interior and exterior lighting. The vehicle also features a fully working PA and music system that is programmed to play a two-minute explanation of the People Mover by a tour guide from 1967. This has to be the Holy Grail of Disney collectibles, but with an estimate of between $200,000 and $300,000, it’s not going to be something that most Disney fans will be able to afford. I see this as a lot that will go to a restaurant or local business in the area, unless of course you want to use it as your vacation home.

Disney blue prints are always beautifully drawn and the Fantasyland Castle blue print is no exception. This is certainly one that is worth anyone bidding on, featuring what has to be the most iconic construction designs in a Disney Park. Estimates place a value of between $300 and $500, although I really am expecting that this rare print will raise to infinity and beyond.

If you have between $5000 and $10,000 to add a touch of kerb appeal to your home, then a Main Street bench is what you really need. This particular bench was one of the originals that sat in Disneyland’s Main Street when the park first opened.

It was a fixture in the Town Square for some 44-years and has been very carefully restored and painted in its original colour. To make it even more appealing, the Disneyland property tag has been removed from the bottom of the bench to the bench back.

With a new Star Wars blockbuster about to hit screens in December, a Star Tours Cast Member jacket is certain to be one of the most sought after hot ticket items.

The jacket was worn by Cast Members in 1992, a few years after the ride first opened. The original ride as of course been replaced by an updated version, Star Tours – The Adventure Continues back in 2010, so this really is an original. Estimated at between $200 and $400, let us not be surprised if it goes in the region of four figures.

I have a few original Cel’s but must admit to really wanting this one. A Lady and the Tramp original cel is also being auctioned in the estimated region of between $1,200 and $1,500. The cel comes from the 1955 film, and its starting bid is $1,200. I would expect this to actually meet in the region of $1,800 given that it is a rather special piece of Disney animation history.

For fans of Indiana Jones, an animatronic prop hand from Indy himself is estimated to sell at between $3,000 and $5,000. The Indiana Jones Adventure has been a staple in Disneyland since 1995. Known for its abundance of animatronics and special effects and some rolling boulders.

If you want to bid or attend the auction more details are available at: http://vegalleries.com/collectingdisneyland.html


I was addicted for a while, about two weeks in total, time I could have spent earning money, having a real life, or doing something useful like sleeping. It was like a virtual crystal meth for the first free levels, then a realisation that I could end up re-mortgaging the house had I have carried on with the in-app purchases. In fact I could have probably have purchased the company if I had continued with this addiction.

That’s exactly what Activision have done for a staggering $5.9 billion (£3.8bn). Not because they wanted to get the next level pack, but because they wanted to buy the company, King.com.

Activision are better known for their big budget PC and console titles, Call of Duty, Sky Landers, and the Tony Hawke series so this is a move towards a very different gaming community. What makes the acquisition different to most though is the size of the investment to purchase the company.

Dwarfing many previous deals such as Microsoft’s $2.5bn purchase of Minecraft from developer Mojang, and Facebooks $2bn take-over of Oculus, the Virtual Reality headset creators, and it is way more than Amazon’s $970m acquisition of the gaming community’s platform, Twitch. Even Electronic Arts $750m take-over of Plants vs Zombies developer Pop Cap pales into insignificance.

But as I say, it’s not because they want to buy all of the levels in Candy Crush, it is because we are seeing a real upward trend in mobile games revenues, with Research Company Newzoo predicting that by the end of 2015 we will see mobile games revenues overtaking those of their much more traditional console counterparts.

It is a very different market too, in-app purchases are applied to many mobile games and less so in traditional console games, although we are noticing more and more micro-transactions being introduced in to those too, and the costs quickly mount. A real worry for parents who find it difficult already to keep up a constant supply of gems, rocks, credits, and party points.

And that is a real problem that won’t be going away anytime soon. Many developers are making their apps freely available, with just enough to suck you in and then charge you for the additional content, in some cases iOS and Android apps have been made free to play, but have then charged £79 for a barrel of laughs, traditionally £40 - £50 for a console game gets everything you need to keep playing the game.

But this is also an interesting move in that Activision Blizzard have thus far failed to reach any considerable share in the market for mobile games. The only true hit of late has been their release of Hearthstone, a spin-off of World of Warcraft, and honestly, I do not have enough geek in me to play that.

But Candy Crush on the other hand is successful already. King.com recorded $490m of sales and 501 million active addicts, sorry I mean players. Although that figure has reduced from its peak audience of around 550 million active users. The mere fact that 49 million addicts have overcome their passion for the sweetness should be cause for celebration. Now if we could just stop Facebook invites from current addicts interfering with my OCD around answering notifications, well that would be a real cause for celebration. Honestly, I get around thirty invites per day, it’s just like getting work emails after hours that could wait or should never have been written in the first place. There should be a law against it. I tell you, I am on the edge with those notifications.


But my headphones can. Talking of being on the edge, other things too this week have either sent me into a tailspin, or put me firmly on the periphery of some spectrum. I am beginning to think that true AI already exists and technology is conspiring against me.

Similar to my headphones


On Monday I couldn’t get a phone signal at all. Well, to be honest it was there when I didn’t need it, and disappeared the moment I tried to make or take a call. Siri may have been watching my every move for all I know.

Then on Tuesday, he was at it again. I had to go to a meeting but was very conscious that my phone was on 19%. Less than 30-minutes later I was down to 7%, by the time I got home I ran through the door, avoided kissing the wife and child, and had to plug it in. My pores leaked, my heart rate was in the mid 100’s and my temper was frayed.

On Wednesday, my headphones became tangled. Now I never have a bad word to say about them, but whilst I was multi-tasking the cord seemed to tie itself into a knot that a boy scout couldn’t have achieved.

On Thursday, well that was the #fail of the week. Grocery shopping is never a pleasant experience for me, I like to go in with a plan, stick to it, and then get out in double time. What I couldn’t plan for was the “unexpected item in bagging area”. Even the security guard stepped forward in a state of preparedness for what was about to happen. It was like a scene from that Michael Douglas movie, Falling Down. Except luckily for the person who clearly sits inside the automatic bagging area machine, I don’t own a gun. I do however own a collection of NERF’s, and will now keep a pocket sized water blaster in my trouser pocket. Next time, I will fry it.

So that’s all for today. Coming soon – I will be reviewing version 1.2 of the Lighttricks iPad and iPhone app, Enlight, and of course I will be attempting to create some new artwork. Also keep an eye on my Facebook page at https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia for some daily news, shares, and commentary. In the meantime feel free to leave a comment!



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