Cut out cityscapes

Zupagrafika, a design company based in Poland, have reinvented paper cut-out models with a twist. Not for them the farmyard scenes or castles of my childhood. They are recreating the brutalist architecture of the post-WW2 world, with a concentration on the former Soviet Bloc countries.

One wonderful example is called “Brutal East” and contains 7 models representing brutalist Eastern Bloc architecture. This cut-out and stick pack contains such delights as a Czech panelák estate from Prague (which is pretty similar to other functionalist concrete estates to be found stretching from France across Europe right through to Mother Russia itself), Eastern Gate of Belgrade. Belgrade (Serbia), “Romanița” Collective Housing Tower. Chisinau (Moldova), House of Soviets. Kaliningrad (Russia), Novosmolenskaya Housing Complex. St. Petersburg (Russia), Sporto Rūmai. Vilnius (Lithuania) and “Manhattan” Housing Complex. Wrocław (Poland).

Over the years I have encountered a great deal of such architecture, most recently in the wonderful Belarus capital of Minsk. 


This is a shining example in Prague – The Kotva Department Store built in the early 1970s.


And this gem was in Usti nad Labem back in the 1990s.


England also has its fair collection of brutalist buildings as can be seen from this mini exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. 



I hope that Zupagrafika also turn their attention to some of the other former Soviet Bloc states such as Skopje which had a most amazing array of horrendous concrete buildings when I worked there in 1999. The central post office in Skopje reminded me of a dressed roast as seen in 1960s cookery books. This is “proper” ugly.

skopje post office architecture

Here is a better image from Wikimedia:


Now Skopje is undergoing a transformation, the graphic designers need to get in quick.





America After the Fall: Royal Academy

This weekend a friend and I visited the Royal Academy of Arts in London to see the exhibition of American art during the Depression. The exhibition is in a small gallery and shows some key works from the 1920s and 1930s.

Some of the great names exhibited are Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler and Alice Neel. The subjects range from rural scenes to industrial landscapes taking in the momentous changes America was going through during the period.

I was glad to see a couple of Hopper paintings up close especially his gas station painting:

Edward Hopper, Gas

and Sheeler’s industrial landscape.

Charles Sheeler, American Landscape

Both images

I can’t say that I really like the style of art on display – lacking good perspective and a little childlike for me. There is an interesting article on American Gothic here:

The exhibition is on until 4th June 2017. Be warned there are no limits on numbers allowed in and it was far too busy on Sunday to really see much.



Adventures with


Fractured door

As I have reported in recent blog posts I have slowly been returning to my roots in photography having rediscovered analogue photography. This week’s interest has been on trying to make my photos pop out and has lead to some interesting online adventures.

While reminding myself of how to turn ordinary flat photos into eye-catching HDR photos I came across reference to I was messing about with the programme this morning trying to turn the image below into a really standout image but what I actually created was the image above.


A nice door

The fractured image at the top of the page is actually the main image with the number 46 from the original door. I improved the colour using “autocolour” and then tried to improve on that with “hue and saturation.” I was still not getting the results I was looking for so I explored the effects. I hit the “fracture” command and the result above is what I got. It is not the intended result but rather nice nonetheless.

I think I should go back to my old Photoshop version 6 to continue with this experiment.