Archives for posts with tag: Julie F. Hill

Really pleased with the results I am getting from the new batch of directional magnetic steel sent from Union Steel Products. These are coming out better than in previous tests.

Norman P. Goss invented grain-orientated steel in 1934. It was produced through a two-stage cold rolling process with intermediate annealing between the cold rolling stages. Grain-oriented electrical steel enabled the development of highly efficient electrical machines, especially transformers. Today, the magnetic cores of all high-voltage high-power transformers are made of grain-oriented electrical steel. The strong preferred crystallographic orientation is known as a Goss texture.

When I receive the electrical steel it has a grey insulation coating which has been applied to both sides of the sheet to avoid eddy currents between the stacked sheets when used in a transformer core. I am removing this coating by sanding. I then etch the sheets in copper sulphate solution for 20 minutes. The plate must be dried very quickly when it is taken out of the etching bath. I then lightly polish and wax the surface. Some detail is lost quite quickly and areas can become muddy after etching so I still need to experiment a little more with alternative cleaning and sealing methods.

A previous batch had a different coating that proved impossible to remove cleanly even with the most extreme methods. This new batch has two different types of sheet which have a slightly different pattern to reveal. It is quite hard work but a fascinating material to experiment with.

I have been considering using the Directional Magnetic Steel Pieces in some form of suspended sculpture as movement causes the surface to catch the light revealing the patterned surface of this material. I might use it to mark the line of declination across the gallery floor from True North to Magnetic North at the time of installation.

Thinking about moving sculptures –

Imagine holding Einstein’s attention for the forty minutes it takes your work to revolve. A Universe by Alexander Calder 1934, painted iron pipe, steel wire, motor, and wood with string. One of the first artists to explore kinetic and motor driven sculpture, expanding drawing into 3D and painting into motion. A nice intro to Calder from 2016 – The Universe of Alexander Calder with Dara Ó Briain.

Work continues on the Azimuth Obelisk with the construction of the metal frame to support the structure and hold the layered paper sheets. Thanks to Giles Corby of the London Sculpture Workshop for getting to grips with my diagrams and welding the frame. The frame is made in three interlocking parts to distribute the weight and make for easier storage and transportation. This sculpture is a response to the concrete obelisk erected in 1955 at Hartland Magnetic Observatory, near the site’s northern boundary as a permanent azimuth mark. It is viewed via a theodolite through a window in the north wall of the Absolute Hut, its azimuth being 11º27’54” E of N and marks the point from which the magnetic north pole is tracked as it drifts westwards.

The British Bryological Society celebrates its centenary this year, promoting the study of mosses and liverworts. I have been searching their website for clues on growing moss. Most of the information is on the identification of mosses but I did find a useful downloadable pdf of The Moss Growers Handbook by Michael Fletcher. No mention of liquidising moss with yoghurt as a starter culture though.

Gathering moss, liquidising with yoghurt and painting on to reclaimed old boards.

I made a rough model of The Absolute Hut to work out how many boards I will need for the north facing wall to try and grow moss on. I like that it turned out looking like a bird house as inside will be video exploring the magnetoreception of birds. This work is a reimagining of the Absolute Hut at Hartland Magnetic Observatory where monitoring of the Earth’s magnetic field takes place.

Some speculation on human magnetoreception:

Neurons send information electrochemically around the body. The signals they send are called action potentials which is a temporary shift from negative to positive within the cell caused by certain ions entering the cell. Research has proven that some animals can sense the magnetic field via cryptochrome molecules in the retina which trigger action potentials. New studies have been carried out looking at iron particles (Fe3O4) found in the brain using supersensitive magnetic sensors to read the brain’s magnetic field. Receptor cells containing crystals of magnetite could register changes in magnetic fields and report this information to the brain.  

One study suggests that it could be possible for the magnetic field in one animal’s brain to transmit information to another animal’s brain by triggering action potentials creating the same thoughts and emotions. There have been experiments with rats and fruit bats which claim brain to brain communication has occurred. Alpha waves in the human brain have been shown to respond to magnetic fields. Alpha waves are always present, but are more prominent when at rest. The experiment, carried out at Caltech, mimicked how a person might experience the Earth’s magnetic field when turning their head. 

Maybe putting our heads together can exchange thoughts telepathically.

I have taken the contour lines from a publicly available World Magnetic Model Field Map as a framework for layering in the video work on bird magnetoreception.

An early frosty morning captured the sun melting the ice on the lens of the spy cam in the garden.

