12 December 2012

Exhibition December 2012

The image, drawn in ink layers and collected along the lower edge, evolved from the spiral motion of the suspension drawings of unit 1

Contained landscape with curved horizon

2 December 2012

Walking and Drawing, connections through landscape

A brief synopsis of essay and drawing

I wander, progress, uncover, connect and navigate – walking, noticing, thinking.
This path has evolved in time with a purpose and with the rhythm and movement of walking.
I focus here and there and stop, drawn by the physicality of structure or space. I remain standing to sustain the physical energy; the mental attitude; the immediate response, making marks that relate to a visual directness, rejecting the single perspective viewpoint as seen when looking through a window, or at a photographic still frame as if in Claude’s glass.
I walk, I draw from observation to find things out, searching for little differences that can communicate and reveal a link to the world.
How is the landscape seen; what elements might remain in our memory, connecting again a viewer and the landscape?
I look for this residue of differences that might shift perception and open a new response for the individual viewer.

View sketchbook here http://flic.kr/p/dxZ6pn
Walking and drawing from Mortehoe to Morte point, drop down to Rockham Bay, find strange wavelike rock formations, walk up to the sharp blades of Bull point and Baggy point. The next drawing starts where rock layers of two continents collide, buckle and fold, I draw, sitting next to an ancient iron chain. Carry on to follow the coastal path up to Spekes Mill waterfall, past a contrast of old burnt wood, fresh green and bright orange. I stand concentrating on the rhythm of the patterns as the water rushes down. I notice a strange effect caused by the afterimage, motionless surrounding cliffs appear to shake and vibrate in sync with these rhythms.



16 October 2012

Wandering through the summer 2012

A gathering of connections I found this summer.

Chelsea Future Space - 8+1=16. Eight disparate artists linked via the crossed lines of  Donald Smith's colour/space paintings that act as a signpost to fresh connections.

Tate Britain - Patrick Keiller

The Robinson Institute goes on a fictitious walk in the British landscape, bringing together global politics, economics and history related though objects, book, film and a selection of work from the Tate collection. The presentation of this disparate collection is the linking factor.

A small selection
Michael Landy - Herb Robert, Fiona Banner - Swarm, Paul Nash - Dead Sea, Richard Long - Road and River Crossing, 
photographs of an oil line, air force base, Greenham Common, plaque for Robert Hooke who first identified the living cell, motorway signs with lichen growing and Rock art found in Northumberland.

A design for the Morris car in 1962 prompts a sudden awareness that the more I look, the more connections appear personally relevant to my own history and old photographs. Am I a viewer or part of this history?

Family history from Access to Archives
A.J. Dawson came from an old engineering family, with a grandfather
who was a co-worker with George Stephenson on his 'Rocket' steam
engine, A.J. Dawson spent some years with the Hillman Motor
Company rising to works manager and where he designed the 1913
Hillman Nine. In June 1918 he left to set up the Dawson Company to
produce his own car the 11-12 hp Dawson, a well-designed
and high quality car launched in 1919.

The company was wound up in 1921 as it couldn't compete with cheaper cars such as the Morris but my family continued to speak out for the workers and family lore states that they asked the question that prompted Lloyd George's speech a 'land fit for heroes...'

Letter to the Right Honorable David Lloyd George, PM, from the
Managing Committee of the Fund relating to an event arranged
(including a horticultural show, a concert, and dancing) to take
place at Pinley House, Coventry, in an attempt to remove 'the
apparent misunderstanding between capital and labour' classes,
which requests that the PM attend and speak a few words.

Chelsea BA Show - Very professional with widely varied work, several referring to past artists, some are fun like the white room with draughty holes, the leaking, crumpled black lumps and several others are weirdly new but with lots of space for everyone it looked good.

Wimbledon BA and MA Shows

Cork Street - Alan Cristea Gallery - Naum Gabo, Constructivist, Constellations with intersecting lines   1950/9

Opus Nine


Blue Circuit,

Cork Street - Karl Hyde - What's going on in your head when your dancing?

It's the movement he sees internally as he moves on stage. I have just started working in this type of concertina sketchbook, the presentation here looks good. The lighting helps avoid a clinical no touch museum aesthetic but accentuates the commercial.

Coastal paths - Walking in North Devon near Morthoe,

Views that motivate new work.
Rockham Bay - wave rock forms

Hartland Quay view from the slipway, a collision of two super continents caused the buckled and folded layers.

Leonardo da Vinci - Anatomist
Fascinated by how da Vinci needed to understand every element of movement, he injected molten wax into the aortic valve of an ox heart to make a glass mould. He observed the movement of grass seed and water as the eddies formed, vortices which are vital to close the heart valve at the end of each beat. Discovering and recording something not to be confirmed by scientists until the 20th century.

