Archives for posts with tag: Collagraph

Amazing News Update – Laboratory of Dark Matters has been awarded a month long residency at Guest Projects for April 2017. Exciting times ahead.

Image - Laboratory of Dark Matters.jpg

Laboratory of Dark Matters is a response by artists to scientific investigations into the unknown nature of the Universe; opening a dialogue between scientists and artists who are each driven by curiosity and seek answers to fundamental questions about matter and consciousness.

“All visible matter in the entire Universe, including all the stars, cosmic objects, black holes and intergalactic gases, amounts to less than 5% of the mass we know to be present.”  

The search for dark matter is a scientific endeavour but also requires a large degree of faith in both the existence of these elusive particles and in the scientists’ ability to eventually detect and identify them. For artists, creating work is often about searching for some unknown and embracing an unexpected outcome.

The participating artists will be Amy Gear, Daniel Clark, Elizabeth Murton, Kate Fahey, Luci Eldridge, Melanie King, Peter Glasgow, Sarah Gillett, Susan Eyre.

Unexpectedly found myself trailing Game of Thrones fans location hunting.


Visiting Northern Ireland’s dramatic coast and spiritual heartlands. Brooding ruins and primeval earthworks, geological anomalies and wide windswept bays. I was on the lookout for saints and sacred wells.


breathing it in



The walls of Dunluce Castle – struck through with the local geometric formations




mossy glade – moss prohibition



‘The Armagh Astropark – where Heaven comes down to Earth…’




faith and ritual


At Cranfield Holy Well there was no evidence of fine spring water and amber coloured crystals, it looked dank and more pestilent than healing. Still it is festooned with personal items tied to the overhanging branches, each one a little prayer. According to  custom, one must bathe the infected part of the body with a rag dipped in the well, pray and then tie the rag to a large overhanging tree, as the rag decays the affliction is supposed to disappear. Judging from the preservation of these items, for some, the cure is a long way off.

1609 Cranfield Holy Well 2.jpg

County Antrim wears its heart on its sleeve.



Settlements past and present – Downhill House a recent ruin and the grassy banks of Lissenden Earthworks


The enigmatic nun, dark Julia’s grave stone at the ancient Bonamargy Friary


The bronze age Tandragee Man brandishing  his legendary silver prosthetic limb


The even more ancient belly of the earth at Marble Arch caves


Containment slotted nicely into the Plastic Propaganda curated exhibition Sugar and Spice at St. Katherine’s Dock.


Made in response to the trade of exotic objects by merchants who journeyed across the globe five hundred years ago when navigation was reliant on the stars.


Shaped plates, etched using a sugar lift technique, are filled with inks made from ground spices and copperplate oils wafting traces of their origins in to the gallery space –  turmeric, coriander, cumin, paprika…


These operate as markers plotting the spice route from India around Africa to Europe according to the latitude and longitude lines taken from C16th maps of Mercator and Ortelius. The patterns combine ideologies of origins with destinations reflecting the breadth and mix of cultures that came together. I like how viewing becomes a ritual.

Sugar and Spice explored ideas of trade, hybridization and inter-cultural exchange and the legacy of the rich mercantile history of the docks. Looking back informs, educates and gives us the platform for continuous debate…

 …all more poignant post referendum.

Sarah Gillet’s magical show Quarry at Brocket Gallery was in itself a process of quarrying – exhuming material from a forensic analysis of Paolo Uccello’s painting   ‘The Hunt in the Forest (1470). The pursuit of quarry. This inversion of meanings repeats itself in the work as do the shapes and shadows of a forest that extends beyond the boundaries of any canvas into the dark depths of dream spaces where strange creatures abound.


In such a space where would you turn to escape.


It’s how I imagine the labyrinths of Venice should be during the carnival. Full of intriguing theatrical creatures appearing out of the void; playful menace.

I have long enjoyed the work of Raqib Shaw and the dazzling paintings he creates with intricate enamelled surfaces glistening with gemstones and gold; the chaos of  battle played out to the personal beat of shamanic drums; the quest for unattainable perfection.  His obsession with self, pitted against the world, seems to have reached a melancholic peak with Self-Portraits at White Cube. This reimagining of old masters heavily laden with references to his own worlds of Peckham and Kashmir appear as premature reliquaries to a life saturated in self immolation.

1609-raqib-shawHe looks weary.

Hidden undercurrents of surface beauty are exposed in Victoria Ahrens thoughtful presentation of her PhD research ABSORB. A meditation on the history of the Paranà River in Argentina. From a mystical place of leisure for her Grandfather to the brutal grave of those who ‘disappeared’ during the military junta, thrown to their deaths to be slowly and anonymously absorbed into the landscape.


By allowing the waters of the river to wash over the plates and images that she creates the alchemical processes continue and those lost into the waters imbue the work with a gentle pathos.


From shards of shattered time an image is built that hovers between past and present.

Alex Simpson’s exploration of material in Through Viscera at Barbican Arts Group Trust was fresh and almost vibrating with energy.

Like a virus spreading across all surfaces, into the core of matter that lay extruded across the floor, eaten into and vein like, globular and thick with fungal felt, drying and dropping, leaving prints as scars.


In Lichtlose Luft, at PARCspace the LCC’s photographic archive resource centre,  Johanna Love’s lithographic prints and drawings on digital prints of tiny specks of matter magnified to reveal the sublime contours reminiscent of a mountain landscape were a very successful exploration of finding the human relationship in a scientifically generated image.


The technical image is a starting point for the work, either obtained through the electron microscope or the digital scanner. Through the process of drawing and digital manipulation, there is an attempt to bring the image back into the physical, material world of the living and imagination, for as Merleau Ponty (1964) states, ‘science manipulates things and gives up living in them.’


Isolated like meteorites falling through a grey space that vibrates with the blurred colours we see on the back surface of the eyelid; these drawings capture the imagination.

Super/collider once again brought us a mind blowing yet entertaining talk at Second Home.  Dr. Andrew O’Bannon has been studying Holography for 15 years. He proposes a bold idea that all the information in our 3D universe may be contained in a mysterious 2D image, like a hologram. Promising not only to unite Einstein’s relativity with quantum physics, holography also has the potential to provide us with cleaner energy, faster computers, and novel electronics. Using ideas from string theory he studies holography and strongly interacting systems.

In everyday life, a hologram is a two-dimensional image containing enough information to reconstruct a three-dimensional object. In theoretical physics, holography proposes that some strongly-interacting systems are equivalent to Einstein’s theory of gravity in one higher dimension.


