Friday, 29 March 2019


life at University continues its unforgiving march of time. We are in the time of universal fear where students realise that this life will end and the reality of life outside education will start. How will they manage? Will seminars about self employment, how to pay tax, training around interview techniques and the building of portfolios ever be enough? But I feel at least we are trying.
OCA teaching goes from strength to strength, the latest project - Testing Your Boundaries is a wonderful space of experimentation. It takes on the form of a kind of contractual permission where students who have waited to do something find release and create incredible work in such a short space of time. It is a pivotal moment, they use it as a springboard, the ripples of which can be felt throughout the rest of their time at OCA. It is genuinely exciting to be in the presentations.
The OA turned out to be a twisted mind meltdown which wasn't helped by the conflation in my own brain between time travel and multi dimensional we are all in the OA.
Destroyer was difficult as the main character, played by an unrecognisable Nicole Kidman is was relentlessly unhappy - the clever twist in the time line is quite revelatory.
The Synthetic anatomy table displays at Kings were wonderful. The culmination of the project is always tricky - the challenge is to show both the process of working together - the journey of the project and also to demonstrate the actual concepts of the project the group is working with. It was great to work with the inspirational Shelly James and Celia Pym assessing and running a feedback session for the students, focusing on the clarity of presentation and communication. It's interesting to think that it all started with the Crafts Council Parallel Practices initiative. As ever the lab we were working in had a disturbing/interesting object - I so don't want to have to use the shower or be in the room when it is used.
went out to see a couple of shows - Spruth Magers - has a stunning show by Reinhard Mucha - the work is a series of found/constructed beautifully constructed narrative vitrines.It also has a great floor.  Hauser and Wirth has a couple of exhibitions that are a little yes-i-get-it-but-there-is-nothing- really-to-hold-me-here. GAO has a fun VR set up but the smell of balloons and the pink light made me a little heady!

Tuesday, 26 March 2019


an interesting workshop this past week included bonding materials with year 1 at NUA where we managed to work with various plastics, rubbers and sublimation printing to create new materials.
It was good to go North for 36 hours to run book art surgeries in Leeds at The Tetley as part of Pages. Managed to cram in going to Laynes for tasty vegan breakfast in a beautiful design setting, Bundoburst for Indian street food bursting with taste and atmosphere, craft beer at Outlaws Yacht club and extraordinary cocktails at a place I can't remember...... a quick trip out to Ilkley before getting back saw a brisk wander around the moors which was a very different landscape experience to my big sky flat East Anglia experience. I spent most of the journey organising my talk for Turn the Page bookart conference in Norwich, still lots of culling otherwise it would be a 5 hour marathon. 
Meanwhile watching Idris Elba DJ in Turn Up Charlie.... it did its thing, the episode at Latitude was fun, spotting the familiar areas, started on what is a total mind scramble, the second season of OA. At the moment in wtf territory with seemingly random, visually glorious acts happening without the support of a narrative. films Mule, too many dubious moments to let its strengths fly and Mary Queen of Scots looked great, the hair alone was worth watching it for. new podcast business wars has an interesting take - so far Marvel v DC comics was fun with a few moments of insightful gossip..

Monday, 18 March 2019


some images from the shop at Japan House - it's so full of ideas. Meanwhile I have a piece of work in The PAGES exhibition  - it has started its short tour of three Yorkshire venues - ROAR The Cooper Gallery, Barnsley Doncaster Art Gallery & Museum Interchange at NUA was a creative space without answers or direction - this was a challenge for some individuals but there was some  interesting learning. MA Book Art students have been displaying their altered books in a small exhibition in the library at Camberwell. I'm looking forward to a bonding session (in the technical not psychological sense) with year 1 at NUA - I have been working on the planning for this for a while and hope to demonstrate some of the technical lessons learnt whilst working at the Maxwell Centre Nanotech in Cambridge, the wonders of the heat press. Friday sees me in Leeds at The Tetley as a kind of book consultant attempting to support people exploring the book In terms of screens Stan & Ollie was a sweet and tender experience, Mary Poppins returns reminded me why I didn't enjoy the first one, all those jolly working people getting by and slightly too knowing children all within an Edwardian tweeness. After Life the latest Ricky Gervais work is worth watching if only for the wonderfully true to life use of swearing, but it also has something to say about grief.

Sunday, 10 March 2019


my work is going to be in a couple of exhibitions so making and thinking and packing work - Constellation: Inspiration and the Artist Book in Laramie County Library their annual invitational book arts exhibition in Cheyenne, USA. Work will be part of a touring exhibition coming out of the great team in Leeds who bring us PAGES Meanwhile - A week full of teaching - Mid Point Reviews, preparations for embedded book seminars, group crits, individual tutorials and a presentation around fantasy portfolio's. A day at Middlesex University working on the Craft Design Course was fun - teaching (engaging with students) without the usual bureaucracy I engage with. Undertaking the preparation for the day and working with the numerous paper structures gave time for reflection on the work I have been doing myself in this field over the past 4 years. I also managed to pull together some interesting ideas that I have been introduced to as part of the work at Kings with anatomy scientists around splitting and joining mobius loops and chirality. It was my birthday this week and presents included a really beautiful piece of Boro fabric from a farmers coat that has just the feeling of age within it - quite mesmerising with each stitch and piece of cloth having its own story embedded within it.  Went to see Witness for the Prosecution at County Hall in London a fun jaunt into theatre - essentially a courtroom drama but in a splendid room - the old GLC Council Chamber. In terms of screens - I gave up on workin mums - just too painful in so many ways, This Time with Alan Partridge is savagely observant,  Instant Family was  more than a screwball 'person out of place' genre but it had moments of thoughtful commentary around issues of adoption. Isn't it Romantic  is a splendid cliché of genres with some laugh out loud moments. I was meeting people at the Barbican (excellent Negroni's at the Martini Bar) so popped into the Curve Gallery but  I needed more time to see the fascinating work of Daria Martin so I shall be back. Just looking around for newish sounds and came across Cillian Murphy's Music Mixtape - not really new but gloriously eclectic - and This American life podcast threw up Ozzy Osborne's version of working class hero - which might just be better than the original - sacrilege. 

Monday, 4 March 2019


4 days in Porto and back in the UK travelling for the last time as an EU citizen - what to say. Porto is a tough city to move around - with much to navigate between steep hills and seemingly random acts of traffic in between dodging trams. Got to see some interesting art and spaces - sometimes in the same place. Must sees are Serralves Museude Arte Contemporanea where there was a challenging show by Joana Vasconcelos, great work exploring gender, the role of the object and all done in a dark humour. The piece titled Birka used the language and cultural connections embedded and rooted within textiles to communicate a rich and powerful message - often the idea that textiles does this is lost on people who think textile design is about cushions, that is if they think at all. 
Hung in the pink Casa Villa there was an obscure show of Miro’s work specifically focusing on work where he attempted to destroy the notion of art- lots of burning, hacking, cutting and painting out areas in black. The Museu da Misericordia do Porto is a finely tuned museum telling the story of the space through a small number of stunning objects and should be on a list. The Clerigos Tower has tremendous views. Possibly the oddest space is under Igreja de Sao Francisco where all the Franciscan community were buried. In the main the churches were the high points, obviously the cathedral but smaller spaces hold exquisite riches. 
And then there are the tiles - they are everywhere covering exteriors of buildings and interiors of churches - their state indicates the state of Porto itself - a bit run down and lost but also rebuilding and renovation around every corner, developments of modern contemporary buildings next to deserted and abandoned ruins.