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An introduction of sorts

The overarching aim of this blog is to provide a forum wherein those who have some vested interest in art and all of its multifarious dimensions can articulate a particular set of ideas, observations and perhaps indeed provocations. Contributions to this blog will be on a regular basis and it is envisaged that a range of themes, topics and issues will be explored and indeed, shared. Although the materials will be thematically organised, the parameters of what this means in real terms is something that will be tested out and explored both on an individual and collective basis.

The organising principle that informed the first series of blog entries was based on the possibility that the contributors could, in some way, shape or form introduce themselves through the selection of something that has personal resonance or meaning to them. Whilst they don’t necessarily function in an overtly biographical way, the entries nevertheless inscribe some kinship between a particular blogger’s ideas and their broader identities as practitioners and thinkers. This seemed an appropriate starting point and one, wherein, the collective endeavors within this blog can slowly both accrue and critically unfold.

‘Create, Connect, Converge’

The Spring Show at Avenue Gallery was put together by 23 second year Fine Art and Fine Art: Painting and Drawing students, at the University of Northampton. The exhibition was titled, ‘Create, Connect, Converge,’ and aimed to show a creative connection of a thematic showcase of art work inspired through the non-visual arts. Working on a set date for the show (18th March – 21st March), the students had to fund raise for the show, publicise it, as well as create work. For my role during this process, I was one of the curators of the exhibition and also set up the cake sale for fund raising. As curators we organised the show thematically, as well as harmonising the colours and tones. The show was a huge success, it created a real buzz with a great turnout, including the input of YBA artist, Gavin Turk.


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I worked for six weeks on this 6ft x 6ft oil on canvas painting, that I chose to exhibit for the show, titled, ‘Lady Macbeth: What’s Done cannot be undone, to bed, to bed.’ The primary influence for the painting came from the written play, Macbeth, by William Shakespeare. The play is believed to have been written between 1603 and 1607 and is considered to be one of Shakespeare’s darkest and most powerful tragedies. Macbeth tells the story of a brave Scottish general who receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and takes the throne for himself. He and Lady Macbeth are then wracked with guilt and paranoia forcing Macbeth to commit more murders to protect himself from enmity and suspicion. The bloodbath and consequent civil war swiftly take Macbeth and Lady Macbeth into the realms of arrogance, madness, and death. The play dramatizes the corrosive psychological and political effects produced when evil is chosen as a way to fulfil the ambition for power.   Inspired by Lady Macbeth’s psychological state in Act Five Scene One of the play, wherein Lady Macbeth confesses her guilt shown through her sleepwalking subconscious. She quotes, “What’s done cannot be undone, to bed, to bed,” intensifying her confused state of mind, tangled with guilt for the sins she has pushed her husband to commit.

The painting is intended to convey the chaotic nature of Lady Macbeth’s mind. By using the hair of the female to encompass the majority of the canvas, covering the face, as well as the identity of the female it enhances how chaotic the psychological state of the mind can be. This is mirrored in the format of the image, painted upside down once again heightening the sense of instability, the chaotic nature of the mind. This painting should suggest that there is something quite not right and this is not just a painting of a female with hair over her face, there are much deeper psychological meanings beneath the exterior, another one of Shakespeare’s influences.



Great Expectations…

“On this day of the year, long before you were born, this heap of decay, stabbing with her crutched stick at the pile of cobwebs on the table but not touching it, was brought here. It and I have worn away together. The mice have gnawed at it, and sharper teeth than teeth of mice have gnawed at me.”

Our collective theme for the spring show was to create a response to a non-visual art form. Heavily inspired by the novel ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens I created a diptych that encapsulated the notion of decay, a theme that is imbedded in my personal drawing practice.


The narration of Great expectations explores the characters being referred to and being compared to inanimate objects to describe their physicality and appearance. This motif that Dickens uses explores the characters personality through a physical representation, in lieu of providing the character with an inanimate object that resembles more than a human being. My pieces depict a representation of both the character Miss.Havisham and the house in which she inhabits.