I have built the protective box frame for the monitor that will be inside the mollusc/rock sculpture Belly of a Rock. Thanks to Pete next door for cutting the wood for me. I plan to build the shape up with mesh covered in paper clay. I have had the idea to make small circular paper clay clumps with swirls of crushed shell on each one and build the form up from these. I have been given a lot of oyster shells and have collected mussel shells which I have tested crushing with a pestle and mortar.

The drift of the magnetic North pole was first recorded in 1831 and historically would wander between 0–15 km a year but since the 1990’s it has sped up to drift 50–60 km a year. Tracking changes in the magnetic field can tell researchers how the iron in Earth’s core moves.

Earth’s magnetic field is created in the swirling outer core. Magnetism in the outer core is about fifty times stronger than it is on the rocky surface of the Earth. At the centre of the Earth is the inner core which is divided into eastern and western hemispheres. In the inner core, the temperature is so high, materials lose their permanent magnetic properties as the atoms are so thermally excited they can no longer align to a magnetic point. This is known as the Curie temperature.

The hemispheres of the inner core have distinct crystalline structures and the western hemisphere seems to be crystallizing rapidly whereas the eastern hemisphere may actually be melting.  Geoscientists have also recently discovered that the inner core has an inner core. A radical geologic change about 500 million years ago may have caused this inner inner core to develop. Here the crystals are oriented east-west instead of north-south and are not aligned with either Earth’s rotational axis or magnetic field. The inner inner core crystals may have a completely different structure to the hexagonal close-packed (HCP) phase of iron that is stable only at extremely high pressure and so may exist at a different phase.

ESA’s three-satellite Swarm mission was launched in 2013 to monitor Earth’s magnetic field by measuring magnetic signals from Earth’s core, the crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere. Using data from the Swarm mission, scientists have discovered energy generated by electrically-charged particles in the solar wind, which can be disruptive to communication systems, flows asymmetrically into Earth’s atmosphere towards the magnetic north pole more than towards the magnetic south pole. They have also discovered a completely new type of magnetic wave that sweeps across the outermost part of Earth’s outer core every seven years. These magnetic waves are likely to be triggered by disturbances deep within the Earth’s fluid core. Research suggests that other such waves are likely to exist, probably with longer periods.

Geomagnetic jerks are sudden powerful waves that occur about every three to 12 years and are not consistent across the globe. It seems these jerks originate from rising blobs of molten matter that form in the planet’s core up to twenty five years before the related jerk takes place. The current findings from Swarm are part of a long-term project to predict the evolution of the geomagnetic field over the coming decades.

Polarised light is when the waves of electric and magnetic fields vibrate preferentially in certain directions. This can happen when light bounces off a reflective surface like a mirror or the sea. It can also happen in space as starlight travels through gas and dust clouds. Polarisation carries a wealth of information about what happened along a light ray’s path and astronomers can study the physical processes that caused the polarisation.

The Milky Way is filled with a mixture of gas and dust from which stars are born. Cosmic dust grains are almost always spinning rapidly, tens of millions of times per second, due to collisions with photons and rapidly moving atoms. The spinning dust grains become aligned to the direction of the magnetic field. They emit light at very long wavelengths from the infrared to the microwave domain which comes out vibrating parallel to the longest axis of the grain, making the light polarised.

Visualisation of data from ESA’s Planck satellite shows the interaction between interstellar dust in the Milky Way and the structure of our Galaxy’s magnetic field. Polarisation-sensitive detectors were able to capture the data as interstellar dust grains tend to align their longest axis at right angles to the direction of the magnetic field resulting in light emitted by clouds of gas and dust being partly ‘polarised’. Researchers are using the polarised light from interstellar dust to reconstruct the Galaxy’s magnetic field and study its role in galaxy evolution and star formation. From this data it can be seen that across the galactic plane there is a strong regular pattern but in some areas there are tangled features where the local magnetic field is particularly disorganised.

New images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope show star formation, gas, and dust in nearby galaxies with unprecedented resolution at infrared wavelengths. NGC 1433 is a barred spiral galaxy with a particularly bright core surrounded by double star forming rings. For the first time, in Webb’s infrared images, scientists can see cavernous bubbles of gas where forming stars have released energy into their surrounding environment.

The Observable Universe 2018 by Pablo Carlos Budasi. The furthest we can see is the faint glow from the cosmic microwave background emitted 13.8 billion years ago.

