Friday, 25 February 2011


a week in venice – where to start – it really is a place that enables creative thought and possibilities to flourish – staying away from the biennale site and the arsenale in a part of venice that was unfamiliar meant that new places were unearthed – highlights have to be seeing Hieronymus Bosch at the Palazzo Grimani – only three paintings but superbly hung within this conserved space – connecting what was to what is gave an indication of the life of the space. they had hung a stone angle in the same room as The Ascent to the Empyrean from the Vision of the Afterlife – truly transformational. the Academia was a mess of rebuilding but I wanted to look at the representation of cloth and consider a new line of research – the fold, specifically book structure and smocking – but coming across - The Ambassadors Return to the Court Inglese by Vittore Carpaccio the question of association was posed – is the fold and therefore smocking evil? – more of this later - looking at my notes the name Vittore Carpaccio appears often – his cycle of paintings for Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni were quite extraordinary – a real treat especially as the space felt like it really hadn’t changed since 1555 and then there is the extraordinary alterpiece The Ten Thousand Martyrs of Mount Ararat with its quite bizzare Michael Moorcock/Ron Hubbard science fiction image of heaven. finally a couple of images that i am sure will find their way into lectures quite soon.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


yesterday was spend in a staff development day at NUCA – a really interesting set of presentations from course leaders set out ways they are addressing the core concerns of the new framework within their individual courses – studio practice, contextual studies, business and professional and personal development planning. they all looked at how the courses deliver this part of the curriculum holistically. on the BA textiles we have been doing this for some time – looking at new models of delivering and how we can integrate – i find that i am delivering a lot of this and am excited by the many opportunities to introduce theory to the students that gives practical examples to enable them in the fulfilment of their aspirations. this way of thinking is something that i worked on with Humberside Arts in schools in the early 80s so it feels a little like a return to something familiar. oh and another example of smoking architecture.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


i have returned to the Alde and Elder project – they have developed into and have created a web site - which is a space for ideas... – for i have joined - are a growing number of Suffolk artists and writers who are interested in coastal and climate change. the website is an attempt to explore these changes and our relationship with our environment here on the Suffolk coast. early days yet and i have to post my thoughts/ideas/projects
the other space that i am now connected to is it really is the place to find out what’s going on – specifically in Suffolk.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


as part of the project for rewind i have been looking at family photographs – the idea would be to print these on sheer fabric – see application below -

What is your story, our story? It is the story of all of us, centred on the idea of ‘unfound’ photographs.

What does the past look like? What does memory feel like? The disjoined photograph presents a fragmented experience, there is no before or after only a frozen timeless moment. The work could be seen as a puzzle – with the role of the viewer one of completing the uncompleted narrative. Not in the physical sense, with the hand but in the mind. The work enables its audience to build their own story, to imagine, to impose.

The work recognises our individual need to connect, to make sense of our existence and presents us with the opportunity to reflect on this phenomenon enabling us to build our own world, to develop our relationship with the past, making sense of one’s own past through the history of others. The work also provides a space for private contemplation to reflect on one’s own sense of loss, mourning for the past of others and the possible futures for ourselves.

Who are the people in these photographs? Do they talk to us? What do they say? What are they telling us? The once meaningful photographs have lost their position. The dead do not speak and often we find ourselves waiting too late to ask questions of the people with answers. But are the thoughts and recollections of the elderly the truth or one of many truths? The facts, figures, dates and partly remembered names and relationships never really add up to a satisfactory experience for the questioner. What are we asking and why do we want answers? There is a need to connect, to have a context. This loss of history, loss of story means that we find ourselves imposing a narrative. The photograph presents us with the evidence, the opportunity to connect with the idea of legacy, to leave behind a mark a permanent statement, although it too will be something that will disappear over time.

We as individual artists present and in fact represent monumental movements and events in 20th century human experience. Les Bicknell’s images talk of the industrial revolution, his families and the western world’s migration from rural to urban living, the move from farming to industry and the factory mechanisation. Caroline McNamara’s images add to our understanding of the global Jewish experience. Her personal archive of images taken by long dead relatives in a hospital in Poland run by the Austrian Army in the middle of the First World War talk of the extraordinary in the ordinary, the everyday activities and objects that stand for all of our lives.

The physical qualities of the materials used in the work are very particular. The photographs are digitally printed on semi-transparent fabric enabling the image to be both present and absent. As the audience moves around and between the pieces the fabrics fragility creates a luminal surface of impermanence. Its physical presence constantly changes inventing and reinventing the audience’s experience. Because of the quality of the material the images are printed on various areas of several separate images combine in space to become a hybrid image of the past.