The plot of the novel is extraordinarily tangled and intertwined; this automatically influenced me as my practice revolves around the entanglements of intangible knots. Through a process of dramatic symmetry Dickens creates a fascinating motif of doubles that carry us through as a reader. The elements both mirror and double the knotted relationships that are all interlinked with one another. There are two convicts within the novel, Magwitch and Compeyson, two convalescents Miss Havisham and Mrs. Joe and two young ladies of which are love interests of the main character Pip.  My pieces are a clear reflection of Dickens technique, as a pair my drawings explore the notion of mirroring and paralleling quality. Choosing to produce a diptych on purpose to convey this technique of symmetrical juxtaposition that Dickens so carefully imbedded.

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Dickens creates such an intense Gothic theme within Satis House; it shatters all illusions and romantic preconceptions that Pip had about the upper classes. Miss Havisham’s wedding dress has become an ironic symbol of both death and degeneration. This fuelled my practice and really influenced me to create my diptych, using symbolism and psychical representation. The room that Havisham occupies highlights her past, the wedding dress and the wedding banquet on display explores her resistance to alter anything after being stood up on her wedding day. Her persistence at living in such a decaying environment explores the depths of her twisted and warped character. The dilapidated stones of the house, as well as the dust and darkness of the place that Miss Havisham inhabits explores her destructive nature and how she has allowed both her house and herself to decay and deteriorate.

As a reflection of the narrative to this prose my pieces are a reflection of Miss Havisham’s decaying identity. Each piece demonstrates fraying fisherman ropes. I have produced my works from my own photography. The knotted representation explores the time in which Havisham has left both herself and the room in which she inhabits to decay and decompose. The objects embody the time itself, highlighting the withering and natural process of decaying.

Each piece conveys its own identity, through the exploration of line.  The subtlety of the pencil and graphite medium allow the ambiguous and metaphor meanings speak for themselves. It conveys both the notions of identity and that of a psychical representation. My works can inhabit and explore ambiguous spaces and hold a double conceptive meaning- exploring the literal physicality of the object and its suggested metaphors.

Toolkit for organising a brilliant student art show!

1. Decide on a theme (if required) and a name for your show

For our show Create Connect Converge we had a unifying theme that we all worked towards, which also meant that we created work specifically for the show.  A brainstorming session with visiting speaker, Mel Jordan from the RCA, helped to generate some ideas.

Failing that you could try this: http://www.mit.edu/~ruchill/lazycurator.html

2. Venue

The space where you have your exhibition can be anywhere. It doesn’t have to be in a square gallery with white walls.  It could be a coffee shop, on a bus, in an airport, in your house – the possibilities are endless.

3. Money, money, money

Fundraising is a key function of the show’s organisation and preparation.  You can do this in various ways including sponsorship from local businesses and organisations, cake sales, gigs and so on. To get started quickly on this, getting a contribution from everyone of a small amount like a fiver will buy some marketing materials like posters and postcards.

4. Make a Facebook event and discussion group

Create a Facebook event as soon as you have decided on the name, date and time of the show. The venue and images can always be added later. And invite everyone you can to the show’s preview night.

Invites need to go out ASAP in order to get that date in everyone’s diaries! An electronic version of the poster or postcard invite is mandatory.

Facebook was very useful as a communication tool and also as a record of the show’s development. It is essential to communicate freely, but bear in mind that it is important to be respectful of each other.  Arguing is a big time waster!

5. Publicity

If you want to distribute marketing material outside of the university, postcards rather than posters, seemed to be preferred by the NN Gallery, Northampton Museum and other local businesses/institutions. You will also need to decide on quantities.  We ordered about 500 postcards and 100 A3 posters.

Press release – who, what, where, when and why?

Keep it concise, free of jargon and make it pop!  This can be forwarded to the university’s marketing department, which means that it will go to all the university’s press contacts and the news feed on the website. If the press are interested they will call you, so make sure you have a contact name, number and email address of a suitable person who is enthusiastic about the show in the Notes to Editors.  You can get a template for the press release from the marketing department. 

If you use the university logo on any marketing material then you will need to have it approved by the university’s marketing department, as it is also important to protect the university’s corporate identity. This is what happens in most businesses and organisations.

6. Create a blog

Our tumblr blog was created so everyone could track the progress of the show.  It is best to keep it updated regularly with blog entries to keep it fresh. Everyone should be able to access it and upload images.


7. Plan your show’s opening and get a YBA to come along if you can

Refreshments: keep it simple – red, white, OJ, water and crisps.

One of the university’s Articulation talks was arranged for the same night as the preview for our show. This could have been a disaster, but we seized the opportunity to get YBA Gavin Turk to come to our show after his talk!