“Many experiments to detect proposed dark matter particles through non-gravitational means are under way. On 25 August 2016, astronomers reported that Dragonfly 44, an ultra diffuse galaxy (UDG) with the mass of the Milky Way galaxy, but with nearly no discernible stars or galactic structure, may be made almost entirely of dark matter.” From BBC science

There were two talks at New Scientist Live that I found particularly interesting. The first was from Dr Andrew Pontzen a theoretical cosmologist explaining the evidence that dark matter exists and why it is proving so hard to detect. He spends his time working through theories that are then passed on to someone like Cham Ghag, an astrophysicist who will devise strategies to test theories in direct detection projects such as ZEPLIN and LUX.


It’s not only the calculations from gravitational lensing that suggests way more mass is present than can be seen but also large computer modelling samples of how galaxies form and rotate. Removing a few stars from the model galaxy ends in a chaotic breakdown, but making a few stars ‘dark’ so that the mass remains but we cannot see them does not change the rotation of the remaining stars we can still see. The distribution of dark matter across the universe appears like a fibrous net, imaged from the cosmic microwave background, an echo still reverberating from the first few seconds at the birth of the universe. The second talk ‘Beyond the Higgs’ was from particle physicist Professor Tara Shears who inspects the data produced from the experiments colliding proton beams to create fundamental particles at CERN, for anomalies that might turn out to be evidence of an interaction with a new particle. The search goes on.

1609 New Scientist Live dark matter.jpg


Back to etching. Have completed an intro/induction at Thames Barrier Print Studio so am now good to go with new work. 1603 aluminium plateTried aluminium in saline sulphate which gives a really deep etch. Used stop out and painting into hot hard ground. Was good to play around with new materials and get some tips from resident expert etcher Nick Richards. 1603 stop out

This primer from Wilkinsons is cheap and works well as a stop out solution. The etchings I had done before were all on steel with soft ground, I love the deep rich tones from steel but am trying a new piece of work on zinc with hard ground with should give me a more precise line.

1603 etching plate




This work is inspired by the idea of gravitational waves and grains of space which is one of the lessons in Carlo Rovelli’s book Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. It’s taking a while to cover the plate in the dots. I’m not sure when it’s all done if the wave pattern will disappear.


Michael Doser’s keynote paper Seeing Antimatter Disappear at the symposium Shadow Without Object  gave an insight into how the study of gravity acting on antimatter may help explain why it has disappeared. As a research physicist at CERN he is engaged is trying to discover why there is not the same amount of antimatter as matter in the universe and why what little there is remains clumped at the centre of our milky way galaxy. I asked him if antimatter was considered part of the 5% of the visible world of matter and I think he said that it was as it interacts with photons and fundamental forces.

1603 Michael Doser

Although gravity is the weakest of the fundamental forces its impact on the parabolic flight of anti-hydrogen atoms can be witnessed by using emulsion on a photographic plate which records the particle collision. Using photographic emulsion gives a far more accurate and sensitive result than any digital recording device could.

1603 anti proton imaging.jpg

He said some confounding things – that antimatter emits light exactly like normal matter so you can photograph it but you only see it when it annihilates. So we don’t actually see the antiprotons just the trace of the aftermath of their disappearance left in the photo emulsion on the plate. Working at quantum scales the collision of the proton into the emulsion is digitally scanned and a 3d image stacked up to reveal a starburst. The starburst is the locus of disappearance.

Cosmic rays coming from remote stars hit our atmosphere and produce showers of particles that plough through our bodies – these can be seen using cloud chambers which are detectors that track the particles. The unseen activity of the universe made visible. This is something I am hoping to see when we visit the underground laboratories at Boulby.

1603 cloud chamber particles.jpg

At the talk Are We Darkened by the Light? at Tate Modern architect Asif Khan had brought along a sample of the darkest material on earth – a Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array. This material was made as a reference for noise images which aim to establish what black should be when looking at a camera chip to remove interference. This material is so black because it absorbs all the photons of light rather than bouncing some back to our eyes.

1512 darkest matter

I wonder if all the photons stay in this material when they are absorbed. Does it fill up with photons?  Does it get hot in there?  Planck’s constant states every hot object emits light, how does that fit in?

Also at Tate Modern was In/Visibility a work by Vinita Khanna that uses a polarising filter to conceal and reveal the colours in a copy of Gustav Klimt’s painting Portrait of Frau Adele Bloch Bauer.

1602  InVisibility

Vinita Khanna In/Visibility

Choosing an image that we are all familiar with, yet most of us have never seen the original, Vinita Khanna comments on the intangible nature of vision demonstrating the invisible made visible. Humans treat their vision as absolute, when in fact the bulk of our perceived reality is generated by our brains.

1603 Clare Muireann Murphy

Clare Muireann Murphy is a brilliant story teller. She was performing her new work Universe at The Crick Crack Club event upstairs at Soho Theatre. Colliding the science of the big bang (cracking of the cosmic egg) with mythical tales of a goddess tumbling from the skies into a watery world to be rescued by a fearless turtle who then gets turned into a magical lyre that plays the music of the cosmos passing from god to mortal. Clare creates a place of wonder and insight where time stretches and a fissure opens that builds a dream bridge between many worlds…

1601 Repetition Variation

Julian Page presented a group show at Clerkenwell Gallery with a strong sense of the material world. Layers, grids, clusters, networks and stacks – great pictures here:  Repetition Variation.  Having watched the steady growth of Stack while sharing a studio space with Amy Gear at the RCA I have a great affection for this piece.

Stack is an encounter with mass.

Repetition celebrates editions in the print fest Multiplied at Christies. A jostle of galleries showing their wares. The RCA gets a stand showcasing alumni with recent graduates. I had one sculpture from everydaymatters showing. It looks obvious in this picture but it was surprising how people just didn’t see it. It was about the only work not on the wall and when the room was packed it disappeared in the crowd. Invisible matter.1602 RCA  mulltipliedI was pleased to have two variable editions of Paradise Road sw4 shown by Dark Matter Studio in a grouping with work by Zoe Dorelli, Mary Yacoob, Marianne Walker and Patrick Jackson – The Inner City Pilgrims. A new collaborative project I am involved with whose aim is to re-mystify the city.

1602 Dark Matter at Multiplied

Katharina Grosse has been interrogating space in relation to her paintings such as  ‘Untitled Trumpet’ which have expanded to the point that you can walk through them.

1601 Venice Katherina Grosse  (2)

Katharina Grosse Untitled  (Trumpet)

From the experience of having a painting transferred from canvas to silk she was inspired by the folds in the fabric. Folds in space.

1601 Venice Katherina Grosse  (1)

Katharina Grosse Untitled (Trumpet)

A fold in space could theoretically, allow a short cut from one place to another.