From Earth we become the centre of the eye that gazes out but we have no idea of the full size of the universe or if we are embedded in a multiverse.

The unobservable universe makes up the vast majority, around 95% of the universe. Zero, a symbol to mark nothing, sits on the boundary between absence and presence indicating what might have been or might come to be. Where we thought there was nothing we have found so much.

Gallery Visits

Preconscious Landscape at Exposed Arts Projects – an interesting space for arts based research projects. Artists: Lynne Abrahamson, Gabriele Beveridge, Matilde Cerruti Quara, Konstantinos Giotis, Sotiris Gonis, Ramona Güntert, Raksha Patel, Hamish Pearch, Anna Perach, Chantal Powell, Candida Powell-Williams, Paloma Proudfoot, Aziza Shadenova, Holly Stevenson, Maro Theodorou, Adia Wahid & Meng Zhou all grapple with an unresolvable psychoanalytic question: what does it mean for the conscious mind to try to understand its own preconsciousness?

Richard Mosse Broken Spectre at 180 The Strand. Seventy minutes of emotionally uncomfortable yet beautifully riveting viewing. Endless overwhelming destruction. Burnt forest. Subterranean fires. Intensive cattle farming. Aggressive gold mining. Wide wide screen images that slip between dreamlike garish colour and chilling monochrome with a soundtrack that sounds like the forest itself crying. The brutal disrespect for the land, the non-human and the people of the Amazon rainforest captured in heartbreaking detail as it slips through our fingers. Having been looking at moss recently the large photographic works at the entrance to the film come across very moss like and emphasises the micro and macro nature of the world.

Cable Depot presents Insert Coin, a project by Bob Bicknell-Knight exploring predatory monetisation practices within video games, specifically loot boxes, and the ongoing insertion of gambling mechanics into virtual experiences. Tapping into our desires and the addictive thrill of winning Bob Bicknell-Knight invites us across the digital divide into a luminous world of pixels and 3D printing. I was delighted to win an island. Here everything is free so there is no uncertainty and debt to mar the experience.

As our physical lives are becoming increasingly gamified the game industry has, for almost twenty years, been inserting ways of gambling real world money into video games. From purchasing extra lives to play another level in Candy Crush to buying new cosmetic options for your guns in Call of Duty, spending money within video games has become increasingly prevalent.

One of the most prevalent and destructive forms of monetization are loot boxes, consumable virtual items that are bought within video games which can be redeemed to receive a randomised selection of further virtual items, ranging from simple customization options for a player’s avatar or character to game-changing equipment such as weapons and armour. As the items are randomised players have previously spent thousands of pounds attempting to gain specific products in different games. As these gambling mechanics have become more prevalent, with considerable harm being done to young people and players with gambling addictions, loot boxes are now illegal in several countries, whereas recently the UK government decided that loot boxes will not be regulated under betting laws.

Champs Noir curated by Simon Leahy-Clark at Terrace Gallery. A carefully chosen collection of works in black from a great catalogue of artists. Featuring: Michael Ashcroft, Bensley and Dipre, Diane Bielik, Andy Black, Cedric Christie, Gemma Cosse, Graham Crowley, A Ee, Nicky Hodge, Mandy Hudson, Michael Kaul, Sarah Ken, Sharon Leahy-Clark, Simon Leahy-Clark, Graham Lister, Brendan Lyons, Alistair MacKillop, Mutalib Man, Enzo Marr, Donna Mclean, Neil Metzner, Jane Millar, Josh Mitchell, Jost Munster, Stephen Palmer, Kasper Pincis, Andrew Seto, Peter Suchi, Sally Taylor, Chris Tosic, Mark Wainwright & Tom Wilmott. Selected image: Jane Millar: Test Bed, ceramic media, 12cm diameter, 2019.

Julie F Hill Earth, Water, Night at The Stone Space

We so often look out at the night sky forgetting it is gazing back at us.

‘… The [pool] is the very eye of the landscape, the reflection in water the first view that the universe has of itself …’ —Gaston Bachelard,

Holding the poetic and alchemical in contrast to the objective and scientific, astronomical data of deep space folds into Earth’s deep time. Light and shadow gather in pools of water, forming images that suggest consciousness is a fundamental property of all matter.

Beautiful and contemplative works capturing the milkyness of the Milky Way caught in the folds of the night sky; distorted reflections rippling across dark pools; illusory depths oscillating between dimensions.