8. Post show and data capture

Think about sending selected guests, curators and other contacts something post show like a CD ROM of the show’s catalogue, for example.

A good quality visitor’s book will have columns for names and addresses, but you could also make postcards for people to fill out and leave behind in a box. This will give you a database of names and addresses of people who are interested in the arts in your local area that you can use for future events.

9. And finally…. Good luck!

Gavin Turk getting stuck into the Hive!

Gavin Turk getting stuck into the Hive


The Hive

Welcome to The Hive

 On the 18th of March second year Art students from the University of Northampton presented their end of year show at the Avenue Gallery, situated within the University. Second year exhibitions are always a chance to see potential, whether this manifests its self in terms of a particular way of thinking, a sharpened and considered way of working that is ultimately a prequel to a finale during the third year experience. Or, recognising a certain style that has the exact same potential to shine and deliver whilst provoking a sense of enquiry along with an understanding of historical contextualisation and realisation of development into the future.

This event was no means disappointing  with a very noteworthy exhibit/performance from an incredibly well matched collaborative pair of students that were working under the heading of ‘The Hive‘ . The Hive Is the brainchild of Ally Johnson and on this occasion was in collaboration with Billy Hawes who challenges the notion of the canvas in a melodic rhythmic way.

Ally has created a concept that relies on much of the fluxes movement with scores given out either by hand or ultimately if one wishes to participate, a score would be collected from a purposeful location. On one of my initial talks with Ally I found out that the Hive is representational of a working beehive with worker bees having a particular role to play within the structure of a beehive. Ally sees all participants as the worker bees thus bringing back results, reactions and responses back to the point of sauce – The Hive. The collaborative nature of the event worked well in so far that two individual practices came together in a way that brought about conversation, questions, performances, and actual making of work in a fun and exciting way.

Billy provided weaving material wound on threading hooks for guests to ‘have a go’ and add to his woven frame. This was a chance to learn how intricate this process is, withstanding the opinion how one should never underestimate a person’s technique and thought processes.



In addition to the weaving the Hive provided envelopes with hand typed instructions such as ‘Hum on the spot’ or ‘Go to the Gavin Turk talk’.  These instructions brought about a charged atmosphere along with trepidation from guests who were initially lightly apprehensive of their pending requirement to ‘perform’. Pretty soon there was laughing and sharing along with a very interesting result with the weaving. As this was open to interpretation from the participants it may be said what happened as a result was unexpected and as much of a challenge to the artist as it was for the participants. Billy’s weavers made sure that the piece itself became very much entwined with the fabric of the space. The warp took on the form of a large structured spiders web, it developed a life force of its own as guests looped pipes, wound around blinds dressing areas of the gallery that possibly were never considered.

The combination of people performing their tasks, weavers expanding into unimagined areas and poetry being read  aloud was indeed a multi-sensory success. It is clear to see the potential and future development that this concept has. Year two has certainly offered both Ally and Billy the opportunity to develop their thoughts and practices in an interesting and thought provoking way. It is always refreshingly exciting when faced with something that is not expected, to see people engaging with the unknown and being non passive spectators but participants that are open minded and embrace all aspects of art and art making.

Congratulations to The Hive with Billy Hawes.




Michael Landy: An artist who literally puts his life into his work

Michael Landy, talked about his work for (Artangel, 2001) “Breakdown” in which he meticulously catalogued every one of his posessions and had them shredded in the site of the former C&A clothes store on Oxford Street. This experience fueled his subsequent work for The Underground called “Acts of Kindness” in which he found ways of displaying a record of random and small acts of kindness that connect strangers .


“Acts Of Kindness” London Underground Michael Landy.

He has also worked on “Semi-Detached” in which he made a life size sculpture replicating his family home. He alsomade  work honing in on interior details of the home that pertained to his family relationships. He has furthered this work in drawings of his family which have been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery. He spoke about his father who had been a Miner, and had made drawings of his father’sin the latter part of his life, which in someway made reference to the cost of mining in health terms to his own father. He spoke about how much his father loved being a Miner. Michael Landy has an honesty within his work that challenges our contemporary culture and lifestyle  and anchors himself and therefore us in the recent commercial led society.  

