I suddenly have the largest studio I’ve ever had in my life. I feel incredibly lucky to have been given this opportunity to create new work, curate different pieces together and to gently infiltrate a brand new art scene.

Time flies in Newcastle, just as fast as in London.

I happened upon a verse  that was anonymously circulated around Los Alamos just before the first ever atom bomb was tested.

“From this crude lab that spawned a dud. Their necks to Truman’s ax uncurled. Lo, the embattled savants stood, and fired the flop heard round the world”

It is to form a page from a publication I’m making to help plot my way through the residency. “From this crude lab” has stuck with me, even if their fears were unfounded and Trinity was deemed a success.

I’m sure there was also a profound fear of success in this case.





Ten weeks on the Experimental Studio residency have flown by and it’s time to invite you to my open studio event in Newcastle, running alongside Vane Gallery’s closing celebration of their current exhibition – which marks the tenth anniversary of the opening of the gallery.
I’ve had an amazing time up here in the North East, it would be great to see you and show you what’s been occurring.

Kirsty Harris: ​From this Crude Lab
Saturday 5th September 2-7pm
Open Studio

Vane Gallery: Ten
Saturday 5th September
Last day to see the exhibition with closing celebration 5-7pm

First Floor
Commercial Union House
39 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne

To mark the end of her residency at The Experimental Studios, London-based artist Kirsty Harris is opening her studio to the public and will be present to discuss her work.

Harris has spent the last ten weeks developing her practice based around the imagery and data collected on nuclear tests. Creating oil paintings on linen and glass, cyanotypes, short films, silverpoint and carbon paper drawings, she has used the space and time provided to step up in scale whilst still keeping a strong element of experimentation. Quotes are scattered, shadows are thrown through glass paintings of mushroom clouds with un-stretched linens pinned directly onto the wall.

I’ve been thinking of the studio as my Laboratory, try to set lots of experiments going and waiting to see where the results take me instead of predicting the final product.

Supported by the Arts Council England


The Experimental Studio has been a collaboration between Vane and Breeze Creatives.


I made a little cyanotype den last night in order shield my painted paper from the light. It’s not mega sensitive so I’m hoping it did well enough?

SCHOOL GIRL ERROR – I put the acetate on the wrong way for a couple of minutes, so we’ll see how it turns out soon, it is turning though…

The negative image is made from one of my silverpoint drawings, I have enlarged, inverted it and added some contrast. Printed out on 4 pieces of acetate instead of one, I’m hoping the sellotape won’t show very much. (I can’t find anywhere to get large acetates printed in Newcastle) Any pointers are welcomed!

Later on Nick and I are giving cyanotypes on glass another go. First time it simply disappeared…second time Nick exposed the glass for longer but…it still disappeared…so 3rd time lucky? It’s very sad when a day’s work washes away down the drain, but all part of the process!

If Baker (above) turns out well I’m hoping to submit it to the Angus Hughes Gallery open exhibition…the deadline is today though, with delivery tomorrow, so maybe it’s a bit much to expect.

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Last night we had another round of crits, Paul Jex, Melanie Kyles and Nick Christie showed work, here is a little round up;

Paul Jex is currently showing in the Project Space at Vane Gallery. His large scale posters pair well known artists together, evoking ideas of invented exhibitions, bill boards and glossy ad pages such as Art Review or Frieze. As the curator of the posters he has chosen not to reveal why the artists have been paired. His preoccupation with monochrome art plays an important role in a lot of his work and the luscious colours chosen can provide subtle clues to an art enthusiast/detective.

We were talking about how artists are basically filters for information and Paul’s practice is such a great example of this. He has amassed such a wealth of data in his studio, collecting every Howard Hodgkin image he can get his hands on from the guardian, hundreds of obituaries, postcards, train tickets, reviews and magazines.

Preceding the takeover of digital photography, Paul would photograph art works in museums/galleries and has since created a massive spreadsheet holding all the data about the work, the artist, where the photo was taken etc. Investigating the different ways we experience art works, he referred to a well thumbed art book from his teenage years and flicked to a page where he had seen a small image of a painting. He happened upon it in real life a few years later and been totally blown away. Even collecting the same image of a painting from different newspapers, you can see how little effort is sometimes put into colour matching in these publications. They can look completely different, especially when printed upside down (as in one case).

Paul’s work inevitably leads to him questioning, “What exactly am I going to do with my findings and how will I display them?” A vital question for all artists. Is it important to show the mass of Paul’s data all at once, or could fragments represent this adequately and give the viewer more time to digest fewer images? Should pieces be framed, in a vitrine, printed into a pamphlet (yet another step away from the original) collated into a book? Paul’s studio is much like a museum with a permanent collection hidden away and maybe this is a good way of thinking about it.

His works also speaks about the art market, referencing tricks that artists have played at auction houses and with collectors, art history and the western world’s view of art history being so influential on young minds, in particular his.

Paul’s work is 90% research and chance discovery. I’m looking forward to see where it shoots off in the future. One W.I.P. in particular I think is such an amazing idea, but I don’t want to drop a *spoiler* –  so watch out for his exhibitions yourself.


Melanie Kyles has a studio at Ampersand Inventions crammed with all manner of art materials, ostrich feathers, pins and needles. She told us how she went on a trip to London to see the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A and ended up spending all her money on Ostrich feathers in a trimming shop.

