Sunday, 12 November 2017


so a couple of things - at Snape Maltings we saw the results of a week's residency - three witches - unsure what was added to the genre/issue of exploring how we as a society marginalise and oppress outsiders and those deemed different that shows like Black Mirror and the artist Rachael Maclean have already brought to the table, although the voices were superb. Maybe we need more reminders of our history of violence towards women - so the idea of it becoming a huge community play where the audience get to boo and cheer as women are hung (maybe the crowd could be incentivised to do this, the more you cheer the less you pay) is something that we would pay to watch - maybe do this in areas where people voted to leave the EU - maybe not, the whole idea just got very dark. I can remember shouting with glee 'crucify him' at a community mummers play in Lincolnshire in the late 80s and feeling very odd!!

Caught up with and watched two seasons of Stranger things some great acting and an interesting spin on the value of early game playing - you never know when rethinking dungeons and dragons will help you out with dealing with dark evil things. Have safely got my ticket to flight of the conchords at the O2 - it will be odd to see them there but maybe it will feel warm to be in amongst people who love them 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017


a great day in London with the Book Arts students at Camberwell - we were out and about
looking at work and making connections with the project proposals and ideas of
research and developing practice. The British Library treasures gallery had some interesting rethinking around the objects unearthed from this year's cohort. The value of getting out and seeing stuff should never be underestimated - I got to re-see the objects which was itself a treasure. There was also a really nice little show called Listen about 140 years of recorded history - lots of headphones - I got to hear the first (in theory) Dub Reggae track -
Pick a Dub by Keith Hudson 1974. Took me back to Big Youth and aggressive school
discos with skinheads and the generally tense time that was the 70s. The site has some extraordinary material. The afternoon was at White Cube which has 2 excellent exhibitions by Ann Veronica Jassens and Damien Ortega
There are some interesting uses of materials and iterations of ideas through different mediums - a fantastically illuminating day of conversations. How does the materiality of an artwork inform and be informed by its content?

Wednesday, 1 November 2017


an excellent 2 days in London - yesterday at Camberwell was all about making and thinking with year 2 and work-shopping  an idea I have been working with 'science' people on - diagramming and visualising in 3D ones thinking. It was an interesting session and like the best teaching I learnt a lot about how a project can be re-imagined through the creation of new tools. The afternoon was the crit of the first project with the new year 1 - there was some great starting points and wonderfully creative thinking that will support the development of their practice.
today was all about creative thinking at Kings with excellent science (medical) people and artists working on developing the 3D synthetic teaching module. it really is such a fantastic pleasure to be in the room with thinking people surrounded by gloriously splendid stuff such as ape skeletons and octopus - if only I could document the vast shelves of body parts to show!
managed to see Everything at once - the Lisson show at 180 Strand - a mixed bag but there are some gems - we obviously love most if not all of the Lisson artists, the gallery has been a go-to space since I was a student. so we have Cory Arcangel, Lawrence Weiner and Dan Graham. Anish Kapoor pulls off a beautiful illusion of space, Rodney Grapham's film Vexation Island is just very oddly bizarrely darkly funny but highlights are Ryoji Ikeda - the room is just digitally alive, Susan Hiller's hypnotic room of TV's and then there is the tightly edited film by Arthur Jafa on the roof, the experience of which is itself a gem - the view is eclectic. 
I then found myself in the middle of the incident at Covent Garden - very strange - I turned around to see a black cab travelling around road works colliding with a white van which  hits a pedestrian and crosses the road and ploughs into more people on pavement, sort of within more road works. so it's all fairly calm and people are tending to those knocked over until a film unit with lights starts filming then people watch that and a lot of police arrive and shouting then more police then more arrive running now police cars and a lot of sirens then you appear to be surrounded by police as people sort of get on with getting home or going out the area around the crash is cordoned off and then the anti-terrorist police arrive then the helicopter then the cordon gets wider lots more shouting and which point I decide to cycle off. any other time it would of passed off as an accident and we would of gone on about our business  but I guess we live in 'other' times.

