A condition of receiving my re:view bursary was to share my experience of the bursary with my peers, so when I was asked by the Bluemonkey artists network based at Towner, Eastbourne I had the perfect opportunity. It was also a great time to re asses the last 9 months and think  about what might come next.

Unfinished business is an event in the Bluemonkey calendar where an artist presents their work at any stage in process and can ask for feedback in any form that will support them.

Reflecting on the work I had done I was surprised how much there was and yet (to my self critical eye which I can now keep more in check) what also seemed so little given the many possibilities. (Its OK I tell myself I have the rest of my life to fit this in ….there is time!) I have had a wide open mind for the last few months which was one of my aims. This has led me to keep trying more and more new ideas out without any fixed idea of where they will go. So I have a lot of started projects and not so much tangible presentable work. But this in itself is revealing as much of the work I have made is in new and varied formats – and after my Bluemonkey presentation a respected fellow artist helpfully pointed out that I had a the chance to make films or a book or both and not to restrict myself to existing formats which I was subconsciously using as a bench mark for quality. Kaboom! Suddenly I was liberated and found that actually I make work most naturally with unconventional materials (I was using shoe polish to draw with at art college) and that in all that I have been doing the trace of a physical presence has been a key factor not the form of the work. The irony is that I told my partner this and his response was ‘but that’s what you’ve always done, its just who you are!’ #DOH!

I am better able to see and asses and stand back from what I am doing now and feel like I have a clearer idea of how to keep my process fresh. I am also looking for opportunities to use collaboration of skills to open up new work for me with a new level of confidence. As its all about trying something out in the present and seeing where it takes me. (make now – edit much much later)

So the season now is to set a plan. I want to make some site specific rotational structures which stem from drawings done onsite at Ashburnham. I am presently researching this and will apply for funding to make them along with a book of images and a collaborative audio response to the images.

The project has changed a lot since I first thought of it in September and has gained integrity as I have trimmed down and focused on what work I want to make out of the resources I have around me. Another reminder to me that work with longevity takes as much time to figure out and there is no need to rush!

The only way I have got to this point is to keep testing out ideas that make perfect sense in my head until I try them  becoming something else in physical reality that is in nearly every case better.

Clarification of what idea I am researching and what work I am making is now embedded in me and I trust myself now to step out of a potentially self limiting trajectory.

Yesterday on site I made a huge drawing at the edge of Broadwater lake using the wooden posts on the jetty and a reel of VHS tape. The tape I am collecting for a drawing workshop I have been asked to lead and I wanted to find out how long a tape was. Just by winding it round the posts it became instantly a moving line drawing (something very exciting as it fits the brief so well of play, human and elemental intervention) – the weather was ideal with a glassy lake disturbed only slightly by breeze and sun flashing the reflection on the tape and the water behind.

Requests to create more skating drawings have enabled me to continue this theme of searching for a trace or an impression such as a line or curve created by physical movement.  To risk pushing it further in new locations is a challenge and always an opportunity; for example planning a ‘drink and draw’ session I am going to be working in an exciting large industrial location and because of  certain limitations I am forced therefore to creating new ideas, new work, trying new materials out of necessity…. all of which are essential to my progress keeping it fresh and a little bit dangerous.

Looking back to the coaching I received last year I realise I no longer want to be one of the greatest artists ever (sure it would be amazing but an empty aim in itself) but am content with the honest day to day practise of trying out ideas and enjoying the process – working with others serves this twofold it presents opportunities and also feeds in new ideas and fresh approaches at the same time preventing me from over controlling. I can now step back with more confidence and say what it is that I want from the opportunity and then let it evolve within that remit –  it serves to further my own development while honouring those collaborators input as well.


Getting an idea out from inside of my head where it makes sense in every way and turning it into reality is the process I have been exploring in a 2 dimensional way through painting and drawing. Now I am looking at the possibility of applying for a grant to fund making larger scale 3 dimensional work involving collaboration and others skills, elements which are beyond my present limitations. So to make the ideas real I have to find out what will happen when I start to make the transition from thought to concrete object.

I started by winding tape between trees to see whether I can make a rotational drawing in 3D then it started to rain heavily so I sheltered under trees and tried to work out ways of making this image in my head a reality. I was wanting to find trees that grew in approximate circles and then wind tape or webbing round them to re create my big rotational drawing as a disc within the trunks. Looking around the trees it is incredibly hard to get to them through the brambles and bog and to identify which are within the parameter of a potential circle – literally remembering which ones to mark between trying to get to them was too confusing on my own….I needed another pair of eyes feet and hands!

So as the rain seemed to lighten I walked on to another part of the wood and found berries glowing on the ground in the strange half light of a rainy morning so I played around a bit to try and get out of my funk about not being able to make big tape drawings in the trees yet… then I found the leaves also glowing with colour against the overcast darkness. So I collected and laid out another circle I kept walking throughout the day and made further circular work in the woods and carried on thinking…I find the only way to get an idea out of my head is to try to make stuff and then make more stuff until something clicks – its not apparently a very intellectual process on the face of it but there is a lot of cerebral sensory activity going on which is often unseen and undervalued – So I like the thought that this concept of rotation I’m working with is continuing to make the invisible visible in yet another way.

