A few months ago I made a little note in my notebook about an idea. Nothing special, just an experiment, but I thought I might explore it one day. Yesterday evening, going through one of the new art books I brought out here with me, I came across the work of an artist who had had the same idea and made it the focus of a major part of his practice. There is nothing particularly noteworthy in finding out that we are touching on already-chartered territory, but what is it that keeps us pressing on regardless? For some it may be akin to a drive to turn base-metal-into-gold for glory or wealth, but for most of us, I suspect, it is a very, very personal alchemy.

Yvonne, the old lady here, has small fields dotted about all around. She hasn’t worked them for a long time, and rarely ventures far now. A couple of years ago she came by and told me she was taking me for a walk. I wasn’t given much of an option, but it was perfectly pleasant (if a little slow), and as we walked she told me little bits and pieces about the area. One of the fields we passed was hers. She described how the apple trees (which were quite mature) had grown from where she had fed apples to her cows and they had ‘deposited’ the seeds. She held on to two cows until recently – to give her something to do, she said, but finally gave them up when they became too much for her. These cows didn’t get on with each other. She would drive them back and forth between the field and the barn one at a time. Naturally I got roped in to help on a few occasions. Although she certainly knows the local patois, her french is clear and precise. “Stand there” she would say, “and stop them from so-and-so”. Like I knew what I was doing.

She once told me how she fell through some rotten floorboards into the cow-byre below. “I landed on a cow. It just stared at me.”

One of the fields in which she used to keep the cows is on the dog-walking route. It too is becoming overgrown. There are small oak trees springing up, about knee-high now, but beyond that there are enormous drifts of wild thyme. In places it is not possible to set a foot down without stepping on some and releasing the smell of the oil. The scent this morning was unbelievable.

I have been working on the roof again, putting slates on sides of the dormer windows. I’m well outside my comfort zone, but it is so peaceful up there.

My scribblebook is my friend again. I’m looking forward to turning some of the ideas into reality.


For all my autonomy, I am still affected to some extent by the decisions of other people. For example, at some point over the next seven days or so, I will receive the yes-or-no outcome of two potentially significant decisions. Either way won’t be life-changing, but a yes could make things easier – if not make a difference. The frustrating thing is that there is an element of subjectivity, to a greater or lesser extent, over which I have no control. What do I do if the answer is a no? I carry on in the same direction as before, just maybe by a more circuitous route.


I’m thinking 6m x 10m or so. That’s fairly big, is it not? Ultimately the size will depend on location, but it’s not just a case of bigger is better. I have had a few thoughts on alternative placements, too.

The next Art Space Portsmouth International Residency starts on September 1st http://aspinternationalresidency2011.blogspot.com/2011/08/dominique-ghesquiere.html?spref=fb


I want to be back in the studio. I want to be ordering materials. I want to be making things. Having slept on them, and cogitated through a couple of days, I’m seriously excited about some of the new concepts. I can’t fulfil them here. I also want to look at the possibilities around very large spaces – temporary, maybe – to install and photograph the works.


The brilliant http://www.marketproject.org.uk/ is holding a public debate Too many artists on 9th November. Here are my suggestions to get the ball rolling:

The ‘panel’ (me) proposes an annual cull, by instigating a variety of systems in order to maximise efficiency.

The first cull will be broadly modelled on an annual art prize. Four nominations will be made as normal, and all nominees – apart from the winner – will be quietly put to sleep as soon as the canapes have been handed out. Of course, all artists over fifty are not eligible in the first place and will have been discreetly disposed of before the event at the rear of the building. Furthermore, unless the winner goes on to significantly develop their oeuvre within (say), three years, he or she will also be ‘tidied away’. This will have taken care of all artists over fifty and, usually, four others.

The second cull will be of PV regulars: using eye-motion-scanning technology, all artist/PV-goers who survey the beer and/or the crowd before they look at the art will be terminated forthwith. Many of these will be found in large herds on the street outside the galleries and therefore easily rounded up. Any artist who looks at the art first will be allowed free passage. Unless they are, or look like, a bit of a twat.

Still on the subject of PVs, all sycophants will be summarily executed.

Limiting the range of environments in which artists proliferate will be beneficial: several promising schemes are already in place (such as the removal of meaningful financial support, in a nutshell). The panel is not overly concerned about the private sector stepping in to fill the void, so no further remedial action is anticipated as things stand. There are other potential targets, however: for example, we propose closing down galleries where the office staff don’t look up from their iMacs when anyone enters the premises. Although this is already widely recognised a form of natural selection, the inevitable should be accelerated wherever possible. It is a form of kindness, after all. Acceptable mitigation will include where it can be demonstrated that the offender immediately tabbed from Facebook to updating the gallery’s website. These are more likely to be unpaid interns in their fifth week in the role of being ‘a family friend popping in to help out on a strictly voluntary basis’.

Also for the chop:

Any artist who sends an extra image for an open submission, in the hope that the judges will make a special dispensation just for them.

Any artist who has upset the general public, irrespective of whether or not any of the latter are able to correctly name the single piece of work they saw in the newspaper.

Any artist who is not fully conversant in cascading style sheets. Also any artist who can afford to pay someone else to be fully conversant in cascading style sheets, especially if that person is another artist who couldn’t afford to pay someone else – etc etc.

Any artist who has dissed Tracey and/or Damien, but also paid to get into Frieze.

Anyone who can draw well is dispensable, as is anyone who can’t draw. In a similar vein, all new-media practitioners will be considered suspect, as will exponents of traditional media. If you have more than one type of oil in your studio you should make provisions for your family now.

All artists with a really good statement. Even though there won’t be many of those.

Anyone who ‘does art’ as a hobby. Unfortunately this means that anyone who holds down a different full-time occupation in order to support their art practice will also be terminated. Rules are rules.

Any artist who sports an ostentatious moustache.

Any artist who uses the word ‘palimpsest’ in conversation.

Those remaining will be tested on their ability to complete a risk assessment form. The panel is still in heated discussions as to whether the ability or the inability to successfully complete any paperwork of this nature should constitute the reason that the individual concerned should be euthanised.