The light shade, an everyday object from the photograph has been re-made and used as a device to animate the image. They have been wired up to provide a light source. This light both illuminates and obliterates the image. The concept of illumination acts as a metaphor for the act of looking. Illuminating the past, shining a light both on the image and the person looking. The texts made physical by light, through the cutting of text in the material, reference the idea of the authority of knowledge and its power to enlighten.

The text physically joined to the image (1) acts as both a text label, a framework for the understanding of the work and also a text in its own right, a starting point for a discussion around the imagery. This text can be read and reread on multiple levels with multiple narratives in any order.

Within the installation as a whole there is a sense of revelation in how the work is encountered. As the individual viewer looks at the hanging pieces the idea of the work as an expanded book, revealing and concealing, folding and unfolding is informed by the idea and the possibility of the ‘page book’ experience as the viewer walks through the large scale ‘pages’ of the ‘book’. The room itself becomes a book – creating a new way of reading which will envelop the reader and presenting an all-encompassing viewing experience.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


a full day yesterday – the teaching at Camberwell saw me running two seminars that had presentations at their core – we started to consider the catalogue for the final show and what its role might be for this year’s student cohort its interesting to look at all the catalogues since the beginning of the course - it really is an interesting archive - and to remember the conversations that have taken place over time – the introduction of the virtual and how the group dynamics inform the intention around the catalogue as well as the final design. in the afternoon there was also a conversation around research and its relationship to the final essay supported by this year’s part-time students who have already gone through the process it was a very full presentation with lots to consider – but the possibilities are endless.
before getting the train home (late!) and going for a drink in the city with a friend i managed to see the second in the must see shows in London at the moment the Gabriel Orozco exhibition is magnificent there are the signature pieces – which are fun but the ‘folded ink blot pieces’ and the circular drawings really captured me – the catalogue is so full of ideas and work which makes you rethink the act of looking.

Saturday, 5 February 2011


another stunning evening at snape maltings - EXAUDI working with Bill Thompson explored John Cage’s Song Books EXAUDI are so wonderful – i love it as they retune themselves throughout the evening – like the tuning of a machine – constantly navigating their sound within a specific band width. the graphic scores and set ups for the creation of the sound were exquisite and mind expanding. My favourite has to be Solo for Voice 5 (SE) “Wander” over a provided portrait of Thoreau, such that the path resembles a melodic line. Each of eight parts is given a set of time units, ie length of which is determined by the speed with which Part 2 can be performed. The texts are letters and syllable from Thoreau. Electronics should change with the facial features. Accompaniment may include sounds of wind, rain, thunder, etc. the idea made me think about Eno’s Oblique Strategies – check out the on-line version overall it was an evening that makes one think how marvellous snape is – anybody who complains about the fact that nothing interesting happens in suffolk is just wrong. finally i think that i might be the only person who has been to every faster than sound event in Suffolk as Mira Calix was not present (see previous posts!) – looking forward to her at snape on feb 17th as part of exchange and return a year-long collaborative project, sharing creative ideas and practical working methods between Mira Calix, Tansy Davies and Larry Goves

Friday, 4 February 2011


i missed the PV at Suffolk University College due to working late at NUCA. the carousel interview technique introduced works well but leaves little time to breath so admin for the day started at 5.30! - anyway hope to see it before it comes down. meanwhile a meeting in London today saw the completion of the application for rewind – it’s now gone – managed to squeeze in a visit to the whitechapel to see John Stezaker
one of the 3 must see exhibitions on in London at the moment – the others being Susan Hiller at Tate Britian
The show was quite beautiful – it was fascinating to see how he had mined the collection of images whilst working through a number of ideas . if you do go i recommend checking out the Wentworth upstairs – a man whose seemingly ‘slight’ interventions hide a wealth of thinking.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


a full day in London saw the assessment of part-time year 2 MA Book Art students at Camberwell – some exciting work with many possibilities for a wonderful final show – the Camberwell Book Arts course has an interesting blog -
some personal blogs to follow
work which looks at the creation and meaning of burning books work which celebrates the visual qualities of typography
work which investigates text in relation to performance
after i had a positive meeting with caroline about the rewind proposal we are putting together and as ever the train provided a spotlessly clean, punctual service with enough seating and working to an efficient and customer led timetable just like the morning when it was again 20 minutes late made up of only one carriage!