National Gallery - Metamorphosis: Titian 2012

Today's industrial innovation joins 3 Titian paintings inspired by Ovid's Metamorphosis, 3 artists with their individual response to these paintings, 3 choreographers, 3 composers, 3 new dance performances and poetry.

Piccadilly Circus Circus -Feathers, feathers everywhere, enclosing Piccadilly Circus and dramatically transforming it from the usually busy, noisy and colourful space into something white floating and...unexplainable.

Druids Grove - Walking down the pathway opposite Box Hill as it steeply descends into the ancient grove I am in awe of the way the ground disappears and how these massive (hundreds of years) old yew trees rise vertically from the severity of the incline.

Turner Contemporary, Margate - Tracey Emin, She Lay Down Deep Beneath The Sea
Inside is Tracey Emin's love for art, beyond is the 'infinite vastness of the sea' as described by the exhibition guide. Bachelard in the ' Poetics of Space' discusses Baudelaire's use of the word vast as something that has to be spoken, vocal, as a breath that recalls infinite calm. Emin's blue figure is laying on the seabed implying emotion, love, loss and loneliness. Emin in conversation with Stephen Fry wants to draw with her own voice,
 'I want to get rid of realistic drawing, I don't want it now'.

Wimbledon Seminar - Thinking through drawing
3 days of intellectual presentations from divergent disciplines, so lots more to come.

Jerwood Drawing Prize - Keen to see how the drawings would be presented at the Jerwood Gallery. I was student help during the judging process, and it was good to see the concentration and respect given to all works.
 'The successive parade of drawings seemed at times endless, it became apparent that their sheer variety was testimony to the vitality of contemporary drawing in this country'. Stephen Coppel
Unfortunately the excess of variety and quantity has overfilled the gallery space.

Birmingham Museum - Interestingly the traditional paintings hung in the entrance gallery show views of the rural idyll opposite the power of natures forces.

Ikon Gallery - I am taken back to the 1960s in the Ikon gallery with the colour and clean simple lines of Tony Arefin's graphics from the late 1980s. He often credited it Arefin & Arefin to jokily assume a corporate brand and imply multiple identities. The installation of his work gives the appearance of an open and accessible display and the innovative coloured metal concertina shelf  is an effective idea, but I am not allowed to touch. However I can handle several books in the resources room and I really want to look at the Arefin designed Jasper Morrison book he made after giving a talk that shockingly actually contained no words 'A world without words'.

Yael Bartana's very moving trilogy of films And Europe Will Be Stunned is a cry for the 3.3 million missing Jews to return to Poland, the country needs their difference. The actors speech is made to an empty, abandoned and overgrown stadium. 'With one colour, we cannot see. With one culture, we cannot feel...'

The next room shows a happy group of workers who rejoice as they build a wooden structure in what appears to be a rural idyll. The construction finally reflects a Nazi concentration camp with barbed wire and tower. The total happiness inside is a troubling concept.

In the final film death brings the people together it's 'a new utopian vision of collective unity that acknowledges difference and competing voices'  says the exhibition guide.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery - Looking for the Industrial paintings of Edwin Butlers Bayliss’ Black Country.  The son of a local ironmaster, his iron working and mining scenes were inspired by the changing landscape of the 19th century, (unfortunately the date is misprinted in the catalogue, it doesn't start until January). However I do find a print of Elizabeth, or Big Bertha as she is known at home, a huge blast furnace that dominated the local housing estates, built on disused collieries. She was demolished with the decline of the steel industry, this print is a poignant reminder of that industrial landscape. Invention and innovation created and transformed the Black Country out of a rural countryside and this estate was built to house steel workers. Big Bertha's demolition in 1980 has definitely improved the view but unemployment has ended this new utopia.

Frieze Art Fair, London – Grander than previous years and the art is shinier and a little more decorative (not necessarily a good thing).

Below are a few examples of the artist showing paper works:

Naama Arad has hung a huge vertical blind made out of zerox prints
Antonis Donef uses a fountain pen dipped in indian ink and  
 builds images over old book pages

16 May 2012

Presentation One

Suspension series

Charcoal on paper

Charcoal on paper

Pigment on paper

Pigment on paper

Pigment on paper

10 May 2012

Sketchbook thoughts

Sketchbook thoughts.   Click on image to enlarge

From the glimpse to the technical plan - pencil on sketchbook

Inside my head - pencil on sketchbook

Watching a drop of water - pencil on sketchbook

Drop pattern, watching it drip
Watching drip rhythm - pencil on sketchbook

Drop rhythm
Listen to your eyes - pencil on sketchbook

Coiled and Twisting form


A shell is built from the inside out. A visual analysis of the space inside

Poem found in The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard
So now I have become a decorative drawing
Sentimental scrolls
Coiling spirals
An organized surface in black and white
An yet I just heard myself breathe
Is it really a drawing
Is it really I.