Svetlana Fialova- subject futures week

Sitting in on Fialova’s recent visiting Lecture during this year’s Subject Futures
Week, was an eye-opening exploration into the contemporary world of drawing.
Within her practice she explores traditional methods of media, by using ink and
Chinese calligraphic brushes, she then creates a fusion between these
traditional means and incorporates psychedelic contemporary imagery as her
subject matter. ‘Svetlana’s practice is inspired by themes which draw on
popular culture, the internet, TV, magazines or urban legends combined with
invented characters. With a certain dose of dark humour she depicts various
beings in unexpected or awkward situations.’ (N/A. (2013) Svetlana Fialova
[online]. Red Gallery- creative guardians. Available from: http://www.redgallerylondon.com/content/svetlana-fialov%C3%A1
[Accessed 12th February 2014.]) Fialova is heavily influenced by
tele-visuals; she is also very inspired by her own experiences and also likes
to incorporate these within her narrative illustrations. Within the frame of
her works she likes to distort the elements of perspective, she effectively
does this by creating layers within her large scale pieces. During her lecture
she explained how she liked to reference Magritte’s use of technique and the
way that he plays with space and perspective. She then continued to describe
how she wanted to develop her drawings by exploring her use of space; how she
is used to filling the whole entire surface and is now exploring using the
space more sparsely but meticulously.

When asked about the trajectory of her practice she expressed how subconsciously her works were always about her, even before she tried to complete a self-portrait. Only recently has she gained the courage and confidence to push the image more directly towards her. Fialova said how she had felt that conquering a self-portrait was such a challenge but she wanted to try something new and move her subject matter from out of her comfort zone.

Apocalypse (My Boyfriend Doesn’t Care) by Svetlana Fialova.

As the Jerwood Drawing Prize winner, Svetlana Fialova won the award with an inky portrait of her boyfriend, alongside a grand sum of £8,000. Achieving this title she beat over 3,000 entries that were submitted for deliberation by the awarding panel.  Her winning piece ‘Apocalypse (My Boyfriend Doesn’t Care)’ is an extremely coherent narrative that explores her boyfriend combined with elements referencing Albrecht Dürer’s works, it harbours vivid splashes of pink and turquoise alongside her use of blank ink. This piece explores her technique of merging a traditional method with contemporary subject matter. This piece ‘represents Fialova’s eponymous partner in trainers, shorts and a Hawaiian-print jumper. But this contemporary chap smokes a long pipe, like a nineteenth-century sailor, and the background is formed from disparate images, including fragments from Albrecht Dürer’s ‘Apocalypse’ series of woodcuts and a collection of blue and pink Crocs. Fialova’s fluid use of ink manages to bring all the elements together in a cohesive whole, past and present glued to produce a sense of timelessness.’ (Phillips, Sam. SP. (2013) Review: Jerwood Drawing Prize 2013. [online] The Royal Academy. Available from: http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/ra-magazine/blog/jerwood-drawing-prize,451,BAR.html [Accessed 12th Feburary 2014.]) Although her works explore a clear narrative that conveys an amalgamation of sources, they somehow remain suspended within that dense time frame that we as the viewer have displayed in front of us.

I was fortunate enough to have been able to contact Svetlana directly by email and ask her a few burning questions that I had about her practice and about her personal fascination with the language of drawing.

1) Sticking within your traditional method of drawing combined with contemporary visuals, do you ever feel like the two can serve as separate entities that are hard to combine together?

“Not really…I guess it’s a natural moment that happens when I combine my interests, I don’t think about it too much, like whether it is a decision I’m aware of or just an accident…like yes, let’s a pick a language I’m going to use now. These are possibly some tools that belong into some box of my schemes and I am able to use them. There might be some other better tools but I just don’t know about them (yet) or they don’t belong into my cultural and educational background…for example I could create a Chinese-style ink drawing of the trees in the background but instead I naturally pick the depiction of trees that I’m used to or have seen in the books or galleries before. I was always into ‘old masters’ and improving my drawing skills as I find it extremely interesting…I’m fascinated by the whole idea of evolution of illusion and representation in drawing and painting.(I’m currently reading a great book by E.H. Gombrich – Art and Illusion which pretty much covers the topic). Also I grew up in the 90’s and was a passive admirer of all different subcultures and pop culture, such as grunge and Nirvana T-shirts, skateboarding designs, music videos of Spice Girls, Fresh Prince, etc…that might have been some kind of subconscious influence as well.”