Sam Williams Deep in The Eye and The Belly (Part One) at San Mei Gallery. It was a busy night at the opening and I didn’t take any photos. There was a large projection on one wall and two other films showing on monitors with headphones. The work describes stories of cetacean bodies, interlacing actual historical events with speculative narratives. The camp narration of the main film deliberately jars with the emotive subject matter, but is given context through the supporting films as the protagonist who features across each film is seen reclining wearing feathers and glittery regalia speaking in long drawn and world weary sentences or lamenting the loss of the whale in absurd song from the vantage of a lighthouse.

Reverse Parking at Thames-side Gallery curated by Peter Lamb and Katie Pratt.

Reverse Parking presents seven artists (Gordon Cheung, Will Cruickshank, Cristallina Fischetti, Oona Grimes, Paul Hosking, Peter Lamb and Katie Pratt) whose work explores the duality of reality and the technological sublime. A bold and vibrant show. Good to see some large work from Oona Grimes and to chat with her in the gallery; her battle scenes encompassing battles down the ages coincidentally emerged at the onset of war in Ukraine. Also interesting to hear Katy Pratt discuss her language of abstract painting on the excellent Art Fictions podcast.

…not necessarily in the right order at Stephen Lawrence Gallery takes a playful cue from the Morecambe and Wise sketch with special guest Andre Previn which is embedded in British cultural history. Work from the featured artists (Carol Wyss, Dominic Murcott, Graeme Miller, Dirty Electronics and Dushume) overlaps and layers through still image, sound and projection. Exhibited is the third iteration of Carol Wyss’s giant etchings that expose the inner recesses of the human skull. Here they are made luminous and their sculpted landscapes all the more surreal by the animated light sequences traversing their surfaces.


Not observant enough to realise I bought the pocket guide version of The Natural Navigator by Tristan Gooley I ended up with an unembellished rather prosaic read with lots of facts and charts and possibly useful information that requires a large investment of dedication to the cause to learn many of these techniques. What was amusing though was finding the section headed Mosses and Lichens opens with the paragraph –

‘There is a commonly held belief that “Moss grows on the north side of trees and buildings.” It does, sometimes, but will also grow on every other side.

He goes on to say that moss doesn’t care about direction, but it does care about moisture. So in the northern hemisphere the side away from the sun is preferred by moss as it retains moisture for longer. Gradient is also important to prevent run off of water. I have tried to prop my planks at as low an angle as possible in the side passage but may need to find somewhere I can lie them down more.

I am enjoying dipping in to Florian Freistetter’s A History of the Universe in 100 Stars. No longer a swathe of uniform twinkling points of light but each star has its own character and story. It starts with 100 stories but we can extrapolate that to consider each of the many billion stars as individuals.


In Our Time – Superconductivity Excellent guest speakers (Nigel Hussey, Professor of Experimental Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Bristol; Suchitra Sebastian, Professor of Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge; Stephen Blundell, Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford) on this podcast. Superconductivity was a surprising discovery in 1911 by the Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes who found that when he lowered the temperature of mercury close to absolute zero and ran an electrical current through it, there was no resistance to the current. Many other materials have also been found to share this property when cooled to a pivotal temperature when the material suddenly enters a different phase and behaves in a completely different way. As water moves from solid to liquid to gas at different temperatures so metals can move between solid, liquid and superconductor. Further research found that a superconductor also expels magnetic fields and this has been exploited in the making of MRI scanners and to speed particles through the Large Hadron Collider.

I also enjoyed hearing how, what were once impossible numbers, called imaginary numbers by Descartes, have turned out to be fundamental and integral to explaining oscillations and the sort of wave like structures in the universe that we encounter when diving into a quantum world.

The Curious cases of Rutherford and Fry – The impossible number

Lode – a way or path, a watercourse, a vein of metallic ore.

A lodestone is a naturally occurring magnet possibly created by a lightning strike. Early compasses were made of lodestone suspended on a cord.

Magnetite is a common mineral that has an attraction to a magnet but is not magnetic in itself.

The image shows magnetite, sold on eBay as a Lodestone though at £2 what did I expect.

Fluid activity hidden deep in the Earth’s interior can be visualised through plotting the magnetic field and its fluctuations.

The geomagnetic field, generated by the Earth’s molten core, varies through time; the magnetic poles migrate, go on excursions or reverse polarity. During these periods of flux the strength of the magnetic field changes and this phenomenon is recorded in archaeological artifacts, volcanic rocks, and sediments. The mineral deposits of stalactites store a paleomagnetic history of declination (the deviation of magnetic from geographic north).

