Archives for posts with tag: Bloomberg New Contemporaries

Progress is slowly underway on my dodecahedron sculpture. Beginning with a rough mock up in card to gauge the size.

1701 maquette.jpg

I was relieved to finally finish screen printing the curse of the obelisk. Never had so many setbacks in a piece of work.

1701 Cloud Obelisk.jpg

Made of one single stone, dedicated to the solar gods, an obelisk is a fusion of the earthly and the divine. A symbol of power, piercing entry to the fickle world of the gods beyond the clouds, cursed and desired. Over 3,500 years old, the London Obelisk, raised on The Embankment for convenience sake, snubbed by a state embarrassed to revere a shady political gift made by a country they were about to undermine, fought its removal from the soil it was hewn from stands alone, separated from its twin. The gift to state made in 1811 lay fallen and uncollected in Alexandria until an eccentric Victorian adventurer (Sir James Edward Alexander, Knt.,C.B., K.C.L.S, F.R.C.E.) saw the twin in Paris and discovered that Britain’s prize had never been brought home. He found a fellow enthusiast with money and the pair designed a special vessel to contain the obelisk that could be towed behind a ship. The Olga set sail in 1877 but met a violent storm that broke the tow ropes and cast the obelisk adrift. Six men struck out in the storm to rescue the vessel but were never seen again. The obelisk however did not sink and was later discovered, recaptured and finally towed up the Thames to be set incongruously upon a plinth under the unblinking guardianship of Victorian repro Sphinx’s who traditionally would be outward facing to ward off evil, but spend their days eyeing the needle.

1701 sphinx.jpg

I had an intriguing parcel arrive from the incredibly helpful Alan Walker from the School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Edinburgh who is giving me loads of advice on building my cloud chamber. He has very kindly had an anodised aluminium plate made for me in his workshops. The plate is the one crucial component that has to be specially made so it was wonderful to find that he had done this for me.


The black metal plate will sit on dry ice, it will be the viewing backdrop for all the cosmic particle trails and I can now get on with the next stage – making the insulated box.


I have set up a hydroponics tent in my studio to create a dark space ready for filming once the cloud chamber is fully assembled and ready to test.


On a very crisp bright day I took the crystal ball a short walk along the banks of the River Wey to the ruins of  Waverley Abbey.


This was the very first Cistercian monastery founded in Britain 900 years ago by an Abbot and 12 monks from France.

1701 waverley abbey 1.jpg

These images of the crystal ball set in different locations are part of research with a view to making a work about portals in time, space and imagination.

The first work you see at Bloomberg New Contemporaries, ICA is Kate Fahey’s delicate plumes from a multitude of explosions billowing into one giant cloud – Cumulative Loss.

1701 Kate Fahey.jpg

Through scale and fragility we sense the dust caught momentarily before it settles over devastation upon devastation. It sets a thoughtful tone to enter the lower gallery.

Lisa Porter’s glazed stoneware Connection X (Thank Finch for That) and Rodrigo Red Sandoval’s installation Satellite reflections were two works I was drawn to.


Kate Fahey Superficie I

Kate Fahey’s Superficie images developed during a residency on the remote Isle of Coll were included in Reference Mollusk, a beautifully curated exhibition  with some timely concerns at new gallery space Gossamer Fog in Deptford.


Solveig Settemsdal Singularity (video still)

“We are the goo that slipped out of the oceans 430 million years ago, the goo that changed the earth beyond repair, the goo that will fossilise, leaving only future archaeological relics”


Justyna Kabala Feel Better

Helen Maurer re Composing at Danielle Arnaud had a delicate touch.


Transferring from the forsaken voids of the Church of The Holy Trinity in York it brought with it the quiet sense of unease that comes when entering a darkened space on a summers day.


The gentle chimes sounding from hidden spaces under cabinets added to the undercurrent of something slightly sinister

by exposing the construction of this fairy tale landscape Maurer adds rather than depletes mystery


This was a captivating transformation of space at the House of St. Barnabus Chapel. Staccato is an audio-visual installation by Evy Jokhova


exploring the interconnection between music, movement and ceremonial architecture


featuring three sculptural works and a soundtrack made in collaboration with James Metcalfe.


