THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Inspired by... blog

Fashion, film, design and all things creative at the British Library

Introduction

Spotlighting collections you would’ve never thought would be in a library and the creative people who use them. Follow us @BL_Creative. Read more

25 August 2014

The Bompas & Parr effect: Day-glow ice-cream and cooking with lava

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On Monday 22 September 14, we'll be hosting another Inspiring Entrepreneurs event in our Conference Centre, run by our lovely Business & IP Centre team. It's also available as a free webcast. The theme this time is 'Movers and Shakers': companies that have disrupted the status quo in their sector. We've got founder and CEO of Moshi Monsters, Michael Acton-Smith OBE (expect a games-themed blog soon) and Sam Bompas, the co-founder of Bompas & Parr.

When I looked at their website, I was absolutely blown away by their creativity and ingenuity. Their brand is so playful. I'm driving everyone in the office mad by raving about how much I want to eat their glow-in-the-dark ice-cream. I love how they can move between fashion, products and experiences so freely, responding beautifully to any creative brief they're given. Here are some of the projects they've been working on, in their own words. Fancy coming to hear them speak?  You can book your tickets here.

Glow-in-the-dark Cornetto, Leicester Square, July 2013
The world’s first glow in the dark Cornetto, created for a film premiere of The End of the World.

Glow ice cream Bompas and Parr

Jellies for any event
Bompas & Parr supply a customised jelly service – they even have a jelly technician! They offer innovative and bespoke moulds, created in their in-house workshop.

Jelly 2 Bompas and Parr

Jelly Bompas and Parr

Jellyscape Bompas and Parr

Cooking with lava – Syracuse, USA, June 2014

Go into the kitchen of a top steak restaurant and you’re likely to find a £18,000 Josper oven, favoured by chefs for its searing 300°C cooking temperature. At Bompas & Parr they didn’t think that was anywhere near hot enough, so last month they headed to Syracuse University in upstate New York, where Professor Robert Wysocki has over-clocked an industrial bronze furnace and is busy working up an expertise in creating artificial volcanos and streams of man-made lava.
Prof Wysocki and his team have done 100 lava pours so far, for artistic and scientific purposes, but have never actually used the lava’s 2,100°F heat to do something as ubiquitous as cooking. See what happens when super-heated liquid rock meets an icy crevasse and a 10oz ribeye.

Scent of darkness - It's Nice That Magazine, March 2012
London’s smells represent an invisible architecture, shaping and enhancing our experience of the city’s urban environment. Certain odours created intentionally or not act as sensory landmarks, hardwired into your brains. Bompas & Parr traversed London between sunset and sunrise to chart the scents of the city at night. London’s aromas were composed as perfumes and shipped to Thomas Brown who photographed them with stylist Lyndsay Milne for Its Nice That.

London Smells Bompas and Parr

Tutti Frutti Garments by Kit Neale – Sold by Opening Ceremony, A/W 2013

Earlier this year Bompas & Parr worked with printmaster Kit Neale on the staff uniforms for the Tutti Frutti installation at Kew Gardens. Kit Neale’s prints intermingle obscure and forbidden fruits like the durian with more familiar fruits like bananas and pears, with the images sourced from Kew’s archive. The collection garnered so much interest it was put into production for Opening Ceremony launching in time for a fruity Christmas.

Tutti Frutti Bompas and Parr

 

21 August 2014

Brand new Gothic artwork from artist Dave McKean revealed

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Gothic Terror and Wonder exhibition artwork Dave McKean
We’re delighted to reveal the exciting new artwork created exclusively for our upcoming exhibition, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination. Designed by Batman Arkham Asylum artist Dave McKean, the new image takes inspiration from the iconic Gothic titles in the show, including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Terror and Wonder celebrates 250 years of Gothic literature and shows how the genre has inspired so much of the pop culture that surrounds us today, from Whitby Goth Festival to catwalk looks created by Alexander McQueen.

Greg Buzwell, co-curator of the exhibition, gave us a quote:  “Dave’s artwork brilliantly captures the drama and intensity of the Gothic imagination, something which we explore in detail in Terror and Wonder. Ever since the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in 1764, Gothic themes and ideas have provided a rich source of inspiration for writers, filmmakers, artists, musicians and fashion designers; adding colour, wonder and a dash of delicious fear to our lives.”

The new artwork will appear on the exhibition poster across London (look out for it on the tube) and as a six metre high installation in our entrance hall. 

The exhibition opens on 3 October and runs until 20 January 2015. Tickets are already available to book online, and we’ll have a full events programme for you including comedian Stewart Lee, Sarah Waters and a very spooky Halloween LATE.

18 August 2014

From the felt Cornershop to Marinetti’s Futurist Tin Book

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Lucy Sparrow’s felt Cornershop project is all over the news at the moment, and it sounds so fun. She raised £10,000 on Kickstarter to create a cornershop in Bethnal Green with products made entirely out of felt. And I mean everything. Chewing gum, fish fingers, Irn Bru, cat litter and instant noodles.  Even the cash register is made of felt!  It’s open until 31 August if you fancy a visit.

Cornershop felt product
Image: Fish fingers from the Cornershop

It got me thinking about some of the books we have in the British Library collection that are not made of paper. They fall under the category of 'artists' books' and we have items from around the world. Our Curator, Carole Holden, has written in the past about Andy Warhol’s Index Book which includes a balloon and Klaus Scherübel’s Mallarmé: The Book, which is made of styrofoam.

With help from The Art Fund, in 2009 we acquired Marinetti's metal Futurist book Parole in Libertà, also known as The Tin Book. Its full name is Parole in Libertá Futuriste Olfattive Tattili Termiche (‘Futurist Words in Freedom - Olfactory, Tactile, Thermal’). It is about rejecting the current format of sentences and words and moving towards "words in freedom".

The production of the book is fascinating. Its designs are lithographically reproduced over 30 pages. It was manufactured in a tin can factory in Italy. And of course, the tin pages reflect the Futurist love of the machine.

Marinetti British Library  3
Image: Marinetti's Parole in Libertà

Futurism was an artistic movement celebrating the beauty of technology, with the belief in looking forward, rather than the past. Marinetti even went so far as to say “destroy the museums, the libraries...” A little ironic in that his book is now in our collection, to be preserved in perpetuity.  I’m very glad we do have it, as it is visually stunning.

Marinetti British Library  4
Image: Marinetti's Parole in Libertà

If you’re a fan of his work, you’ll be interested to know that the British Library has over 70 books written by Marinetti (1876-1944), as well as a number of his manuscripts and sound recordings. It’s a fantastic collection.  You can find out more about how you can use our collections on our 'Help for Researchers' page for artist's books, fine presses and book art. And I've done some of the hard work for you - here is the catalogue link for our Marinetti Tin book.

Marinetti British Library 1
Image: Marinetti's Parole in Libertà