Wednesday, 29 December 2010


spent christmas in france with friends at imprints but spent 2 days in lyon before and as ever when in a new space i checked out the visitor offering – some recommendations – a little out of town but set in its own grounds with a great car park! is the lyon museum of contemporary art which had 2 fabulous shows - bruce nauman and trisha brown – a wonderful piece of programming enabling the reviewing of both bodies of work. also within the building was work that i only seem to see exhibited in regional galleries on the continent – work of huge scale in huge spaces which seem implausible – giant blocks of ice melting in the gallery, massive (20 m x 5m) colour field paintings and action installations the size of a building. tricky to find but worth it the Institute d'art contemporain housed in an old school - it seeks to show work that challenges the notion of what art is a trek stuck way out within the suburbs but worth it for the work of Vincent Lamouroux who had rebuilt his space and Francois Curlet’s wallpaper based on rorschach blots. while not eating tete du veal or boudin noir with apples and mashed potato closer in town was the wonderful lyon museum of religious art which had a temporary exhibition of pieces from the Urals - an incredible collection of statues in polychrome wood but the standout ‘exhibit’ was the fourvier basilica – i was taken with the stone work on the outside. i also have to mention the quite bizarre museum of the miniature which is as it says a museum of miniature stuff – the choice to recreate in miniature spaces not usually celebrated – stairwells, hotel corridors and the bottom of a swimming pool made it quite wondrous - there was a feeling that somebody had read Bachelard's The Poetics of Space or Perec's Species of Spaces and then there was the usual city images for the collection – covered shop fronts, interesting use of fabric in building work and then there was cheese.

Friday, 17 December 2010


helping a friend dig underneath his house in an attempt at underpinning we came across a collection of shoes 3m down. preserved in the mud infill they were underneath a house that is over 100 years old – the stitching had perished but the punched holes and traces of stitching remain – quite a find.
meanwhile i am looking at my work with a view to exhibiting at University College Suffolk who are organising an exhibition with past and present teaching staff. i worked at what was Suffolk Art College at the wonderful High Street purpose build space when i first moved to Suffolk. initially working on the foundation course, making books and printing and then with Michael Lumb on the first cohort of the modular fine art course – focusing on site specific work before it was fashionable. At present it houses an exhibition from the Saatchi collection.

Thursday, 16 December 2010


another day of timetabling at nuca – a momentary glance at the wall of the textiles print room led me to the dye splatter where the screens are washed – and a thought about the recent visit to John Lathams flattime house and the conversation around the ‘one second drawings’ – the spray-gun paintings that dealt with temporality and the idea of the ‘least event’- the idea of a moment of existence - the shortest departure from a state of nothingness – a small moment but one that creates an infinitely complex image. well it took me away from excel spread sheets for what seemed a lifetime.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


A wonderful day in London with the ma book art course students – first stop the british library to see their latest show – Evolving English – - a truly superb show that explores the roots of the english language and its development. I chose to focus on 3 ideas - The physicality of the letter forms - the use of different type fonts and how the characteristics of the letters communicate the content of the words. How a language is centrally controlled - how to translate a sound into a word which in turn is to be used as a set of rules. How the past can inform the present - there are many examples within the show when the printed matter from the past enables us to reflect on the present. After lunch we visited St John Soane's museum and the Hunterian museum - the purpose of the afternoon was to visit two very different exhibition spaces - to compare and contrast. the students were asked to consider – the idea of the collection – to ask what are the narratives that are presented? the role and look of the labels – what do they communicate? the display of the objects – how are they presented and what systems are used?

Thursday, 9 December 2010


gave a new lecture on the city and its relationship to textiles today – the presentation explores two strands – the concept of the line (thread) as a conduit and the cover (sheet) as a device for shelter, intertwined with the idea of the role of textiles in building what makes a city from a theoretical linear time-based perspective. all this as ever derived from photos taken abroad.

Friday, 3 December 2010


battling through the snow this week has been tricky but worth it for the interesting work i have been involved with – NUCA has seen 2 days of assessments – some very exciting year 3 work on the BA textiles illustrating real potential for innovation with process and skill to the fore.
meanwhile at Camberwell the first crit of the year - for me it was wonderful to see some good solid thinking with ideas embedded within. in the afternoon we visited the flat time house – the base for the john latham foundation – a truly thrilling space full of rigorous thinking and possibilities. the 'conversation pieces are a joy and something familiar in terms of my understanding of the potential and space of the book but i was particularly taken with a table of ‘off cuts’– altered books, or pieces of books found after johns death laid out on a wooden table – somehow they had the quality of ancient objects – known but unknown, something to be deciphered.

