Category Archives: What is not Art

I have met John McKie.  From first impressions he seems friendly, calm and focused.  This is obviously a lie.


John McKie shows a scrappy anxiety surrounding his words and pictures.  His work gives off the impression of a frustrated  madman  (or genius, let’s face it, there is very little difference betwixt the two).  I can imagine him, pacing the walls of his Satre cell (oh, hark at me and my 18 year old self), sharing his compact abode with a widescreen television the size and breadth of Buster Blood Vessell  (before his weight loss) which is constantly showing the methane emissions of ITV2 in all its “My Life in Essex Matchmaking” entirety.  Therefore his mind, needing to escape the humdrum celebratory jargon would lead him to the frantic scribbles on paper scraps, card, wife and anything that he can lay his twitchy hands on, and tardaah, an artist is born!


McKies’ work is quirky and funny, thought provoking and easy to relate to.  He takes a mighty Booth shot at politics, religion, the colour orange and cheese sandwiches.  His art is not pretentious  and no real celebrities where harmed or maimed whilst drawing, which is a great pity.

So, before I go back to watching “Jeremy Kyle” on demand (yes, really), here are some Questions that have been answered by the man in question (and answered) …

1. Where do you get your inspiration from (said the wise man)?

I get my inspiration from the media mostly. How the world is presented to us by mostly entities who have a vested interest in us thinking in certain ways and doing certain things. It seems like on the whole our thoughts are directed to fit an agenda and an interesting and for me, sad part of this is that mostly people don’t see it, although many do. I believe very little of what I hear, see or read in our media and it drives me nuts, and I mean, bad nuts. War for profit ran by psychopaths, mindless celebrity stuff to keep our tiny minds occupied, three news stories per day to keep us talking and arguing between ourselves, propaganda, censorship, political correctness to control our thoughts. A lot of my time I’m on a bit of a knife edge, it makes me despair sometimes and laugh at others.  I don’t hold out a lot of hope for us as a species, most of the people who rise to positions where they can decide the fate of others are destructive and lack empathy.  They are power mad psychopaths.  I think that will be our downfall.  The people that I draw are products of this system.  See, I’m quite serious. 🙂


2. Have you met any of the celebrities that you have defaced in the name of art?

No but I enjoy taking the mickey out of them sometimes.  At one time though I used to cut people’s hair and Haircut 100, Anthony Newley, Greg Norman, Viv Nicholson (spend spend spend Viv), Buzz Aldrin, Nick Straker, Clair Torry from Dark Side of The Moon album, Prefab Sprout all had me on their head at one time or another.  I was quite good at doing hair, I had magazine front covers and stuff like that.  I can’t remember who I was then.


c. A penny for Peter Andre? Isn’t that a bit steep in this time of recession?

Okay maybe I was a bit harsh on that one.  2p then.


3. What is the best compliment you have received?

Somebody called me The Gorgeous John McKie on Facebook a little while ago.  Two girls friended me on Facebook too recently and wanted me to run off with them, that was a great compliment but I had to block them in the end because it got too annoying.  Spend Spend Spend Viv asked me out in about 1984.  Somebody said that I suited my glasses and last year someone told me that they liked my shoes.  I think that’s about it.  I get a lot of very nice compliments about my pictures which gives me confidence.


3.3 And the worst?

People sometimes tell me that I look like Grant Mitchell but he always makes grunt noises and puts on a tough face and voice.  I never put on a tough face.  I’ve tried a few times but I always forget.  Someone called my drawings trash once and that took a bit of getting over until I realised that his were unbelievably bad.


i. Da Vinci versus John McKie. Who would win at thumb war?

This is a tough one because Da Vinci was very, very well known for the strength of his thumbs.  I think it would probably be a draw.

*. What are you having for tea tonight?

A cheese sandwich followed by a large piece of wood.

(Tombola). Will there be any leftovers?

That is hard to predict, but I very much doubt it.


Mrs H would like to give Mister McKie a great big one for taking time to answer all of the above.