1601 wormholeA wormhole has two mouths and a throat. For travel to be possible, wormholes would need to be full of exotic matter, that is to say a non-baryonic matter like dark matter i.e. not made of the stuff we are made of. It is as yet another unknown.

How we move through space and interact with the architecture that surrounds us was explored in Mimesis  at Westminster Reference Library.

“Mimesis produces mere ‘phantoms’, not real things. It is at once dependent and deluded, just as a mirror is empty and inessential without something to reflect.” – Matthew Potolsky

1602 Amelia Critchlow

Amelia Critchlow

Amelia Critchlow and Evy Jokhova have been considering how image and architectural form influence the way we read our world; how cognition can cloud and clarify and how association can attack an image or experience, or stand apart, apparently neutral and transparent.

1602 Evy Johkova 3

Evy Jokhova

Mimesis created an unstable environment of wobbly furniture, erased images and material associations where the chalky surface of architectural columns turn out to be constructed from Brie.

This is the playful mimic undermining the authority of grand architecture and opening a space to question our surroundings by subverting expectations of form.

I was introduced to the beautiful work of Ben Cove at Multiplied and then visited his exhibition Modern Language at Peter Von Kant Gallery.

Architectural devices are made symbols. Flat surfaces deceive the eye with shadow and form. Clean, sharp colours zing against black and white images drawing the eye backward and forward shifting us in space and in time. It’s a dynamic experience. Having read a lot lately about how there is no empty space, there is no void, I can feel here that all space is packed with information and all is connected through space time.

For her archaeological installation Wrong Way Time in the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale Fiona Hall filled the room with an ecology of objects that tell the story of civilization from primal beliefs in magic and animism through capitalism, global economic collapse and climate change leaving us with the challenge of facing the end of anthropocentrism.

1601 Venice Australia Fiona Hall (2)

Fiona Hall

She trusts in our sense of wonder and imagination that can see life forms in sculpted drift wood to see a world not of exploitation but of symbiosis.

1601 Venice Australia Fiona Hall (3)

Fiona Hall

In the French Pavilion Celeste Boursier-Mougenot’s work also activated primal beliefs that animals, plants, and inanimate objects possess a spiritual essence. In transHUmUs an arboreal dance reintroduces us to a latent anthropomorphism. The trees glide around directed by their own metabolism with their truncated roots exposed on their islands of dirt, like isolated protesters quietly demonstrating.

1601 Venice France Celeste Boursier-Mougenot (2).jpg

Celeste Boursier-Mougenot transHUmUS

In the beginning…the word became flesh. The vertical-transcendent dimension of the Logos – the word of God from above and the horizontal-immanent dimension of the flesh below were the axes of research put forward by the Holy See as participant in the Venice Biennale 2105.  Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva created ‘Haruspex’ in this context.

1602 Venice Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva Haruspex

Using the raw flesh of pig’s caul, sheep’s intestine and cow’s stomach she weaves a canopy, an enclosure, a net, a trap, a sanctuary. It’s meaning oscillates as does the beauty and horror of its materiality. We must read the omens by inspecting the entrails of sacrificial animals.

Pamela Rosenkranz questions what it means to be human in a digital age. The anthropocentric bias of humanism is challenged when subject and object are impossible to separate. Our physical and psychic being is undergoing a transformation by the new materials that we wear, inject, subsume.

1601 Switzerland Pamela Rosenkranz (1)

Pamela Rosenkranz Simulation

The glowing wet body of synthetic liquid designed to replicate a particular skin colour floods the Swiss Pavilion with a sickly sweetness that has a back flavour of the murder victim’s chemical bath.





Surveillance, voyeurism, participation and looking within oneself. The need for private space.

All of these ideas are encapsulated in George Orwell’s 1984 which I have recently seen interpreted by the brilliant and innovative Headlong Theatre Company.

Headlong Production of 1984

Headlong Production of 1984

This production explores the world inside Winston Smith’s head, as well as the world without, and catches the euphoria and bliss buried deep underneath the cold face of Big Brother. Headlong’s version explores why Orwell’s gaze is as relevant today as it ever was.

The series of short film screenings at Dilston Grove under the banner ‘Lawns and Hedges’ seemed very relevant to my interest in the manicured public space.

The programme was put together by Anna Gritz and Jennifer Teets as part of ‘Wendel! Open Your Door’ a Woodmill collaboration.

The films were chosen in relation to a text from the entry submitted by Lewis Masquerier in the 1858  competition to design Central Park.

‘To the Commissioners of Central Park:

I have planned purposely to effect a double object. Not only to give a pleasing landscape, but also an instructive one. For amusement and instruction combined, certainly intensify each other. I propose then to lay off the southern half of the park in a miniature representation of the continents of the earth.

Unfortunately, no one would ever get the pleasure to stroll through Masquerier’s vision for Central Park, as Frederick Law Olmstead’s proposal would be the winning one. Yet nevertheless his vision for a landscape that would promise both pleasure and instruction is very much in line with the history of garden architecture.

Frontispiece to l'Abbé de Vallemont's Curiositez de la nature et de l'art (1705)

Frontispiece to l’Abbé de Vallemont’s Curiositez
de la nature et de l’art (1705)

From the gardens of the antiquity, to the French and English landscape gardens and the park designs of Frederick Law Olmsted and Walt Disney, nature has been used to choreograph our physical movements and emotional states.

Azael José María Franco Guerrero and one of its 'living sculptures' in Tulcán Cemetery, Ecuador

Azael José María Franco Guerrero and one of its
‘living sculptures’ in Tulcán Cemetery, Ecuador

This screening looks at landscaping as a process of cultivation, one that creates sites suspended between exercised control and escapist diversion whilst offering the potential for political subversion.

Nature is featured here as a manicured stage set that guides and hosts the theatrics of the human condition. The environment is reconsidered not just as a dramatic backdrop that illustrates the psychological condition, but also as an active player in the sculpting of social unconscious. The individual films are entwined within a scroll of still vignettes, interlacing imagery and rhythm to mimic the peripatetic nature of human perception.

