Archives for posts with tag: Cable Depot

I am very grateful to a-n The Artists Information Co for awarding me a professional practice and creative development bursary to expand on my research and respond to the many ways Earth’s magnetic field impacts life on earth. The award will be used for a research trip to the remote location of Eskdalemuir Magnetic Observatory and Kielder Dark Skies Observatory. Fingers crossed for an Aurora experience. I will also gain expert tuition in concrete casting and mould making from Anna Hughes and make use of the facilities at The London Sculpture Workshop.

Domain of the Devil Valley Master – work in progress. It is likely that compasses were first used in China to divine an alignment of order and harmony for important sites and rituals. Jade hunters discovered they could also help to keep them from getting lost long before Europeans used them for navigation. The first mention of a south-pointer is in a fourth-century BCE text – The Book of the Devil Valley Master, and it is this that I am referencing in the title of this sculpture. Other references in the work are the rotation of the Earth’s core and geological formations of polygonal prisms. A magnetic domain is a region within a magnetic material in which the individual magnetic strength and orientation of the atoms are aligned with one another and they point in the same direction. The work uses directional magnetic steel stripped of its industrial coating to reveal the jigsaw pattern which comes from rolling single crystals of an iron silicon alloy into thin sheets to minimise magnetic losses for use in industry. The sheets have been sanded, etched, guillotined, treated for rust and sealed.

The Earth’s core is made almost entirely of iron and nickel. Siderophiles are elements that form alloys easily with iron and are concentrated in the Earth’s core. When the Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago from the collision, accretion and compression of matter it was rock all the way through. Heat from the massive violence of formation and radioactive decay caused the planet to get hotter and hotter. After about 500 million years of heating up it finally reached the melting point of iron. As the iron liquified lighter material rose to the surface becoming the mantle and crust and the heavy metals like iron and nickel fell towards the centre becoming the core. The siderophiles that descended into the core are gold, platinum, and cobalt along with around 90% of the Earth’s sulphur. Hence the smelly sulphur vents around the volcanic regions.

Belly of a Rock – work in progress. Making paper clay discs to build the surface of this hybrid sculpture and crushing mussel and oyster shells to use as texture.

The geographic north pole lies in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, covered in shifting sea ice, where the sun rises and sets only once per year. All lines of longitude converge here and hence all time zones. It is known as true north to distinguish it from the magnetic north pole. However, as the Earth’s axis of rotation wobbles slightly in an irregular circle, even this pole is not fixed. The magnetic north pole, also called the magnetic dip pole, is where the planet’s magnetic field is vertical and a compass needle here would dip and try to point straight down. The north and south dip poles are not found directly opposite each other. These dip poles are located by experiment in the field but as they are found in the most remote and harsh regions of the planet they are not easy to track. Also they can move around over considerable distances during each day, tracing out oval shapes as they are acted upon by dynamic electrical current systems of the magnetosphere, which are in turn defined by the activity of the solar wind. There is an equivalent (but fictional) magnetic dipole at the centre of the Earth assigned from global modelling of the geomagnetic field. These geomagnetic poles are an approximation arrived at by reducing Earth’s complex and varied magnetic field to that of a simple bar magnet. The north dip pole lies in Northern Canada, the northern dipole is roughly off the northwest coast of Greenland.

The Absolute Hut – work in progress. This installation is a reimagining of the Absolute Hut at Hartland Magnetic Observatory where monitoring of the Earth’s magnetic field takes place. Topological contours of suminagashi marbling also echo fluid magnetic field lines. Testing scale and alignment in the gallery space. Collecting planks for the north facing wall. Prepping the round window. Suminagashi experiments on different Japanese papers. I want to consider the hut as a sensory hub.

Other exciting news is that APT Gallery have selected a proposal for an exhibition which will take place in March 2024. The exhibition will consider the lifeboat as a metaphor in relation to uncertain times, ecological and social change and shifting landscapes as viewed from the land and the sea. The artists in this group show share an interest in exploring precarity as a site of dynamic transition. I am so happy to be working with these wonderful artists – Rachael Allain, Caroline AreskogJones, Beverley Duckworth, Liz Elton, Kathleen Herbert, Kaori Homma, Anne Krinsky.          