Melanie quite obviously revels in the chance to collaborate, an example being a recent aquisition by Northern Goldsmiths of a piece made by Mel, Jonpaul Kirvan and Nick Christie. JP created the digital illustration, Nick made the (double printed) metallic screen print and Melanie embellished the piece with genuine Swarovski crystals and pearls. This was to celebrate the refurbishment of Northern Goldsmiths and is now hung at the top of the grand staircase in their store in Newcastle. Future collaborations also sound very intriguing.

Having recently been studying constellations Melanie seems drawn to their vast nature, but also the way humans have recorded them in the past, often illuminating books with elaborate illustrations of creatures and stories from the skies. I can imagine her intricate embellishments bringing the cosmos alive beautifully.

Her interest in romantic writing and fables are apparent throughout, while looking at Paul’s photographs she pointed out a painting of Isabella from a Keats poem who’s brother cruelly kills her unworthy lover. She explained Isabella goes to find his body, digs it up, cuts of his head and plants it in the pot of a basil tree. The tree is then watered by her tears and grows from his brain but his brothers finally take the pot and she dies of grief. What a story. Mean brothers alert!

It can be a challenge to balance the more commercial side of work with the fine art end and this is what Mel is working through at the moment. Paul suggested she could work towards a long term fine art piece with elaborate embellishment and apply to the Royal Academy Summer Show next year – a good idea as she can spread the intricate work out and do a little each week. Melanie also runs a successful ASOS business online, which you can peruse HERE.


Nick Christie showed us a little update of work he had developed since our crit only last week;

Please excuse the photograph, my camera couldn’t really cope with the extreme contrast, the base layer is SO black, almost like velvet. Maybe you can see the top layer better (which is screen printed) on the photo below. The image has been pared down to represent just a screen rather than a whole phone, which I think is a good idea as it makes for a touch more ambiguity and intrigue.

We’re all looking forward to seeing where this experimental series leads.


It was the 5th Birthday of NewBridge Projects recently, celebrated with their exhibition…Do we need to Grow up? Artists showing – Minna L Henriksson, Timothy Ivison & Julia Tcharfas
, James Lomax, Agnieszka Polska and Joseph Shaw. The space is closed for summer but reopens on 10th-11th September for a 2 day event.

Here’s their manifesto;
“Supporting artists to investigate and challenge the boundaries of contemporary art practice. The NewBridge Project is an artist-led community comprising of over 80 artist studios, an exhibition space and book shop based in a 29,000sqft former office block in Newcastle city centre.”

Queer in print was also showing in their bookshop with Queer Zines, magazines and independent underground publications.  It was part of the Northern Pride (http://www.northern-pride.com/event/mainevent) celebrations which took place during July in Newcastle and is now in the 8th year. Pride was soooo busy with a really welcoming attitude, lovely to behold!

In the book shop I was particularly taken with a typed out letter, pinned up on the wall, from one member of the Gay Skinheads who seemed to have bitten off a bit more than he could chew organising a trip to London for 40 skinheads. He was worried about how any hotel would react when they all turned up late at night. An intimate insight into the mundane admin nightmares of belonging to the Gay Skinheads, back in the day.
A publication I enjoyed was PINUPS

Each issue seems to be devoted to one particular naked man. I was drawn to Issue 9 featuring Evan, with nothing but a beach ball and some coastline. Printed in black and white risograph the full magazine folds out to reveal a giant poster of Evan. They are created by Christopher Schulz and you can read more about him in this article.


Lizz Brady hopped on the TransPennine express (sort of) over and up to Newcastle to visit me for a couple of days. Lizz is the founder of Broken Grey Wires – An ongoing investigation into art and mental health, developing a dialogue between contemporary artists.


We met when Henrietta Armstrong and myself (aka Madam-X and Lazy Susan) travelled over to Manchester to DJ at their website launch last November. They wanted DJs that were also artists and my good friend Paul Stanley, who had recently moved back to Manchester, recommended us. Now we are the house DJs for Broken Grey Wires – having recently played at their latest Exhibition opening Make Windows Where There Are Walls at Notting Hill Arts Club in London.

I have been interested in J. Robert Oppenheimer for quite a while now and had mentioned him to Lizz and she also found him intriguing, in fact she seemed to have a slight feeling of affection towards him. We talked about how his irrational behaviour sometimes took over (leaving a poisoned apple on his colleague’s desk over spring break…dropping a suitcase over a bridge onto a woman in front of whom he had embarrassed himself by trying to kiss, even though her partner had just left the train carraige) which seems a character so at odds with his work as a director of Los Alamos Laboratory in WWII. Such a contradictory character. Lizz was telling me about SteppenWolf by Herman Hesse, which I am about to read for the first time. Our conversations meandered on and on, from the duality of man to the Bentham theory – (a circular placement of inmates or patients with one guard watching over everyone from the centre position) how this would effect the inmates and the guard, eventually leadin full circle back to the atom. I like the way Lizz thinks and connects her different interests and ideas together. She’s like an alternative Wikipedia, the Lizzipedia (she’ll love that)

We decided to work on creating a gif as this was something we could develop together in separate locations after her visit had ended. We both are also drawn to subliminal imagery and installations, so how the gif will be displayed has become an important aspect of it.


I’m excited to see how it will turn out and will post up some more W.I.P. pics soon.