2) Do you feel that your practice has altered since moving to London, as you are working in a different environment?

“Yes, it has, I’m not sure if I could describe how it’s changed exactly…I’m probably more open about what I want to depict, more direct and aggressive in a way where I don’t use a metaphorical delineation as much as in some older works. I’m also more into cancelling out the story-telling, getting rid of illustrative intentions…I want the subjects to have a lot of dramatic charge instead of just being some characters in the story.”

3) Do you feel like your work has altered in any way since winning the Jerwood drawing prize?

“I think it would alter similarly if I didn’t win anything…It might have given me confidence in experimenting more though. “

4) How do you connect to drawing?

“(I’m not sure if I understand the question correctly). It is sometimes a painful process, hours of staring at the paper and getting stuck, but at the same time, the feeling of concentration that usually lasts up to 3-4 hours is one of the most satisfactory feelings I know.”

5) What does drawing mean to you?

“It is the best way I know to record how I perceive my being in this world.”

6) How would you describe your identity through the language of drawing?

“I haven’t been working with the image of myself for a long time…it’s a new thing, a new challenge in my practice. What I’m trying to achieve is probably a mixture of illustrational marks (such as eyes, ears, legs, hands) with highly suggestive irrational marks (deformed parts of the body, patterns, shading, symbols). My aim is to be more abstract, more general, bring the force of the image more strongly than just illustrate my appearance. Using something that I know so well (my face and my bone structure) maybe gives me more freedom to play with it.”

I am extremely grateful for the response that I received from Svetlana as I feel that she really encompassed the passion for drawing and effectively expressed the reason why we have that craving to explore and endeavour into the language and process of art in that way that we do. The pure satisfaction we receive from producing art; and the sense of documenting our personal journeys within our environment.


A plant out of place: Michael Landy’s weed drawings

As part of subject futures week we were treated to a lively talk by Michael Landy, Artist in Residence for two years at the National Gallery, where he created Saints Alive, 2013: a kinetic sculpture of martyred saints. Scrapheap Services was another lengthy project he worked on during the mid nineties which was spawned as a response to Thatcherism and the “greed is good” consumerist society that she advocated. He is also known for his work Breakdown, 2001, commissioned by the organisation Artangel, where he famously disposed of all his possessions, after making a detailed inventory, in the former C&A shop on Oxford Street. He even destroyed his birth certificate.

It is seemingly incongruous that Michael Landy, who is an artist predominantly known for his conceptual work, produces very detailed and meticulous drawings as part of his creative process including complex cartoonish schemas and intimate portraits of friends and family. However, he did explain how drawing was at the root of his early interest in art. It was also his way of bringing himself back to financial health following Breakdown.

Often trodden underfoot, uprooted, sprayed with poison and unloved, weeds are the underdog of the plant world. Landy’s etchings of weeds, which are part of a series called Nourishment, 2002, almost bring to mind the botanical prints of Albrecht Dürer thus elevating the humble weed to a new higher level of interest and status. Intricate and delicately rendered, the etchings are life-sized and positioned centrally on the white page with their roots, tendrils and seed-pods hanging down, almost as if they are portraits themselves. These characterful, eccentrically named “street flowers” such as Shepherd’s Purse, Creeping Buttercup, Thale Cress etc., grow in the cracks of the pavement, in wasteland and in amongst the rubbish. They don’t need much looking after to thrive. They serve to illustrate how everything exists only for a finite amount of time. The drawings are also viewed, by Landy, as a continuation of his work with street furniture such as shopping trolleys and baker’s trays, and his interest in the everyday.

Creeping Buttercup 2002 by Michael Landy born 1963

Creeping Buttercup, 2002 by Michael Landy


A WORKSHOP NEARLY MISSED (The Image That Almost Got Away)

IMG_20140131_152918 copy

With Futures week on 27/01/2014 – 31/01/2014, the Avenue Campus was absolutely buzzing with a complete spectrum of artists, lecturers and activity workshops all of which would help with ideas or thoughts for a promising future of when students become post graduates. It was by chance that I paid attention to the colour posters on the wall in the rear entrance to the Maidwell building, which read ‘Graphics & Illustration, Stephen Fowler, Printmaking Workshop’. I decided to be brave and attend the workshop without listing my name and without being on the graphics and illustration course, as the magic word to me was ‘printmaking’. That Friday on 31 January at 10am, for myself as a non graphic student in today’s terms I gate crashed the printmaking workshop given by Stephan Fowler, and lucky for me because there were some non attendees my name was added to the list among the names of the students that were in attendance.

