Archives for the month of: May, 2013
Jane Ward at BEARSPACE

Jane Ward at BEARSPACE

Had the opportunity to meet Jane Ward whose work I have always admired at BEARSPACE. She was giving an informal talk about her working methods, how she chooses the images she then manipulates, her sources and inspirations.

She often uses aerial shots as a base from which she builds her imaginary worlds and the end result does have the feel of looking down, spiralling towards the ground as all perspectives are lost in a disorienting chaos. She says it is important that within this chaos there is space to escape and so always leaves an area of light in her work for this purpose.

Noa and Hannah had filled the walls of their beautiful Dulwich house with a wonderful selection of their paintings and prints. Each artist complementing the other as they both have a mystical quality to their work.

Noa Edwards

Noa Edwards

There is lots of space in their work for the viewer to become involved, Noa’s dark photograms have a ghost like ethereal haze making the images indistinct and alluring and Hannah’s colourful assemblages are joyous and expressive.

Hannah Williamson

Hannah Williamson

Marking Time with Debbie Lyddon at the Crypt Gallery.

Debbie Lyddon

Debbie Lyddon

Through the use of materials Debbie investigates the possibility of expressing time passing through process and experience.

Debbie Lyddon  Bitumen Buckets

Debbie Lyddon Bitumen Buckets

Letting the material do its own thing. These bitumen coated canvas buckets filled with salt water had been left  to evaporate for 6 months but were having the process of crystallisation reversed in the damp environment of the Crypt.

Time is not linear.

Lizzie Cannon is also interested in materiality and has used her residency at Bow Arts to explore using porcelain in her practise.

Lizzie Cannon

Lizzie Cannon

Her delicate sculptures look like they might have been formed over thousands of years from dripping limestone, they have the strange forms and translucent quality of stalactites .

Lizzie Cannon

Lizzie Cannon

Creating work that blurs the boundaries between the organic and the inanimate she fuses materials and forms together confounding us with a mix of the unexpected yet vaguely familiar.

At the theatre it has been a mix of the political, politically correct and not.  I enjoyed Stuart Lee’s understated observations on the possibility of him voting conservative at the Loving Linda fundraiser for ovarian cancer. An evening of comedy in the wonderful Linda Smiths memory.

Linda Smith

Linda Smith

‘This House’ by James Graham playing at the National tells the tragic tale of the last days of the labour government pre Thatcher, the like of which will never be seen again – it didn’t seem appropriate somehow to well up at a political satire but it was heart-breaking stuff. All the more tragic in retrospect knowing now what was to come.

This House

This House

I had expected to well up at ‘Joe Egg’ but in fact it never really cut beneath the surface, written at a time when the language of disability had not been reformed it was slightly uncomfortable to listen to but as it was so dated it was hard to empathise and finally feel any real emotion. Top marks for the acting though.

Sally Tatum in Joe Egg

Sally Tatum in Joe Egg

The V&A had gone to town with their Bowie extravaganza – great use of location sensitive headphones adding the appropriate soundtrack.

1305 Bowie

He has wowed us all again this year with his new tracks and another collaboration with Tony Ousler to produce an enigmatic video.

Bowie and Ousler collaboration

Bowie and Ousler collaboration

I was interested to hear about Bowie’s lyric generator which spliced random articles together – a lot of it made no sense but there would be the odd phrase that would capture his imagination and from there he would begin to write. It seems a fun way to work, loving rules and lists it really appeals to me. I could make work from a random starting point each time or follow a method like with my food shopping where I buy the next thing on the shelf to what I bought last week. This removes all tedious decisions about what to cook and throws up lots of interesting combinations for meals forcing us to eat things we might never have tried. However, instead of randomly generating ideas I am trying to keep focused on what I believe to be the nub of my interests –  the cultural impact of our disconnection with nature. Thinking about the evolution of the first trees and what they looked like  I cut some ferns in the garden just as they were about to unfurl – I have scanned them and was really pleased with the detail. I am pressing them and hope to use them to make  monoprints over the iceberg collagraph.

1305 Fern

Have made a good investment in a plan chest – now that I am working on paper a fair bit.

1305 plan chest

So lovely to have tidy studio and somewhere to lay stuff out.

At Ochre I have been adding some more layers to the iceberg collagraphs.

1305 at Ochre

I am concerned that I have got a bit too seduced by the wonderful colours of the inks.

I am not really satisfied with the image  – need to think about this a bit more.

I am planning on adding a layer of printed organza over the trees to give more depth.

1305 dark trees

1305 light trees

I think I need to go back to a grayscale palette.

I have been working on a new stencil image for the forest, something which hopefully disrupts the landscape more  – and have been thinking about adding some beasts of the forest too.

Not worrying too much about historical accuracy but about the feeling of the forest being something menacing advancing across continents.

A more imaginary world.





The debate on the impact of opening our borders to the Romanian and Bulgarian people is in the news.
I watched the channel 4 news report which followed Nigel Farage to Bulgaria as he discovered not everyone was ready to leave their homeland at the drop of a hat and that Jeremy Paxman has a counterpoint in the local presenter that launched into an immediate assault on Farage citing the imperialist history of Britain and his own french protestant roots leaving him gulping instead of inanely grinning.

I also saw the amazing contemporary realist paintings of Romanian Dan Voinea and the vibrant woodcuts of Romanian twins Gert and Uwe Tobias.
Dan Voinea showing at Beers Lambert constructs paintings that capture something of an absurd moment, the figures he paints are exerted, intense and contorted. They are focused on some event which is not clear but is captivating, like being at the back of the crowd straining to see what everyone is looking at but having to be content with a fleeting glance leaving the rest to the imagination. He works from photographs taken in different eras mashing time together. His figures wear the clothes of the forties or the seventies but seem placed in a current context.

