Light drawing

This is my entry for a drawing exhibition on the theme of SPEED in Artspace at Plymouth University in January 2012

I found the brief quite hard but then remembered this photograph and it seems to sum up my attitude towards the digital age and the difficulties of keeping up with technology - 'running with the light' so to speak!! 
This is the brief

We live in a fast-paced world. Everything seems to move more
rapidly all the time. Things happen more quickly, we move about more quickly and
life changes more quickly than it did in previous generations. Many, if not all, aspects
of the society we live in – transportation, technology, media, scientific discovery,
even the rate at which cultural trends recycle themselves – are affected by this
apparent speeding up of life. How do artists respond to this? By meeting it head on,
jumping into the stream? Or by slowing down, standing to one side to observe and
reflect from a distance as the pace of life increases. Is it as simple as that, as adopting
one position or the other?

Technically it's not a drawing of course but I feel that the camera is an extension of the hand and can be used much like a pencil - what do you think? How would you respond? Perhaps you could post something on your blog? I'd love to hear your comments. My intention is to enlarge it as near to the maximum size specified for the exhibition 50cms x 70cms - I will have to take some advice on this as I'm never sure of image enlargements - so much technical information to learn these days!! 
Happy New Year to everyone! Wishing you many creative adventures in 2012


Merry Christmas to all my blog followers


Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Let your heart be light 

Thank you for all your comments and support during 2011 - may 2012 be creatively fruitful for us all!


New project 'Painting in the attic'

"In our daily life we proceed constantly through the coexistence of past and future. The essence of what we call spirit lies in the ability to move within the horizon of an open future and an unrepeatable past....the same activity of spirit finds expression as memory and recollection, which incorporates the art of the past along with our own artistic tradition.... tradition means transmission rather than conservation. This transmission does not imply that we leave things unchanged and merely conserve them. It means learning how to grasp and express the past anew" (Hans-Georg Gadamer, The Relevance of the Beautiful 1977)


Fifty years ago!

Fifty years ago I painted this  (an oil painting on hardboard) ...... I am not a painter, it was something I did at school  - now I work with found objects and in a sense this is a found object much like the slide transparencies that I have been working with! When my father died a few years ago the painting came back to me and has remained wrapped up in storage. It's a strange feeling unlocking things from the past.........
this is a detail

I am wondering where that girl who painted this has gone? I don't remember painting it at all! It must have been from an illustration in a magazine or book! Why the man in a boat? It's a mystery! So it's about things lost and forgotten rather than memory - a kind of mourning for lost youth maybe!
Is this my next project? - I have taken the first step and attempted to clean it up - the background has yellowed considerably during the years it hung in my parent's house (they were both smokers) - the photograph hides the yellowing which is interesting. I'm not sure where I'm going with it yet.
I have propped it up in the studio and will live with it there for a while and see what happens!


Beach play

I’ve been absent from my blog for quite sometime and I feel glad to be back. I’ve been suffering from a lack of confidence in my work – not sure what direction I’m taking and it’s worrying me because this is the final year of my degree course – it’s been going on for so long – 6 years to be exact – it is now strange to think of it ending – but maybe this is the beginning also!

I am disillusioned with contemporary conceptual art –I am confused to say the least – not motivated in the slightest and need to get back on track.

It doesn’t help that I am working with the British Art Show as an invigilator and guide –even though it is hugely enjoyable talking to a mixture of  irrate, confused, and interested  visitors about the work in the exhibition – it seems  rather an over exposure to the contemporary art scene! So I’m now thinking why bother? Isn’t there enough stuff that people don’t understand in the world? But that’s not right because I do want to finish my degree. Most of all I want to make work that is honest in my final year! Work that the audience understands without a couple of pages of background information.

I had a tutorial last week and showed my tutor some of the photographs I took during the summer, of the ‘found sculptures’ – he suggested that maybe I could make some interventions myself with found objects

so today I went to play on the beach……… shed, beach 038

I found a washed up orange and some lovely pieces of driftwood and thought of Gabriel Orozco

shed, beach 029

shed, beach 034

It certainly blew the cobwebs away and washed away the blues - I then went on a long coastal walk along the Rame Peninsula, one of my favorite spots – it’s done me a world of good!

shed, beach 039



Listening to Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu in my new studio space, while the summer rain drizzles outside my window, and remembering travelling through Central Australia hearing this extraordinary voice - beautiful voice and beautiful memories!