The scene was set, Stephen Fowler appeared as a gentle professor in charge of a nostalgic looking record player and a range of vinyl records in their original sleeves displaying all manner of graphic artwork, together with his well stocked toolkit of other versatile implements such as erasers, pipe lagging, and potatoes – the list was endless, this also included much of his own work in the form of small printed books and fold out sheets. Finally the vinyl records were unleashed on the record player for approximately a minute to the students who had to envisage in their minds thoughts/feelings that the music inspired them to produce a record sleeve to compliment the music.

The first album that was played I found was more inspirational to me, and so armed with the water based inks supplied by Stephen Fowler, I maintained my pathway of the fine art route and continued to use the traditional style of working onto a metal plate to print the image by use of the printing press, whilst other students used non printing press methods. As a result of taking a chance by going along to the workshop, not only did I have a fun day with other enthusiastic fellow printmakers but I created for me an image totally outside the box to my style of printing, which was an opportunity nearly missed.

Ps I went away with the potatoes for tea.


Subject Future’s Week – Marcus Harvey

On Wednesday 29th January English YBA painter, commissioner, educator and writer, Marcus Harvey, gave a talk at the University of Northampton. His talk discussed his life and journey through the art world. Harvey opens up by giving information of the art market, “your gallerists would like you to have regular, trajectory work. You need to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If you are a painter they expect coherence and rhythm.”

During the early 80s Harvey attended Goldsmiths in London, this was the beginning of his series of abstract bed paintings, and the beginning of his painterly practice. He claims he, “never got away from the interaction with the canvas becoming the object first.” Harvey likes to interact in a formative way with the object and what the canvas is stimulated by. It seems that he very much likes to explore the limitations of credible licence with paint. Whilst at Goldsmiths he was deeply influenced by the clarity of Michael Craig Martin’s work, bringing in the overlapping of line drawings with paint. With time he lost the element of drawing altogether and focused on the tension of the surface.

Harvey’s work tends to be autobiographical and tries to bring political concepts of the time into his works. “Maybe I got too carried away with the narrative of the paintings.” He explains that the much contested ‘Myra Hindley’ piece made up of the children’s handprints, was a way of him representing photographical truth and fact. The handprints were a very dark way of getting across information, emotionally, visually and politically. Harvey also made a more sculptural painting of Myra Hindley but “didn’t want to be seen as someone making the most of his first piece.” Harvey states, “I didn’t know the reaction it would get, the disruption it would create, and I didn’t do it for the publicity. I just thought of it as a space for a portrait-maker to present people of currence at the time. I thought to give a thoughtful response, I didn’t know how much of an uproar it would cause.”

Harvey’s work strongly relies on the dialogue between the artist, the painting and the photograph. “I can’t say I find photography in its own form an art form for me. As a painter I set myself rules. Paintings allow the interaction with the object or the subject through photography.” The developing narrative of the emotion of paint gives it a context, this fascination with painting is stuck or suspended into a two dimensional object. He has explored with sculpture, especially when depicting landscape scenes. However Harvey believes that, “painting does not have a counterpart in the digital medium. For me, nothing has replaced painting and nothing will.”

Personally I found Harvey’s talk the most intriguing during Subject Future’s Week because he is depicted as such a controversial artist and it was useful to hear from himself of his intentions as a painter, especially for the Myra Hindley piece. I found his naivety of the public’s reaction for this painting quite surprising, yet it was very beneficial to hear from the artist himself his reasoning for creating such an unapologetic form of artwork. Having been at this talk, I can really see Harvey’s passion of painting and how much he values it as a means of communication. The most interesting concept I took from this talk was how he places painting at the top of almost a hierarchy of representation and how he sees photography as merely a tool to help the final outcome of an art work, which is his view is the irreplaceable outcome of painting.

Marcus Harvey: The Side You Don’t Know

Marcus Harvey ImageThe University of Northampton recently played host to a number of high profile visiting speakers as part of ‘Subject Futures Week 2014’. The School of the Arts used this week to give students a chance to hear from important contemporary artists, as well as the school putting on a number of workshops for students to learn new skills that could influence their various projects.

