Archives for the month of: May, 2012

Thank you Sue for the tea-chest – a great size!

Checking on my collection of boxes for ‘Syndrome’ so far

 Not bad but need loads more, once I have printed ‘Incidence’  I will be able to start a bit more in earnest

though I think I am going to have to make most of them so need some old weathered wood.

Been a no less busy week in the studio but much less stressful

 though it is hard to work with a cat on your arm.

Have printed the next two layers onto ‘Incidence’.

 Calm colours, pale grey & barely yellow which should glow out from behind the trees once the darker colours are printed over.

There are still some tiny  areas where the base coat of pearl lustre shines through & the two background layers can be seen –

is it wrong to obsess down to this detail. Or just wrong to enjoy the physicality and aesthetic of the process. Am I still just illustrating my ideas. Will I always have Bernard & Annie at my shoulder.

The wonderful thing is I can make all my own decisions about how the piece should go – but it can leave you at sea sometimes and it’s good to have some constructive input.

I was too tied up getting the stencils and everything printed last week to attend the latest engine chat chat but it would be good to get some feedback on this piece.

Louise Harrington and Fiona Chaney who are curating Surface II at the Crypt Gallery have given the artists the opportunity to make something site specific.

For me the work is more site inspired,  I thought about the setting and found the first burial there was of a 12 year old girl. This seemed really sad for the first burial to be a child and I thought about what it must have been like to be a child in 1822.

Then I discovered Charles Lamb’s essay written the same year that Ellen Strachey died is also very sad

‘…. when suddenly, turning to Alice, the soul of the first Alice looked out at her eyes with such a reality of re-presentment, that I became in doubt which of them stood there before me, or whose that bright hair was; and while I stood gazing, both the children gradually grew fainter to my view, receding, and still receding till nothing at last but two mournful features were seen in the uttermost distance, which, without speech, strangely impressed upon me the effects of speech: “We are not of Alice, nor of thee, nor are we children at all. The children of Alice call Bartrum father. We are nothing; less than nothing, and dreams. We are only what might have been, and must wait upon the tedious shores of Lethe millions of ages before we have existence, and a name”—and immediately awaking, I found myself quietly seated in my bachelor armchair…’

So dreams, loss of childhood through one means or another have been swimming round my mind. And this has brought me to the idea of children – leaping into the unknown. Death, dreams, adulthood.

My own childhood dreams and fears play a part too, and I suppose the idea of the forest as somewhere both frightening and magical. Probably because I have recently been reading ‘Forests – the shadow of civilization’ by Robert Pogue Harrison.

Do you remember Karen when we got lost in Thetford Forest when we were about 12.  Even now – collecting photographs for the piece I had to get Kevin to come to the forest with me.

The use of Perspex to signify the sunlight breaking through the tree tops did come from my using it in ‘Subluminal’ and wanting to see it on a bigger scale. ‘Subluminal’ was inspired by the idea of a spiritual moment with nature so it ties in to connections with the mystical aspect of death and dreams, the unknown.

I like the way the Perspex creates its own yellow shadows and when the light hits it at the right angle it comes alive – I hope I can get the angle of light right in the Crypt so it can be experienced fully.

The rest of the week has been spent helping hang work ready for the Ochre Print Studios annual exhibition, my own work included.

A stressful week battling with materials.

The progression of an artwork –  starts with the ephemeral conception of an idea but as that idea grows all the nitty gritty of how this will be realised comes into play. It is a messy time. I don’t like relying on other people for things but so often you have to – to get things cut to size, printed etc

I bought basic plywood for ‘Incidence’ as it was lighter than MDF but the surface took a lot of work to get it smooth & it is pretty warped so I have had to screw batons along the back to keep it straight for printing hopefully the frame that Pete is going to make will sort this problem. Oh to be able to ring John Jones and request a prepared surface.

Hamar Acrylic denied all knowledge of having cut a piece of perspex to size for me before from a drawing and now demanded vector line files.  I thought I had impressed myself on Monday – downloading the free software Inkscape and creating some .svg files which were duly despatched but I received a perfunctory email on Tuesday saying they were unable to use these files.  So a big Thank You to the guy at Ochre who gave me some tips on creating files in Illustrator which I hadn’t used before.  A new set of files were despatched on Wednesday & these were approved thank god – had already been reduced to waking at 4am thrashing about from a nightmare involving giant translucent spider-crabs. Felt sick with worry the perspex pieces were going to be the wrong size, shape, colour, thickness and £42 each. When I had ordered one piece it was £25 yet for 5 I had been quoted £42 – no explanation & I did query it but I collected them on Friday & they are fine. Not brave enough to check at the desk it wasn’t until I was on the tube back home I dared to get them out and measure up. Guess I paid for someone to convert the file to vector for me last time – & I just thought the perspex was v.expensive. Feel so at the mercy.

Getting paper stencils printed is also very stressful as only one guy at the print shop can get it right & until I see he is there it is very tense. I still have to go through the process of explaining to the other guy what I want who says I can’t have that until the guy who can print them to size takes over eventually. Anyway today I asked the guy who can if he is there every day because I worry if he isn’t & he said he would train the other guy to do it. We shall see.

First two background layers are now printed & I have the Perspex shards

I popped into A.P. Fitzpatrick on Friday & treated myself to some pearlescent mica and magic effect pigment & light interference pigment – some materials are pure indulgence..

The plan is to try them on the silhouettes of children amongst the forest in ‘Incidence’ but it may be too much. I want the shadows to be very subtle – hardly there.

‘Incidence’ – work reflecting on the loss of childhood is influenced by the discovery that the first burial recorded at the Crypt of St. Pancras was of a 12 year old girl in 1822. This was the same year that Charles Lamb, wistful for what might have been, wrote his essay ‘Dream Children’ which later inspired Elgar to write a musical work nostalgic for the lost wonder of youth.