In similar vein, I was struck by Dr Rupert Till’s comment ‘architecture and acoustics are the same thing.’ He was speaking on the Radio 4 programme Did Stonehenge Sing? explaining the mysterious hum that emanates from the stones and how much more powerful the sounds would have been 3,000 years ago when all the stones were still standing. Thanks to Dr Till the lost sounds of Stonehenge have been reimagined for us to experience today.


Finally made it to a meeting of the New Materialism reading group. The text was Veronica Strang Fluid Consistencies: Materiality and meaning in human engagements with water  Points that struck me were the observation from Tilley that ‘knowledge of a thing is grounded in our bodily experience of it’ and it made me think of Plato’s debate on true belief and knowledge, although a different kind of knowledge it does come back to the idea of being there, of engaging on a physical level. We think of flowing rivers, water carried in clouds but not always of the movement of water around the globe held in a juicy pineapple or mango or even our own bodies. I was introduced  to the work of Samara Scott and her liquid painting Developer created with bio-degradable dyes in the Pleasure Garden Fountains in Battersea Park.

1612 Samara-Scott-Developer.jpg

The reading group meets at the Wellcome Trust Reading Room. On the same evening, another group was meeting to discuss materials as part of an collaborative programme between artists and scientists. I didn’t get to note down the names of participants, but a magician and an expert from the Institute of Materials had each brought along objects to spark debate. 1612 Wellcome Trust debate materials.jpg I liked the relationship struck between that of the magician as performer and the idea that the materials themselves are performing.

Turner Prize visit. Materials were performing here.

I found the materials of Helen Marten (left) difficult – though there were some I could enjoy like this wonderful ceramic disc I felt more of a connection to the materials of Michael Dean (right). It is something very basic about a reaction to the surface and the connotations it brings with it.


Marten’s sculptures are very busy visually. Like a car boot sale, unexpected juxtapositions and mostly cheap and nasty material. (though I do appreciate the thought in her designs). Anthea Turner offered more open space, albeit surrounded by brick walls and facing giant theme park style buttocks, moving on to the next room offers open blue skies but also disturbing chastity belts. Heaven/Hell.


Josephine Pryde brought us homely goods; thick kitchen worktops bleached by the sun leaving hazy shadows of random objects. Also painted fingernails. A sit on size train tastefully graffitied encountering leaves on the track.1612-josephine-pryde

Finally entering the space of Michael Dean; smoothly curved walls morph into the floor, a strange unworldly lighting (as in James Turrell light works – the walls disappear)  and you are in a void or maybe underwater.


The work (United Kingdom poverty line for two adults and two children: twenty thousand four hundred and thirty six pounds sterling as published on 1st September 2016) consists of £20,436 in pennies. This is the amount of money the government states is the minimum that two adults and two children need to survive for a year in the UK.


One penny has been removed. A family on the shore line/breadline, trying to keep their heads above water.

1612 Michael Dean 1.jpg

This landscape has similarities to the war blasted landscapes of Paul Nash showing concurrently at Tate Britain.


He too acknowledges the primitive power of single vertical forms.

Enjoyed the playful narrative of Bedwyr Williams’ The Gulch in the Barbican Curve.


Always intriguing and despite ominous undertones uplifting through the sheer joy of following the surreal twists and turns of his stories.


The simplicity of his constructions are part of the exuberance in his work, they provide the outlines for the journey.


Went to see Melanie King’s installation Pulsar Oscillograph as part of SPACE/LCN showcase of projects that have been developed by artists with the support of the LCN programme over the course of 6 months.  

1701 Melanie King.PNG

Transforming audio pulsar data (supplied by artist and former astronomer Steve Aishman), Melanie uses laser beams and mirrors to draw these “sounds” captured from outer space onto phosphorescent paper. The images layering, building and fading to the frenetic beat of the spinning collapsed star. As part of The Laboratory of Dark Matters experimental residency at Guest Projects Melanie will develop an Oscillograph  to visualise data obtained from dark matter research scientists in their search for the missing 85% of matter.


