Category Archives: Art

Download of the day: Sweet Paul’s family dancing dolls

It’s the last DOTD for the month and we hope you’ve had fun making, baking and listening to something each day. Today’s final activity is making dancing dolls of family and friends.


Best Books for Aspiring Playwrights

Playwriting is a special kind of storytelling that requires different skills to other forms of writing.  When you are just starting out, it might seem hard to find advice and support, compared to the bigger and more visible communities of prose and poetry writers.    Here’s how Team Booko can help: if you have stories to tell, and want to tell them within the visual, visceral medium of performance, here are some resources to inspire and support your efforts.


Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Death of a Salesman is fundamentally important to American culture because it is a gritty, poignant tragedy about the failure to attain the American Dream. During the final day of his life, Willy Loman (the Salesman of the title) came to the despairing conclusion that he will never achieve the success and recognition he desires.
Death of a Salesman explores themes of mental health, anti-capitalism, expectations  and self-worth – themes that are as relevant and relatable as ever, in our world with its ever-growing wealth gap, and impending economic turmoil.


A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun has special significance in the canon of American plays – it was the first play written by an African-American (and a young woman to boot) to appear on Broadway; and it depicted the emotional life of an African-American family in a gritty, realistic way.  It is often considered one of the best American plays ever.  It paved the way for more African-Americans to participate in Broadway, as playwrights, directors and even simply as audience members.  This story of the aspirations and struggles of an African-American family foretold the civil rights and feminist movements of the ‘60s, and in the shadow of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, A Raisin in the Sun still feels immediate  and relevant today. 


The RSC William Shakespeare: the Complete Works by William Shakespeare, and edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen

William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the most important writer and dramatist in the history of the English language. Remarkably, his plays are still performed regularly, and the influence of his work is still evident in contemporary writing. He broke new ground in terms of characterisation, plot development and language use, and he was highly skilful in the mixing of genres – for example, inserting comic characters into tragic plots.  The emotions and behaviours explored in his work are still considered relevant, and indeed timeless.  Let Shakespeare be an ongoing source of inspiration, by investing in this beautiful edition of the complete works of Shakespeare, which includes notes and photographs from performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company.   


Comedy Writing Secrets: the Best-selling Guide to Writing Funny and Getting Paid for It (3rd Edition) by Mark Shatz with Mel Helitzer

Funny Fact 1: neither Mark Shatz nor Mel Helitzer are comedians.  Instead they are both academics  – one in psychology, the other in journalism – who have both used, and successfully taught, humour writing for decades. 
Funny Fact 2: this is literally the textbook in comedy writing, having been the set text for many university-level humour writing courses in America.
Comedy Writing Secrets shows you that humour is a communication skill that can be learnt – that people who are not Born Funny can still develop the skills to become a professional humourist.  It offers a comprehensive survey on comedy and humour-writing, from theory, to the major techniques, to how to apply them to different situations.  Throughout the book there are plenty of tips and examples, as well as writing prompts to help you practise. This may be the only comedy handbook you will need!


Your Screenplay Sucks! 100 Ways to Make it Great by William M. Akers

Let’s face it – professional Readers (editors, agents, producers) usually have too many unsolicited scripts, and not enough time to read through them all.  They are really just reading until they see a convenient excuse to stop… it can be a small thing like spelling mistakes, or a bigger issue like an unappealing character.  William M. Akers – respected screenwriter, professional critic, and teacher of screenwriting – is here to help you avoid those mistakes and keep your readers interested.  What started as a simple checklist has grown into this guidebook with 100 tips to perfect your screenplay.  There are many funny examples and anecdotes to make the book more engaging. Even experienced writers will learn from this book.  Use it to help you start that next draft (and William M. Akers is sure that it needs another draft).  


The Idea: the Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction by Erik Bork

The Idea refers to the core of your story – “a great idea [is] well executed, that grabs [the audience] emotionally, holds their attention, and entertains them”.  Unlike other writing manuals that often focus on the structure and mechanics of writing, Erik focusses on how to develop and polish that Idea, so that it will succeed with your customers (agents, producers or readers). He argues that an idea will success if it contains seven essential elements: punishing, relatable, original, believable, life-altering, entertaining, and meaningful.  As a winner of multiple Emmys and Golden Globe awards, Erik Bork is an experienced screenwriter who has worked with and for some of the biggest names in the industry.  His advice goes to the heart of effective storytelling, and will apply equally powerfully across many types of writing.