Dan Voinea

Dan Voinea

The Tobias twins showing at Whitechapel gallery also mess with time. Using folk art imagery, the typewriter and surreal paper collages they evoke past times in the making and composition of their work but there is something uncertain about its origins in the overall aesthetics making it hard to place.

Gert and Uwe Tobias

Gert and Uwe Tobias

Playful and vibrant their woodcuts on canvas are giant dramatic explosions of colour like putting an electic shock through an Ernst Haeckel illustration of protozoa.

1305 Gert and Uwe Tobias 2

While at the Whitechapel Gallery I was able to have another look into Giuseppe Penone’s Spazio di Luce

Giuseppe Penone

Giuseppe Penone

Openings are just so much better


1305 Prague 5

The beautiful city of Prague looks good in bright sunshine.

1305 Prague 4

With soaring gothic architecture

1305 Prague 6

glinting gold on dark passions

1305 Prague 3

sumptuous iconography

1305 Prague 2

secret doorways

1305 Prague 7

and intriguing botanical laboratories.

Visited the Dox Centre for Contemporary Art and saw the politically charged work of Krzysztof Wodiczko.

Krzysztof Wodiczko

Krzysztof Wodiczko

Wodiczko uses projection onto public buildings to give a voice to the inhabitants of the city who are little seen and heard.

We see the eyes and hear the voice of the migrant worker usually invisble speaking about his life in an alien environment.

Krzysztof Wodiczko Mouthpiece

Krzysztof Wodiczko Mouthpiece

He uses technology to aid cross cultural communication giving the use of media devices to those who have no access but the most need to be heard.

Krzysztof Wodiczko Out/Insiders

Krzysztof Wodiczko Out/Insiders

The dramatic new work made for this exhibition was inspired by events along the Czech German border where neo-fascists have been attacking the local Roma people one of the most marginalised communities.

The spoken testimonials and faces of the young victims are projected onto the statues of historical Czech figures. We couldn’t understand what was being said but the emotional impact was still strong as the dead stone was suddenly brought to life and completely transformed.

The tragedy of Orpheus’s descent into the underworld to reclaim his lost love was relayed via 1930’s Paris and the music of Django Reinhardt and Edith Piaf.

Little Bulb Theatre created a magical retelling of the myth at Battersea Arts Centre.

1305 Little Bulb

There was so much talent in this show, musicianship, amazing voices and inventive costumes – it was brilliance.

Little Bulb Theatre

More tales of love battling evil with a second visit to see Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty.

Sleeping Beauty

Wonderful staging of the forest as place of disorientation and dark spirits.

William A. Ewing the curator of Landmark:The Fields of Photography showing at Somerset House comments on the fact that we still turn to visions of pristine  ‘nature’ for solace.

The exhibition however covered many more visions of landscape than those of the pastoral or sublime.

Robert Adams

Robert Adams

Adams pioneered landscape photography which showed man’s impact on the environment.

He believed the whole picture should be shown and that it all has grace and a persistant beauty.

Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky

Burtynsky photographs industrial landscapes that although polluted and scarred have a sublime beauty.

Melanie Jackson’s The Urpflanze (Part 2) is showing at Flat Time House.

I saw the first installment of her exploration into Goethe’s imaginings of a primal plant at the Drawing Room in 2010.

1305 Melanie Jackson

Since then she has expanded her research and made some films which operate a bit like a scientific documentary.

I find her work fascinating, the references to crystals and fairy tales and this idea of going back to a point of origin are all things I am interested in.

1305 Melanie Jackson 2

She maintains ‘We are all still peasants dreaming of magic rewards’

1305 Melanie Jackson 3

One reward for going to the exhibition is to be given a glossy magazine set out like a science fiction comic book.

Full of startling and fantastical facts and notions, pages crammed with text and images struggling for space like a seed pod about to burst it has a big sense of hype, but of possibility too.

Back at the studio I have been experimenting screen printing acrylic over oils.

This is supposed to be a no no but in this case the oils from the collagraph were not thick and there is still quite a bit of paper exposed, also I used opaque textile inks which are thick and flexible so I thought it would be OK.

1305 acrylic over oil

The inks covered well. This opened up some new possibilities.

1305 acrylic over oil 2

Using very pale instead of very dark inks for the forest gave  the image a more cohesive ethereal image.

I dusted the wet ink of the trees with mica dust to give it a luminescent sheen but the powder clumped and wouldn’t sieve cleanly before the ink dried so I dusted it off with a brush giving the whole work a sheen which is OK but if I want to be more targeted then I need to sort out a proper shaker.

I have been cutting up and collaging the collagraphs of the gated garage.

1305 Collagraph collage

I have made two new backgrounds to work on.

1305 bonsai tree

I have also transferred the sublimation print on polyester of a bonsai tree onto a collagraph.

It was a fiddly task, first using bondaweb to fix it to thin black card, outlining the edge with a soldering iron then the patient process of carefully cutting out the shape in card.

I fixed 3M adhesive to the back of the card first so when cut out the backing could be pulled away and the shape placed on the collagraph before putting though the press.

1305 Shadowplay

I chose to use the image of a bonsai tree as it is cultivated as a perfect form – a fantasy tree, something from the imagination brought forth through careful nurturing.

The shadow of the tree does not conform to the idealization of nature. Despite our attempts at control it is never complete.