Archives for the month of: September, 2012

Feeling the pain, physically, financially and emotionally of a hard slog to get these crates ready for installation.

Testing Testing

In the flurry of construction and sheer exhaustion the ideas that built the work have been engulfed by the practicalities of production.

These small light boxes will sit inside the crates

The remit was to create something relating to Dickens and his fascination with the supernatural.

It wasn’t something that seemed relevent to my practise at first but after visiting the excellent British Library Dickens exhibition I was drawn in by Dickens interest in mesmerization and his belief in the power of human will.

Dickens was a champion of the imagination and of finding romance in familiar everyday events, to beautify reality through fancy and alleviate disappointment in life – key themes that inform my work.

Much of his writing is about aspiration and redemption, set against atmospheric depictions of an underworld of nefarious characters and forbidding locations. I am trying to introduce some darker elements into my work and wanted to convey an idea of a surreal dream where images of forgotten fears are recalled. As I am using personal fears whether this translates to other viewers I am yet to discover.

the madness

The installation ‘Syndrome’ recalls events and imaginings that disturbed me as a child – things that may sit in my subconscious waiting to be drawn out during some therapy session.

the séance

I have joined London Printworks to use their large format heatpress to print the tormented forest on organza panels which I intend to hang around the crates as a kind of ether of escaping memories.

My first session at Printworks was almost a complete disaster until the wonderful Margaret came to my rescue. I had almost been about to give up and go home as I was wasting fabric and stencils producing blotchy prints.

I still came away after 3 hours with only one useable panel not the 9 I had hoped for so I booked in for another full day session which did mean I got the number of panels I wanted but was an endurance test for my back.

We have cut some bamboo from the garden to use as battens to hold the panels. Light & cheap.

There is a whiff of vinegar about the place as I have been ‘aging’ the newly cut edges of wood on the crates with the concoction of steel wool steeped in white vinegar for 24hrs. Dousing the wood with a strong brew of tea beforehand lends a much darker colour.

Exhibit C at Bearspace is over now and I have been to collect my work minus one ‘Collected Thought’ which the super supportive Ursula bought as it makes her smile.

Collected Thought (4)

There was no feedback from the gallery on my work.  Also I had expected the gallery assistants would make good the walls but this was not the case and they expected the artist to do it.

I hadn’t gone prepared so Julia Alvarez let me off the task as I was parked next to the periscope warden car but I felt I left with bad feeling.

This experience has galvanised my determination to give my practise an overhaul and big assessment. I hadn’t thought I wanted to be deconstructed and rebuilt as the RCA promise but now I think I really do.

Next move after Illumini will be contemplating an MA application.

Well since I have been exploring those forgotten childhood terrors I have had a seriously terrifying supernatural dream.

Not a fear of tidal waves, ‘public’ toilet, large spider anxiety type of dream but a real chiller.

I guess a lot of those fears are dormant under the surface still. Those boxes really do have chinks.

Coming up to a deadline for a piece of work has its own anxieties. The procrastination caused by fear of it all going wrong – delaying that possibility of disaster against the need to take the plunge so if it does go wrong you have time to fix it.

And there have been problems – the polyester I was transferring images onto turned out to have diagonal lines running through the fabric which only become visible when a dark ink is applied.

heatpress action

Also the quality of the organza I bought was not great. Curse Fabric World.  I wasted an afternoon in vain searching for better quality white polyester glass organza. Trawling Berwick Street & surrounds I finally found a shop that had some stock only to discover it was £29 a metre.  This must be where Marilene Oliver got hers for her piece Dervishes. I did ask her such a banal question when she came and gave a talk at Ochre. I remember Cathy de Monchaux’s advice in a talk she gave at Goldsmiths – always use the best materials you can afford.  It was gorgeous – really like liquid glass. I know where to go when I am making something special. For ‘Syndrome’ I really doubt I will get any money back from this so must be circumspect. Oxford Street John Lewis fabric dept. no better than Kingston. Brick Lane my salvation. I am aware that I talk a lot about trying to save money. Obviously I want to produce high quality work but in reality I know I’m not going to make the money back on it so I have to have limits.