Thinking about how magnetic pole reversals are stored in geology. I am modelling some paper clay rocks for future filming visualising the magnetic field using iron filings.

Early navigators using the compass around the 15th century became aware that geomagnetic north would roam position. In 1701 the first map charting the magnetic field declination was produced by British astronomer Edmund Halley.

In the 19th century the study of geomagnetism became one of many passions for explorer polymath Alexander von Humboldt who studied

“what keeps the innermost of the world together, how all is woven together”

and was the first to connect climate with interactions between atmosphere, oceans, land and plant ecology. From meticulous observations he noticed the Earth’s magnetic field intensity increases from the equator to the pole, and that it was also influenced by auroras and solar activity causing magnetic storms.

Magnetic observatories to monitor the Earth’s magnetic field were set up around the globe including one at Greenwich which had to relocate twice due to infrastructure interference (electric railways) and is now based in Devon with a permanent azimuth mark on a concrete obelisk viewed from the north window of the Absolute Hut. I wonder if it is possible to visit.

Magnetotactic bacteria align themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate using nanoparticles of magnetite crystals covered in biological material called magnetosomes. Each nanoparticle is about 100,000 times smaller than a grain of rice. They are mostly found in water and sediment with little or no oxygen. It has been found that magnetosomes can be biodegraded (dissolved) in human stem cells losing magnetism at first but then reforming into human cells with magnetic sensitive qualities.

There is a daily variation in the magnetosphere caused by sunlight hitting the ionosphere, a layer of the atmosphere about 1000km up. The electrical conductivity of this layer is affected by the solar wind which pressures and squashes the field on the sunlit side while creating a magnetotail pluming from the dark side of the Earth.

Capturing garden activity through the solar cycle with a spycam.

The rotation of the Earth around its axis results in a molecular clock evolved by organisms in alignment with the solar cycle. The Earth’s magnetic field can influence animals’ circadian clocks, through the photoreceptor cryptochrome, which is activated by blue light.

I have recently acquired a drone and have been for a couple of practice flights in Richmond Park’s designated area taking along a few pentagon mirrors. Excited by the possibilities.

Up at 5am to see the tiny points of light that are Venus and Jupiter approaching their conjunction which they performed the following morning hidden by clouds

Research trip to RSPB Snettisham in North Norfolk to see the Whirling Wader Spectacle. The high spring tides push the birds from their feeding grounds on the mudflats of The Wash onto the lagoons of the reserve. The spectacle occurs when the tide is super high during daylight hours in early spring or late autumn when the birds are migrating to and from this site. It is surprising how fast the tide comes in. On arrival in the early evening the sea is a distant strip of light.

Suddenly the gullies are filling and the first murmurations of knots are forming low over the incoming water. The speed of the birds is extraordinary. I was totally ill equipped to capture the spectacle on video.

Fascinating research discussed in the webinar Scientific American live: Bird Migration and Song featuring Professor of Chemistry University of Oxford, Peter Hore, an expert on magnetoreception.

Radicals are molecules that contain an odd number of electrons and are therefore unstable. For most molecules the electrons are paired which cancels out the magnetic force. Birds use three different compasses to navigate across the globe; the sun, the stars and the magnetic field. The Artic tern makes the longest migratory journey, a staggering 25,000 miles.

The theory that birds may use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate began in the middle of the 19th century, but experiments in Germany with European Robins in the 1960s were the first to prove the connection. The Earth’s magnetic field is extremely weak so the mechanism that can detect this weak force must be very sensitive. Because free radicals are very unstable it doesn’t take much energy to have big effects. The particular cryptochrome molecule used is found in the retina of the eye with the photoreceptor cells. Blue light shined onto Cryptochrome 4 produces radical pairs which are sensitive to the magnetic field. It is excited by blue light but does not respond to red light. The molecules work like a pendant compass, distinguishing the direction of the magnetic field towards pole or equator. This feature arises from the spin direction of the free radical pairs. Both radicals may spin in the same direction or one may spin one way and the other the opposite. There is a lot of processing in the eye before a signal is sent to the brain to act upon.

It is possible birds form a visual perception of the magnetic field. The cone cells in the eye are used by day but may be taken over at night for navigation as this is when birds migrate. Light pollution and electromagnetic noise pollution such as AM radio masts can cause disorientation.