Kevin seemed upset to hear that during the Robert Glaspar experiment at the Barbican Monday evening I had come up with some ideas for the imagery for ‘Syndrome’. He thought I couldn’t have been paying attention but I think it was the sort of music that lets your mind relax & open up. I’ve been rushing about so much dealing with practicalities that it’s hard to let ideas bubble up to the surface. So this was a good opportunity & I did like the band especially Robert himself.

I was thinking about the whole doppelgänger idea and phobia of mirrors. I could photograph myself in ordinary situations. at the supermarket, getting my hair cut, sleeping etc and there at my side is the supernatural sort of zombie me – fear constantly at my shoulder. Anyway it is an idea to think about some more. Mirrors seem to be a theme this week. The walk into the park on Wednesday for the event Babel had lots of mirrors placed amongst the trees. I liked this part – little tableau & the anticipation of something about to happen. It was an ambitious project. A lot of scaffolding.

Then the re-title email this week seemed apposite about “BLACK MIRROR” Dominic Shepherd & John Stark at AMBACHER CONTEMPORARY.

In Chinese mythology another world exists on the far side of the mirror – here the ‘Fauna of Mirrors’ live. All colours, shapes and forms are not as of this side of the reflection. There they wait, searching for the opening that will let them through.The black mirror is a traditional scrying tool, akin to the crystal ball or basin of water; it is an object for seeing into the spirit world. But like the ‘fauna’ these spirits are locked in their simulacra world. – Dominic Shepherd
Glad I was able to make it along to Utrophia.

Lizzie Cannon being interviewed about her amazing pavement drawing with embroidery on Friday at the Private View of Topographic Translation: Iteration 2′.

The show is of four artists whose works emanate from the translation and interpretation of their physical environments. Poppy Pitt’s wonderful topographic cast bodyscapes can be seen on the right.

Saturday was spent on a basic woodwork course.  Learnt some good tips – just simple stuff but really useful & I also now  have a whole set of handtools that are sharp. I also learnt how feeble my muscles are,

and I have a shopping list of power tools I MUST have.




The most striking thing about Einstein on the Beach is how brightly the stage is lit. Luckily all the performers have perfect skin. There is a recurring spoken motif ‘fresh and clean’ which sums it up. The movements, diction and articulation of the performers is extraordinary – perfectly fresh & clean. The voices are haunting, weaving a texture of sound from repeated phrases.

Lucinda Childs – the choreographer talks about experiencing time in a different way – expanding the moment. This means you are left with a strong visual memory of each tableau – freeze framing each moment and repeating it.

You could see Robert Wilson’s stamp on the production, the startled expression to audience hands raised mouth open that were seen a lot in The Life and Death of Marina Abromovich. Maybe the wonderful and surprising little moments of humour were his too. Many references were baffling but memorable so maybe one day the light will be shed on these too.

angle of incidence. n. The angle formed by a ray incident on a surface and a perpendicular to the surface at the point of incidence.

Spent most part of the day deciding on the angles and positioning for the shafts of light (live edge Perspex) that will protrude from the plywood base in ‘Incidence’

Pete has very kindly routed the slots for me and has also offered to help with making the frame – could I have better neighbours.

Every spare moment this week has been spent on the images for the screen stencils for the forest scene.

‘Subluminal’  – ( which I interpret as under the sun) actually means light waves travelling slightly slower than the speed of light due to interference of some kind

I like this – the interference – something unseen

So ‘Incidence’ is looking again at that god moment – when the light suddenly breaks through the cloud and pierces some dark corner

A spiritual moment.

Ideas for ‘Syndrome’

I have been reading about Phobias but the book I chose by Heather Buchanan and Neil Coulson hasn’t been very illuminating. There is a lot of very dry stuff about diagnosis, classification and treatment but doesn’t offer much insight into the really interesting stuff about why such irrational fears occur. No mention of hypnotherapy either.

Spectrophobia & Catoptrophobia – the fear of mirrors & one’s own reflection. The fear may be of seeing something supernatural in the mirror – an apparition or not having a reflection or of the mirror being a gateway to another world & something coming out of the mirror or feeling watched by something from the mirror. To me this idea connects with the fear of seeing one’s own doppelgänger (supernatural double) as an omen of death.

New work planned in the series about overlaying reality with aspiration for the exotic inspired by the evocative names given to the prosaic caravan.

An image is printed with sublimation dyes onto polyester and I then cut a line drawing into it with a soldering iron as in ‘Calypso Wanderer’ which is going to be shown at Bearspace in August 2012.

I went out in search of caravans all around Berrylands which I thought would be prime caravan hunting ground but I only found one.

  The make is Avondale and the model is Rialto so I am planning to use these locations to source the imagery for this piece.

Unfortunately not by actually going to Avondale Arizona & The Rialto Bridge.

Other Studio work in progress

I have invested in an A3 scanner – it hasn’t arrived yet. It was a used one for £80 so I hope it does work. I want to scan some of my collographs and transfer them to polyester to cut into.


Added some more layers of ink to this piece, sanding and wiping off along the way also printed onto paper with sublimation dyes and transferred onto organza as a final layer to be cut on top

Also transferred some onto polyester

  In this process the image is reversed so these I will cut this over a new image.

That was the end of playtime at Ochre as I have worked out how much I have to do to create work for Surface and Illumini and how long I have to do it. Taking into account the available open access days for making screens and the upcoming Open Studio Exhibition in June things suddenly look very tight.

I am now into serious making mode. Firstly I have to get all the stencils made for ‘Incidence’ and get the plywood cut and the slots for the Perspex sunbeams routed.

My wonderful neighbours are test cutting a slot for me.