Visiting the art galleries and museums around the world from the comfort of your sofa

While we are all staying safe at home, the art world has gone into a bit if a spiral. Museums and galleries have been closed to the public and these spaces which are so reliant on people visiting them to admire and learn from their vast collections have had to reinvent themselves. Many galleries have thankfully turned to the digital space and offer a range of tours and experiences that you can enjoy from the safety of your home. We’ve had a look around and they are amazing. Sit back and enjoy a tour of some of our most favourite galleries and museums along with books that accompany the artists on show. 

From the National Gallery of Victoria 

KAWS by Monica Ramirez-Montagut

Mónica Ramírez-Montagut is a curator at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and has compiled the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s body of work in this amazing book. This book is a vibrant look at the celebrated artist and designer KAWS. KAWS is a multidisciplinary artist who was first known for his work as a graffiti artist and his subversive approach to popular imagery on bus shelter and phone booth advertisements. It is an amazing book with stunning photography and storytelling. 

You can visit the NGV and take part in virtual exhibitions here

From the TATE Modern

Keith Haring by Darren Pih

Keith Haring is widely recognised for his colourful paintings, drawings, sculptures and murals. Haring exploded onto the early 1980s New York art scene with his vivid graffiti-inspired drawings, many of which found exposure in the public realm, such as the Times Square billboard broadcast of his famous Radiant Child in 1982. Haring’s instantly recognisable `cartoon-like’ imagery not only drew on the iconography of contemporary pop and club culture but also looked back to the patterns and rhythms of Islamic and Japanese art, and primitive wall-paintings. Furthermore his work also reflected a profound commitment to social justice and activism, and raised numerous issues that remain relevant today, including the AIDS crisis, the Cold War and fear of nuclear attack, racism, the excesses of capitalism and environmental degradation. Featuring around fifty works supported by rarely seen photography, film and archival documents from the Keith Haring Foundation, this accessible book will not only introduce Haring to a new audience but also throw fresh light on an artist whose work remains symptomatic of the subcultural and creative energy of 1980s New York. The publication also aims to include select and unpublished reminiscences from those who collaborated and interacted with Haring, including performers such as Madonna and Grace Jones and artists Jenny Holzer and Yoko Ono.

You can visit the TATE Modern and look closer at their online displays here

From MOMA

The Artist Project by Phaidon

The Artist Project is the latest step among The Met’s recent strides to better integrate contemporary art into its historical pantheon. Artists have long been stimulated and motivated by the work of those who came before them, sometimes, centuries before them. Interviews with 120 international contemporary artists discussing works from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection that spark their imagination shed new light on art-making, museums, and the creative process. Images of the artworks appear alongside images of the contemporary artists’ work, allowing readers to discover a rich web of visual connections that spans cultures and millennia.

MOMA Now by Quentin Bajac

MoMA Highlights celebrates the 90th anniversary of the Museum MoMA with a chronological overview of some of the most significant modern and contemporary artworks through superb high-resolution images and short texts by MoMA curators. MoMA Highlights interweaves works from each of the Museum’s curatorial departments, painting and sculpture, drawings, prints and illustrated books, photography, architecture and design, film, and media and performance art to provide a look at one of the premiere art collections in the world.

You can visit MOMA and take part in their virtual exhibitions and free art classes here

From the Guggenheim in Bilbao

Mark Rothko Toward Clarity by Sabine Haag

Mark Rothko has long been considered a preeminent figure in 20th-century art, and few publications have examined his work within the broader context of Western art, even though Rothko himself continuously sought it out as inspiration. Rothko had a profound interest in history and art history including Greek and Roman mythology, Egyptian fables, Byzantine and early Italian gold-ground paintings, and masterworks of the Renaissance and Dutch Golden Age. He first traveled to Europe in 1950, starting in Paris and winding through Venice, Arezzo, Siena, Florence, and Rome; along the way, he admired frescoes by Fra Angelico and architecture by Michelangelo. This beautiful book examines the influence of the artist’s travels on his oeuvre. It presents Rothko’s engagement with important classical and Old Master works, highlighting older techniques and ideas that the artist may have sought to emulate. Works representative of Rothko’s entire corpus are beautifully illustrated with full-page colour plates. The book also contains writings by the artist selected for publication by his son that document his appreciation of art history in his own words.

You can visit the Guggenheim and their online Guggenheim at Large activities here

and for all art lovers…

The Art Museum by Phaidon (2018)

This book is one of the finest art collections ever assembled, offering the museum experience without the boundaries of space and time, taking readers on a tour around the world and through the ages, presenting the finest examples of visual creativity. Its rooms and galleries display some 1,600 artworks, selected from the original collection, including paintings, sculpture, photographs, textiles, installations, performances, videos, prints, ceramics, manuscripts, metalwork, and jewel-work. It’s a book to be treasured.

Enjoy and stay safe!