No excuse for some work now!!


New studio in new house

The last few days I hsve been moving into my new house in Devonport, Plymouth. It is a new new house with no history as I am the first person to live in it! A first for me as I usually buy draughty old Victorian terraces - but not any more, this house is super insulated so I will be toasty warm in the winter with the lowest energy bills I've ever had!! I have room for a studio albeit smallish. All my stuff arrived yesterday out of storage where most of it's been for the last 18 months - I'd forgotten how much studio stuff (let alone kitchen stuff) I'd got - I felt overwhelmed confronting it this morning - the studio space looked like this..........

the kitchen was even worse but I won't go there!!

After a few hours hard work I managed to make some order of it all and left it looking like this1 Looks a lot better and in a few days I'm sure my space will be ready for the next project!

And I even made some inroads in the kitchen department!

I feel much happier tonight!


FAILURE got a First!

Can you believe it - today I heard that my dissertation project on FAILURE got a FIRST - not only that but the University has asked me for a copy for their archive. I am over the moon - not least because of the 22 artists who supported the project with their artwork - I will be contacting you all separately of course but meantime thank you so much for submitting work because without you all it would indeed have been a FAILURE. So what about my last post then? Well I must try harder to fail obviously! This failure thing is complicated! But I have rather fallen in love with the subject and I'm definitely not finished with FAILURE yet!

I have just moved into my new house in Plymouth - so a double celebration! I am so ready to be settled in one place again - I will be spending the next few weeks unpacking boxes and setting up a small studio space. Meanwhile I have been mooching about taking photos of what I am calling 'found sculptures' - things I come across that seem to have a sculptural quality but are not defined as 'sculptures'. Not sure where this is leading but here are a couple from my BLUE BEACH series.........



I have a final assessment for this academic year on Wednesday and am sorting through all my work wondering what to include and what to leave out - there is too much to show it all as we only have 30 minutes and I want to include the 'slide show' (see my post on the Home to Home exhibition) which I consider to be the most important work this year (that could take up all the time so I will need to compile a shorter version). Then I need to move on from the (almost) obsession I have with these images - difficult!

As for other work the 2 images shown here are the ones I have selected to show, chosen from a larger body of photographs taken during the year - still not sure where this work is taking me though - I took them after discovering the work of Uta Barth!

It has been a fragmented year and I have felt largely disconnected due to personal circumstances. This has been reflected in the work I have developed through the overall theme of failure in my praxis project, and linking it to my main practice of working with chance, uncertainty and instability, both of materials and process, and also taking into account my own errors, self-evaluation and limitations. A part of this has included reviewing the unpredictable results of past work that I’ve considered ‘failures’. As time goes by they seem to feel more relevant and right, just not resolved. So I’ve followed the journey of these 'failed' images, using bits of mistakes to create new pieces of work. I have often been guilty of rushing on too fast to the next new, exciting idea, without really interrogating the last one. I seem to have spent a lot of time walking and thinking through ideas too!

I have experimented with other ways of presenting the material, some more successful than others. Printmaking has resulted in images, which exist in their own right but lose something of the quality in the slides. The film I attempted to make from scanned images of the collagraphs has been very disappointing and I have abandoned it for the time being. I have not felt as excited by these diversions and keep returning to the slides and projector. I still consider this as the most successful work produced this year!


I’m finished with Failure!

The book/catalogue is finally finished and was handed in to the University at 12 today – hooray!!  The size is A3 so it is quite a large book. I even made a slip cover to protect it – fiddly but not as difficult as I’d imagined. IMG_1129


I loved making the book and it has sparked lots of ideas for future work but I am glad to have the pressure of the deadline removed and to be able to move on to the studio practice which is going to be assessed in 2 weeks. 

IMG_1133 IMG_1131

As I’ve been concentrating on the book I have done little else so need to give it some serious attention – but tonight I’m having the night off and going to have a glass of wine and see a film at the Plymouth Arts Centre.


Making the 'Failure" book!

The essay for the book is finished and has been approved by my tutor. So I am now concentrating on getting the artist book made. Thank goodness I made the book cover a few weeks ago before the University closed for the Easter vacation! It reopened on Tuesday and I've now had a couple of traumatic days of small failures! It's strange how the things you expect to be difficult turn out to be easier than you anticipated and the things you haven't considered turn out to be the challenges and often the 'failures'! I have to say I was nervous at making such a large book - A3 - as the saying goes - size matters!!!

