Friday, 31 July 2015


after setting up a framework in the studio to enable pattern making through layering - I've been working on creating a series of images that have their starting point in the labs - thinking about the idea of order and disorder - the image of science - what it looks like - starting with tessellation and just the idea of looking - creating images that require looking! a kind of 'what is that?' - I've started to take out all colour and working with grey images although there was a moment of refracted light in some of the imagery and so this is an aspect I'm keeping for the moment and possibly working with, although there is an element of Christmas decoration about it that's a little worrying.
I've been developing images that are turned into gifs - next they could be used as surfaces on shapes animated through folding. The structures need to be virtual to explore the 2D/3D real/digital issues.

Thursday, 30 July 2015


what a most excellent day at Cavendish Lab in Cambridge -  everybody was so generous with their time and dedicated to sharing their experience - totally engaged in the process of knowledge exchange. it was a very full day of experiencing and challenging spaces within which to consider many new activities. Although invisible there is an obvious flow diagram of decision making within each specific activity and the process as a whole.  This is made apparent by the seriousness of the approach to the activity. self assembly is I now know a key component to what I do or at least how I think - but maybe not in a straightforward 'science ' way - I am interested in creating objects with multiple possible outcomes or systematic structures or non-linear narratives for others to work with or within or 'play' with. That there is no right or wrong way is very important to me but just components to enable. Thinking tools. Tools for thinking. Obviously one is struck by the ritual of work - the oppressive otherness of the clean room brings with it a heightened awareness of one's activity, can the wearing of a garment alter ones perception of the activity that is been undertaken? This could be something to explore with my students - art uniforms, creative capes! The pace of working is also something to consider - I was very taken by the methodical process of evidencing activity; cleaning, counting, arranging, monitoring, calculating, noting. Even the act of looking takes time and energy. The day's activity sparked many thoughts about art/science parallels and often the actual activity was the same, although often at a smaller scale. From the spin painting promoted by Damien Hurst, fixing and photography 'developing' work, the many types of printmaking, the resists and opposites, the silkscreen with its mesh and layers, etching working with positive and negative 2D spaces. So far this whole process has given me a new way of thinking and therefore supported my writing about my creativity. Ideas have been sparked while searching for parallels or taking my world into the world of science and testing out common knowledge, for example thinking about Duchamp and Duchampian thinking - becoming art, and the world of topography, definitions and categories - it is art if an artist says so - can intention define activity? Everything comes under the umbrella of science but could the same activity be redefined by what you are trying to do, or actually focusing on? - be it physics, chemistry, engineering or is it a combination of some or all or is it at a certain level all physics? What is the purpose of the/an experiment? the concept of the experiment - that even though something hasn't worked knowledge is gained and so it is useful - so does the concept of a failed experiment actually exist as knowledge always occurs (if you look for it). Can this be used with students or actively in my studio? Coming into contact with science language and thinking has introduced new phrases or enabled me to rethink ones I thought I understood - the concept of structural colour - weak interaction forces shape - the basis for self assembly - materials form wrinkles to relieve stress - release and stick - crease and stress - graphene origami - self folded closed form structures - at the fold properties are more reactive - folding along preferred directions - the use of paper grain - self folding

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


What does science look like? - I was fascinated by the look of nanotechnology - so initial ideas for the nano project have focused on image. I thought that it would be interesting to create images that in some way explore the image of connections, networks.
We have been set a series of questions as part of the project - I intend to answer them after each meeting - maybe the answers will evolve - maybe not. Question 1 The nanoscale often requires individuals to try to make sense of physical structures that are too small to see or touch. Are there differences in the way artists and scientists perceive or think of something they can't see?

It seems that the scientists I met were open to not knowing but they have to believe in some way of the existence of things/objects/phenomena they cannot see otherwise they cannot go on - there is no 'truth' or foundation to their work - now it appears that this foundation can be just an idea of a foundation but it does have to be there and not not there. I keep returning to the idea that everything we see may not be there or at least not as we think it is. Meanwhile I think my relationship to this question might be about aesthetics - a sort of inherent truth (beauty) that is a concept held within the self (when something is 'just right' - when it's 'finished') a form of balance. I run a workshop with students around the idea of finishedness where they create an equation that can be used to make a piece of work - an obviously impossible and wrongheaded idea but it does get students thinking about making work, process, audience engagement, display. Possibly scientists are trying to perceive things that actually exist but can't be seen and I as an artist am trying to conceive ideas that don't exist - the work is in some way an illustration of that balance/idea. I don't know I feel that I may already be uncomfortable with generic absolutes. 

Monday, 20 July 2015


recycling - I know - if we all do our bit we will in some way save the world - but..... the aftermath of Latitude is a depressing place, although working with RAW to collect materials to work with on a project felt that maybe it was ok.  no.............................. it was quite sad.