If you would like further information with regardments to the man himself, please click on the following link:-



Helena Maratheftis alias Thefty is a “self proclaimed neon-and-rhinestones kind of girl”.  Her works are bright, bold, quirky and very current.  She owns a thick black pen and quite frankly she is not afraid to use it!  The Emporium caught up with the Ms Maratheftis and asked her a few questions with regards to everything!  Her answerings are as follow …

Ms Maratheftis – or should I say Mother Nylon! Put down the black marker pen! We have you surrounded!

How have things changed since your first blog opening gambit (posted  on 17th Feb 2009)?  Let me jog your memory …

Hello there, Thefty here.

The point of this blog is to get my artwork further than my bedroom walls. I plan to show new stuff that I am working on, as well as old pieces that never saw the light of day, bless ‘em.

Back in 2009, I was at the very beginning of my creative career. Art was something I did on the side, as a very intense hobby with occasional paid work. These days I have the luxury of working on creative things all day.

“Oh No” –  Oh yes we say!  The first offering of Thefty art on the Helena’s blog.

What does “Thefty” mean?

Thefty is derived from my surname, MaraTHEFTIs. It started as a nickname from a good friend, and I liked it so much that I use it as an artistic alias.

“Black Irises” – Self Portrait

What is your favorite medium (and we don’t mean Derek Acorah)?

For illustrations, I love black pens and Photoshop. On canvas, however, I go wild with fluoro markers, rhinestones, and bright acrylic paint. I really love colour and pattern.

Mr Acorah borrows a pen from Thefty to enable him to draw a moustache and glasses on his larger twin brother.

Can you remember the first piece of art you sold (and no, family members do not count)?

Of course! I got paid £20 to design a flyer for drum’n’bass club night in Oxford! That was in 2006, when I was a student. I was very excited.

Twenty pound? The Emporium would have offered you Twenty one pound fifty pence and a pair of second-hand earplugs.

Say the world was your canvas and you could create anything on any scale and anywhere (thank goodness one has run out of “any” examples) what would you do?

The list is a very long one. One ambition is to use my skills to raise awareness and funds for important scientific and environmental issues. I’m an artist, but I have two science degrees from uni (unusual, I know). I feel like I’d be well qualified to give science the makeover it deserves! Science is cool, kids.

Miss H’s shamefully poor attempt to plug her favourite band to Ms Maratheftis – one can only apologise.

How many blogs have you got up and running at the mo?

Two! My art blog ( and my photography/inspiration blog, TOP 5 (

Who did you have a crush on in your youth?

Trent, the character from the MTV cartoon ‘Daria’. And Leonardo DiCaprio, of course.

The young Da Vinci – He may be easy on the eye – but he ruined “The Beach” and one blames him personally for that.

And finally, if you could turn back (as Cher once warbled) what words of wisdom and wonderment would you share with your younger self?

Not much. I’d just offer reassurance along the lines of ‘keep doing what you’re doing, it’s going to work out fine’. I think the older me is the one that could do with some advice! Ha!

“Still Young”

If you’d like to see more of Helena’s work (and the Emporium suggests “Yes”,  you do – and so you should) please be a-clicking on the following links …

For Helena’s portfolio

For Thefty blog

And for purchasing your very own Thefty print or even original

The Emporium gives a great big fuchsia thumbs up to the quite brilliant Ms Maratheftis and wishes her the very best of luck and success with regards to the future of her artistic creativeness!

Images © Helena Maratheftis

Yesterday I met Mr Brainwash – today I feel confused.  Not the usually befuddlement I have in my everyday life – but a different type.  Did I meet Mr Brainwash?  Yes I did.  Did I rub his tummy – yes – I’m afraid I did that too.  Did I meet the artist of the “Life is Beautiful” exhibition in Holborn?  Erm, I’m not actually too sure!

You may have flushed – but something tells me you haven’t washed your hands.