Pierre Albert Birot

Click on an image to enlarge

9 May 2012

Drawing Without words  my  Post Graduate Forum talk

Making some recent drawings, I had to remind myself to study the object but look without recognition, to let go of any expectations of how it might look and just observe it as it really is. So to quieten the inner narrative I deliberately cut out thoughts of knowing what it is or looks like because that reading will lead the drawing and it will then look like the thing I expect to see.

 Thought and language is not the same thing”
Professor Nancy Kanwisher.  From the Institute for Brain Research, in Massachusetts:

Kanwisher uses the metaphor of the brain as a “Swiss Army knife” containing a lot of different tools rather than a single all purpose tool.

Specialised regions for specific cognitive tasks have been discovered for the perception of faces, bodies, words and an area that specializes in processing places.

Recognition has no words it is wired straight to those brain hot spots.

Observation over a prior knowledge remains important to visual understanding and communication. A viewer will recognise an experience before being aware of what the actual event is, this instant interpretation is used continuously and reflects our inbuilt knowledge as we glimpse fragments throughout our everyday life.
 It is our brains that do the hard work to complete partial information and understand the things around us without us ever recognising this process.

Unconsciously working hard to complete the unfinished or ambiguous image, the brain is always searching for recognisable qualities. It’s how our brain sees everything, only later adding our knowledge, experience, memory and culture.

In the glimpse there is ambiguity and smudginess as opposed to the drier accuracy at the other end of the scale of the unambiguous, academic or technical drawing discipline.
The connections between seeing and drawing can become a constituent of an abstract image.

In “Great Drawings of the world “ the author, Una Johnson says:

drawings are the result of the artists efforts to organise a vision whether it is visible or invisible to the naked eye, into a structural whole
This requires the ability to select and emphasise differing elements and eliminate inconsequential details”.

I use observation to understand visually not literally, looking for the differences between things, together with qualities like density and space that can inform an abstract drawing.

9 March 2012

Drawn from the National

Walking through the gallery   -   click on an image to enlarge

Speed was essential to make these studies. I noticed when looking at the complicated figures in Carrado Giaquinto's painting that the less I looked at my paper and just let my eye follow the shapes around the canvas I could draw letting go of thought. My hand and eye made a direct connection and seemed to ignore any other thinking.
Moses stricking a rock - pencil on sketchbook
Carrado Giaquinto 1703-1766, Moses striking a rock
The action and rhythms of the figures and clothing, enhance the flow of water as it pours from the rock and down through the image, to the stillness of the smooth puddle in the bottom right hand corner.

Slowly spreading puddle - pencil on sketchbook
This slowly spreading puddle looks peculiar but acts as if to contain the fall of the crowd in the bottom right corner.

The Tribute Money - pencil on sketchbook

The Tribute Money, about 1560-8, Titian

Rain, Steam, Speed J.M.W. Turner - charcoal on sketchbook

all is without form and void - charcoal on paper
Rain, Steam, Speed, 1844 William Turner
" The artist delights to go back to the chaos of the world...all is without form and void; they are pictures of nothing, and very like". Hazlitt

7 March 2012

Energy within the systems

Leonardo searched through drawing to understand universal principles and the living energy within these systems. Through intense observation he developed a rational approach in his search for suitable forms.

Leonardo - Eddy
Leonardo - Eddy

“The mind of a painter must be like a mirror, which always changes to the colour of the thing that is in front of it and is filled with as many images as there are things before it”.

He was scientifically driven to understand the visible motion of waves and currents and needed to communicate the power of water to move and destroy. Initially he visually describes the construction of water and the patterns that continually emerge.

Leonardo - Coils of rain and lightening
Leonardo - Coils of rain and lightening

Leonardo - Deluge
Leonardo - Deluge

Leonardo - Flowing
Leonardo - Flowing

“The artist who paints according to his talent and his eye, without using his mind, is like a mirror reflects everything that stands before it, without knowing what it is”.

Leonardo da Vinci –Landscapes and plants Edited Ludwig Goldscheider- Phaidon Press-1952

Leonardo connects man and the world, breathing with the ebb and flow of blood as rivers and bones as mountain ranges which he describes as “Chains of the World” and they are determined by the flow of waters rain, hail, snow, melted ice.

In his Deluge series he developed a visual reality from his thoughts of unseen events, what might happen if... repetition and changes of scale express apocalyptical possibilities.
So it becomes landscape in a flux, storms, the end of the world as it returns to an original state of chaos, that is the natural state of the world.

He kept hese drawings as an archive that he could return to when answering visual problems, (they were found in his studio at his death) but were they able to be understood at that time by the observer?
Michael Craig Martin talking at the National Gallery -pencil on notepad

Michael Craig Martin talking at the National Gallery