Archives for the month of: July, 2012

Surface II at The Crypt Gallery, St. Pancras Church opened on 12th July 2012 with a very busy Private View.

There has been a lot of discussion amongst the artists of Surface II about how much information should be given about the work and in what format.

Although we did have a small pamphlet with each artists statement included some visitors felt this wasn’t explicit enough and contained a lot of nebulous language.

I spent a lot of time at the Private View and during the week when on invigilation duty explaining my ideas that led to ‘Incidence’ so maybe it did need something available for people who want to know more.

It is easier to just talk about your work informally than to write a short piece about it. Even producing one sentence can be draining. The reason why the language used in artists statements is often a bit vague is because it is so hard to pin down a visual idea that has formed from many different ideas morphing together over time  and some of which will be subconscious.

Sometimes reading an artwork can be daunting rather than uplifting, a fear of not understanding and missing the point. With Grayson Perry’s tapestries, if you weren’t familiar with the iconic religious paintings he references would you pick this up. Is the experience less because of it. Often there aren’t such clear ideas going into the work as with Grayson.

We held a bit of an artists crit at the gallery on Monday. The discussion about my work centred around what was a spiritual experience, what might be happening in the brain. Is the connection with nature being calming coming from the patterns that formed us.  Also the possibility of paranormal activity was discussed and how this might manifest itself, interesting to see how many people feel they have had such an experience.

Crawling through the low tunnel to the mysterious octagonal room in the hidden depths of the crypt not currently open to the public it felt very possible that something unnerving might happen. It was pitch black and I had no torch so had to fire the flash to light the room, then check the camera playback for unwanted presences.

All clear.

There is an abandoned wheelchair in a disused tunnel, maybe left over from the war – it has lost its wheels and is on the point of disintegration.

I may use this image in ‘Syndrome’, new work about the inner recesses of the mind where fears are stored. It will come under the fear of medical intervention. My own experience at the age of 7 is being slapped by the dentist and then pinned down by 2 men and having a gas mask held over my face to subdue me after kicking out frantically when I saw the big syringe coming my way.


Thanks to the careful selection of artists and curation of works by Louise Harrington and Fiona Chaney Surface II was a very rewarding experience.

There is a book Surface II which can be viewed online.









Class. Upper, Middle – we don’t say Lower anymore do we. Was wonderful to see Grayson Perry’s The Vanity of Small Differences tapestries in all their colourful detail. Victoria Miro had never been so busy.

A steady stream of visitors into a packed gallery. I don’t think I’ve been there before and shared the space with more than a handful of people so it was great to see how Grayson had connected with people and brought them into the gallery.

I guess it was mostly those middle classes though. There we were recognising our friends if not our own front rooms. Fascinating stuff.

Space. Out there, in here.  Sarah Sze had some delicate and beautiful sculptures in the other galleries at Victoria Miro which rewarded studied viewing.

3D drawings in space.

Sarah Sze at Victoria Miro

Astronomy/Astrology. Saw Damon Albarns’ Dr Dee at the Coliseum.  Such transcendent voices. I bought the CD and there are bits that make my hair stand on end , the purity of the voices. Visually it was rich and innovative. I love a spectacle. Live crows and dancing solar systems connected nicely with the ideas in the Sarah Sze work. Calculating and examining the universe. The inquiring mind of John Dee who believed as much in magic as science.

Down in the Crypt. Installed  ‘Incidence’ which explores a spiritual connection with nature and reflects on loss. The title comes from the ‘angle of incidence’ the angle where a beam of light hits another plane and also the incidence of phenomena.  The live edge perspex catches the light and casts a shadow which becomes part of the work.  The lighting in my space is not perfect but I will have to accept that situation as the lights are too fragile to move very much.

I think this piece will work well when sunlight can hit it and move across it but the Crypt does offer a suitably enigmatic space for reflection on loss.


Was exciting to see all the work arriving and being installed by the other artists in the show. Some amazing looking pieces coming together.

Nice to meet up again with familiar faces from last year’s Surface show and to meet the new people involved this year, one a blast from the past art class maybe 10 years ago.


Deep fear. I have been working on the images for ‘Syndrome’ – an installation exploring the inner recesses of the mind.

I am basing these ideas loosely on my own anxieties & memories mostly from childhood. There is the death of our neighbour Mr Wright who owned the shop next door. Alone in my bed at night knowing his body lay next door I had visions of his feet appearing through my bedroom wall. There was also the classic fear of hands under the bed waiting to grab my feet as I jumped in. Crocodiles under there too for some reason. And the other side of the Wrights house was a cottage separated from us by an orchard that if I crept across I could see to the back door outside which stood a black cauldron. I only ever imagined who lived there and dreaded I would be spotted spying. Cows running amok, screaming pigs, unceremoniously dispatched rabbits with myxomatosis and the stranger in the car.  Spent some time photographing laughing crowds around covent garden to maybe use in a tableau about humiliation. I am collaging images together to create the feel of a surreal dream, hazy images that will be printed on organza layers.