In the same vein – more time & money wasted – the paper roll ordered via eBay from the Swedish Army surplus was creped! and rather crumpled. Not to be defeated I spent about 3 hours ironing it – well it was for trees, a little texture would be good. All in vain though, the surface was just too rough to take the ink. So a whole day wasted as well as the expense of the paper and studio time. Off to Atlantis, via Hamar for Perspex and Brick Lane for organza, to buy a roll of Fabriano 120gsm paper only to find on arrival they were out of stock. Could’ve cried so tired, managed to track some down at Cass Art in Islington but so much walking with purchases bound to my wheelie hold all, heavy and unwieldy it didn’t quite make it home in one piece.

Having purchased the paper I finally got to print the trees for my haunted forest at Ochre Studio.  An exhausting day grappling with A0 screens, very gloopy sublimation inks and metres of paper.

Lightbox images transferred onto polyester and organza are put on stretchers.

Lining up the images on silky polyester and slippy organza tests my patience and concentration.

Getting it together at last. Busy sanding and staining stretchers, cutting holes in boxes for connector cables, fitting ledges fr the perspex to sit on, fitting the LED lights and testing connections.

Have had lots of low points through material frustrations but the most flattening was the much anticipated but ultimately disappointing Time Out review of Exhibit C.

I could just not mention this. Only 2 stars for the show. The main complaint does seem to be with the curation and selection but it still feels personal, comments about my own work were non committal/condescending.

So I checked out the credentials of reviewer Friere Barnes.  Turns out she really admires Esther Teichmann so we have that in common – she also shares a lot of connections with me on LinkedIn.

Cheering to find some visitors to the show have given it a 4/5 star rating online even if some are the artists themselves!

One good upshot of this was I watched Esther Teichmann’s film ‘In Search Of Lightning‘ which is really beautiful.

Shame Freire Barnes didn’t rate the show and it does feel a public shaming but have to think about the next piece because the next piece is always going to be the one.

Listened to Audrey Niffennegger one of the guests talking on radio 4 in relation to the Japanese artist Hokusai about the artist’s drive to produce that one piece that fulfills the urge to create.  That it is a lifetimes endeavour is summed up by Hokusai who felt nothing he did before the age of 70 had any merit and if he lived to 140 he might finally be able to create something truly divine.

The harshest critic must be oneself.


Taking its name from Robert Wise’s classic 1959 Film Noir, ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW is curated by Julia Alvarez and Katherine Hawker.

I am so pleased to be a part of this show.

Exhibit C looks to imagined and real cities, utopias and dystopias. Coined in 1516 by Thomas Moore, the word Utopia derives from the Greek for ‘no place’, and the later English homophone  deriving from ‘good place’. It is this double meaning which is of interest here: the vices and virtues of a modern city, and a contemporary sense of instability. Artists critique existing cities, blur boundaries between the everyday and the extraordinary, and build ‘no places’

It was a really busy Private View – so busy I didn’t get a chance to take any photos.  I am hoping I can get some from the gallery as it’s nice to get a record of the buzz.

Julia Alvarez the gallery owner said Time Out critics were in to do a review which is supposed to come out next week. Apparently they don’t give anything away when they are there so will have to wait and see what they have to say.

It was good to show Collected Thoughts all together for once.

Collected Thoughts

This work reflects on ideas of preservation (conservation – but of a romantic idea of nature)  and references the Victorian enthusiasm for creating stylised tableaux of the natural world held in glass domes.

I wonder if anyone actually picks up on this idea without being prompted.

The other work showing is Calypso Wanderer II which is inspired by the evocative names given to the prosaic caravan.

Hung in the small annexe it’s a bit tucked away but at least right by the bar.