Friday, 26 November 2010


I have been working on the bookwork structures this week – experimenting with materials and looking for new ways of exploring them – this has led me to look at structure systems by heinrich engel – a wonderful book full of possibilities - meanwhile we are still deep into assessments at NUCA

Sunday, 21 November 2010


a week of assessments and tutorials at NUCA. i also gave a presentation to year 1 around the use of journals - lateral thinking and problem solving - was surprised to be slightly critical of Akran Kharn at snape this weekend - – a piece in several movements some of which were relentlessly wonderful especially the opening section – it is amazing how much visual mileage one can get out of a sheet of plastic and lighting and with the addition of pounding music by Nitin Sawhney it became a thoughtful experience. a site i have come across this week that will inform the teaching is as well as the really interesting work shown at - scroll down to the SPAN studio link. i am going to start adding labels to the posts for ease of tracking -

Saturday, 13 November 2010


friday - another faster than sound at snape and quite possibly the most sublime so far - called Spheres & Splinters – a collaboration between Tod Machover who together with cellist Peter Gregson, ambsonic sound designer Ben Bloomberg and United Visual Artists created a multi-layered 3D soundscape with stunning yet wonderfully reserved and considered visuals - the walk back to Iken Cliff afterward in the dark was truly awe-inspiring – the whole evening was something that i am still thinking about – did i witness the beginning of something truly new? today has seen me giving a presentation and running a workshop for the Eastern Region Textile Forum around the idea of concepts and meanings it was a successful event with much thinking and many starting points for the members to go away with – along with a simple yet loaded small book that was made in the workshop. it was also nice to catch up with last some of years MATC students. here is a link to the presentation in two parts -

Monday, 8 November 2010


i have been in love with TED for 3 years, using it as inspiration for myself as well as the students I work with and on Saturday I finally got to sit in a Ted conference – a truly wonderful experience. Highlights at TEDx Aldburgh see review here have to be being introduced to David Toop and talking for 10 mins about teaching and learning and then letting him know that Ocean of Sound changed my thinking about sound . He talked about silence and the idea of when learning a language you have to learn the silence of that culture – wonderful focus for the day. William Orbit was truly charming and revealingly honest – I remembered that I had brought strange Cargo when it came out as Thomas Dolby (who had superbly curated the day) referenced it in the Q&A. United Visual Artists were a good taster to next week’s faster than sound. I had seen Tim Exile at a previous faster than sound where he bombed but here his knob twiddling was awesome – if I get the chance to see him doing his thing live I will be there. The objectsoundinstallationmachine by Felix Thorn in the Hoffman building was mesmerising It was a joy to watch again thoughtful recorded talks by David Byrne , Itay Talgram and Derek Sivers and to be inspired to tears by Benjamin Zander
What a fantastically inspiring day.

Friday, 5 November 2010


yesterday was a successful day at NUCA –i held a presentation and ran a seminar with Year 2 Surface Design around the assessment criteria in the morning and the afternoon centred around tutorials exploring the new report that takes the place of the thesis - I have spent the day creating a number of bookworks using folding sheet material that I had layered up and laminated during the week. i have been creating experimental structures in miniature that are quite formal and highly structured but the use of the constructed material to build the work has led to accepting and then celebrating the qualities of the material. so the structures sag and bend affirming their materiality – i was reminded of the idea of wabi-sabi found in the Japanese fashion exhibition at the barbican at the moment.

‘From an engineering or design point of view, "wabi" may be interpreted as the imperfect quality of any object, due to inevitable limitations in design and construction/manufacture especially with respect to unpredictable or changing usage conditions; then "sabi" could be interpreted as the aspect of imperfect reliability, or limited mortality of any object, hence the etymological connection with the Japanese word sabi, to rust.’

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


working on a number of fronts - continuing the folding and developing new book structures - the education work has moved into the idea of practice and a session with Year 1 at NUCA looked at developing a context and presenting a interior, fashion and site specific brief. the weekend saw me at a celebration at Shotley in Suffolk watching a lone twin education project - interesting to watch one of the performances through the traffic from one side of the road to the other. thought that it said a lot about rural village life and the car – how about a straight theatre performance with the audience on one side of a road and the performers on the other

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


a good day at camberwell – a day of considering the concept of bookness and setting up some of the philosophical thinking behind the making of books

meeting friends at the Barbican so I managed to get to the wonderful Japanese fashion show again - really struck by the image of the clothes off the body as much as the thinking behind the clothes – especially that of Issey Miyake and the idea of flatness – the work for comme des garcons and the 1976 make a piece of cloth was inspiring.