For those of you unfamiliar with Mr Brainwash  (aka Thierry Guetta), his story is highlighted in “Exit Through the Gift Shop” – a natty documentary by the elusive stencil spray painted artist Banksey.  Speculation has arisen, arosed and arised that this film could quite possibly be a mockumentary.  Why?  I think that instead of me sticking and pasting the whole of the Wikipedia’s delights on this page, may I politely suggest you look it up yourself – or better still – purchase your own DVD player and hire the film.  Go on, do it now!  I’ll know if you haven’t as I have secretly been filming you for a number of weeks now and it’s nice to know that you’re taking your vitamins and are regular with your bowel movements.

As the Police once told me “I’ll be watching you!”

So let’s just say that Mr Brainwash is an artist and not somebody dressed up in a Mickey Mouse costume for the sake of those who haven’t seen the film (It will make for a slightly easier journey into the warbles of my written wordings on the matter in hand) …

Mickey after decapitating his entire family – Oh, can’t be him – he has clean gloves.

… and welcome one and all to Mr. Brainwash’s Solo art tour! Held at the Old Sorting Office on New Oxford street.  You can hardly miss it – as it has scrawlings of legitimate graffiti all over it and a big picture of our good Queen Liz holding a can of spray paint for good measure.

I don’t care who you are! Vandalism is vandalism! Naughty!

On entry, your bags are checked for any artistry utensils and confiscated until further notice, in order to prevent any hanky panky graffiti-ings of your own desire.  I had my much cherished  brown felt tip pen removed from my clutch – (the most fun I’ve had in years).  Cameras are allowed  – which is a great bonus to those who like to take professional blurred photos like my kind self.  And look!  See here!  The Krankies are here (in rubber swinging attire) to give you a warm welcome …

… And also with you. Is that a light saber, or are you just pleased to see me?

Cars and letter boxes pretending to be London gift shop gifts (or perhaps we have turned temporally into the Burrowers – god, I hope not – what a bore), bastardised historical pictures featuring contemporary faces of singers and actors.  Da Vinci to Dali get a make over.  And spray cans promising the offering of instant hits of brown sauce to coffee – rip off Warhol?  Rip off everything?  Who cares!  Where’s Wally?  I didn’t know Mother Teresa went to school with James Brown and ET!  What would Mary Secole say?

Souvenir London Telephone Box – comes with startled posable man.

Should you go?  Yes!  Methinks you should!  It is a free and fun exhibition featuring the british likes of the Beatles, the queen and the real royals about town Queen Victoria and her long loyal subject David to name but very few.

Well Posh.

There is also a smattering of Michael Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger (both sporting a Marilyn Monroe hair piece – never has Mr Jackson RIP ever looked so stunning).  It’s a brilliant exhibition and not up its own bum – just the way I take my art but not my men.  The art is not explicit in content (perverts be warned) so is something you can take the kids to see, although there is a danger that they may be expecting a free gift shop and fizzy drink next time you take them to the National Gallery.  Considering that the Tate Modern are charging £15 a pop to enter the Damian Hurst exhibition, here at Mr. Brainwash’s you can see a slighly drippy copy of Hurst’s “Dots” and purchase your very own free postcard of it ta boot.  Joy!  Did you encounter problems in getting tickets for the Olympics?  Well, didn’t we all love!  Have a look at the Olympic paint pots and do a jog or two.

Ahhh! The smell of fast food and fizzy drinkage.

It’s not exclusive – it’s for everyone!  Horay!  It’s bright and bushy tailed, just like the twinkle of Mr Brainwash’s glasses and the growth of his facial hair.

Yes, I know! The likeness is uncanny!

And what did I say to Mr Brainwash?  “Well done mate!” – move over Parkinson – and make us a brew and a theme tune whilst you’re at it.

Mr Brainwash’s exhibition is held at the Old Sorting Office, 21-31 New Oxford Street, London and runs till 31st August 2012.

