Archives for posts with tag: James Turrell

I have been gathering tips and components to build a cloud chamber for viewing cosmic particles but mostly my time has been spent in funding application form filling.


Feeling the admin has been taking over. Not a creative time and am also finding the ground is not so firm beneath our feet when it comes to securing the promise of a grant.

1605 dm boulby tunnel

Challenges ahead but Laboratory of Dark Matters is taking shape and we are listed on Guest Projects website link here.


I have moved studio once again, only a very short distance but into my own space. This is so I can film the cosmic particles I hope to see in the cloud chamber in low lighting and mess about with dry ice. I am starting to plan work using imagery of the cosmic trails. Looking at pentagon facets of the dodecahedron.


Made a trip to Allenheads Contemporary Arts for the final weekend of events of their major project As Above So Below that saw artists come together to explore a shared curiosity and quest to answer questions about our existence and relationship to our planet. Iron River was a beautiful live sound performance synched to a video installation from Bennett Hog and Sabine Vogel using an exposed piano frame, pebbles and bass flute to describe the extraction process of iron ore abundant in the local water.


Eerie sounds, almost words, deep and earthy boomed from the woods and echoed around the valley in Neal Willis’ coded interpretation of barbed wire patterns What Language of the Fox? I thought Bill Aitchison’s Stuck In The Middle With You was brilliant. The recording of his performance was positioned in the spot where the original delivery took place during the summer – the view on the screen and out through the window was the same, just browner outside now.


Listening to Bill make connections, set up a scenario only to knock it down became mesmerizing and addictive, I was swept away.  Listen to this work at the link above.


Lucien Anderson’s Prototype 2, or Splashdown floats in enigmatic isolation on the Allenheads reservoir.


There is video relay to an observatory tent but it looks like contact may be lost…


Thresholds (Proximity, Distance and Loss) a poignant video installation from Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman was running in the coal shed featuring sound from Lost Cosmonaut a recording from 1962 purporting to be broadcast from a damaged, State abandoned, Russian spacecraft overlaid onto imagery from a remote and subsequently abandoned Northumbrian village.

Pat Naldi’s research unearthed song lyrics written in criticism of the local mine owner during the early 19thC which the local Dale Singers performed on the green for Assembly 2016


Alan Smith From NVC 100 to 10 Thoughts both reduces and expands inquiry as he condenses big questions into a series of 10 thoughts. Set in the cosy cosmos of his caravan it is a personal exploration of the very wide world we are invited to share in.

Bridget Kennedy installed The Measure Of It over the opening to Gin Hill Mine Shaft referencing the opening of seams for mining in medieval times when a prescribed square measure was termed an Ancient Meer and an oath was taken to claim ownership.


“I swear by God and all the saints, and I call them all to witness, this is my vein; moreover if it’s not mine, I neither this my head or these my hands henceforth perform their functions” from De Re Metallica by Georgius Agricola.

Also made a visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park


The current headline show was from Not Vital – big shiny heavyweight sculpture, inside & outside. A lot of metal.

Was a nice surprise to discover Roger Hiorns Seizure has found a home here. Just as dazzling inside but a shame its place of genesis, the totally incongruous London estate setting is lost.


Excited to experience James Turrell’s Deer Shelter Skyspace.


The elements have left their mark on the floor.


Incredible how the light changes the space, and framing the sky in this way makes it so luminous and almost tangible at the same time.


When gazing up through the aperture of a ‘Skyspace’  it’s important to give your eyes time to adjust to gain the full reward. The contemplative state, like fire watching, that Turrell induces in his audience is common to all people through all time. He is fascinated by early cultures in which the position of the sun, moon and stars are responded to through environment. He appreciates light has a strong connection to our spiritual beliefs. Light is the materialization of energy. We are naturally eaters of light, our whole body is scattered with stray rods and cones outside of the retinal area which makes our relationship to light very primal. Our bodies are made from matter fed by the fruits of photosynthesis. Light is life. In using the stuff of nature as medium a direct connection is made between our body and the universe.

Caspar Sawyer’s exhibition Gamut at Thames-side Studios Gallery was another way of considering how our brains decipher the light messages that are fed to them, this show was about the pixilation of our world.


Most striking are the giant heads of the 3 Kims triptych, leering in and out of focus as the angle and distance of perspective varies as you move around the gallery. The camera however, reverts the image back to tiny pixels and into focus. They are really not that clear to the naked eye when you are in the gallery.

The media construction of the larger than life characters made evident in oversized pixels.


The sublime dissolving into sub-pixel RGB grids as we move too close.

Vibrant colour blocks as pixelated studies of constructed titles – internet searches for an image that best represents one word,


reduced to pixels and blended with other word searches until the image represents the title – the source images never known even to the artist.


And my favourite – This Moment is the Most Profound Experience You Will Ever Have in Your Whole Life (in progress)


The image is revealed as a moving reflection of your body as you traverse the space, a shadow that casts light. Quite profound really. I am light.

Total takeover -Alex Hartley’s ‘architectural intervention’ A Gentle Collapsing II at Victoria Miro is wonderfully indulgent romanticism


Stepping though the gallery doors to the garden becomes stepping though a portal to another time and place.