One of these artists was Marcus Harvey, famed for his role within the YBA movement and the controversial painting of Myra Hindley. These two claims about Harvey’s career seem to be the two key factors used to describe his work but hearing him talk about his work, his career and his life as an artist the YBA fame and headline grabbing Hindley painting seem to be almost irrelevant.

Marcus Harvey, like many of the Subject Futures Week speakers, started his talk with his very early work. In this work Harvey began to treat ‘paintings’ as objects, and so was able to deal with the more formal aspects of the object-like nature of a painting primarily its three-dimensional qualities. This in turn freed Harvey to attach objects to the canvas surface, and allowed him to explore the notion of two and a half dimensions within the realm of painting. This work moved forward and Harvey began to include a theatrical element within the work, opening up the possibility that the act of painting could be considered performance in its own right. The process of painting is then translated by Harvey into the realm of sculpture in his most recent works whereby he carves humorous portraits of famous people often using techniques of material manipulation learnt from years of painting.

This body of work seems to have a great deal more relevance to contemporary art than his involvement with the YBA’s or his controversial painting. This body of work seems to, on a greater or lesser extent, explore the limitations of painting; his paintings can be seen as paintings and sculptures as well as performances, and his sculptures can be seen as both sculptures and paintings. With Harvey’s work you can never fully define the discipline that a piece has been made within which I find much more interesting, and much more important to contemporary art, than his fame or his controversy.

Printing without a press – Subject Futures week

Stephen Fowler held a fascinating one day print workshop during Subjects Futures week. This workshop was aimed at the Design and Illustration students, however a couple of Fine Art students were able to gate crash and Stephen’s attitude was ‘the more the merrier’. Stephen is obviously an avid collector of 1950s – 1960s vinyl LPs, more for the beautiful and varied designs on the covers than the playability of the records. About 50 Vinyls were spread out on one table in the print room, whilst the printing inks and materials were spread out on another.  Students gathered around to hear the principles of design and the instructions for the day – the task was to design an LP cover using 3 printing methods. Music and imagination were very much a part of this workshop – Stephen played about a minute of music from 5 or 6 records whilst students wrote down the feelings or impressions evoked by each; this would form the basis of the work.

Stephen used a range of interestingly shaped rubber stamps, erasers, foam sheeting, pre-formed print stamps, plastic and cling film and also the  neoprene foam tubing plumbers use for lagging pipes, to his create his designs. The printing inks used are water based.

print workshop without press 21.2.14 004

I wasn’t so interested in designing an LP cover, more exploring the use of simple printing  techniques to advance my own ideas and  work. On the right is a print using cling film with pale ink to give a background layer on brown paper. The figures are cut from a 10 inch x 10 inch foam sheet and then inked up and pressed onto the first print whilst still wet. The idea is simple but effective and I was happy with the atmosphere created in the end product. Below, this print was achieved with more layers; firstly using a neoprene foam tube into which I had cut a design withprint workshop without press 21.2.14 006 a very sharp scalpel. This was inked-up and then, using a decorators implement, rolled across the paper. The same foam figures where used again in a slightly different format. Finally, at the bottom, I used half a potato – yes, and inked-up potato  – for the vegetation. It is amazing what you can do in terms of making prints without a press and this is what I will take away from this workshop. Every time I peel potatoes I will be thinking about the exciting images I could be making. print workshop without press 21.2.14 007

The idea of layering, and concealing and building up the image worked well with my practice and ideas, and use of colour. This simple method of printing lends itself to spontaneity and work at home.

5 International Festival for contemporary sculpture New Years Brunch

I was invited by Susan Williams to take part in the fifth International Sculpture New Years Brunch 19 January 2014.The event is uniquely organised by Sculpture Network with individual hosts curating their own event accordingly across Europe.

This year in total there were 2500 contributors across 45 individual venues in 14 countries. Venues included galleries, studios, foundries, along with architect associations and art centres. The concept of this event brings makers, collectors, art lovers together with curators to share a potential platform to exchange opinions, ideas, interventions as well as further opportunities and general networking prospects. We were all joined together via live streaming enabling a feeling of unity whist being able to view various presentations from Poland, Spain, Berlin etc.


Artspace Kettering UK

Venue Artspace Susan Williams ARBS

Exhibiting artists included Graham Keddie ARBS, Jill Hedges, Christina ten Bosch, Carole Miles & Jo Dacombe, Susan Williams, Warren Shaw and Gareth Day.