For more information on Thierry Guetta click on the link below …

And for that Banksy film …

This weeks What is not Art posting is bought to you by the delectable Ms Robbins, a land lover who resides in sunny Trowbridge, with a fondness for the starry Brian Cox and all things that purr(?) …

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band,
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man

Ever since I was a wee nipper (well since I lived in London in my 20s) I have been rather intrigued by the Italian painter, poet and philosopher (can I have a ‘P’ please Bob?) Salvator Rosa.  I first met him – well, his oeuvre, since he’s been dead over 300 years – in the National Gallery with the brooding, enigmatic self-portrait Philosophy

Cheer up love! It might never happen!

Always having been a big fan of the dark, passionate type, I find his enigmatically grumpy face quite alluring – especially teemed with the inscription which loosely translates as “be silent unless what you have to say is better than silence”.  How true, I tell myself!

So, having again visited him recently, why do I like Rosa?

  1. He was mega talented.
  2. In his time he was incredibly popular and famous, yet no-one knows who he is – don’t we all enjoy having something secret that we don’t share with anyone – oh bugger you all know now…
  3. His life (and paintings) are dark, brooding, mysterious – I like!
  4. He eschewed dull biblical paintings – on the whole – in favour of bandits, creatures of the dark, mythology and witches.
  5. Rosa was a rebel and refused to conform to popularity, causing arguments and localised stomping off and slamming of doors etc.
  6. Amazingly he was also an accomplished poet, philosopher, actor and musician.
  7. He scares schoolchildren (see below!)

In my latest visit I vox-popped (oo-er) the public and the guard on duty told me that schoolchildren are either terrified of, or intrigued by probably his most famous painting – Witches at their Incantations

Well done Ms Robbins! One does like an excuse for a naked bum in the “What is not Art” posting – and you have not let us down my dear!

This painting does really need to be seen in the flesh, as a rather lovely beardy Frenchman told me “tres creepy” – well actually that’s not what he said – rather “dark, interesting and creepy”.  Just like me, I wanted to add whilst gently stroking his beard (but I didn’t).  He then proceeded to gesticulate (in a Marcel Marceau-style mime) what I could only describe back to him as “droopy witches boobs”.  How disappointing…

Some other hippy-dippy folk thought it was “a conversation piece” and “nice to see something dark and disturbing for a change” – other than The Levellers perhaps?

The Dutch chap I spoke to was tremendously knowledgeable about the use of light as a positive juxtaposition of the dark subject matter.  I just stared and nodded as if I understood him.  I didn’t feel able to share with him my favourite part of the painting, the hideous frog-like apparition in the bottom right hand corner, who bears more than a scary likeness to Steven Tyler from Aerosmith.

Dude looks like a Lady?

So if you are in Londinium pop into Room 32 of the National Gallery and have a look at these two paintings (not Steven Tyler though, but if he’s there see if he can spot the family resemblance).  At this time there are two other Rosa paintings there, so you will be spoilt for choice!


For more information regarding The National Gallery, please click on the following link:-

If you have never heard of Cyriak Harris, then perhaps you are the lucky ones, for you can live an existence that one can only dream of, for perhaps you can see the beauty in life, just perhaps you wake in the morning from a good nights sleep and you think to yourself “Today is a good day, a wholesome day, a day of beauty and splendour.”  Well, all this is about to change, as I grab you round the throat and burn images into your retinas that even Hieronymus Bosch would be proud of …

I am slightly lost for words – if anyone knows of a good enough caption for this picture – please write in and the prospect of an eternal damnation could be yours – it’ll cut down on those heating bills

Cyriak Harris is a naughty boy!  He has created animation that peels the skin off your torso and tickles your intestines with a large hammer.  He is a crossbreed betwixt The Aphex Twin and Terry Gilliam with a measure of MC Escher (not Hammer) tossed into an open wound!  The Emporium wonders how he can go about his “normal” activities (such as shopping, cleaning etc) knowing of what ludicrous and grotesque creations he has invented from his downright demonic and rude little brain.  Check out his “Poo Pants” (you never grow out of a funny Poo concept – unless you have watched “We Need to Talk About Kevin” – as no one is laughing there I can tell you) featuring a pop up appearance from Alan Titchmarsh (“Poo Pants” not “Kevin” although Kevin, Alan, it’s all the same surely).