I still have questions about how the birds know where to head for. They may have a map but they still need a destination.

Stunning North Norfolk coastline. It’s so flat here that cliffs are unexpected. Hunstanton Beach was once under a tropical sea 108 million years ago when sea levels were 200m higher. Somewhere in these strata evidence of magnetic pole reversals will be stored.

So much to explore at the National Physical Laboratory Open Day but my favourite room was Magnetic Materials and Sensors. They don’t allow any photography so I can’t share some of the amazing experiments I saw but I have been able to recreate my favourite as it was also the simplest; a magnet dropped into a copper pipe creates an electric current as it falls which gently slows its progress through the tube. So cool. I will be filming this.

Experiments with lenses. It’s often the way that having spent time on a proposal that doesn’t get accepted those ideas do not get wasted but ultimately feed into new work.

Testing ‘The Forms’ as a floor piece.

The immutable truths Plato discovered in geometry belong to the realm of abstract thought and ideals he called The Forms. Twelve pentagons form a dodecahedron which Plato defined as ‘a fifth construction, which the god used for embroidering the constellations on the whole heaven.’ Today it is dark matter that science believes holds the stars in the heavens. In visualisations of dark matter created from cosmological data we see familiar organic patterns emerge; the fronds of dark matter spanning between galaxies could be the spreading branches of trees or the veins under our skin.

Thanks to KIPAC Stanford University for the data visualisations.

Enjoyed a one day 3D Geometry class with Leila Dear at the Princes School of Traditional Arts. I gained so much from the RCA exchange week here that fed into my work for the past several years that I thought a refresher would be useful – and that was before I knew we would be making geometric bubbles. Irresistible.

Out of Studio

Reflections at Workplace Gallery

Sculpture by women artists Nicola Ellis, Hsi-Nong Huang, Patricia Ayres and Olivia Bax.

All works offer up a satisfying conjunction of materiality and form but especially loving Nicola’s ‘Quite a Structure’ which is like a slice of the Earth’s molten core.

HEAVEN NEITHER BURNING FARTHER at The Crypt, St. John on Bethnal Green

Erika Blumenfeld writes “The material comprising our bodies shares cosmic origins with the material comprising the planets, asteroids and comets in our solar system. Scientifically, this material, having derived from distant stars across time, threads back to the primordial material that emerged moments after our universe burst into being. Culturally, our star gazing has filled us with wonder across all civilizations, sparking art and architecture, philosophy and science, mythology, folklore as well as navigation and place-making”.

Visual journeys have been created using the archive, modern science, performative poetry, scanned glacier-ice sent by image transmission, laser-based mapping originally sourced from the Rosetta space mission, the use of historic adaptations, the layering of earthly minerals, and a hunt for asteroid fragments. Held in a crypt under-ground the exhibition takes a poignant look at the myth and science that surround comets, which in theory brought life to Earth but could also end it.

Artists: Julie F Hill, Leah Beeferman, Barry Stone, Pedro Torres, Fryd Frydendahl, Ports Bishop, Claudio Pogo & Magdalena Wysocka Curated by Lucy Helton

Fascinating and beautiful work in this subterranean gateway to the cosmos which rewards following up each artist’s research.

POST TOTEM at OHSH Projects pop up on Oxford Street, curated by Adam Dix and Dale Adcock.
I found the concept of this exhibition very appealing. Reaching back to what connects us. Some innate sense of the sacred.

‘Imagine an artist holding the metaphorical hand of an artist from the previous generation and that artist, doing the same, and so on, back through time, back 30 to 40 thousand years into the unimaginably distant past, when we made the great cave paintings of Lascaux and Maros-Pangkep karst. This imaginative exercise creates an image of an unbroken woven human connection, stretching back through time uniting, individuals into a group, linked by imagination, action and materials.’

Artists showing: Dale Adcock, Simon Burton, Adam Dix, Tim Ellis, Lisa Ivory, Simon Burton, Rachel Howard, Henry Hussey, Dean Melbourne, Yelena Popova, Chantal Powell, Joanna Rajkowska, Alexis Soul Gray, Suzanne Treister.

Seth Price – Art Is Not Human at Sadie Coles

An interesting entanglement of hand and digital process. Raw paintings are photographed and imported to a 3D digital space of geometric shapes, tubes and directional lighting. The effects are then exported and printed onto the original painting.

Melanie Manchot Alpine Diskomiks at Parafin.