In celebration of World Metrology Day, NPL opened Bushy House and gardens to the public. A chance to see and hear about ever more accurate ways of measuring the physical world. Bushy House was the residence of William, Duke of Clarence (William IV) and his mistress Dora Jordan from 1797, and was offered to the Royal Society by Queen Victoria in 1900 as a location to establish The National Physical Laboratory. The impressive apple tree is from an offcut of one from Newton’s home estate. The magnetic laboratory here is concerned with devising and standardising the instruments used by magnetic observatories such as the one at Hartland that I visited last summer. I saw the 1kg sphere of single crystal silicon, with the smoothest polished surface of any made object and notoriously hard to photograph. The application of a strong magnetic field during the crystal growth process reduces contaminants giving a purer silicon crystal. Developments in technology bring new units and definitions of measurements.

From early concepts of number, patterns in nature (symmetry, branching, spirals, cracks, spots, stripes, chaos, flows, meanders, waves, dunes, bubbles, foam, arrays, crystals, and tilings) magnitude, and form came mathematics, meaning subject of instruction. This has evolved into complex theory from an understanding of negative numbers to imaginary numbers which combined with real numbers have been found necessary to describe quantum mechanics.

The colour coding of Saturn’s rings according to particle size used radio occultation to determine the different regions. Radio signals were sent from the Cassini spacecraft during orbits which placed Earth and Cassini on opposite sides of Saturn’s rings. This remote sensing technique measures how the radio waves bend around the matter they encounter to assess the physical properties of a planetary atmosphere or ring system. The purple colour indicates regions where most particles are larger than 5 centimeters. Green and blue shades indicate regions where there are mostly particles smaller than 5 centimeters and 1 centimeter. The white band is the densest region where radio signals were blocked preventing accurate representation in this area. The radio observations showed that all rings appear to have a mix of particle size distribution right up to boulder sizes, with several many meters across.

Gallery Visits

It’s Coming From Inside at Bell House, Dulwich. Curated by Sarah Sparkes and Jane Millar. In their thinking about the Impressionist Berthe Morisot, and the exhibitions broader theme of ‘Windows and Thresholds’, the curators see the two different domestic spaces, and the liminal corridors between them, as places expressive of dialogues in both Morisot’s and their invited artists’ works: of confines, dreams of escape, of external inscrutability and internal passion. Exhibiting artists: Fran Burden | Ruth Calland | Helen Carr | Mikey Cuddihy | Janet Currier | Robert Dawson | Andrew Ekins | Liz Elton | Lisa Fielding-Smith | Deborah Gardner | Caroline Gregory | Birgitta Hosea | Mindy Lee | Wayne Lucas | Julia Maddison | Jane Millar | Darren O’Brien | Kim Pace | Sarah Sparkes | Geraldine Swayne

Georgina Sleap Now and here and there together at Cable Depot. A residency undertaken in collaboration with Neil Cheshire, Olive Hardy, Mercedes Melchor, Agnieszka Szczotka, Derek Horton, Farida Youssef and Niamh Riordan. A wonderful installation conjured from simple materials and experimental technology, both analogue and digital that blur the here and there of time and space. Sounds of everyday street noise live from the artist’s Cairo balcony are streamed into the gallery where suspended torches project still slide images onto the wall or inside elongated sculptural forms. A loom for weaving a plain coffin shaped carpet hangs like a hammock next to CCTV recordings of yogic performance while a camera obscura style intervention casts shadows, bringing the local outside in.

The Shape of Things by Clan, a collective of multidisciplinary artists – Caroline Penn, Liz Lowe, Ashley Goldman, Nicky O’Donnell at Gallery 3, a delightful Georgian property in Margate. The artists examine issues of loss, both personal and environmental, that are balanced by ideas of hope and regeneration. A nice use of recycled and sustainable materials including netting from fruit and cable ties.

Beatriz Milhazes at Turner Contemporary. Perfect for a summer’s day at the seaside. Exuberant.