This is the first stage - the glueing and pressing and waiting ! There's lots of waiting while glue drys! I'm making 2 books - it's always good to have a back up copy in case things go wrong!
Then on to the stitching - this book is thick and needed hand drilled holes for the stitching - something I've not done before as my books never needed more than an awl to make the holes - the drill got stuck in the paper and was impossible to remove - but then I learnt a trick - to crease the drill bit with beeswax and it worked a treat!!
I'd hoped to finish the 2 books today but it was not to be - I was tired and not concentrating and placed the book back to front in the cover of my 'best ' one! So I had to take it apart and won't be able to finish it until Tuesday when the University reopens! Sigh - sometimes these bank holidays are not useful!

I'm becoming an expert at FAILURE...................

Hopefully the next post will be the END!!

Oh and yes I have included the tissue paper header in the book - thank you to all of you that encouraged me to do this.


Feedback on Failure essay

There is no failure. Only feedback. -Robert Allen


Latest Failure!

Outer front cover

Inner front cover

Outer back cover

Inner back cover

The deadline for my dissertation project is looming near (4 May) and I am getting anxious!! I will try to post more frequently now and show you the progress of the Failure project.
The book/catalogue cover is finished and awaiting its pages, the size is A3 landscape - the largest book I've made. I tried to get clearer images to show you but the light has been terrible and the photographs look grey rather than black. I have used blind embossing for the words. I am thinking of including the acid free tissue sheet which was sandwiched between the stencil and the board (the blog header) this would be at the front of the book maybe after the title page - what do you think?
The first complete draft of the catalogue essay is completed and will go to my tutor on Monday. I am still working on the catalogue introduction which is about the work I've received and how the project was set up - I'm not happy with it yet - it sounds pretty boring but maybe that's because I've re read it so many times and I'm my own worst judge!! A failure to say what I really want to say - sometimes the words just don't come! Gosh I've written enough about failure to know it inside out now! Today I am going to transcribe the interview I had with Lisa Le Feuvre - again I'm not sure whether to include the actual transcribe (exhibition catalogues do this frequently) or to refer to it in the introduction! So many editorial decisions - I had no idea!!


What is happening in the salt shed?

I love this work - it is by the American artist Claudia Borgna who collects thousands of plastic bags to create her art. Her blog is HERE she has one of her sculptures at BROOMHILL - I haven't been here yet but I am planning a day out to see the National Sculpture Prize etc. Apparently they have a lovely RESTAURANT there too! SO if you are in the UK and find yourself in North Devon then here is an idea for an art day out!! You can even stay there in the HOTEL


FAILURE project

I thought this was just perfect!
'Royals are torn apart'
You can read more about it HERE
Meantime I'm wondering if I should use it in the book I'm making?


A walk

We've been having some wonderful spring weather here in the UK and yesterday I took a rest from FAILURE and took myself out in the fresh air to blow away the cobwebs!!! I took the bus to Wembury where there is a rather nice National Trust cafe - I treated myself to a coffee and read the Saturday morning paper - I bought one of their delicious Devon pasties (they are slightly different to the famous Cornish pasty and if you find yourself in Devon then woe betide you if you don't call it by it's proper name - a Devon pasty!) They kindly wrapped it in foil to keep it warm - and off I set to walk back to Plymouth along the South West Coastal footpath - around 7 miles. I rambled along and ate my pasty on a pretty beach watching a hazy sea. Then a little bit of failure happened!! I failed to see the footpath sign veering off to the right to avoid the military zone and ended up at Fort Bovisand - it was a lucky failure as I took these photographs of the windows in the fort.

There was also some wonderful rust and weathered wood!

Thank goodness I'd taken my camera but in any case I will make another visit during the summer months. I had thought that the Fort was part of the 2nd World War defense as this coastline is scattered with them but it turns out it was built in the 1800's as a defense against a French invasion! I arrived home tired and took a long soak in a hot bath - It had been a good day and I felt very refreshed and alive!
Today the sun is still shining and I have some pottering jobs to do - tomorrow it's back in the print room to finish my Failure cover for the book I'm making.