The screening opened with a rapid scroll through a selection of source material and images on the themes outlined in the programme.
I would have liked to have had longer to see each image and more information on the research undertaken as it looked extensive and fascinating.
The films shown were:
Julia Rometti and Victor Costales, Plantas Populares – Movimiento: Agitato, 2013, 14’56”
‘A film in black and white of tropical plants being agitated by the wind. These are ‘house plants’ seen in their natural habitat of the Amazon jungle.
Olga Chernysheva, Anonymous. Part 1 & 2, 2004, 19’
This is a film where a middle aged lady gradually plucks up the courage to change into her swimming costume in a public park.
It is sad in a way that she is obviously so self conscious yet ‘the public’ are oblivious to her trauma and exposure.
Deimantas Narkevicius, The Role of a Lifetime, 2003, 16′
Deimantas Narkevicius 'The Role of a Lifetime'

Deimantas Narkevicius ‘The Role of a Lifetime’

This film also on show at Tate Modern pans across a series of drawings from Gruto Park in Lithuania where a lot of old post war sculptures have been abandoned.

Should these murderers end their days in such arcadian settings. Filmmaker Peter Watkins adds a self reflective commentary on his personal creative journey.

Rosalind Nashashibi, Jack Straw’s Castle, 2009, 17’20”

Rosalind Nashashibi 'Jack Straw's Castle'

Rosalind Nashashibi ‘Jack Straw’s Castle’

Amy Granat, Landscape Film, 2009, 8’45”
TJ Wilcox, A Fair Tale (Extended Mix), 2006/2007 8’47”
Jessica Warboys, La Fôret de Fontainbleau, 2010, 4′
The exhibition ‘Surveillance’ at Gimpel Fils  had work by Seamus Harahan and Christopher Stewart who create work about watching and being watched.
Seamus Harahan Torch extended

Seamus Harahan Torch (extended) video still

Seamus Harahan films human behaviour from a distance, giving little away as to what activity we are witnessing but holding our attention as we become the detective searching for clues.

The long lens perspective gives us the sense that we are witnessing a private moment of an unguarded subject of our gaze.

Christopher Stewart

Christopher Stewart ‘Germany’

This series of photographs from Christopher Stewart are loaded with tension. This is not idle waiting and watching, these are covert operations.

Christopher Stewart Insecurity

Christopher Stewart ‘Insecurity’

At the Venice Biennale Dieter Roth presented video surveillance as a sort of diary to record his everyday activities.

The minutiae of his life, eating, sleeping and working in his studio over a period of a few years are shown simultaneously on 131 monitors.

Dieter Roth

Dieter Roth ‘Solo Scenes’

The effect is to condense a series of events into one happening, it is impossible to witness everything on the monitors at once. Scattered like memories,  the linear narrative of life breaks down into fragments yet produces an overall  essence. A self portrait.

Do it 2013 a group art show at the Manchester International Festival was billed as turning the notion of viewing into an active and performative encounter between artist and visitor.
11 Rooms which was staged at the Manchester Gallery in 2011 felt more engaging than this years show for me. 11 Rooms was secretive and beguiling. You had to enter an unknown encounter through a closed door into an intimate space. This year the open plan space gave participation a self consciousness.

do it 2013 consists of a growing series of written artists instructions, each reinterpreted each time it is enacted.

Some of the instructions have been written specially for do it 2013 and some date back to 1993 when the project first began from a conversation between Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Manchester Gallery Do It Yourself

Manchester Gallery Do It 2013

Some instructions were absurd, some fun and some impossible to carry out.

Manchester Gallery Do IT Yourself

Manchester Gallery Do IT 2013

The re-enacted instruction I enjoyed the most was the live performance with a vulture.

Maria José Arjona a Columbian performance artist paid homage to her mentor María Teresa Hincapié
who died a few years ago with the performance ‘Second Messenger: Performance with vulture and writings’.

Manchester International Festival

Manchester International Festival

The film crew were on hand which heightened expectations of a performance but also killed any spirituality at the heart of the enactment.

Shadow the Vulture

Shadow the Vulture

The Amazon rainforest felt very far away.

María Teresa Hincapié left instructions for her student to go into the Amazon rainforest, drink only water and eat only fruit and obtain a spiritual experience.
So Maria José Arjona went into the forest with a shaman who made a potion from plant bark for her to drink. This potion gave her an experience which she described as ‘seeing clearly’ and she spent 12 hours writing messages while under the influence of the potion. A message that she wrote while in her transcendent state is delivered to the Manchester Gallery by a vulture, a bird of sacred symbolism in Columbia.
The message reads
‘ The future is uncertain. Words are traps for innocent animals. You must know that knowing too many secrets delivers some sort of damages.’

The ancient forests of Europe used also to be a place to go to for adventure, to confront the power of nature and to face danger.

Bear Collagraph

Bear Collagraph

I made a collagraph of a bear. Partly to see how this would translate through the cardboard of the plate but also as I was thinking about the beasts of the ancient forest.

Bear test prints

Bear test prints

The reaction in the studio was that the bear was cute not fearsome.

1309 Palazzo Zenobio

Space, a nebulous concept, we tend to like to measure and quantify it.

1309 goal

Marking out a space for a purpose.

The Icelandic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale investigated architectural drawings to contrast the function of a workplace  with the opulence of leisure pursuits.

One blueprint is placed over another.

Katrin Sigurdardottir 'Foundation'

Katrin Sigurdardottir ‘Foundation’

Using the site of an old laundry in the grounds of Palazzo Zenobia, Katrin Sigurdardottir imposes an ornate tiled floor with opposing dimensions into the structure of the former workplace.

Katrin Sigurdardottir 'Foundation'

Katrin Sigurdardottir ‘Foundation’

The swirling baroque inspired patterned floor spills out from the old foundations.

Katrin Sigurdardottir 'Foundation'

Katrin Sigurdardottir ‘Foundation’

The audience is directed through the space by the curiosity to explore the openings and exits that lead through the building and up onto the roof.

It is an Alice in Wonderland experience of displacement.

It also makes you think of the people that worked in the laundry and those that danced on such a floor, and how those disparate worlds may have intersected.

At the Montenegro Pavillion Irene Lagator Pejovic has not drawn a line around space but filled it up with the finest wires strung taught across the dark room and lit so as to appear ethereal.

Irena Lagator Pejovic

Irena Lagator Pejovic

It gives the impression of making light itself tangible.

Irena Lagator Pejovic

Irena Lagator Pejovic

She wants us to think about perceptual awareness, to be conscious of our body in space.

One of my favourite exhibitions which really defined space through line was ‘A remote whisper’ from Portuguese artist Pedro Cabrita Reis.

Pedro Cabrita Reis

Pedro Cabrita Reis

Drawings in space.

Pedro Cabrita Reis

Pedro Cabrita Reis

Aluminium tubes, fluorescent lights and cables flow through the corridors and rooms of Palazzo Falier adding a new vibrancy to the magnificent ancient building.

Another artist using the fluorescent tube as a drawn line is Bill Culbert for the New Zealand Pavilion.

A sculptural meditation on shelter, habitation and dwelling.