The marathon print session is complete.The frame is on and the Perspex inserted.

Was all I could do not to throw up all over it inserting the Perspex – slightly stressful, one false move after all this work.

‘Incidence’ is finished.


Badly bashed my foot in the final stages of heaving my screens up and down the stairs from studio to garden to wash out.

This slowed me down and prevented me from visiting Lizzie Cannon  & Elizabeth Murton at their open studio event that evening at Bow Arts.

However I did however bump into Elizabeth at the New Ashgate Gallery ‘At Play’ talk presented by Outi Remes and Cally Trench.

Kirsty E. Smith who I met at Core Gallery one time was there giving a talk about her ‘beings’ from the world of Frilip Moolog. Kirsty is definitely an artist At Play   – anthropomorphising her artwork with characters and names.

It was an evening of discussion about audience participation and ways in which an audience can be engaged with a piece of work for more than a quick glance. Audience participation is a tricky area, I like to be engaged but I don’t always want to build my own city out of plasticine or come up with a recipe to order (Babel). I would love to go on a cruise down the Nile but I really don’t want to be wrapped in toilet paper and dance like an egyptian.  Having said that there were exhibits in the At Play exhibitions at SouthHill Park that required participation that I enjoyed such as Siobahn McAuley’s ‘Faster, Faster’ – a pedal-activated optical toy. I remember going into the totally padded room, making a paper plane to fly and   an enhanced biting an apple experience, pairing  picture cards by assumption, rearranging pieces on a board – was it a route? Lighting the sections in the two-way mirrored glass house. You have to want to do it. If it works you do spend more time with each piece of work and it prompts interaction with other visitors.

I had my two Restricted View pieces showing in At Play 2009 – a large image with a small hole to peep through and discover a little world inside.

Restricted View (summer)

I didn’t set out to make participatory work but I do find much of my work has an element of discovery, peeping in or through gaps and around obstructions. I think I find the idea of the viewer discovering something for themselves makes the interaction with the art more personal. I had been able to observe viewers anonymously and found that everyone came away from looking through the hole with a smile on their face. This does seem to be the most common response, a sense of delight. A lot of the feedback I have had in comment books etc and from other exhibitions has stated that the viewer wished they could be inside the little world – it drew them into a fantasy. They would refer to Narnia and other fictional places. ‘I want to be in there’ I think it is also the attraction of the miniature, feeling small and childlike again.

I visited The Royal College of Art Show 2012 on the hottest day possible. I don’t know if that was why, combined with a sore foot, but I wasn’t bowled away by anything this year. Last year I saw so much work I loved, big favourite was Wieland Payer.

Wieland Payer Dawn 2011

Also Esther Teichmann’s Mythologies which I had seen before at Danielle Arnaud and ArtSway.

Esther Teichmann from Mythologies

Jonny Briggs, Eleanor Lines, Vasilios Paspalis, anyway there were loads.

This year I quite liked Colin Henderson, Joe Drakeford and Frank Ammerlaan’s paintings  and the sculptures with candles from Benjamin Wadler.

Colin Henderson ‘Obsidian Mirror 1’ 2012

Joe Drakeford Liquid Landscape

Benjamin Wadler

I also like Benjamin’s statement:

‘If Carl Sagan was right when he said that we are a way for the cosmos to know itself, then I believe that art is a way for us to know ourselves.

An aperture is a hole to look through, and a portal is a hole to pass through.

In art we do both of these things. That’s funny, because artworks look like objects; but while a painting can seem to resemble a wall, it has the secret power to become a window, or a door beyond the self.

As we pass through a door, experience passes through us.

New toys! Finally have a car that is massive enough to get my work comfortably in, most of it anyway.

Will still need a van for ‘Syndrome’ delivery of all those crates & now the company I usually use have disappeared and been replaced by another Hand Car Wash setup.

Invested in a V-Joiner to fix the corners of the frame Pete kindly mitred for me.

PFK04 V Joiner

PFK04 Picture Framing Kit Joiner v nailer underpinner  from UK Framing Supplies Ltd  via Ebay & it was brilliant – did the job very well even on such a big think frame 44mm.

Was very excited to arrive home one day  and find a wonderful wooden box on my doorstep. This is just the sort of thing I had in mind.

Have been out this week skip raiding for weathered old wood to make some crates, not been hugely successful. Was given two old troughs from a plumbers which turned out to be so heavy I can’t really manage them – I think they will do for plants though.

Very much enjoyed Grayson’s Perry’s TV series All in the Best Possible Taste and hope to go and see the tapestries this week at Victoria Miro.

I thought it was great for his insights but also to show his progression from idea to artwork, I hope everyone watched it.

Grayson Perry