“Excuse me please! Could you tell me what aisle the tomato soup is in?”

May we advise a word of warning to the faint hearted, be careful of Cyriak’s animation for he will get you!  You may find yourself thinking of his images in the wee small hours of the night, and quite possibly you may just find that “Poo Pants” or a slightly soiled pajama bottom, may be suitably apt for your disposition.  And this you can be sure of, you will never dream sweetly again!

If Sartre’s idea of hell was a room full of people (oh, come on!  If you want a better analagy of this , go read a book, will you), then mine would be “Baa” on a constant loop with it’s frolicking mutating lambs and its “Dinga, dinga, dinga, dinga” music, watching and listening and watching and listening and watching and listening and writhing and listless and no work or play makes Jack a dull boy!

Cyriak is the Gunther von Hagen (the behatted and misunderstood German famed for his plastination of dead bodies) of animation.  His workings are incredibly dark, sadistic and funny and we hope that he continues to poke our very sensitive and  exposed nerve endings in the same sadistic fashion for many years to come.  Amen!

For more information on Cyriak, click on the following links …

The Emporium’s poor attempt at bringing you a little bit of culture, so that you can pretend to blag it and know it all …

Kusama – The Dotty Lady

Yayoi Kusama is one of Japan’s best known artists, although it has to be said that I of Italian and Bolton decent knew very little about her until I visited her exhibition at the Tate Modern earlier this month.

My first impression is the painstaking repetition that features heavily in all of her Kusama’s work from her detailed drawings to her humoungus canvasses.  Kusama apparantly suffered from hallucinations of dots and flowers as a young child and these images play a prominent part in her lifetime of art.  Enough to drive one mad perhaps, as since 1977 she has voluntarily  been living in a mental institution in Japan.

Mind you, all that hallucinating came in very handy in the 1960’s and 70’s where her work was embraced by America’s hippy culture.  There she started on a performative experimentation and encouraged naked participants to paint dots on each others bodies.  Now, I generally like a naked body as much as the next man (as long as the next man is a buff Steve Backshall – dishy) but I found her films and projections rather for want of a better word naff.  I’m sure they were very groundbreaking at the time  but – oh deary, dreary me!

My! What a long snake you have there Mr Backshall, or are you just pleased to see me?

Oh, whoops, yes! Got a bit distracted. 2nd snake option:- Yayoi Kusama – the choice is yours

And then there’s the fascination with the penis!  That’s all fine and dandy, but I like a well constructed willy and not one made out of an old sports sock thank you very much.  I was disappointed in the execution of Aggregration:  One Thousand Boats Show.  Also phallic inspired installations and sculptures Leftover Snow, Dream and Prisoner’s Door didn’t reach an anti-climax in me and just left a sour taste in my mouth.

“Aggregation: One Thousand Boats Show” – The first bottom to be shown on Miss Hegarty’s Emporium and hopefully not the last

“The Lady of Shallott” also to be found at the Tate. Would the lady have preferred a ride in a phallus-encrusted rowing boat perhaps?

My all time favourite Kusama room is the very last entitled Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life, which is pretty much a room filled with mirrors (title may have given that away slightly) and lots of lights that change colour.  It’s sheer and simple brilliance.   My only disappointment with regards to this installation was the small unsupervised child who  insisted on telling me the cycle of the lights.  It (meaning the child), I presume, was part of Kusama’s great plan – for who would have bought such a young mind to see a boat made willies at such an early age, well really!

So, what I’m trying to say is go for Kusama’s paintings and the nice light room at the very end – but don’t take my words for it!  The Yayoi Kusama exhibition is on at the Tate Modern until 5th June 2012.  Click for more details.  Go on!  Off you go!

© Liz Coleman and Kerry Hegarty and Miss Hegarty’s Emporium of Creative genius 2012e]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Liz Coleman and Kerry Hegarty and Miss Hegarty’s Emporium of Creative Genius with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.