Questioning the mediation of the mountain experience. A mountain skyline created from album covers and soundscape from the combined mix of recorded content. Imagine a steady build of music to accompany the climb to a dramatic mountain peak and the overwhelming crescendo as you reach that majestic summit of the sublime. Downstairs choreographed snowploughs score grooves in looping folkdance sequence.

This painting by Luchita Hurtado at Hauser and Wirth made me think of the practical demonstration by Brian Cox showing that in a vacuum a feather and a rock (bowling ball) would fall at the same speed.

 “The reason the bowling ball and the feather fall together is because they’re not falling. They are standing still. There is no force acting on them at all.”

“(Einstein) reasoned that if you couldn’t see the background, there would be no way of knowing that the ball and the feathers were accelerating toward the Earth.”

Larry Bell at Hauser and Wirth

‘Although we tend to think of glass as a window, it is a solid liquid that has at once three distinctive qualities: it reflects light, it absorbs light, and it transmits light all at the same time.’ Larry Bell

Everything is Made of Light at Bermondsey Project Space. The artists refer to Jacques Rancière, in his essay, Are Some Things Unrepresentable?, who scrutinizes the challenges faced by images in depicting the world around us.

Mark Kasumovic tackles the problem of trying to represent the invisible through a juxtaposition of images of spaces of discovery and text listing scientific non sequiturs. Mary O’Neill presents us with a world of fragments from which personal narratives must be assembled. Isabella Streffen’s work explores perception and the spaces between digital and emotional communication. Matthew Pell stretches time through capturing light in otherwise transient momentary events.

I felt very in tune with intent of the work here. Particularly Mark Kasumovic’s texts that felt like a snapshot of a research artist’s notebook. All those tantalising lines of enquiry. I liked the premise from Mary O’Neill of the introduction of creatures from the mundanity of an overlooked life, that when situated in a new context, conceive paradise.

Marcus Cope Silver Linings at Peer

Fabulous potent paintings of those vivid memories that are seared into the synapses from times of heightened emotions.

Beautiful and terrible.

Alice Bucknell Swamp City at Hoxton 253 Project Space

Like a dollop of dream topping on a large turd the work offers up a speculative future of luxury ecotourism as investment opportunity in the face of a climate crisis that feels almost inevitable.

Charlotte Johannesson Circuit at Hollybush Gardens.

“Nature speaks in symbols and signs.”

Evolution from weave to code and back again. Beautiful works full of metaphor and shared history.

Reading – Braiding Sweetgrass Robin Wall Kimmerer; reciprocity – don’t take more than you need and always give something back.

Mercurius Patrick Harpur; no easy route to the conjunction of soul, spirit and matter.

Work in progress experimenting with ideas for some new video pieces that will develop from my collaboration with the high altitude balloon student society at Imperial College London and participation in the Continuum residency at Allenheads Contemporary Arts.

We will be attempting to launch a cloud chamber into space and film the outcome. 1803 filming cloud chamber (1)


It will be interesting to see how much cosmic ray activity we can record at high altitude. This is where protons emitted from the sun or distant galaxies crash into the Earth’s atmosphere and break apart.

1901 Cosmic ray decay.jpg

There may be other methods of recording we can try such as stacked layers of very thin plastic sheet which are ionised as the particle passes through and can later be etched to show the resulting track.

On Earth we are also protected from cosmic rays (which are high energy radiation) by the Earth’s magnetic field which is caused by the spinning molten iron core setting up convection currents in a geodynamo process.

1901 gyroscope

I am exploring magnetism and its powers. To be drawn to some powerful source. To fall into a black hole. I am trying ideas of a portal that offers transformation. This is also about returning to Allenheads, being drawn back. A black hole transforms matter, a wormhole deals with exotic matter.


Theoretically, to pass through a wormhole you need negative energy.

‘Negative energy is a concept used in physics to explain the nature of certain fields, including the gravitational field and various quantum field effects. In more speculative theories, negative energy is involved in wormholes which may allow for time travel and warp drives for faster-than-light space travel.’

So a portal that transports or transforms you (matter) could channel any ‘negative energy’ present and this could be dissipated by using black tourmaline which is supposed to clear negative energy. This could be the fuel to ignite the process.

I have a obtained a small two way mirror to test for the portal interface so the viewer can witness their own transformation.

1901 two way mirror

This could involve the vital fluids of Animal Magnetism or suggestion therapy of Mesmerism/ Hypnotism.