The edges of reality blur as it isn’t clear where fantasy begins and ends. It is a place to enact and dream and enjoy its unreal realness.


Other works inside are just as bewitching; paintings like translucent marble slabs  with hidden inner lives.


Frosty surfaces shielding mysterious landscapes. Concrete pretending to be wood.


I am always impressed by Alex Hartley.

Holly Graham showing After Harry Jacobs: The Studio and hypnotic looped animation After Harry Jacobs: Basket in Backdrop at ASC Studios as part of Artlicks weekend. ‘the works in the exhibition engage the backdrop as a context for action and seek to question the perception of its neutral or auxiliary role.’


Scarlett Mueller creates her stunning hand printed woodcuts through layering techniques. At Anise Gallery for I Saw it Whole her work had been deconstructed and reimagined in a VR experience allowing the viewer to digitally enter the image. It was fun but unnecessary, her work has space for the viewer to enter without digital enhancement.


There is something extra green about the green that is exposed on the river banks at low tide.  These glistening and gelatinous edges are captured by Anne Krinsky  in Tide Line Thames along with distressed defences like scabs barely holding together the banks of the old river. (old not ancient).


Mysterious architecture, cogs, slippery steps, lengths and measures map out a life that dissects London, is passed over again and again without thinking. This exhibition is a pause in that momentum to look at the environment in the raw.

1611 Anne Krinsky 2.jpg

Adding layers. Infinite Mix an off-site iteration from the Hayward Gallery. Sound and moving image. Some very raw and powerful images drilled into the mind with earworm rhythms and stanzas. Excellent stuff.


Cyprien Gaillard Nightlife 




Dissertation sickness. Gaining knowledge should be enriching – Bill Viola talks about a pollution of the mind from too much information, he means a flooding from advertising and media and such like that has a negative impact on our well being. Walter Benjamin was also concerned that post industrial life was overwhelming our senses in such a way that we couldn’t process the volume of experiences we had in order to gain any knowledge or understanding. I think I may be overloading my mind with too many books – too many threads to follow – so that I can no longer process meaningfully.
Nostalgia – the wounds of returning.
Ruin Lust at Tate Britain was a chance to revel in the beauty of decay – to feed desire for the lost idyll. Desire is such that it is eternal.

Jane and Louise Wilson - Azeville

Jane and Louise Wilson – Azeville

I have just been reading about critic Neil Hertz comments on Gustave Coubet’s La Grotte de la Loue 1864 as an example of the move from the romantic sublime to the post modern sublime.

Gustave Courbet - La Grotte de la Loue

Gustave Courbet – La Grotte de la Loue

The Wilson’s photograph Azeville seems to share the same unnerving dark space where there is no escape into infinity only a reflection back to self meditation.

John Martin the master of the fantastical sublime shows the devastation of Pompeii.

John Martin - The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum

John Martin – The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum

With the sublime there is always the possibility of death.

If a dark space of contemplation is post modern sublime what is this …

1405 Pompeii

feels like a brash disrespect for the dead to me.

Finlay Taylor, tutor in printmaking at RCA, brought together an impressive selection of works for an exhibition at Camberwell Space – Against Nature.

In his introductory speech at the symposium held in conjunction with the show he spoke about cause and effect of environmental interventions.

The extinction of the Large Blue Butterfly in Britain as habitat is eroded as land use changes and the introduction of a butterfly from Scandinavia as replacement – a near match.

The high mercury levels at the top of Mount Fuji brought on the winds from China’s expanding coal mining industry.

Dr Joy Sleeman and David Cross, speakers at the symposium, discussed our shift in perception of landscape after the moon landings.

The iconic image earthrise – looking back at earth from space apparently very nearly didn’t happen.

The highly trained military scientists had been instructed to only photograph the surface of the moon with the precious amount of film that they had taken into space with them.

1405 earthrise

However, when they saw the earth as it had never been seen before and it was so beautiful they disobeyed command and pressed the shutter.

Optimum selfie.  It’s been a while now since the reverberations of that image were first felt, it was supposed to unite us as a planet, to position us within the enormity of the universe so that we could appreciate our lives as being part of something amazing and vast.

Our skies, flooded with artificial light means we can no longer see the stars. Our territory has shrunk. James Turrell makes work to try and open up our skies to us again. By creating an enclosure to look out from, a vaulting occurs in our perception, bringing the sky closer, and as the light changes throughout the day and the seasons a myriad range of colours can be observed.

James Turrell - Roden Crater

James Turrell – Roden Crater

His friend and art collector Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo believes that if everyone could visit The Roden Crater then all violence would stop.

Also we wouldn’t need any hallucinogens.

Crossing the channel to see Bill Viola in Paris. Dissertation research isn’t all sitting in the library.

Bill Viola - Fire Woman

Bill Viola – Fire Woman

Enjoyed some favourite pieces and saw some new ones.

I found ‘Three Women’ very hypnotic and moving. For me it was about cycles of separation.