Thursday, 26 October 2017


Family history - book as performance- documentation as document - importance of text - private public spaces - representing the everyday - artist as detective - distorting language - learning from failure - concepts of collection - collection as material - using book to frame the world - slow reading - cyphers and codes - text/textile - making landscapes - landscape of identity - repurpose wellbeing - graphic inclusivity - notions of truths - book as architecture - material matters - systems to cope - knowing not knowing. My notes from the first symposium at camberwell - it's a great day of sharing where the room swirls with possibilities and the past is used as a starting point for new possibilities. This year it was particularly beautiful to see that the course had been so beneficial to the fist years, their presentations were full of examples where they had taken opportunities and made the best of them - excellent.  
managed to finally see Blade Runner which was superb - thoughtfully referencing the first instalment with being referential , plot, acting and textile activity was all excellent. This alongside a special mention for the interiors (the room where you emerge from a hole under the water) and sounds which were just awesome. The experience made me go back to the original, I hadn't remembered the slightly overbearing Hans Zimmer soundtrack and actually maybe we had gone a little backwards when it comes to the representation of women as the 2049 has women as empty vessels, disposable or precious specimens.
the jungle - my scouting experience tells me to be prepared so this is just a little annoying - don't go into the woods! somehow everything is there but just doesn't gel together enough.
the house - Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler riffing off each other - silly madness but in an okay way.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017


I ran a lateral thinking, problem solving workshop with a group of science students as part of encouraging wide thinking skills at the Maxwell Centre today. It was a challenging one involving touch, silence, instructions and sign language but as ever I was struck by the 'can do' attitude in the room. There were some exciting outcomes of activity and process which I will be taking back into my own practice...Meanwhile there is a small but very intense and exquisite exhibition of samplers at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge the work is so detailed and precise it's important to remember that it was undertaken by hand and often by very young girls. 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017


another great day at Camberwell - it's that time of year within the College calendar when all is possible. A folding workshop focusing on exploring the structure of book - what more could one ask for - folding paper with thoughtful people all morning! Then a presentation exploring the possibility of book through the lenses of bookness, a concept I first came across whilst in dialogue with the wonderful Ivor Robinson.
I was helping to write the document that was to become the MA Book Art Course at Camberwell with Alex Lumley and I came across a book art module that Ivor had been running in Oxford Poly which allowed students to explore the possibility of book. He was wonderfully generous and incredibly supportive in helping to develop my thinking around the building of a course and it goes without saying sowing the seeds of my understanding of what was possible with the book. The concept of bookness was just my thing, I enjoyed the slippage of language - the space between things - not quite book but maybe more so - the essence of book..... and I have talked about it and built a career around it since then, 1990 seems a long time ago. I really enjoy coming across its use, that it is now a thing and has becoming its own idea for people to make of it what it is for them. Even though Ivor was a binder of the highest quality I am sure he would love this spreading of the word where the book is only limited by the imagination. 

Saturday, 14 October 2017


a busy week of teaching with the deadline for planning on the Goldlay Sq commission mixed in. family history- book as performance- documentation as document - importance of text - private public spaces- representing the everyday - artist as detective - distorting language - learning from failure - concepts of collection - collection as material - using book to frame the world - slow reading - ciphers and codes - text/textile - making landscapes - landscape of identity - repurpose wellbeing - graphic inclusivity - notions of truths - book as architecture - material matters - systems to cope - knowing not knowing. these are my notes from the first symposium on the Book Art Course at Camberwell - it's always a great day of sharing where the room swirls with possibilities and the past is used as a starting point for new possibilities. This year at the symposium  it was particularly beautiful to see that the course had been so beneficial to the first years who also present their practice, their presentations were full of examples where they had taken opportunities and made the best of them - excellent the course is only as good as its students and this course is excellent. some talk of reflective thinking and lots of individual tutorials at NUA. managed to get year 1 out on a day trip which took in the broads and the excellent museum that is Time and Tide in Great Yarmouth. 

