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Time condensed and expanded.

When you need to present your best ideas in a coherent and articulate fashion trying to be sure you cover all points without hesitation repetition or deviation you would think 20 minutes would seem an age to fill but in fact it went in a flash. Then you are left wondering how you came across. It was the most glorious sunny day for my interview at the RCA and the board were very welcoming and encouraging as I battled to speak while remembering to breathe. It was all very straightforward. Just talk about my work and why I want to go, what I want to achieve conceptually and technically. Explain the motivation behind my new work, offer some criticism of my work. Nothing tricky but lots more people for them to interview so I just have to wait and see. I feel I have been very honest about myself and am really pleased I was given an interview.


I went along to Cafe Gallery Projects to see what the 2nd year RCA Printmaking students were up to in their public exhibition. Right by the door was a very low table covered in a white cloth, on it was the plaster head of an asian girl . As I entered the draught from the door seemed to cause a reaction, the head moved slightly and I realised it was a live head caked in make-up. Also on the table were bowls of what looked like spices and kecap manis and spoons so the public could ladle condiments over her head. The girl was obviously a contortionist and very good at keeping still for 2 hours, a test of endurance even without sticky sauce and irritant seasonings being trickled over your face. I don’t know if it was the artist herself or not but it was a captivating spectacle, disturbing and questioning complicity. I was rather anxious looking at the show in case I found myself next to a tutor and in another interview situation so I navigated the space quite quickly. I didn’t make a note of any names of the students but I will be interested to see how their work develops before the upcoming end of year show. My favourite piece was a video showing two rectangular receptacles cast in concrete filled with dry ice, light was projected onto the sides and there was some kind of mini explosion within. The concrete looked translucent as the mist bubbled over the sides like some mystical ancient relic. It was beautiful like an Ori Gersht film is beautiful. Some work I found perplexing – not sure whether to blame my own shortcomings or just accept there is art like people that I just don’t get.

The latest piece of promenade  theatre from dreamthinkspeak ‘In the beginning was the end’ at Somerset House was also perplexing.


Left to negotiate endless corridors and rooms filled with unexplained scientific equipment, being corralled into demonstration areas for new technologies by a variety of ‘men in white coats’ non of which spoke english the audience looked hard for clues to a narrative.


If it had been billed as an art installation maybe expectations would have been different. The rudimentary enactment of corporate failure felt weak for the huge effort put into the infrastructure and the setting which was astonishing for its scale and vision. It wasn’t until the exit that you were provided with an explanation if you needed one of what you had experienced.

Looking back to Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing ‘ A Cloudburst of Material Possessions’ dreamthinkspeak take his concerns for humanity obsessed with the material world and fast forward to a future of economic collapse.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Finally on leaving the constructed sets a moment of true wonder, looking up into a maze of architectural delights, arches and stairways that lead back to the courtyard of Somerset House. Diagon Alley was mentioned.

somerset house

Must plan to go on one of their free guided tours at some point.

Dale Devereux Barker came to speak at Ochre Print Studio.


It was interesting to hear about his large scale installation projects involving turning his small lino cut imagery into large enamel sheets. I liked his attitude to printmaking – if you don’t know what the rules are you’re not afraid to break them. I also agreed with him that being faced with walls of framed works behind glass such as at the Mall Galleries drains the work and any stamina you might have to view it. In such circumstances how do you make your work captivate an audience.
Artist Giuseppe Penone examines our relationship to nature and for his latest work he has created a twelve metre bronze cast of a tree, with a gold-leaf clad interior.

Guiseppe Penone

It looks like a giant  insect scuttling across the length of the gallery. It is called ‘Space of Light’ as where the tree was is now a golden void. Looking down the centre of this void is like looking down Alice’s rabbit hole – it looks endless and magical. The tree has been turned inside out – the bark now on the inside, the outside informed with prints of the hands that sculpted it, together it defines the inseparable bond between humankind and nature. To accompany the installation Whitechapel Gallery is hosting talks and events exploring the relationship between nature and the city.

At her talk in the series ‘To Make a Tree’ Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila explained her interest and difficulties encountered in making a life size portrait of a tree. She comes form a background of painting and filmmaking and her work is very much about the rules of filmmaking but considering the protagonist of a story to be someone or something other than an actor.


Through drawing she makes her tree a character. She talked of her quest in casting a tree in the role of protagonist. Searching for the perfect tree to fulfill this role. The spruce is so ubiquitous for the Finnish people that in choosing such a common tree to put under the spot light and make a star of her film she echoes the fantasy of the undiscovered talent plucked from obscurity. Her interest is also in thinking about the tree as having a parallel life to the lives of humans and wishing to respect other living things that we share the planet with as equal to ourselves in value. She wanted to experience the tree as a whole – not looking up from below but in its entirety. In the final work we view the tree on its side split across 6 video screens undulating in strong winds with an added soundtrack of birdsong.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila

We are still displaced from the tree by the media but we can contemplate the vast size and the time passing necessary to create this giant.

Wieland Payer whose work I first saw at RCA SHOW 2011 has an exciting solo exhibition at Man & Eve Gallery now, conveniently for me, relocated in the wonderfully eclectic Lower Marsh.

Wieland Payer
His work seems to span time. The medium of pastels seems fitting for his subject as it has an old fashioned quality which imbues the atmosphere of his work with notions of a bucolic past. It softens the reception of his imagery and adds to the surrealism of the landscapes planted with ambiguous structures which could be futuristic or from abandoned civilizations. There are signs of conflict and a need for refuge amidst the soaring beauty of impossibly tall trees and romantic rocky outcrops.

Wieland Payer 1

Outsize blue moth sculptures have seemingly emerged from the flat of the drawing and been captured and displayed in a glass cabinet. Their bodies made from paper and coloured with the same pastels as the world from which they came.

I am entranced by his work and the paths it leads me down.

Wieland Payer 2