1901 iron filing tests (3)


Magnetoreception is the detection of a magnetic field by an organism. We have a protein (a crytochrome) in the human eye which could serve this function of navigation.

1604 vision

How can we be equipped for physical or subconscious navigation/transformation?

I will be looking at tracking the electromagnetic field, sending messages and reading codes for new work to be made responding to this years incredible communications double anniversary, for Lizard Lighthouse (400 years) and Goonhilly Earth Station (50 years: transmission of the first lunar landings). I am excited to have been offered a place on the Lizard Point Residency run in partnership with Mayes Creative, Lumen London and the National Trust.  We will be visiting wireless and semaphore stations along the Lizard coastal path, considering the Scilly Isles 30 miles out to sea and the important prehistoric menhirs offering ‘beacons’ for travel & procession across the land.

I have a lovely frosted glass Fresnel lens (as used in lighthouses) to experiment with.

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With the prospect of using more technology in my work I spent an intense weekend with Aphra Shemza and Jamie Howard at Ugly Duck learning a quick guide to interactive light art. Had a chance to program an Arduino, solder it to a PCB and connect up individually programmable LED’s to respond to sound with variable colour and brightness. Also first time soldering which was very satisfying.

Not sure how I will cope when I start my own project but at least I know what an Arduino looks like now and some of its possibilities. Also it’s good to know Aphra and Jamie do offer support consultation.

I followed this up joining a Flux event hosted by Maria Almena, Oliver Gingrich and Aphra Shemza at The Library where a diverse mix of artists, musicians and various tech geeks from the creative media arts community come together monthly to network and share crits.  Was fun and welcoming.

Out of the Studio..

The Alicja Kwade installation in Space Shifters at Hayward Gallery was clever

and of course I liked Helen Pashgian’s resin spheres

I do like shiny things and reflective surfaces but this show was overload and works became just that – light entertainment.

Pierre Huyghe Uumwelt at The Serpentine Gallery was not so light and felt a bit like being stranded under medication in some apocalyptic lost outpost trying to make sense of incoherent images morphing into something almost but not quite recognisable.

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The walls were sanded to reveal layers like the dissections of the brain that was scanned to produce the data used to try and build an image from the electrical impulses.

19010 pierre huyghe (3)

The dust filled the air, purposefully bred flies swarmed in vain to escape leaving little corpses on the floor.

1901 pierre huyghe (1)

Francis Upritchard Wetwang Slack at the Barbican Curve. Gorgeous glazes and uncanny mystics.

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Left unsure if this was archaeology or evolution.

Attended the talks accompanying In the Dark curated by Genetic Moo, a London Group event at The Cello Factory.

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Talks by Nick Lambert and Sean Clark from the Computer Arts Society who are celebrating their 50th year anniversary this year, and Jack Addis from the Lumen Prize. Artists discussed their practices and Tim Pickup and Nicola Schauerman from Genetic Moo talked about the challenges of working in the dark when overspill of light from other peoples work reduces the impact of all works.

Tim was wishing for a bulb that emits darkness. I remember Cham telling us about the photomultiplier tubes in the dark matter detector at Boulby Underground Laboratory which he said were in effect reverse lightbulbs, in that they absorb photons rather than emit them.

Made use of a free ticket to London Art Fair, Brockett Gallery had managed to shake of the fair vibe in their installation and I was glad to discover the 1974 film Space Is The Place in the Art Projects Screening Room.

1901 art fair john coney 1974

Presumed lost in space Sun Ra returns to do battle, outwit the white NASA scientists and transport the black race to a new planet in outer space.

Also good to see Thom Bridge’s intriguing self portrait of himself and his twin Theo One Ear Both Eyes which was a requirement of their visa application photograph. Shown so you can’t see both portraits at the same time unlike below. Which is Thom?

Thoughtful and prescient video based work looking at natural selection/personal choice from David Blandy and Larry Achiampong in Genetic Automata at Arts Catalyst. What colour skin would you choose? How far back do we reach for our identity? What can I claim as my own? Net migration google map was fascinating to watch.

Where are those phrenology bumps developing on our contemporary skulls?

1901 larry achiampong and david blandy 3

Falling Stars/Stelle Cadenti exhibition at The Crypt Gallery was a display of work created in response to last years Lumen Atina Residency where the group experiences local astronomical sights and dark skies.

Of Stars & Chasms at ArtHouse1 showing stellar work from Julie F. Hill bringing the astronomical sublime to a bodily encounter.

1901 Julie F Hill (1)