Bill Culbert

Bill Culbert

It was a building shot through with light, like a ricochetting laser beam had caused havoc, piercing and displacing objects in its path.

Bill Culbert

Bill Culbert

I was interested in his use of recycled plastics.

Bill Culbert

Bill Culbert

The catalogue accompanying this exhibition cites the historic image of Adam’s Hut in Paradise as a possible point of reference  for Bill Culbert’s Hut, made in Christchurch.

Bill Culbert Hut

Bill Culbert Hut, made in Christchurch

I had a quick look to see what references I could find about this mythic hut, there is a book called On Adam’s House in Paradise by Joseph Rykwert that looks like it could be interesting.

It has a look back through history to try and trace the first ideas about a place of dwelling.

Christchurch being the site where many buildings were recently destroyed by earthquakes for me it looks like a memorial to those buildings that fell.

The bare bones of a structure, no roof, no walls – the space that once held a dwelling marked out in light .

Susan Hiller was showing her series of photographs The Secrets of Sunset Beach at Timothy Taylor Gallery in an exhibition looking at interpretations of the American Landscape.

Susan Hiller Secrets of Sunset Beach

Susan Hiller Secrets of Sunset Beach

Through the use of projected light these spaces become magical, alive with weird hieroglyphs.

Susan Hiller

Susan Hiller

The inner space of the beach hut mirrors the dappling of sunlight outside.

Planes are distorted and the edges of space become blurred.

Had another chance to see the amazing work of Jane Ward.

These two images are a couple of favourites.

Jane Ward Inland

Jane Ward Inland

Space is not so much delineated as exploded.

Jane Ward In the Bay Shining

Jane Ward In the Bay Shining

What is wonderful about Jane’s work is that it works from a distance, a spectacle of dissolving worlds but it also works up close where the minute detail is crisp and intricate.

They look like landscapes from The Fifth Element where flying cars would come in handy.

I have been working on the more local urban landscape of the roundabout.

Following directions, a flow.

Collagraph Prints

Collagraph Prints

These was a meagre tree on the roundabout – an attempt at a green oasis in the grey. I did have the tree in the first collagraph I made but have removed it. It needed to be intaglio not relief – something to bear in mind for next time I want clear dark lines with no ink pooling around the edges.

Collagraph plate

Collagraph plate

I also ended up cutting the collagraph so the sky was printed separately. I have to decide which print to use for the tear across the surface. Opening a space to fantasy. I have had the ‘paradise’ image printed which will go behind the collagraph print once it is transferred to polyester – only a small fragment will show but because the tear will be random I have had it printed full size. Even though most of the image won’t be shown I think it is important it is there.

1309 paradise

The pleasure of live performance.
It can have the feeling of a fiesta or a therapy group or a sinister encounter, there is so much to experience.

With Punchdrunk’s ‘The Drowned Man’ it was like being dropped into the middle of a David Lynch film.

Punchdrunk's The Drowned Man

Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man

Bewildering yet sexy and beguiling.

Punchdrunk's The Drowned man

Punchdrunk’s The Drowned man

If there was a linear plot I didn’t follow it. Stories were told through dance and physical theatre with a little dialogue and a fair amount of miming to sultry soundtracks,

The dance was extraordinary, fast and furious as characters appeared, flung each other around and ran off before you could catch your breath.

I spent a lot of time wandering around deserted corridors, entering mysterious rooms labelled prosthetics or suchlike, seeing other masked figures slide into the gloom.

Suddenly a door would open onto a scene, sometimes disturbing, descending into violence as we stood anonymously and silently circling the victim.

Punchdrunk's The Drowned Man

Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man

Through some subtle kettling the audience were amassed in one vast space for the final explosion of dance.

Separated at entry we were able to meet up in the bar with our friends to share impressions and find that we had all experienced something completely different.

I missed a whole floor of this vast space – maybe two even.

It’s running for a bit longer and I would love to go back.

Timepiece from Conrad Shawcross at The Roundhouse was a more controlled affair.

Conrad Shawcross 'Timepiece'

Conrad Shawcross ‘Timepiece’

Seeking to reimagine our experience of time passing through the mechanical movements and shadows passing across the huge dome.

I wanted to try to make the familiar the peculiar again; to turn
time and the clock back into the celestial, primeval experience that it once was
for us all.

Conrad Shawcross

It was kind of meditative.

Siobhan Davies Dance Studio performers responded to the space with a reworking of Rotor.

While wheels and arms shifted above the four dancers mirrored the movements of a clock hand walking in concentric circles.

Siobhan Davies Dance ROTOR

Siobhan Davies Dance ROTOR

The concentration was intense.

There was a follow up wonderful idiosyncratic piece Songbook composed by Matteo Fargion. The performers stood in line making expressive sounds with accompanying physical expression.

1309 Siobhan Davies Dance
Like a human instrument. An investigation into how and why we make sound. It was fun and slightly ridiculous.

The complete giving over to the production of a sound, feeling its shape as it leaves the body.

Much like Bjork sings. Every nuance is felt.

Amazing to see the very last performance of the touring show Biophilia at Alexandra Palace.

Bjork Biophilia

Bjork Biophilia

In a dress that looked like a multitude of breasts, Bjork charmed us with the intense beauty of a performance that makes you cry it’s so perfect.

‘This is kind of without humans and both zooming out like the planets but also zooming in into the atoms and in that way aesthetically sympathising with sound and how sound moves and physics of sound and how notes in a room behave, how they bounce off walls and between objects and its kind of more similar to how planets and microscopic things work.’ Bjork

Each section is introduced by the familiar tones of Sir David Attenborough giving insight into the infinite connections of the biosphere.

With bolts of electricity triggering sound and handcrafted instruments that ranged from a combination fusing the Celesta and the gamelan, a traditional Indonesian percussion ensemble to a giant pendulum contraption designed and programmed by musical robot maker from MIT, Andy Cavatorta, the ancient crafts collided with futuristic  technology.

The spectacle was completed by the soaring voices of her Icelandic choir drumming their bare feet like frenzied maenads.

Bjork Biophilia

Bjork Biophilia

Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson stages large scale durational performances which can become feats of endurance for his performers and audience.

Ragnar Kjatansson

Ragnar Kjatansson

At the Venice Biennale he turns an old fishing boat into a floating stage carrying a troupe of musicians sending plaintive notes across the water. It has a rather comedic appearance as it traverses slowly back and forth across the docks at the Arsenale.  A deflated sort of pomp and circumstance.

A more introspective performance is seen in Tino Sehgal’ s Golden Lion Award winning piece at The Venice Biennale.

