BBC

Tagsmart weekly discovery: Sara Shamsavari’s global identity

Born in Tehran in the midst of the Iranian revolution, multi-disciplinary artist Sara Shamsavari overcame childhood cancer while she and her family fled persecution.

Raised in London and educated at Camberwell School of Art and Design and Central Saint Martins, her experiences inspired her exploration of identity and engendered a profound desire to make a difference through art.

At a time of increased division, conflict and polarisation around the world, Shamsavari’s works explore and celebrate global identity. While each of her photographic series has a distinct focus, together, they all seek to encourage a deeper understanding of our nuances as human beings in contrast to the current popular narratives that misrepresent, malign and often succeed in dividing and ‘othering’ those in the minority.

London Veil was her first series, portraying young women wearing the hijab on the streets of London, Paris, New York and Toronto.

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Her series Britain Retold: A Portrait of London is an exploration of British identity as known by the diverse communities living in London.

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She has also contributed to series such as The Dandy Lion Project by curator Shantrelle P. Lewis, which challenges its audience to rethink the outlook of black men perpetuated in the media today.

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With a belief that artists can be leaders in social and spiritual progress, Shamsavari seeks to encourage both participants and viewers in transforming the way we view society and ourselves.

Shamsavari’s work has been featured across various media and publications including BBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Elle, i-D and Dazed & Confused. Her work has been exhibited internationally in galleries, museums and public spaces and she has delivered a number of talks at cultural institutions, including Tate Britain and Southbank Centre.

Tagsmart stars alongside Mat Collishaw on BBC 4Tech

Watched by 25 million viewers in the Middle East and North Africa, BBC Arabic’s weekly 4Tech programme discusses technology, innovation and cyberspace.

Invited to take part in this week’s episode, Tagsmart demonstrated its unique triple-lock solution directly from Mat Collishaw’s studio. Our Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Steve Cooke introduced our technology by tagging Collishaw’s Insecticide 28 print. 

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Tagsmart has developed a unique, secure genetic “stamp” to identify, seal and verify the authenticity of artworks. Following an extensive collaboration between leading artists, surface chemists and conservators, every component of the Tag is part of a complex web of security measures, using revolutionary label technology featuring the latest synthetic DNA taggants and inorganic compounds.

Each Tag has its own unique reference number, linked to the artwork’s secure Certificate of Authenticity and its online Provenance Record.

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Alongside presenter Anees Alqudaihi, Collishaw also talked about his exhibition Thresholds, using the latest in VR technology. 

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Thresholds is a fully immersive portal to the past, restaging one of the earliest exhibitions of photography in 1839, when William Henry Fox Talbot first presented his photographic prints to the public at King Edward’s School, Birmingham.

Presented in London and Birmingham, the show is now relocating to Lacock Abbey, in Wiltshire, where it will open on September 16.

Watch the complete episode here.

Philip Mould & Co. and Tagsmart... Yep, that just happened!

We are delighted to have been featured in Melanie Gerlis’ column in the FT Collecting supplement this past weekend announcing our strategic partnership with British and Old Masters dealer Philip Mould and his prestigious London gallery.

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A selection of the gallery’s artworks will be marked with Philip Mould-branded tags, and accompanied by its Certificate of Authenticity and secure digital record. The first artworks to be tagged will be by Sir Cedric Lockwood Morris.

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Philip Mould OBE explains that “there is now an increasing need to inject security and confidence into the art market. The art world, particularly 20th-century art, is in peril of fakery.”

The leading art specialist and co-presenter of BBC’s Fake or Fortune? will also contribute his extensive knowledge in art conservation, restoration and issues of authenticity to the ongoing development of Tagsmart’s products and services. Tom Toumazis MBE, Chairman of Tagsmart said: “To have the opportunity to work with the Philip Mould gallery and also welcome Philip as one of our Strategic Advisors is a significant step in the development of our business.”