Sunday, 19 July 2015


well Latitude ....some extraordinary moments - starting with - Stand up for back up tape - Ross Sutherlands tightly constructed piece about his grandfather was a form of time travel moving  and clever enabling you have another way of thinking about possible messages in the everyday.
Jemima Foxtrots weaving of spoken words with singing voice transported you through time and space mixing the ancient with modern
Anne Bean created with her people sounds with almost primeval magic that linked me to a set by Max Cooper which was accompanied by incredible visuals that were about the very beginnings of life
Mike Figgis telling it like it is - his thoughts on the culture of the everyday with the mediocre in charge chimed well with Gary Indiana's slot in the truly magnificent Station to Station - section 41 the devil of our age where he talks of his suspicion of normal people - they are all liars and complicit to be able to exist in the systems that have been constructed in their likeness that we have to live in - they constrict creativity by their looks and questions, controlled by their own fear they stomp out life - sound familiar? here's a link to a recent show of his -
John Hopkins set was knob twiddling at its zenith - managed to be at the front to get the full bass effect - open eye signal was grindingly endless and the digital hoola women were great. But if you want an experience with sound try to get to see the heroic this machine won't kill fascists but it might get you laid by the thoughtful, serious and I believe quite marvellous Christopher Brett Bailey who is rapidly becoming somebody who I think is essential in my creative landscape.
Obviously lots of other stuff drifts in and out - I seem to gravitate away from the corporate industry of the monolithic indie music establishment  through the need for a more  connected experience in the intimate surroundings of the cabaret tent - Dickie Beau and the Duckie crowd and the far away forest with the forest fringe, live art development agency and the little house. There is a sense of sincerity that you feel that makes one feel humble - two to look out for - the wardrobe ensemble 1972 the future of sex and unstable king with game - two pieces of theatre by young people - there is hope...

finally if you want to have a huge thinking cry get to see fake it till you make it by Bryony Kimmings (always brilliant I'm still laughing and maybe more importantly thinking from my last encounter credible likeable superstar role model) and Tim Grayburn - men and mental health and a short film called Mute where the worlds population find their voice in an unconventional way....... 

Thursday, 16 July 2015


The latest interdisciplinary project with scientists is upon me. I'm working with nanotechnology within the Cavendish laboratory which is within the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge.
An extraordinary afternoon of discussion - it was a joy to be in a room of bright, inquisitive, interesting people. The bonus was that they are also interested in and value what I do and think that they might learn from my presence in their lives - sounds a bit like a good learning/teaching experience.
I said that my intention for the project was that I wanted to be lost, to not know, and to fail gloriously. This was taken on board by the fellow members of my group and it will become a starting point for me. I managed to articulate this idea - that In some way I want the collaborative experience to deliver new (to me) ways of working and I hope that the people I am about to work with will contain and exacerbate my confusion, that their focused intention will bring some form of clarity to my studio.
We are going to meet and exchange in Cambridge - actually engaging in 2 experiments - something about clean rooms, electron microscopes and wave particles and then a sharing of the folding I'm involved in after a mini workshop of the history of book structures leading to hybrid combination binding and then an exploration of the multi-functional, folded, structurally articulated objects I'm working on in my studio.
As ever I started with the small question - how big is an electron? - apparently nobody knows (who knew) and yet much of our world is dependant on believing in it's existence. I'm excited to be working with people who are reforming and attempting to fold material at a 'frightening small scale' and the other project is attempting to use the waves that vibrate from everything as a source of energy - at this point I revert to science fiction and talk about Darth Vada, the death star and the dark image of evil science. I go on to ask if they are working with actual things they can see or is it evidence of existence (its exciting how much of my discussions with scientists get to philosophical thinking much quicker that my 'art' people - but what does science look like? - the idea of 'the science of looking' got me thinking about the Eye and Brain by R.L. Gregory, a book that as a student clarified my thinking around this subject. The agreement that the mainstream is as wrong and as mediocre on its coverage of science as it is on the arts felt like coming home. Other topics include the need for failure along with transgression in our lives to learn and the testing of boundaries to move forward - all good practice as far as I'm concerned.
I left full of optimism and excited to get back to my studio.
Some things for me to think about - our use of and engagement with rules - mainly through materials - us controlling them and the materials containing us and our ideas. Is this different for art and science? Yes and no - I feel that I can just change the rules as I change the work and intention - this is different within the design work I'm engaged in where there is a set brief that has specific material needs and roles for the work. The idea of the live hinge and its relationship to nanotechnology through the idea of molecular alignment. I shall be trying to not answer any questions just explore them 

Thursday, 9 July 2015


Assessments are all over and all is well - the postgraduate exhibition at Camberwell for the Book Art MA will be excellent – there is some stunning work and the show looks good if I say so myself. It’s full of challenging, contemporary anarchic work. Every year I am stunned by the inventive ways the students explore the idea of the book, its properties and the very bookness of the book and this year is no exception, in fact there are some stunning examples where genuinely new ideas are explored.
Working on my thoughts for what I want from the experience of working with scientists at The Cambridge Nanoscience and Nanotechnology doctoral training centre (NanoDTC) over the summer. I think as ever when collaboration is on the table the obvious thing is the sharing of methodology, access to new ways of thinking and new materials but really for me it’s to be surprised and challenged – to not know – to be a little lost and maybe fail a little if not gloriously. We shall see.

Working with RAW and Lavish at latitude this year – looking at recycling, rethinking, re purposing and up-cycling abandoned materials – it will be fun – and then there’s the festival itself – the 10th anniversary – I’ve attended all of them and there have been some awesome moments – for me its become a little dull with very few things on the ‘i-must-get-to-see-that’ list but maybe something will catch my eye (maybe the LADA sessions on Friday night) – it was interesting to go on site and stand where the sunrise arena will be before its built – the glade it sits in is so sweet – somebody had a great vision when they thought of transforming the space.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


Working on the lazer cutter – developing my skills with illustrator and the odd software that's attached to the cutter – really pleased with the results but have become fascinated with the compressor!