The mother figure steps out from a grey mist through a wall of water, with all the wetness and rupture of birth, she emerges glistening into full colour.

Bill Viola - Three Women

Bill Viola – Three Women

She reaches back for the older girl and guides her on her journey through the baptism of water to be at her side, the older girl in turn then takes her sister by the hand to join them.

Bill Viola - Three Women

Bill Viola – Three Women

No sooner are they all together than the mother figure steps back through the veil, the older girl soon follows, leaving the young girl suddenly alone.

As she reaches back and takes her older sister’s hand to return from where she came, she turns directly to the viewer, her gaze holds us in a grief of separation.

Bill Viola - Three Women

Bill Viola – Three Women

Who steps over the threshold willingly?

Crossing Oceans – ‘The Stuart Hall Project’ film is a poetic collage of archive footage set to the music of Miles Davis, directed by John Akomfrah. Stuart Hall emigrated from Jamaica to the UK in 1951 to take up a place at Oxford University, and became a founding figure of cultural studies in Britain.

Stuart Hall

I have Jo Stockham (head of printmaking at the RCA) to thank for screening this film of a wonderful man sadly no longer with us.

This film is now part of an exhibition at the Stanley Picker Gallery in Kingston Upon Thames – Your Tongue in My Mouth

1405 Standing on the Frontier (22)

Honoured to be invited to join the artists in Standing on the Frontier, a group show at Unit 24 Gallery curated by Takayuki Hari and Noa Edwards.

“One of the tasks art has assumed is making forays into and taking up positions on the frontiers of consciousness (….) and reporting back what’s there.” –Susan Sontag, ‘The Pornographic Imagination’.

Takayuki Hara with his work

Takayuki Hara with his work

The images presented by the artists in Standing on the Frontier depict views taken on a redefining the frontier between reality and the imagination. On this meandering journey the viewer weaves his or her way across the line that demarcates the boundary between the mundane scenery of familiar places and the surreal landscapes of the individual mind.

Noa Edwards paintings

Noa Edwards paintings

A review can be read here

Susan Eyre - Yellow Sky

Susan Eyre – Yellow Sky

The boundary I was thinking about here was the one between outside and inside a controlled environment.

A dystopian future where all life is sheltered in a sort of Eden project.

Coming up soon –

I have some work in the Ochre Print Studio Summer exhibition

Would 1/2 ve

Would 1/2 ve

Some exhibitions I hope to visit –

Arkipelagos at Beaconsfield

Fleursdumal at Charlie Smith

Suky Best at Danielle Arnoud

Laurence Kavanagh at Marlborough Contemporary

Chris Marker at Whitechapel

TTTT at Jerwood Space

Daniel Malva at ArtEco

and of course Royal College of Art SHOW 2014



Been spending a lot of time in the etching workshop.
It all started with a photo of Paradise Forum shopping mall in Birmingham.
Everyone looked so pissed off – yet if they just looked beyond to the cosmos, wouldn’t they be dazzled.
I thought the two girls on the steps looked like they had their feet dangling in space, that they were sitting on the edge of something, awaiting their escape.

Of course the word Forum conjures up ideas of a Roman Forum, from which I segue to amphitheatre, a place of gathering, like a shopping mall. A sense of history of construction, of public space.
This small exert of life on earth in fadeout – a temporal moment.

Paradise Forum B3

Paradise Forum B3

I listened to Bill Viola being interviewed about his current retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris which I hope to visit shortly. He talks about the brevity of our lives and how it is really important to leave behind some knowledge or some new thing for the next generation, it can be something really simple. Through knowledge we gain transformation. But beware, too much information can become a pollution and we have to separate out the unnecessary bombardment of advertising and media sources from the good stuff that enriches us.

1404 Bill Viola

Also looking at  the work and ideas of James Turrell. His formless landscapes of light with no object, no image and no focus leaves us only with an awareness of ourselves looking and an experience only felt otherwise in dreams, meditation or near death experiences. I can remember my visit to Gagosian a few years back to see Dhatu – staring into a pink misty void, anticipating angels.


JAMES TURRELL  Dhātu, 2010

Dhātu, 2010


In ‘Once Upon a Time’ Steve McQueen presents 116 images from Karl Sagan’s Golden Record which was launched into space in 1977 to enlighten any extraterrestrials about life on earth. McQueen overlays geographical images and scientific diagrams with the sounds of people speaking in tongues. The highly factual with the highly emotional – potentially equally indecipherable to aliens but showing an alternative side to human nature other than the one NASA documented.

Steve McQueen - Once Upon a Time

Steve McQueen – Once Upon a Time

In ‘The Dry Salvages’ Elisabetta Benassi presents 10,000 bricks made from clay taken from the 1951 Polesine flood area (one of the largest natural disasters in Italy) that are printed with the names and codes of the largest space debris orbiting the earth.

1404 Elisabetta Benassi (2)

Elisabetta Benassi – The Dry Salvages

Power of nature, power of nations.

Elisabetta Benassi - The Dry Salvages

Elisabetta Benassi – The Dry Salvages

The regeneration of matter. The impossibility of control.