We were welcomed to Artspace where works were presented in a fine art context including projected imagery, slide shows of participating artists practices with a stimulating array of publications exemplifying diverse fine art approaches.  The atmosphere was charged with excitement with the aspect of live streaming with an interesting voyeuristic provocation as we watched others watching us, watching them.

The art work that being streamed to to us from across Europe was of high quality and with the utmost consideration to presentation regarding the way international viewers were receiving the imagery and commentary. It was fascinating to see almost at first hand, artists studios, how they had either prepared for the event or left studios as working spaces. I found myself  interested to see the working space with how the visible materials seemingly merged to become part of the work being viewed. It gave a sense of providence and added to the illusion of actually being in an artists sanctuary.

At a particular time during the event there was a live toast where we all raised a glass to the new year and to each other. This was a rare and unique experience, so many people globally share the love of art, making, facilitating as well as the appreciation and 2500 individuals were celebrating each others and our own contributions within that one moment. With a few timing issues and the odd random country coming in and out of view of our big screen, it was very exciting to be part of the wider community.

To view images and learn more about the event visit Sculpture Network this link will take you straight to the 2014 event.

 Art that was shown at Artspace.

Susan Williams ARBS

Susan Williams ARBS


Graham Keddie ARBS Potentially Every Possible Living Thing

Graham Keddie ARBS Potentially Every Possible Living Thing


Christina ten Bosch Mobius Strip

Christina ten Bosch
Mobius Strip


Sharon Read External Interiorisation

Sharon Read
External Interiorisation




Jill Hedges Untitled

Jill Hedges Untitled


 Miles &  Dacombe In Tenz

Miles & Dacombe In Tenz


The event was extremely well hosted by Susan who had gone to great lengths within her studio/gallery space providing an inclusive feel to a prestigious international forum. As well as enjoying a cross culture exchange we all enjoyed a lovingly prepared brunch consisting of a choice of home-made soups, breads juices and a very pleasing glass of wine or two.

Many thanks to Susan Williams




Artist’s Identity

I wanted to put across the Identity of the Artist, in a way that we may take for granted, in terms of our senses. In this way, rather than a visual Artistic stimulus, I have put out each Artist’s Identity in terms of the sound of their Walk, within University daily life, in the Walgrave corridors. After, all each person’s walk is unique to themselves, and tells its own story. I hope you enjoy listening, as much as I enjoyed the experience.  I have left in the odd voice and comment and door closure, which I think sets the walks within the context of the everyday Artistic life and sounds that surround the Artist in his/her stride.

Adele’s Walk 

Ali’s Walk

Brenda’s Walk

Billy’s Walk

Craig’s Walk

Emma’s Walk

Fatma’s Walk

Jodie’s Walk

Marlene’s Walk

Maureen’s Walk

Rob’s Walk

Ruby’s Walk

Sharon’s Walk


For those of you who were unable to attend the printing workshop hosted by Anastasia Mina and Ben Zawalich both students from the Royal College on Thursday 6th February 2014.  There was an introduction to a newish kid on the block which has been in existence since the 1990’s, the name is Polyester Plate Lithograph and it was developed by George F Roberts during his professorship of printmaking at Boise State University, Idaho.   It appears that the kid is not widely known to many, why? could it be because enthusiastic printmakers are not aware of the material or its capabilities or could it be that production is limited?, but the good news is muscles are not needed to use this material and although the longevity of the material itself is limited, it is non toxic, and with the instructions in situ it can be a quick, easy and rewarding process to use as was encountered in the workshop demo of lithographic printing.

The traditional lithographic process was first introduced by Alois Senefelder in 1798, born in Prague, 6 Nov 1771, died in Munich 26 February 1834, was a German inventor and printer.   He was an actor and writer who wanted to publish the plays he wrote.  He experimented with intaglio and relief processes using limestone as a surface to print the pages. It involved the use of not only heavy lithograph stones but lithographic solvent-based Tusche which contained tar and Naptha toxins.   The results worked on the basis that oil and water will not mix; greasy printing ink was applied to the stone.

Approximately 200 years on this material is a very good equivalent to the traditional lithograph stone by eliminating the use of toxic chemicals which is not only good for print makers but a bonus for the environment.