Tino Sehgal

Tino Sehgal’s perfomance piece

We witness communication from a new perspective.

Animalistic, primeval it takes us away from our known language of words. The performers were immersed in the dialogue between themselves.

Using song, beatboxing, humming the piece develops freely between the participants like any conversation might.

Tino Sehgal

Lizzie Sells and Frank performing for Tino Sehgal in the Central Pavilion Venice

It was like watching someone being massaged by sound as one body responded in movement to the sounds from the other.

Tino Sehgal

Lizzie Sells performing in Tino Sehgal’s piece at the Venice Biennale

Speaking to Lizzie Sells afterwards she explained how she becomes so involved in her performance that she is unaware of the audience around her, even when they are being loud and intrusive.

An oasis of calm.

Illusion, as in the romantic notion, suggested in Ibsen’s play The Master Builder, of building ‘castles in the air’ as a refuge from reality is something I am trying to capture in new work.

I have not settled on a title yet but the work involves an urban roundabout scene and a tear through reality to a paradise behind.

The first few prints from a collagraph are not very successful as the plate must settle and mature so I have used one of the unsuccessful prints to test the tear.

1309 roundabout tear

I have been getting up close to mud and matter and thinking about the makeup of the environment around us.

It’s hard to look at a cup say and imagine the structure of its atoms. To think about the solid and then the squishy and how it all works.

From thinking about the origins of things, like the first plants and forests. Evolution and yet how all matter existed from the beginning and it’s just a huge process of recycling.

Deptford creek

Deptford creek

A great place for a new perspective on your surroundings is the Deptford Creekside Centre where you can join a low tide walk.

Low Tide Walk

Low Tide Walk

Equipped with thigh length waders and a long stick you are led down to the creek and given lots of insight into the history and wildlife of the creek.

Deptford Creek Crab

Deptford Creek Crab

It is stunningly beautiful and feels a real privilege to enter this world below the horizon.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

The river has carved intricate sculptures into the wooden posts along the banks.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

The look posts look totemic and hung with vibrant algae quite primordial.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

The creek bed is thick with mud and slime creating wonderful patterns as the water recedes.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

There is the possibility of finding treasure swept along and revealed after each tide but you must ask if you want to take anything away. They have quite a collection of finds they like to add to at the discovery centre.

Deptford Creek

Deptford Creek

On a previous trip artist Lizzie Cannon had been lucky to find a wonderful rusty object which she has since embroidered with threads and beads to continue the growth of the rust giving the object a new organic dimension

Lizzie Cannon - Corrosion

Lizzie Cannon – Corrosion

A Matter of Substance exhibition and salon curated by Caroline Lambard and Elizabeth Murton at APT Gallery encouraged their audience to look beyond the surface of the material to the very structure of the crystals, atoms and particles that form them.

1307 A Matter of Substance

Catherine Jacobs beautiful photographs show tensions of surface sometimes broken by an indeterminate object that works as a disruption to the surface and our perceptions of what we are looking at.

Catherine Jacobs Uncertainties

Catherine Jacobs Uncertainties

Elizabeth Murton’s scroll flows out across the floor in symbiosis with the marks upon it like a cascade of data presenting itself as a record of the inks journey.

Elizabeth Murton

Elizabeth Murton

Cool work for a hot day.

Phillip Hall-Patch

Phillip Hall-Patch / Caroline Lambard

There were salt crystals that sparkled like snow in magnified form like Icelandic landscapes and in salt block form eroded by a constant drip of water.

Phillip Hall-Patch Salt LIcks

Phillip Hall-Patch Salt LIcks

Caroline Lambard’s ethereal sculptures help to imagine 3D form from all perspectives through their delicate drawing in thread to delineate a space.

Caroline Lambard

Caroline Lambard

I have started on a new piece of work, the idea of an oasis, an escape, a view through to another place so it has been interesting to think about form and space.

A solid outer that hides a world inside.

1307 Oasis collagraph 1

It starts with the construction of a collagraph which I am slowly building up from cut card and carborundum.

1307 Oasis collagraph 2

Once made the idea will be to rip a section out to reveal an internal space.

Saw Chimerica, an amazing new play by Lucy Kirkwood. It is a powerful exploration of two cultures – China and America.
We are taken back to the student protests of 1989 in Tiananmen Square and follow the search of an American photographer, who took the iconic shot of the student standing with his shopping bags in front of the tank, as he tries to discover the identity of  ‘tank man’.

The fate still remains unknown of the unarmed man who blocked a column of tanks as they moved along Chang’an Avenue towards Tiananmen Square.

1306 Chimerica 3

The script is very tight, funny and moving, playing out  a touching relationship between the photographer and his Chinese contact as they question their roles in history.

There are questions about cultural identity and personal responsibility.

Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood

Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood

Who is a hero and how can one voice rage against the machine.  I found it a little scary to contemplate the future in this context as China is such a hard country to relate to and it’s influence is spreading quietly across the world.

In China there seems little compassion for the individual.

Yet obviously there are individuals who raise their voices, people we can relate to in their desire for justice, for free speech and for clean air.

Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood

Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood

Chimerica explores the courage required to step outside the control of the state and the security of a job.

It also makes us wonder about the dramatic changes to the landscape, the explosion of consumerism and urbanisation and the sources of energy to power this explosion in growth.

1306 China coal

The ideas behind Chimerica can be found at

1306 smog

I have always loved the work of Antii Laitinen since being introduced to his work by Nettie Horn Gallery.

I went to listen to him at the ICA in conversation with Elizabeth Neilson, Director of Zabludowicz Collection, and Harri Laakso, a co-curator of the Finnish Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale.

He undertakes extraordinary feats of endurance to make his art such as building his own island from bags of sand, only to have it swept away by a storm and then starting again.

Antii Laitinen 'It's my Island'

Antii Laitinen
‘It’s my Island’

In his talk  he stressed that he uses nature as his material and his studio space and what he is exploring is the nature of human existence. He questions the value of effort which stems from his native Finnish culture and its Lutheran attitude to the benefits of hard labour. In ‘Sweat work’ he constructed a human sized hamster wheel and ran until he was dripping in sweat, he then removed his clothes and laid down onto photographic paper.

Antii Laitinen 'Sweat Work'

Antii Laitinen
‘Sweat Work’

The photographs were then hung on the wall where the image of his body slowly faded and disappeared.

Antii Laitinen 'Sweat work'

Antii Laitinen ‘Sweat work’

Each of his pieces has required physical exertion in often futile exercises. Originally training as a photographer he moved into performative work which he then documents himself through photography.

He likes to be in control. He prefers if possible to perform all the hard labour himself.