My thoughts have had to move straight on to all the work needed to get ‘Syndrome’ ready for installation.My maths has let me down again! The wood I gave to Pete to make all the stretchers was only enough for two sets of 4 and I need 9 sets.So off to get some more – hopefully enough this time & I bought it from Champion Timber as it was much cheaper than Wickes.I have got the LED strip lights on a roll from eBay – why did I spend a fortune before on LED bars for the Christmas lightboxes when this stuff is so cheap and easy to use. The prices vary so much.Also I have found some LED connectors  with 1 metre wires for 3528 SMD LED strip lights.  I will have to connect the lighting of all the crates together at installation once the pile of crates is in place so to find something that doesn’t involve those tiny screws in regular connectors is a real bonus – these ones snap onto the strip. The idea is that I run the LED strip around the inside of each box  with the connecting wire coming out from a hole and connect to the next box and so on finishing with the transformer plug. Pete has made the first lid with broken slats forming a viewing hole – looking good.

Still need quite a lot of carpentry doing but I have all the images back from Promptside now – much cheaper than I expected too so that was another bonus and compensated for how much I have had to spend on wood.

Two of the boxes will not be lit but will have a torch available for viewing.

Caught in the light. Going up the darkened stairs. Then to get to my room, passing across the stairs to the attic. Terrifying.

I have been doing a bit of work on Graft ii

In Graft i I worked directly onto the collagraph – a bit like a real graft – cutting and incising a desired idea/plant onto a base substrate.

In Graft ii I have transferred the image of the collagraphed garage doors onto polyester and printed the fantasy growth of rhododendron a typically hybrid plant, onto organzadirectly over an aluminium base.

Then I have added more layers of polyester printed with the fantasy growth. The final image is on top and I am in the process of cutting into it.

It’s a bit more subtle than Graft i. I hope they will sit well together. I am planning to make four pieces all exploring this same image of a grey urban non place with an exotic idea transplanted onto it.

A lot of hours this week were spent drawing through the pain of RSI on my little bamboo tablet.

I am planning a small tormented forest on 2m organza panels to go in the room at Shoreditch Town Hall with ‘Syndrome’.

A stressful 3 hours were spent getting the stencils printed at the ever faithful Call Print of Richmond as their software kept crashing or wouldn’t open the file.

I have made the screens to print sublimation ink on paper ordered from a Swedish army surplus store and then I need to beg a favour…..


The other artists in the show are Liz Collini, Sophie Hoyle, Louise Potzesny, Daniel Soma and Joseph Steele.

Only managed a brief chat at the PV with Liz about the neatness or not of her text based work and a brief discussion with Joseph about his powerful apocalyptic images.
We were all asked to respond to an email interview for Odds Against Tomorrow.
These are my unedited responses
Where does your inspiration come from?

It comes from my environment and the people I see around me. I look for evidence in the city of a need to connect with nature.

How does the place you live in affect your work?

I live in suburban London where there is a lot of hedge trimming and hanging baskets. I look for the undercurrent fantasies to expose in my work.

Which artists do you admire most?

There are so many including Joana Vasconcelas, Alex Hartley, Mat Collishaw, Gordon Cheung, Hew Locke, Jeremy Deller, Raqib Shaw, Olafur Eliasson, Grayson Perry, Andy Harper, Pipilotti Rist

What do you find most exciting about art/culture right now?

Despite all the cuts the sheer abundance of art being made and the enthusiasm for engaging with it. As it permeates more areas of society new audiences are being found such as those drawn into a gallery by the TV show on Grayson Perry’s tapestries and the local people of Deptford seeing art out in the street during Deptford X.

What are you planning next?

I am planning to apply to study for an MA next year to move my practice on through a period of intense reflection and assessment.

What would your dream project be?

Being given a derelict building to work directly on the surfaces and create a whole interconnecting installation and immersive experience that would be on-going and evolving

What are your aspirations for the future?

To keep working to always be striving for the next piece, to have the opportunity to realise new ideas, to be a part of current discourse and to overcome my nerves to speak confidently in public.

What is in store for you tomorrow? (Not literally – of course)

I am working on a large installation piece using old crates as light boxes which explores the inner recesses of the mind for an event in September and I have a show in November which was the prize from a public vote on my work at Canvas and Cream Gallery.