Opening event for the new photography centre at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Interesting to hear about the process Noémie Goudal undertakes to create her ambitious illusionist photographic sculptures such as Giant Phoenix VI from the series ‘Post Atlantica’ which has been acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum for their photography collection, housed in a new dedicated gallery. This work was inspired by her interest in shifting landscapes, the movement of tectonic plates and how landmasses join and separate over millennia. There was also the chance to see her video Inhale Exhale along with behind the scenes footage of her technical team and the scale of the resources involved. Tarrah Krajnak has also had work acquired by the museum and read some of her poetry at the event. Her interests are also in discontinuity, severance and cataclysmic events but on a human scale. Being born from an act of violence she puts her own identity forward to explore power relationships.


I have really enjoyed the breadth of information delivered so beautifully by Hettie Judah in her book Lapidarium – The Secret Lives of Stones. The character described and stories told of each geological layer, formation, rock and gem brings to life a world often perceived as static, perpetual and dry. This book is a great resource and has been particularly appropriate for me in the run up to the exhibition A Stone Sky with Julie F. Hill as we explore the intimate connections between the rocky planet earth and space.

Delighted to announce At a Distance has been selected for The Anxiety of Interdisciplinarity exhibition at the Island Venue, Bridewell St, Bristol.

The Anxiety of Interdisciplinarity is an exhibition which seeks to reframe printmaking as a site of interdisciplinarity – a testing ground for ‘The important work…done at the surfaces between adjacent disciplines’ (Carter, 1998). Motivated by the International Multidisciplinary Printmaking Conference IMPACT 12’s theme ‘Merging and Metamorphosis’, the exhibition aims to trace the metamorphosis of conversations between disciplines. Installed at a former police station in Bristol, the Island Venue hosts art works in an outdoor courtyard, police cells and subterranean motor vehicle storage area.  The hybrid exhibition includes works of differing materials, scale and dimensions across installation, sculpture, sound, moving image, digital and post-digital media.  Curated by Sarah Strachan and Ayeshah Zolghadr.

At a Distance looks at remote methods of communication and relates this to the mysterious twinning of electrons in quantum entanglement where particles link in a way that they instantly affect each other, even over vast expanses. Einstein famously called this phenomenon ‘spooky action at a distance’. Filmed in Cornwall on 29th March 2019 (the first date when Brexit was supposed to happen) as the iconic Lizard Lighthouse powers up its lamp, solitary figures using semaphore flags sign ‘We Are One’ out across the ocean in the hope the message will be echoed back. Drawing on the physical language of print that embodies touch, separation and mirroring the flags have been printed using hand painted dye sublimation inks applied via a heat press. This process transfers the ink from a paper matrix onto the substrate textile. The image passes momentarily across space in a dematerialized state as vapour before being reformed as its mirror opposite.

In the studio I have been performing some more test etchings of the directional magnetic steel samples. Copper sulphate seems to give a better result than Nitric Acid. I have managed to gently polish the surface with Brasso without losing the crystal pattern and I gave it a coat of clear lacquer as it seems to rust easily. I am enjoying the excavation process.

The pattern comes from rolling single crystals of an iron silicon alloy into thin sheets to minimise magnetic losses for use in transformers.

There is a link here to quite a cool video showing magnetic wall domain movement with a magneto-optical sensor.

Back in the belly of a rock video editing the footage of iron filings movement over rock like surfaces.

Magnetic field reversals are stored in ancient volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The North and South Pole flip at irregular intervals but average about every 300,000 years. The last one was around 780,000 years ago. During a magnetic field reversal, which can take thousands of years, the magnetic field becomes twisted and tangled, and magnetic poles may appear in unexpected places.

Today the Earth is divided into the super hot inner core, the molten outer core, the mantle, and the thin crust.

When the Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago from the collision, accretion and compression of matter it was rock all the way through. Heat from the massive violence of formation and radioactive decay caused the planet to get hotter and hotter. After about 500 million years of heating up it finally reached the melting point of iron. Known as the iron catastrophe this liquifying caused planetary differentiation to occur as lighter material rose to the surface becoming the mantle and crust whereas the heavy metals like iron and nickel fell towards the centre becoming the core. This molten mass also contains elements that dissolve in iron such as gold, platinum, and cobalt along with around 90% of the Earth’s sulphur.