I wondered what the building blocks of the universe looked like and found myself on the Cern website reading about Quarks and Leptons. I discovered the language of particle physics to be quite like that of mythology – inhabited with mysterious characters like the charm quark and strange quark, the muon neutrino and the tau governed by fundamental forces that cannot be seen or explained other than by their attributes – like the mythical gods. I am intrigued by this mysterious world.

The name “quarks“ was chosen for the three fundamental particles of all matter from a nonsense word used by James Joyce in the novel Finnegan’s Wake:“Three quarks for Muster Mark!“ – the first sentence of Finnegans Wake completes the end of the last sentence – the book’s circular structure reflects the theories of the philosopher Giambattista Vico (1668–1744) a major source of inspiration for me this past year. Vico published his theories for a new approach to the study of human history in Scienza Nuova, he viewed human history as cyclical along with the natural cycles of the earth – night and day, life and death, rise and fall, civilization and breakdown.

Quarks are explained in the theory of the standard model – a mathematical formula which explains how the basic building blocks of matter interact – it provides the best explanation so far but does not explain everything. According to current theory the matter we know which is what makes up all stars and galaxies is only 4% of the content of the universe. Dark matter makes up about 26% of all matter and the remaining 70% is referred to as dark energy, it is even more mysterious than dark matter but it may be what is causing the expansion of the universe. I found these statistics extraordinary. This has led to a new piece of work I am beginning work on.

Every Day Matters 1

Susan Eyre Every Day Matters 1

I have been reading ‘Impossibility – the limits of science and the science of limits’ by John Barrow about how what we don’t understand has defined society as much as by what we do. That we can know what we cannot know is one of the most striking consequences of human consciousness.  All human experience is an edited account of full reality – our senses prune information – our eyes do not see the full spectrum – we summarize, compress and abbreviate the world around us. Religious and Mystical explanations do a similar thing, they make the world manageable.

Despite warnings in mythology that to possess all knowledge will lead to no good we still try to understand the unknowable.

According to current debate we may now be at an impasse where science can no longer offer us an answer. It might be that not everything in the world can be explained through materiality and there are some things we will never understand. The answers may be hidden deep in the subatomic world or the dark recesses of the universe, or we may never answer the big questions about the origin of matter and human consciousness.

Reading Robert Pogue-Harrison’s book Forests – the shadow of civilization, introduced me to Giambattista Vico and his speculation on the myth of forest dwelling bestial giants primordial fear of thunder which led me to reading about the Tasaday Tribe of the Philipines  – modern day forest dwellers who also feared thunder. The controversy over the authenticity of the tribe has raged since the first media revelation of their existence with implications that the corrupt Marcos regime were involved in the debunking of the story in order to plunder the Tasaday forest home for resources. I then find myself immersed in the midst of the most powerful musical rendition based on the remarkable life of Imelda Marcos  – Here Lies Love – at the National Theatre.

David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim - Here Lies Love

David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim – Here Lies Love

Also colourful and immersive, I loved A.S. Byatt’s Ragnarok – The End of The Gods  – a delicious imagining of Norse mythology full of lavish imagery. There are many ways for the world to end.

Nietzsche wrote ‘Every culture that has lost myth has lost, by the same token, its natural healthy creativity.’

I have just started A.S. Byatt’s novel Possession to find Vico popping up again as a main thread in the storyline. It seems he is everywhere I look at the moment.

Visited Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA. There is a particular flavour here but I’m not sure I can articulate what it is.

So pleased for the talented Ben Zawalich and Alice Gauthier 2014 graduates who were among several RCA printmaking graduates in this show.

Alice Gauthier Tourne  video still

Alice Gauthier  video still

Ben Zawalich

Ben Zawalich

I did enjoy the video piece by Emely Neu though not sure if it was on any other level than how I enjoy the absurdity in Big Train.

