Crate of Curios part 47

Summer is slowly coming to a close, night temperatures are getting friendlier to sleeping and taking a cold shower actually leaves one shivering for a moment instead of instantly evaporating. All of this means that it’s time to inject some extra colour and vivacity into this newsletter and what better way to do it than to start a new series that looks at the art and artists of South America. So let’s get to opening this week’s Crate without further ado.

  1. Oswaldo Guayasamin did not have a start in life that would have immediately pointed towards an artist’s career. Born into a poor family in Quito, Ecuador, as the eldest of 10 children in 1919, having lost his mother at an early age, he’s nevertheless known to have been drawing and painting with watercolours since the age of 6. In 1932 he lost his best friend who was shot with a stray bullet at a demonstration. Never successful at school, Guayasamin eventually left in order to enroll in the School of Fine Arts in Quito and spent 7 years there, graduating with honors. His first personal exhibition was just a year out of art school, at the age of 23. After that he spent years travelling in South America, gathering experiences that culminated in his first formal series ‘Huacayñán. Deep involvement in politics and interest in themes of human suffering characterized his work throughout his lifetime and it earned him a UNESCO prize for “an entire life of work for peace”.

2. You’ve probably heard the saying ‘if you are so smart, then why aren’t you rich’? Well… turns out that these two have no connection whatsoever.

3. We all know that the Olympic Games are an exciting and uplifting spectacle. Now, imagine if they were held on the Central Asian plains 500 years ago…. I give you the….the World Nomad Games.

4. A chair is not just a chair. It might just be a piece of design history.

5. We’ve learned that there are three main trauma responses – fight, flight or freeze. However, there is also a fourth one – fawning.

6. And to finish off for this week, here’s a little scientific take on a fairy tale by Tom Gauld.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!

If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 29

The ubiquitous Sahara dust has made the last few days rather hazy and probably rather unbearable for anyone prone to allergies, but soon enough we should be out of the dust cloud and heading into the spotless blue skies territory again. People are out regardless and there is impatience in the air about knowing whether it would be allowed for people to visit their families in other municipalities for Easter. So in order to distract ourselves during the waiting time, let’s open this week’s Crate without further ado.

  1. The original romantic Bohemian artists – the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were famous for their devotion to red-headed model-muses. The most famous of them was the tragically short-lived Elizabeth Siddall, who like Kate Moss in 1990’s helped to redefine the governing beauty standards of the 1850’s and in her case make willowy figures and copper hair into desirable assets (which they hadn’t been thus far). (The photo is thought to be Siddall, but unconfirmed.)

2. Forced to read business jargon on a regular basis? Here’s a delightful website that helps to turn it back into regular language.

3. Vegetarianism as a conscious approach to eating (as opposed to a practical reality of not being able to afford meat) has been around for a rather long time and followed a pattern of ebb and flow. It’s most recent flow started mid-19th century, where meat-free diets were seen as a part of temperance movement.

4. Why do we tend to think that fixing something automatically means adding something when subtracting is an equally valid choice? Apparently it’s complicated.

5. Down in the dumps? Lacking inspiration? Mystified by adulting? Worry not, Zen Pencils has got you covered with the most excellent comics about historical creators and their trials and tribulations.

6. And to finish off for today, here’s a handy guide to waterbodies of knowledge by Tom Gauld.

And that was it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!


If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.
The Crate is now also available on Medium.

Crate of Curios part 24

Spring is approaching with mighty steps and the weather is typically moody, alternating between windy, sunny, and mildly chilly. I wish I could say that lockdown is finally about to end, but as everything else it’s floating in the air like the kites of Clean Monday will be tomorrow. And as technically it already is Clean Monday, let’s get to opening this week’s Crate without delay.

  1. My personal history with detective stories goes a long way back, and I remember coming across the name of Pinkerton Detective Agency in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Valley of Fear”. However, Mr. Doyle never mentioned the agency also employing the first female detective Kate Warne, who after convincing Allan Pinkerton to hire her, went on to have a stellar career as a private investigator.

2. In some countries one can flush toilet paper. In others one really shouldn’t. And then there’s Greenland.

3. Artists and novel writers have a prevailing reputation for eccentricity, but as it seems children’s book authors are no exception.

4. Ex-communist project buildings don’t carry much of a reputation of cosiness or homeliness, yet when you’ve grown up in one, you know that there’s something there – a special atmosphere you can’t really find elsewhere.

5. There are virtue and vice, light and dark, high and low, yin and yang – and then there are the Ancient Greek concepts of sophrosyne and hubris.

6. And to finish off, a nod towards the seemingly eternal lockdown from Tom Gauld.

And that was it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!


If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.
The Crate is now also available on Medium.

Crate of Curios part 10

The Black Friday week is coming to an end, but as lately all the days have been blending into each other a few hours hardly make a difference. So, let’s open the Crate and check out the goodies of the first Advent!

  1. Starting out with the most legendary fashion icon in the world of art teaching – Cassie Stephens.

2. The Canadian due Chromeo (aka Funklordz) have used their quarantine time to produce a mini-album called ‘Quarantine Casanova’. Stream for your pleasure or get the album (no affiliation from my part whatsoever).

3. Many a writer has started their literary path from unemployment and odd jobs (J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and Charles Bukowski come to mind first, but there are plenty of others). The winner of Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2018, Caitriona Lally for instance was working as a janitor at the very same Trinity College that awards the prize.

4. Kei Nomiyama’s photographs of fireflies in Japan are a true thing of beauty.

5. As bookshops in most places are not considered ‘essential’, Tom Gauld gives some very handy advice for book-buying during lockdown.

That was it for this Crate. Hope it’ll entertain you for a bit and until next time!