Earth’s main geomagnetic field is constantly changing due to convection flows and waves in the Earth’s core. As this change cannot entirely be predicted, uncertainty slowly increases over time. This fluctuation is monitored using The World Magnetic Model jointly developed by the National Centres for Environmental Information and the British Geological Survey. This is the standard model used by the U.S. and U.K. governments and international organizations for navigation, attitude and heading referencing systems using the geomagnetic field.

Took an early morning drive out to Wilder’s Folly. Built in 1769 by Reverend Henry Wilder as a love token for his fiancée Joan Thoyts – it could be seen from both their residencies. First drone flight over a building and over trees. White doves are now resident and thankfully didn’t seem bothered by the drone.

Such a brilliant day meeting and trying to photograph the beautiful birds of prey at Coda Falconry under the expert guidance of Elliot. Lots of advice on hand just need faster reflexes and possibly a mirrorless camera.

Birds appear to be able to “see” Earth’s magnetic field lines and use that information for navigation. Their compass ability comes from a quantum effect in radical pairs, formed photochemically in the eyes.

Gallery Visits

The extraordinary Joe Banks Disinformation The Rapture Live optokinetic video and sound installation at Cable Depot. A special experience to witness this work which has a heady mix of spirituality and mortality. The human voice stretched to primordial sounds as the flesh transcends its halo of fire.

Wellcome Collection Rooted Beings

A look at the symbiotic relationship between plants, fungi and humans. The exhibition takes on the entanglement of colonial violence, indigenous knowledge and wildness. How different the world would be if we were also autotrophic. Patricia Domínguez holographic sculptures were fascinating – these are four blades of programmable LED lights spinning at speed to create an image. It was very effective. I was also intrigued by the material construction of the Vegetal Matrix exhibition stands which did look a bit like volcanic stone in the low light though they were listed as MDF with acrylic, so a sort of textured paint.

Wellcome Collection Being Human

Yinka Shonibare’s Refugee Astronaut“The refugee astronaut is the reverse of the colonial instinct of the astronaut – someone who is going out to conquer the world. What you have here is a nomadic astronaut just trying to find somewhere that’s still habitable.” 

Wellcome Collection In the Air

The exhibition explores the relationship between the air and earth, from 3.5-billion-year-old fossilised bacteria that first introduced oxygen into the atmosphere to delicate porcelain sculptures of the glaciers that provide a record of the air and our impact on it. 

Stromatolites 350m years old – these are fossilised microbial reefs formed in shallow waters from blue-green algae. These cyanobacteria were some of the earliest life forms and their photosynthesis helped produce the oxygen to support the development of other life forms.

International Airspace David Rickard 2019

This work marks the 100 year anniversary of the signing of the Paris Convention which extended land rights upwards to create international airspaces. The vessel contains air collected from the 27 participating countries alongside photographs of where the air was captured.

Panoramic film installation Air Morphologies investigates the materiality and composition of air pollution particles, their causes, effects and morphological agency. The project addresses how art and aesthetics interact with toxic materials; what kind of stories might be deployed through digital technologies; and how geopolitics are located in atmospheric thinking and being. Air Morphologies was initiated during Matterlurgy’s residency on the Science Technology Society program at Delfina Foundation, London funded by Gaia Art Foundation.

Rachael Allain introduced me to the work of Perla Krauze at Cadogan Contemporary. Earthy work presented simply allowing the natural materials to resonate with their own history and materiality. Real volcanic rock rather than a simulation.

“Using graphite frottages from stones and pavements and engraved volcanic rocks from El Pedregal, her paintings are abstract topographies and mappings. Stone is a fundamental material in her practice; linked to memory and durability, it can also be transformed and eroded. The crosshatch patterns in her paintings derive from the lines made in stone cutting, emphasising the transformation of stone from raw material to art object. Described as ‘grayscale tone poems’, Krauze alters and arranges stones to make miniature landscapes, complete in themselves but still referencing their origins.”