I'm spending my time at the moment on the dissertation part of my degree course as the deadline of 4 May suddenly feels not far away given that the University's resources are closed for a month during the Easter holidays - we have 3 choices in this module, a thesis, a critical commentary or a praxis project - I have elected to do the Praxis Project - this is less words than the thesis (3000-5000) but must include a practical piece of work that is separate but linked to your main practice -I am doing an Artist's book about artistic failure called ' A catalogue of Failures' - and have approached it as a mail art project and invited 30 artists to submit one piece of work on the topic of FAILURE all work will be included in the catalogue - there will be no selection as I feel that is part of the failure process - there will be no exhibition as that is one aspect of the failure (I have failed to get a venue for the exhibition) -so the catalogue will exist in it's own right. I now have 23 artists taking part and feel honoured that they have trusted me with their images and words. I feel the weight of responsibility and don't want to FAIL!! Today I have been experimenting with the cover of the book and YES there have been FAILURES but I now know what I want the cover to be like -I have been trying the blind embossing technique on black card - soaking the card did not work and so I have used a dry emboss - here are some images of today....

this is the beautiful old press that I'm using at the University

I feel very fortunate that Lisa Le Feuvre, curator of the British Art Show 2011 and writer of several articles on the topic of FAiLURE agree to give me an interview for the catalogue. Thank you Lisa.
I feel excited about the project and will post more about the work to be included in the book - I'd love to hear about your own views of artistic failure too!


Leeds International Artist's Book Fair

It's been a busy time getting ready for this event last Friday and Saturday - first a long car trip from Plymouth up to Leeds via Leicester where I enjoyed dinner with an old friend. We talked about gardening and art and people we both knew. I'm now staying with one of my daughters and seeing friends up here too. My friend Jane from the days I was at Leeds College of Art shared a table with me at the event - you can see what she thought HERE. It was a great idea to share as it meant we could slope off and look at all the other tables and enjoy a break and cup of coffee. The feedback from visitors was so useful - it was a great learning experience and fun to do - the atmosphere was friendly and buzzy with lots of interest - I even sold work which has inspired me to continue making books. I only made blank books this year but now I am keen to include images, photographs, prints and drawings. I have lots of new ideas. Thank you Jane and to all the people who visited me. I almost forgot a really important part which was meeting Catherine Scriven whose blog I have been following and Susan Krause who has been following my blog. They are also both taking part in my Failure project - more about that later as it is now all coming together. I am also exhibiting in the 'Home from Home' exhibition running alongside the Book Fair with an archive of slide transparencies - I wrote about this in my last post - they are being shown on a slide projector in a walk in wardrobe - you have to peep around the door and operate the remote control to see them - an interactive installation that has a private feel to it - i am pleased with how it has worked and the comments I have received.


'Home from Home' exhibition in Leeds

'With ideas ranging from the domestic to displacement, over 80 artists from 7 different countries have contributed to this years Artist Book Collective exhibition around the theme of Home.

153 Woodhouse Lane, Leeds is the setting for Home from Home, to be shown alongside the 14th Leeds International Artist Book Fair. As a spacious Victorian terrace situated over three floors, it provides the perfect backdrop for this site-specific exhibition.

Artists have responded to the brief through exploring and expanding on the book as a time-based medium, whilst incorporating the notion of the everyday. Traditional book works as well as sculptural objects, text, narrative, video, furniture, audio and performance are represented throughout the show.

The concept of Home evokes various associations, including our experience of domestic spaces in relation to their designated public/private status, as well as the collection and curation of personal possessions within those spaces. Often our sense of self and security is linked to feeling ‘at home’, insinuating that this sensation is not always related to a particular place or building.

At first glance, Home from Home gives an impression of family, refuge and sanctuary, but upon closer inspection, it also begins to uncover associated feelings of anxiety and uncertainty relating to superstition, illness and transience'. (ABC Archive)

I am showing slide transparencies of a family photo archive on an old projector - these will eventually be made into an artist's book of images - this is my statement for the exhibition and an image of one of the slides

My interest is in how memory is constructed; the fragility of memory and the passing of time; memories that have an uncertain relationship with reality. My focus is on the transitory and fragmentary nature of existence, human identity and mortality, and in exploring the tension between the concrete and the abstract - for this exhibition the focus has been on family memories of the home

The exhibition opens on Friday 11th March and runs until 18th - if you are in Leeds do visit and leave your comments. For more information on the other artists taking part go here