There was an interesting discussion on the reaction of different cultures to his sawing up of a tree into many pieces and then trying to fix it back together again like a puzzle. In Finland where there are vast forests and there is a pragmatic relationship to a tree and he had no problem getting any number of trees to chop down. In Vienna he caused an outcry at the stupidity of his endeavour. In Bristol he had real trouble getting a tree at all, and the tree he was finally given was a very small tree, barely a tree at all, weak and diseased. What is it that makes it hard for us to chop down a tree. The shortage of trees or the love of the old, a national instinct to preserve maybe.
What was it that mobilised the nation into protest recently – the threat to the forests. We might never visit them – but it’s good to know they are there. Our cultural history is tied up in the forests not as a source of fuel and income but as a refuge, as a source of myths and legends.

Antii Laitinen

Antii Laitinen

For the project “FOREST SQUARE”, new work made for the Venice Biennale 2013, Laitinen chopped down a ten meters square section of forest and sorted the entire found material such as the soil, moss, wood, pines, etc into various categories. He then reorganized the forest according to different colours – the composition referring to the pure abstraction and utopian ideal of spiritual harmony and order from the De Stijl movement.

Antii Laitinen 'Forest Square'

Antii Laitinen ‘Forest Square’

I am still working on the collagraphs  ‘return of the forest’ and still not entirely happy with the way it is going.

I have been painting trees with sublimation inks to print onto organza which I will then cut onto the iceberg collagraphs I have made.

The thing about sublimation inks is you can’t quite tell what colour they will print until you put them in the heat press.

130701 (2)

I was upset to find out that London Printworks Trust had closed in February.

It is so sad that such a great resource is lost. I did think it bad though that as a paying member I hadn’t been told it was closing, I guess as they were in financial difficulties they weren’t going to refund memberships.

Now I have to find another large heat press to use.

The Ochre Print Studio Summer Exhibition had lots of good feedback. Shame I had to miss the Private View this year.

Susan Eyre 'Yellow Sky'

Susan Eyre ‘Yellow Sky’

‘Yellow Sky’ is about looking for refuge and reliance on a controlled environment to survive

Susan Eyre 'Graft i'

Susan Eyre ‘Graft i’

‘Graft I’ explores ideas about the changing landscape, the urban and the cultivated space, the hybrid landscapes and the empty inbetween spaces where imagination can flourish if nothing else.

Lots to see from other members and guest artists. It’s a good opportunity to bring the community at Ochre together.
Tom Hammick

Guest artists -Tom Hammick – woodcuts

Richenda Court's lino cut

Richenda Court’s lino cuts

Julie Hoyle

Julie Hoyle screen prints on wood

Lockwood Group

Lockwood Group artists with learning disabilities

Anna Hennings - artist in residence

Anna Hennings – artist in residence

Guest Artist - David Dragon - monoprints

Guest Artist – David Dragon – monoprints


Susan Eyre 'Subluna'

Susan Eyre ‘Subluna’


Sold ‘Subluna’ at Ochre and also some of my ‘Collected Thoughts’ sold at the Surrey Contemporary.
Always a strange mixed feeling of loss and pleasure.

1306 Grey collagraph

Much happier with the way my collagraph is going now that I have pulled back from all the colour I have been using.

Also I am getting much more detail in the image through careful inking. Thinking about all the changes that the earth has been through in deep time. So slowly.

Waiting for the forest to emerge.

130529 (1)

This is still work in progress which I intend to print over. I have been thinking about blocking off the image in parts with paper stencils before I print the collagraph to leave blank spaces to print on.

Making a template for hanging ‘Collected Thoughts’ at the Surrey Contemporary.

1306 laying out collected thoughts

This way I can just fix the paper up on the wall and tap the nails straight though.

I hadn’t been to the Robert Phillips Gallery in Walton on Thames before. It is a bit tucked away but a lovely space right on the river with a little café and terrace.

The gallery has high ceilings and lots of light.

1306 Surrey Contemporary - setting up 6 1306 Surrey Contemporary - setting up 1306 Surrey Contemporary - setting up 5 1306 Surrey Contemporary - setting up 4 1306 Surrey Contemporary - setting up 3 1306 Surrey Contemporary - setting up 2

It was good to meet the other artists and chat about their work.

Stephanie Wright told me about the nervous excitement she feels when slicing through her thrown pot to reveal the figure inside and the alchemy of using glazes.

Stephanie Wright

Stephanie Wright

Dave Richards demonstrated his website documenting the Museum of Modern Zoology where new hybrid species have evolved via his imagination from a fusion of technology and the animate, like the Makagadikadi big cat which shares its aerodynamic structure with a racing car.

Dave Richards

Dave Richards

Jill Flower explained the inspiration behind her sculptures using recycled papers and stitch to convey the seven ages of man (and woman) through a literary journey.

1306 Jill Flowers

1306 Surrey Contemporary - Private View 1306 Surrey Contemporary - Private View 3 1306 Surrey Contemporary - Private View 2

The Private View was really busy.  Over the tap tap tap of Mat Clark’s morse code installation on the obsolescence of the art object Alison Clarke from Surrey Arts welcomed everybody while Chairman of Surrey County Council, Mr David Munro thanked all the sponsors and wished he had a rosette to award to an artist like he did for the prize bull at the county show. The artists present were not sure how they felt about that.

1306 Subluminal

So glad we have at last had some sunshine, and ‘Subluminal’ which I have hung in our sunroom is doing its thing with the rays.

If I worked it out maybe it could even be a sundial.

Would be so great for the big piece ‘Incidence’ to have a wall that gets the sun rather than be in a bag under the bed.

Incidence e

Had great inspiration on the themes of nature in the urban environment at the Soho Theatre in the witty and surreal play ‘Pastoral’ by Thomas Eccleshare.


Nature is fighting back. The forest is returning. The army have been called in but are being pushed back by the speed and strength of the growth.

The south is being abandoned as buildings collapse and roads are swallowed up and the only escape is to evacuate to the north behind the big plastic wall.


It’s everyman for himself when the only game for dinner is one hedgehog between 6.

The man from Ocado can only regret his perseverance to deliver his goods at all cost.

Great staging and wonderful delivery from Anna Calder-Marshall as Moll blessed with the freedom that comes with age to say what she thinks (about ‘the fats’  and other blights of our time)

The weeds bursting through Moll’s carpet did resonate with me – ‘Emergency’ made while at Goldsmiths had a similar idea at its core but in this case it was the rubbish from landfill mutating and bursting forth.

Emergency 0

Some musical inspiration from Flaming Lips.