Monday, 25 October 2010


i have spent some time last week working on presentations for both the BA textiles museum project at the castle museum in norwich and the MA book art structure introduction at camberwell. which will include how my practice is informed by the theory of ‘bookness’ meanwhile the weekend saw me at wingfield barns for the wingfield art awards – looking at the work of suffolk A Level students work – including their sketch books. recently my hard drive had to be rebuilt and some films have resurfaced - mainly insects and animals – today has been all about working on them –. here are some stills.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


first day at Camberwell and straight into Symposium 1 for the MA Book Arts – its educational purpose is to create a space for the students to present their history and share their aspirations for their time on the course - its also the starting point for me in terms of getting to know the students.
below are extracts from the notes i made during their presentations – they outline some of their intentions for the year as well as explaining their route to book - the wide ranging cultural reference points within the group will be exciting for everybody – it promises to be a diverse and truly global experience.

So I started using the office resources......
De-evolution of communication
Society of certainties
In-between space
Exploring the activity of the book
Typography as image
Giving letters a timescale
Information transfer through divergence
When does a book stop being a book?
Undermining the library space
Expectations of the book
Importance of the shelf
Use of book as tool
How to describe the universe to somebody else
I want to build a utopia
To make a book without content
What is a person to a place?
Authorial control
Identity of the book
Relationship between audience and maker
Accidental book
Translation of journey
Interaction between people and people
Building a physical internet
Finding a voice through book

Monday, 18 October 2010



a busy two weeks which has centred around my work at NUCA on the BA Textiles course at NUCA – we spent a week with the first years residing at Hopton Holiday Park as a bonding/drawing exercise. an experience which i am sure has furnished the students with a number of lasting memories. at Hopton an exercise that worked really well culminated in the students creating a motto or creed with which to hold onto and work towards.

Braving the elements pays off
Too many drawing not enough partying
Work hard play hard
Just do something and try not to worry about it going wrong
Take what you know, learn what you don’t and make something creative
Look twice draw once
Try everything quit nothing
Live with eyes wide
Finding thoughts to think nothing
Surroundings with restrictions
Do what you want to do and enjoy
Think wider use more make better
Make the most of everything
In the right mind you can open your thoughts if you approach it with what you’ve got
There are no boundaries
When drawing loosen up and have fun
Be open to new ideas and ways of thinking
Capture and embrace every moment and opportunity
More makes a difference
Keep looking at the small detail
Live for today not tomorrow
Do what works for you
The key is to always work
Live in the colour
4D thinking
The positives always outweigh the negatives
Experiment with / into your hearts content
Think different and look further
Have more than one idea to go further
Don’t be afraid just do it
Challenge and explore all concepts
Time is precious
There is no right and wrong
Don’t give up
Indecision is a tool use it
Analyse restrictions to become perceptions

working with Norfolk Museum Service in the castle museum in the decorative arts section has been a real pleasure – looking at the idea of context – the bibliography of an object .

Monday, 4 October 2010


a weekend of folk and fungi - friday night saw me at snape watching a country and jazz folk cabaret - know as the results of a Gwyneth Herbert residency at Snape – an exploration of the sea but really a gig which was good and then a lot of stuff in the second half with the Rubber Wellies folk band and Heidi James (without the promised film element of the performance) and if anybody else comes to Aldburgh for a residency and records themselves walking on shingle I might implode with frustration – it’s not interesting and we have heard it all before. the fungi foraging course at Minsmere was most excellent and could become my new obsession - free beautiful food.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


the new term at NUCA has started - i have the timetable for camberwell and the weekend saw me at snape watching the latest faster than sound - most excellent the evening was an exploration of the brain and sound with composers Mira Calix, Anna Meredith, design research studio and neuroscientist Professor Vincent Walsh- the installation by Loop ph was stunning - meanwhile I have spent a couple of days working on the diptych photographs of woods - this has resulted in some experiments with digital printing and water along with folding. the work is becoming a mixture of work that needs to be in the hand and on the wall.