Emely Neu

Emely Neu

There appeared to be a serious interview going on, while three characters in golden robes and painted faces would from time to time make Tourette’s like interjections of nonsense or the sort of noises a bored toddler might make waiting for a parent to finish talking to a friend and divert their attention back to them.

Visited Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age at the Barbican Gallery. I liked the title, Constructing Worlds.

Some work was interesting as documentation of place and other work offered an interpretation or an opening to somewhere else.

The Becher’s water tower collection is a favourite piece. Similarities and differences unite us as individuals.

Bernd and Hilla Becher

Bernd and Hilla Becher

The sheer scale and drama of a Gursky image is always mindblowing. Its like we stand back and go wow, we made this, we have impressed ourselves, and he captures that awe.

Andreas Gursky

Andreas Gursky

Iwan Baan’s images of Torre David, an abandoned skyscraper in Caracas, home to thousands of squatters until last year,  had added interest because we had seen it on Homeland, also these were the only images in the show with no white borders.

Iwan Baan

Iwan Baan

While at the Barbican had a look at Walead Beshty’s impressively scaled visual diary in the Curve.

Walead Beshty

Walead Beshty

Over 12,000 cyanotype prints pasted to the wall. Surprising detail captured in some of the prints while others were simple silouhettes. It looked like a satisfying project to fill so much space through a process.

As part of a series of events surrounding the RA exhibition ‘Anselm Kiefer’, novelists A.S. Byatt and Lawrence Norfolk lead a discussion on the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales in this Podcast: – venture together into Germany’s dark woods.

The forest as dark, dangerous and profane, on the edges of civilization. It once surrounded the city, now it is removed. The dark inner space is inviting yet fearful. In history it is the separation between earth and sky. In Vico’s myth it is the heavy branches of the forest that hide the sky – the home of the gods, from the wild men of the forest. The deep recesses of the forest hide danger and wild beasts in their mazes. The laws are those of survival.

Grimm Tales staged at the Oxo Wharf were given the Philip Pullman treatment.

Grimm Tales

Grimm Tales

Led from one set to another in the theatrically dressed wharf building a series of Fairy Tales were acted out.

Grimm Tales

Grimm Tales

The setting was magical enough and the actors enthusiastic

Grimm Tales

Grimm Tales

but the pace was a bit too slow and disjointed to really carry the audience through

Grimm Tales

Grimm Tales

I heard Philip Pullman on the radio the other day talking about His Dark Materials. There seems a lot of ideas explored in his novels that I would find interesting in connection with my work at the moment.

The Golden Compass that God used to set a circular boundary around all creation mentioned in Milton’s Paradise Lost:

Then staid the fervid wheels, and in his hand
He took the golden compasses, prepared
In God’s eternal store, to circumscribe
This universe, and all created things:
One foot he centred, and the other turned
Round through the vast profundity obscure

I have been on another paradise location exploration. This was to Paradise Road in Richmond.

1501 road sign

I was delighted to find The Church of Christ Scientist at one end

1501 Church of Christ Scientist

and St Mary Magdalene Church of England at the other

1501 St Mary Magdelene's

– alternative routes to paradise?

A bit of print history in the road as well.

1501 Paradise Road Richmond

The Hogarth Press was started in 1917 by Leonard and Virginia Woolf, named after their house on Paradise Road. They began by hand-printing books of their own books and then stories from others in the Bloomsbury Group.I had a chance to make some simple books in a workshop at school.

simple bookbinding workshop at RCA

simple bookbinding workshop at RCA

When the intensity of the MA is over come July then I might have a go at this.

Thinking about portals to other dimensions I decided to try submerging an image in water. At first I wanted the fabric to stay on the bottom of the bowl but it refused to do so – so I left it floating, wondering if it would eventually sink, after a while bubbles appeared on the surface trapped by the fabric – I have found this evidence of unseen activity intriguing – like the activity in the matter of the universe going on around us unseen –  some unseen activity we can understand,  other intangible things like the aura of place and the dream of paradise cannot be pinned down or explained in terms of materiality.

1501 pool