Sunday, 8 October 2017


so a full weekend!
private view of pre-cutslicedoranges at Light Eye Mind, London  a show curated by Sid and Jim - which was full of serious, enthusiastic and highly professional young people's work, it was also fun and thought provoking then onto Leeds to see Bish Bash Bosh an evening of scratch dance at Yorkshire Dance - which was totally ace - some really interesting work that explored new possibilities offered if you think about dance and......... hybrid and interdisciplinary are the keys to new ideas. Marguerite Galizia – Fold  -  and Lewys Holt defiantly stretching this with some solid collaboration between Aidan/Clerk37 and Maria Popova with Interlocution thrown into the mix - Leeds Light Night saw Leeds lit up - sometimes challenging and sometimes dull and worthy, sometimes fun - a DJ in a portaloo is a winner. The Tetley had a really respectful and thoughtful show about the history of the Leeds West Indian Carnival - some excellent objects telling the story, Leeds Royal Armouries was very odd - a disturbingly, gloriously strange way - basically the whole building is a celebration of the ingenuity of the human spirit to create wonderfully designed objects whose main purpose is killing. This politically challenging aspect is barely mentioned - but there is a free boat ride from the train station/city centre which is great fun and you get to see a 'post industrial landscape' from the past! Henry Moore has a stunning show combining an investigation of process and use of everyday materials. jiro takamatsu - the temperature of sculpture was very good with lots to talk about with students - especially the role of the sketchbook/journal - Then onto Ipswich to Dance East to see the fabulous Joss Arnold - it really is a must see, catch it on tour if you can, the evening has 3 pieces: all containing the signature strenuous power of the choreographers interest but V has some great specific moves with total control of lighting and the final dance, RUSH was so explosive with a tremendous soundtrack. Finally it was flipside at Snape to listen to Ali Smith, Alvaro Enrigue and Maureen Freely which was just wonderful - talking about the space between translation, interpretation and exploring what is original. So thoughtful again if you get the chance go listen to these people - Smith was so 'telling it like it is' but backed up with intelligent thought, Freely was a wall of rigorous wall and Enrigue was so funny that I went out of the hall and bought his book!
I just need a weekend now to get reflect on all this!

Friday, 6 October 2017


a good week of teaching at NUA with year 3 tutorials underway I'm getting an understanding of what is a great bunch of people. Don't you just love the Pecha Kucha format - you can communicate a lot of stuff in a short amount of time - we did 40 peoples 5 slides with 20 seconds each with written feedback from everybody about everybody's presentations in a morning! Presentations from me this week include talking about storytelling for beginning, communication, the subconscious use of symbols, the power of design to change the world for good ......or evil.

The lecture by Mark Mann was excellent - talking about the value of research, the importance of passion and gender politics in textile design. On train to Leeds to see Clerk 37 who has been doing some sounds for videos I've made as part of unfoldingthinking is performing and Light night

Tuesday, 3 October 2017


last night it was fascinating to consider the current state of play in American politics whilst watching Frost Nixon Michael Sheen and Frank Langella play the leading characters gloriously but the real action is in some way what goes on behind the scenes with the supporting players both in the film and at the time, researching the subjects and developing the questions. The role of TV in choosing our leader was introduced or at least how we evaluate them and as with all tools used it was assimilated by those in control and employed to their own ends. Tools are just tools but it's how you use them...

Friday, 29 September 2017


two nights and two theatre experiences - the wonderful space that is the Seagull theatre in Lowestoft had Finding joy which was deeply moving with a thoughtful script exploring the issue of dementia. There was a beautiful moment when the time-travelling aspect of dementia was presented through mine and masks. The Wolsey in Ipswich had Bin laden one man show - which was very clever as I watched a very calm man who had given me a cup of tea going onto become an angry man who we call a terrorist.  I recommend both.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017


work on the structures for Goldlay Square progresses - the choices are now finding locations within the plan - I love the action of positioning - working within the digital space - moving something not yet made within a space that does not exist which will impact on people's lives - notions of responsibility and respect are running high today.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017


it's been a busy week teaching on the Textile Design Course at NUA - year 1 arrived and their 1 day project was full of colour and surface - what is textiles? - what isn't it? without it you would be alone naked in a field.... to illustrate the overwhelming importance of textiles in the first day we covered fine art, illustration, fashion, architecture, interior design and fashion communication! the new instagram # is #nuatextiles year 3 had a whole day of year and project briefings, NSS briefing and Learning outcomes briefing but I tried to deliver it through work-shopping - the first project is interiors so am looking forward to some exciting work.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