Future shock reimagining our near future at 180 The Strand. An immersive dive into a fairground world of light and motion, entertaining with one or two that stood out beyond technical prowess.

My favourite has its roots in the fashion world. Ib Kamara’s stylish film The Queen is Coming, a collaboration with Abdel El Tayeb grabs attention with its sense of transfixing unease created by the film’s characters via their direct expressions and heightened breathing. Anxiety levels are high. Fantastic.

In Neo Surf a collaborative project between filmmaker Romain Gavras and music producer Surkin the sheer scale of the marble quarry landscape emphasised by lanky teens dancing on the cut blocks is extraordinary and brings home a kind of wild abandonment.

Vigil is an installation collaboration between Ruben Spini and musician Caterina Barbieri. A sunset projected onto suspended melting ice creates a fragmented mirror image across the floor while videos with slow-motion footage of levitating bodies, transcendent synths and haunting vocals add to the sense of a slow death drugged on beauty.

Vortex puffs out a smoke ring every so often which is quite fun. Created by Pablo Barquin and Anna Diaz.

Row by Tundra uses the same holographic projectors as I recently saw used by Patricia Domínguez in Rooted Beings. Here they are interpreting generative data from the 12 notes of the chromatic scale.

Other work at Future Shock includes Weirdcore’s lucid dreaming colourscape Subconscious, Lawrence Lek’s self-driving car animation Theta, Actual Objects mildly interactive installation Vicky, NonoTak’s Daydream V6, Ibby Njoya’s colour box experience named after his influential father Mustafa, Vanishing Point from UVA, Object Blue and Natalia Podgorska’s installation of a future where astrologically predicted personality traits are true in What Melissa Said, Ryoichi Kurokawa and the shifting planes of light Topologies by UVA,

In The Black Fantastic at the Hayward Gallery. New narratives of Black possibility embracing the fantastical not as escapism but as bursting from the constraints of a restrictive society.

The Soundsuits of Nick Cave made as a response to racist violence confer anonymity along with a shamanic power. What a great use of the lace doily. Inspiration for the many doilies I have inherited from my Mum.

Wangechi Mutu collages, Sentinel sculptures and film The End of Eating Everything (featuring Santigold) are drawn from folklore steeped in the grotesque and spectacular. Time to turn from gluttony to restoration.

Lina Iris Viktor sumptuous paintings and Diviner sculptures heavy with gold acting as a conduit between heaven and earth inspired by ancient Egyptian funerary traditions. Her dramatic use of rich glossy black signifies the ‘materia prima’ – from which all creation was formed. Fabulous to see The Watcher, The Listener, The Orator sculptures are hewn from volcanic rock. Black gold of the sun.

Hew Locke’s The Ambassadors, a procession in search of future lands carrying their precious history with them echoing down the ages to Hans Holbein the Younger’s painting of the same name made in times when colonial foundations were being laid.

Cauleen Smith created an intriguing installation Epistrophy which refers to a phrase in literature or music repeated for emphasis. Her archive of associations are elevated into cinematic stardom by a series of live feed CCTV cameras which relay the objects onto the big screens becoming larger than life.

Other vibrant works include those of Rashaad Newsome, Tabita Rezaire and Chris Offili.

Directed to The Swimmers Limb by an attendant who said rather harshly ‘there’s not much to see’ I visited Gallery 31 dedicated to the Somerset House Studio artists where Mani Kambo has designed a ‘psychedelic’ wallpaper on which hang prints by Tai Shani from her feminist mythology series. Pattern, symbols and ritual. Plenty to see.

Carol Wyss The Mind Has Mountains at The Swiss Church. Having seen this powerful work at Ruskin’s House on Coniston Water last year in a very different space – very like the inside of a skull, it was rewarding to be able to see it in a larger space with a little distance which brought alive the mountainscapes within us. A film of the very physical etching, printing and installation process made by Peter Bromley entitled  Carol Wyss – In Situ was screened to an amazed captivated audience.