Fake or Fortune couple discover €450 painting is actually worth €100K, but there's a catch

Jan and Chris Starckx purchased what they called The Portrait of a Child at an auction for just €450 back in the 1970s. However, over the years, they began to suspect that they were sat on something rather special. After various trials, which even took the pair to Miami to compare the picture to another genuine Kooning, Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould arrived at the couple’s Belgian home to deliver the good news.

“Well, what we have here is an advantage because we know the other painting went for €50,000,” Philip beamed. “I believe, in many ways, that your picture is superior. The artistic impact, the characterisation of the child, the condition is so good, and you have the name carved into the wet paint, and therefore think it’s worth excess of €50,000. I could see it making up to €100,000.”

However, despite buying the painting over four decades ago, they may not be entitled to own the portrait without being able to clear up who sold the picture to them and why.

Chris explained: “After Miami, we came back and I was contacted by the vendor. He told me the person who left painting died three years ago, and left a lot of money and his belongings to his son. This man, he managed to lose all of his money in a very short time and became homeless. At some point, he was asked to clear his house because he didn’t pay the rent, so he asked two friends to get rid of all his belongings and to sell them.”

Fiona chipped in: “This is really important; the man who owned the painting asked his friends to get rid of it for him? Did he write that down – was there any instructions or anything?”

“The sad fact is, you may not own this picture,” sighed Philip. “If the people who sold it to you did not have the right to sell it, you don’t own it.”

Fake or Fortune: is this a genuine Lucian Freud?

In 1997, Jon Lys Turner was given a Lucian Freud painting by his friends and mentors, the artists Richard “Dickie” Chopping and Denis Wirth-Miller. Turner had just entered one of the British art world’s bitterest feuds. 

Beginning in a Suffolk art school in 1939, and rumbling on past Freud’s death at the age of 88 in 2011, it would involve the painter’s family, art experts and auction houses. At its heart was a single question – was the portrait of a man in a black cravat painted by Lucian Freud? 

For Turner this is more than an abstract debate about provenance. Chopping was a highly regarded illustrator responsible for the original James Bond book covers. Wirth-Miller was a brilliant tutor, but his career as an artist had not been dazzling. Acolytes of Francis Bacon, the two men were life partners and, like Freud, had both studied at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing at Hadleigh in Suffolk in the early 1940s. Somehow in this creative wartime milieu, Chopping and Wirth-Miller came by the picture. Turner still can’t pinpoint a specific incident that led to the enmity between Freud and Wirth-Miller, but its fierceness is beyond doubt. 

As late as 2003, Wirth-Miller – who also died in 2011 – was writing lists of “reasons I hate Lucian Freud”. Freud was one of the most distinctive portraitists of the 20th century, and this early work hints at what lies ahead. 

Could it really be that his hatred for Wirth-Miller was so strong that he would deny his own work? Or was the painting actually a fake? For more than 20 years, auction houses and experts have told him he owns a genuine Freud, only for them all to change their minds. 

Now, thanks to Fake or Fortune?’s line-up of art experts and scientists, the matter can finally be settled. Turner admits he has grown to like the mystery of owning a painting that might or might not be by Lucian Freud. If it is genuine, will he sell it? “I think so. Then I’d have fulfilled my pledge. It wasn’t about the money for Dickie and Denis. It was a matter of honour. For them, it was about the feud.”

Freud’s famously fleshy nude, Benefits Supervisor Resting, sold for £35.4 million in New York last year – the highest price that has ever been paid for a painting by a British artist. 

Tagsmart Certify on BBC London

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“One of the security ingredients [of the Tagsmart Certify smart labels] is a DNA compound and that’s the same biological compound that doctors and police use to identify individuals.” 

– Steve Cooke, CPO & Co-Founder of Tagsmart

This morning, Tagsmart co-founders Steve Cooke and Mark Darbyshire were interviewed by Jim from BBC London. Their conversation about fakes and forgeries in art and our smart solution to artwork security is due to air this Saturday, March 19th, around 5:30 pm. Make sure you don’t miss it!