Christopher Beanland

Christopher Beanland writes about architecture, the arts and the media.

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Bestival's giant inflatable Lionel Richie head

Bestival unveils giant Lionel Richie head

It sounds like a hoax but the protagonists behind it swear it's true: a super-sized version of Lionel Richie's head will be officially unveiled at Bestival this summer.

A Yo! Home convertible desk/bed

The art of living in small spaces: Architects are learning how to make less, more

New flats are smaller than ever and space in cities at a premium, as Chris Beanland discovers.

The man who built Brum: A lament for the demise of John Madin's Brutalist Birmingham

The architect's buildings were supposed to leave an indelible, futuristic mark on his beloved hometown but they are now being inexorably torn down.

Stars such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie find their new liquid assets

The arts and intoxication have gone hand-in-jittery-hand for centuries – so perhaps it's no surprise how many stars are making their own booze.

The celluloid short that is a bit of a Blur: Alex James directs his first film

"If I can make a film, anyone can," jokes Blur's Alex James. The 44-year-old has swapped his bass guitar for a viewfinder, by directing his first film – which explores tiny moments of happiness. James explains that he filmed the short for "$45" and shot it on the fly between Blur's sets at Coachella Music Festival in California last month.

Video stars: (clockwise from left) director Edgar Wright with zombie; ‘Son of Rambow’; footage from the Battle of Orgreave; ‘Eurotrash’

It's a spool world: A new film is paying tribute to the legacy - and afterlife - of VHS

Chris Beanland rewinds with the film's director Josh Johnson.

Bitcoin exists without a central bank able to manipulate its value

Bitcoin: Is the virtual currency the new gold standard?

The virtual currency has been making waves since 2009, but the financial crisis in Cyprus has seen people rushing to invest. Are these encrypted files really the future of cash? Chris Beanland reports.

A new UCL exhibition showcases the men who swallowed everything from knives to balls of hair

Chew on this: UCL exhibition showcases the men who swallowed everything from knives to balls of hair

A macabre new exhibition at University College London looks at the 18th-century “extraordinary eaters” who would gobble up things one should not at sideshows. “They challenged their bodies to cope with swallowed knives, keys or balls of hair,” says curator Sarah Chaney, from UCL's Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines.

Hollywood: An A-list invasion in the West End

More Hollywood-friendly stars than ever are swapping screen for stage in 2013.

It's a cut above most other exhibitions in Paris

You might be having a bad hair day but you wouldn't give your hair much more thought than this. Yet hair is rich in cultural connotations.

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War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?