A wonderfully creative day in Chelmsford yesterday - starting out with a site visit to test out the full-size model of the proposed sculpture. Envisioning is an interesting activity and a designer has to have lots - the site has its buildings 'foot printed' with most of the 2nd floors built so you can get begin to get a real feel for the site -  the spaces within, between and around the buildings. I was pleased that the scale of the proposed pieces appear to 'work'. But by getting onto the site the idea of the pieces unfolding up and around the buildings became an obvious development.

Part two was a meeting to discuss the initial ideas and to iron out any issues that came to light within the build, design, installation and placing of the work. It's a kind of pre-mortem - I love the idea of working within 'negative space' of possibilities - not in the negative sense but in a positive anticipating problem way - working with the possible by carving away what is not 'right'. The meeting went well and it looks as if I will get to make 'giant' steel books structures and 'scatter' them over the site - sooooooo excited......

Sunday, 17 September 2017


a morning of thinking about scale whilst admiring a sample for the Goldlay Square work. The overall scale of the pieces in relation to the pattern is interesting to consider and has been highlighted after getting a piece of steel plasma cut. Really pleased with the sample, it has a sense of flow and all the connections that I have been inspired by are embedded within the work.

Saturday, 16 September 2017


just back from an excellent afternoon working at Kings in the capacity of a consultant on a new module for the anatomy school - synthetic anatomy. How the arts think, make, reflect, and evaluate was really valued and it was great to share stories and experiences between the arts practitioners on the team and also to consider how to support the medical tutors and then the anatomy students in the pursuit of new skills around lateral thinking and failing triumphantly. Meanwhile at NUA the rooms are ready and the timetable is set - all we need now are students - the year ahead is going to be most excellent.

Monday, 11 September 2017


starting next to a pool and continuing in my studio the thinking around Goldlay Square is becoming focused - there is still a lot of flexibility in the choice and the proposed construction will enable the making to be creative up to the last moment

Sunday, 10 September 2017


the new edition of the book arts newsletter is out

- check out a listing of my work on page 13, also the artist book yearbook which is as ever packed with excellent texts and useful and informed information about current practice - there is  a 6 page article about the work I've been involved in with NanoDTC


8 days sitting next to a pool enabled time for some reading - Ali Smith - There but for the - a fractured layered thoughtful guide through time, Ian McEwan - Nutshell - laugh out loud solid crafted text, Naomi Alderman - Power - beware, a potential dystopia fable that puts up a mirror to the society we live in, Matt Haig - The Humans - a story to enable us to rethink the world around us, David Grossman - a horse walks into a bar - you are in the presence of a tragic story that needs to be told with some excellent jokes, finally two books a little close to home..... Philip Roth - The plot against America - a what if book ....what if Nazis took over America? Lionel Shriver - The Mandibles - a what if book......what if America had a financial crash and old money and old power floated to the top?

Thursday, 31 August 2017


check out another great show from Emma Powell and Melanie Bush from we love your books - the show is on the theme of intersect  if you want a copy download the jpeg but if you would like a pdf just contact me via twitter @BicknellLes 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017


more drawings in an attempt to rethink or plan the nets - added the image of book structures so the idea of maybe not making sense in terms of being built in the mind could be a part of the work. As ever the tangram is a way of thinking out this puzzle part of the project.

Friday, 18 August 2017


After much learning with illustrator the lazer cutting tests for the Goldlay Square commission look good - really pleased with how the references have become heightened - the  images of books opening and cell structures 'pop' out of the design. Also when you have a physical thing rather than the digital you really get a sense of the scale. Other physical aspects of its materiality become obvious such as how the design creates excellent shadows.