1306 flaming lips

Photo by Chris Boland

Blinding light show and space age silver sculptures.  Photography at

Wayne Coyne was ill and couldn’t really sing. He gave a moving speech at the beginning to say in the scheme of things what was going on at the Roundhouse that night was insignificant when children were dying at the hands of a hurricane. Real nature this time.

Also on a higher plane the soulful voice of Eska and her thoughtful lyrics.

1306 Eska

‘Seeds of her memory grew up from the earth….she’s in the flowers….’

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.





Binformation and Collected Thoughts have been selected for the Surrey Contemporary 2013 which will be at River House Arts Centre in Walton on Thames from 29th May until 30th June.

1304 Binformation

‘Binformation’ considers what new geology might be formed from the cocktail of ingredients disposed of in our landfill sites.

This work was originally completed for an exhibition about pattern. I was thinking about patterns of behaviour as well as creating a pattern from the imagery.

I cycled round to all my friends and neighbours knocking on their doors and asking to photograph their kitchen bin.

I hadn’t realised beforehand how personal a request this was. There was a lot of offers to see the recycling instead and excuses for what was in the bin at the time.

Things have moved on a bit since those days – not so long ago really but the amount of recycling we do now has increased dramatically since 2008.

There will still be that  layer of plastic under the earth for future generations to mine. I used the photographs to create an idea of rock crystals forming from our waste.

We have all participated in a global experiment with unknown consequences.

1304 Binformation detail

The kitchen bin is a surprisingly private space often laden with guilt and there is a certain amount of voyeurism in seeing what other people have put in their bin.

‘Collected Thoughts’ draws on ideas of preservation and references the Victorian enthusiasm for creating romantic tableaux of the natural world held in glass domes.

1304 Collected Thoughts

A contemporary plastic food packaging tray replaces the glass dome distorting the view of an apparently idyllic scene caught against a grey urban backdrop as in a moment’s hazy daydream.

Something else fast becoming history as plastic trays are used less and less.

I went to hear Anya Gallacio talk at Whitechapel Gallery as part of the To Make a Tree series.

Anya Gallacio

Anya Gallacio

She was in conversation with Jon Thompson an ex Goldsmiths tutor and Phyllida Barlow.

The most memorable thing about the talk for me was the number of times she started her reply to a question with ‘I don’t know…’

There was little discussion about trees which I didn’t mind as I found the topic which the conversation  kept returning to of teaching methods at Goldsmiths and other art colleges to be interesting.

It seems even back in the YBA days things were harsh at Goldsmiths – Richard Wentworth told Anya to throw her work out of the window as it was rubbish.

Phyllida reminisced about having to pick up the pieces of emotionally destroyed students who had been locked in the notorious Room B at St Martins but escaped to Chelsea. I wish she had been my tutor as she sounded keen to develop a student not crush them.

Maybe it was all for the good and in Anya’s case gave her good grounding to stand up for herself at Damien’s Frieze when feeling sidelined with limited space to exhibit she poured lead directly on the floor. Since then she has enjoyed making work that lets the material speak for itself. Flowers that dry up, fruit that rots. She has recently completed a new work in Edinburgh ‘The Light Pours Out of Me’. An amethyst lined grotto cut into the earth and surrounded with black stone and the green of the woodland, she wanted it to be something people would stumble across and wonder whether they should enter. Enticed by the beauty but fearful of the jagged edges.

'The light pours out of me' Anya Gallacio

‘The light pours out of me’ Anya Gallacio

Laure Provost won the Max Mara art prize for women and has her work showing at Whitechapel Gallery.

Laure Provost

Laure Provost

It is an incredible sensual piece of work made during her residence in Italy and inspired by the rich history of the female bather.

The centre piece is a pink mouth opening repetitively to a soundtrack which suggests both orgasm and the gasp of entering cold water.

There are circling motions, direct eye contact, demure slipping into water, fresh raspberries proffered from large sculptural spoons, bounty and pleasure.

Laure Provost Swallow

Laure Provost Swallow

Back in the studio I have been continuing work on ‘Return of the Forests’.

I made relief plates for the iceberg collagraph and made new carborundum collagraph plates of the forest.

1304 forest collagraph
This time I sprayed the carborundum with Polyurethane varnish before coating with Shellac.

1304 iceberg
I made some prints with the iceberg collagraph and relief plates – the main problem was getting the inks pale enough. You only need a tiny bit of ink to extender.

1304 trees on iceberg

I test printed tree collagraphs, the detail wasn’t as fine as I had hoped but the murky atmosphere was quite effective.

1304 return of the forest

I also continued work on another collagraph – collaging two images together. The same background as I used in Graft i & ii of a gated car park entrance.

I spent some time drawing a shadow for the fantasy tree which I wanted to take root here. I wanted the shadow to be menacing and in the end went for it outright.

I drew the outline of a devil beast into the shadow and made a relief plate out of thin card.

1304 Shadow

I printed this over the collagraph and mounted it onto aluminium.

1304 mounting on aluminium

I kept looking at ‘Yellow Sky’ in different lights and decided that it really did need lighting from inside.

Yellow Sky

I tried testing the LED strip lights I have to see if they would light from a battery and found they did using a 9v
I trawled eBay for a switch for this and amazingly found someone who wires up LED strip lights to a 9v battery with a switch to a specified length of wire and all for £6.60 battery included!

1304 Yellow sky battery

The LED strip was only 20cm in length but this was perfect for the inset piece.

1304 yellow filter

Felt very clever when I fitted this. I had to cut a hole through the frame for the switch which took me all day with a small chisel and various dremel attachments.

I cut a small plate out of rigid plastic for the switch to sit on and so it is all very neat and no wires and plugs to deal with.

1304 switch

I gave the LED’s a yellow filter with film over acetate to match the yellow sky.

1304 Yellow sky back

I am excited by this whole process and what possibilities it offers. I need to find out how long a length of LED’s can be lit with a battery.

1304 Yellow Sky inset

I feel the work is more balanced now the inset piece is lit.

1304 Yellow sky lit

Had a super evening at Great Western Studios Private View.

An exhibition focusing on prints based on photographic imagery curated by Sumi Pereira and presented by Printmakers Council.

The exhibition aimed to show both traditional skills and innovatory printmaking techniques.

Lidija Antanasijevic

Lidija Antanasijevic

Lidija Antanasijevic explores raw emotion and inner energy seeking to give form to senses and experiences.

In this instance the wires add to the work.

Looked a vibrant place to work and show work.

Particularly enjoyed Chris Mercier’s work here.

Chris Mercier 'The Unraveler'

Chris Mercier ‘The Unraveler’