Monday, 13 September 2010


well the final Textile Culture show at NUCA is up and running - check out the link to the online catalogue

my forward to their handout -

MA Textile Culture 2010

I couldnt understand it
For I felt I was rich
And I told them of the love
My momma sewed in every stitch
And I told em all the story
Momma told me while she sewed
And how my coat of many colors
Was worth more than all their cloth

Coat of many colours – Dolly Parton

I have great pleasure in celebrating the achievements of the students work in what is the last MA Textile Culture Graduate Exhibition. You will see a wide ranging approach to the idea of textile activity but at the core of the work is a meticulous examination of the individual’s relationship to making and thinking.

The individual student is at the centre of their learning, identifying their interests, defining their research and developing strategies to critically examine their ideas. All this is undertaken with the support of the experienced staff working on the course; enabling the students to develop their own vision of what textile culture is, for them.
When we are unsure of something we often attempt to define it in the negative; by what it is not. The MA Textile Culture course at Norwich University College Arts holds a position both politically and conceptually of positive inclusivity. It recognises the interconnected world it exists within whilst positioning a critical examination of the function, meaning and experience of textiles at its centre.
The students were encouraged to seek out links, forge connections between ideas and to thread, yes thread, ideas together to form a matrix which gave the course the feeling of constant renewal. The ubiquitous nature of textiles can make it demanding – identifying research routes can be a challenge. I am very proud that each student has succeeded and is producing exciting, unique work.
Norwich University College of the Arts remains committed to the study of textiles, within the context of the needs of the cultural and creative industries, through the development of a new MA in Textile Design which is launched in September 2010.

Les Bicknell - Acting Course Leader MA Textile Culture.

Thursday, 2 September 2010


one of the real pleasures of being employed in higher education is working with other creative professionals. i have spent the past week assessing the MAs for Drawing, Writing the Visual and Textile Culture at NUCA. alongside the responsibility it is a privilege to spent time with the students work, this experience is enhanced by doing it with people such as Ashley Stokes and Andrea Holland for MAWTV, Caroline Wright and Colin Nicholas for MAD and Victoria Mitchell and Sue Maton for MATC

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


an interesting week so far – it really feels like the beginning of the end for MATC at NUCA with all the admin associated with winding down. meanwhile last night went to see Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks - we have seen it all before – endless space - hostile moon - military hardware - silver suits etc – but i was struck by the awesome stupidity of the whole idea – especially the endless footage of various astronauts taking it in turns to have their photographs taken in front of the stars and stripes - the revelation gave me a moment to consider the preposterous American imperialist experience that was moon exploration – couldn’t help thinking of other ways in which this footage has been presented - Koyaanisqatsi - would be a starting point and recent ideas around space travel would include Moon - and thinking about space and cowboys - American Astronaut – this is a link to a clip enjoy

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

if anybody wants to know about current teaching and education practice they should listen to this program.

meanwhile hanging shows at NUCA

Friday, 13 August 2010


after a break back to work organising the final show of MATC at NUCA - should be a good one if all the students proposals are followed through

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


last night saw the culmination of the years work for the ma book arts students at camberwell with the private view for the final show - as ever it was a busy, wonderful night that brought together many generations of book art students from both the past alongside prospective students – this was alongside people from all over the world who had come to look, celebrate and buy. it was a fitting testimony to the exciting year of research and work both on and off campus – the work explores the nature of the book and presents a wide approach to the discipline of the book.

Sunday, 11 July 2010


after a week of assessing the masters at camberwell and then running seminars and organising for final shows at norwich it was good to see some work by others – the opening of the old art school space in ipswich (where i worked before it was closed down) - showed work from the saatchi collection - it was well hung but the speeches stuck in the throat when the politicians talked about supporting a new renaissance for the arts in ipswich when the exhibition officers post was recently cut at the town hall galleries, the arts in schools advisor post terminated at the county council and the buildings schools for the future programme, where creativity highly valued within the designs, decimated – anyway a more honest experience was to be found at the museum of east anglian life with the gypsy roma traveller talent quest finals -– some wonderful music from the polish roma community – the dance house in ipswich held big dance goes east - – introduced by angela rippon – the academy kids were excellent and zoonation very professional but the highlight as ever was new art club - – if you ever see them advertised anywhere do yourself a favour and get to see them - i once saw them at lattitude where they created a dance piece mixing saturday night feaver with IRA kneecapping wearing with balaclavas you had to be there to believe it!