I went back later and worked in the studio without much conscious idea of what I was doing…I call it pointless painting as the work will get covered and sanded and re painted many times. – but thinking about it …doesn’t this actually reflect the process I was using in the woods playing with ideas and trying stuff….sometimes just for the sake of literally moving my body and making something I can see or feel. Then leaving the work moving on and re making it in a different place with different materials. This is thinking outside the head.

1 Comment

Spin is a site specific temporary drawing made out of mirror tiles. I wanted to play with the flashing flecks of light reflected from the water nearby and to create something that related to the rotational work I was making in the studio. Spin was subtle and became apparent if you were almost on top of it making it a very personal and intimate outdoor experience.

I had been thinking of doing something like this for ages but suddenly the moment came and I had to do it, I find this happens a lot and as long as its possible to make the work its best to go with the moment as part of the ongoing process. If this process gets halted for any reason it can be confusing or stifling. Its best to get going and not think too far ahead.

Where I am working there was a conference due to be held around a creative theme  onsite and so it became a natural response to leave Spin out for this and for me to leave an installation in the studio space where I work so that people could go and visit it and take part in it. So I left Trace, a selection of natural materials in piles with big outdoor brushes for visitors to sweep into circular forms an idea stemming from Ash with brush which I had made a year earlier.

Ash with brush, 2014

I invited people to play with the materials and to use the moment to leave their own trace for the next person to develop. I went along during the weekend and was delighted to find a couple of people doing just this.


I have been working at Ashburnham since mid May, at the end of July I took a natural break as it was the summer holidays and both family commitments and Ashburham site use made it impossible to settle down to work. This created a really good (if reluctantly adopted) space for what has been a period of research and development to consolidate in my mind. Just sometimes the constraints of life are really important in structuring time allowing new understandings of what I’m doing. Naturally I would charge ahead and just keep making work but having to wait and let ideas sit for much longer is frustrating but also rewarding – slowing me  down and helping me to see that considering and thinking or even not thinking and being removed from something is as important as making the work itself and a critical part of the process.

In Sept I was back and following an invitation to exhibit at Rye Studio School’s student curated exhibition Right Here Right Now found myself really busy again. This was a really interesting proposition for me – after originally stating I wasn’t going to do any exhibitions whilst at Ashburnham this was different. It wasn’t commercial and it was in a learning process led environment and as such fitted perfectly with my own development in process. I am showing a very large drawing 2m high which was the culmination of the R and D period.

Called rotation, it combines elements of air, water, movement, disturbance and has become a symbol of my experience to date whilst also providing a lead into what to do next. Another opportunity then arose immediately and that was to make an installation for a conference happening onsite at Ashburnham. More about this in a later post I think.

While I was visiting http://www.ryestudioschool.co.uk/ talking to the students it became apparent they were interested in my skate drawings and so it seemed appropriate to suggest we did a collaborative piece on one of the exhibition weekends. This became two days and two enormous drawings. Earth skate rotation 3x3m was hung on the outside of the building which was amazing!

Making the work with the students was a really interesting experience in terms of control, supervision, direction and letting go!

I was really delighted with the outcomes and the works have also pushed me forwards taking me into new areas and having spontaneous input from others was directly responsible for this. Collaborative work is clearly another form of progressing practice as an artist a place where ideas collide and energy is released as result.


Disturbance is a good thing. It creates change and releases energy. I feel like I am more at home at Ashburnham now and disturbed is now a ‘normal’ state to be in. Realisations are rising up like bubbles to the surface and popping. My inclination is to grip on and try to understand and ‘learn’ from each one but it dawned on me this week that in doing that I miss all the others and actually its better to let them all keep rising and bursting without following them up – the experience is much more overall and less specific. I cannot possibly articulate everything that is taking place so in true residency mode I go with the moment and write what comes to mind in the present the rest of it is mine.

My work really does speak for itself to there is no need to justify it. No need to explain or dictate. I feel like I am now steering with my periferal senses not governing with my head. It still feels clumsy and difficult but that’s OK . Most art is seen and written about in retrospect which presents a very sterile and finished view of the work and the artist. I bet all ‘now famous’ artists were a lot more human than we give them credit for. This is important for me as an artist now because I can see that in the process of creating work the whole point is that I CAN’T see where it is going and each step is exactly that – a step towards something and a step away from the last thing.

There is no hierarchy in these steps each piece is worth the same and is as necessary as the one before. There is a constant shifting and sense of movement.

I am trying not to edit anything yet but one thought that sticks is ‘disturbance’ …in Ashburnham it is elemental, the air, water and surroundings move constantly buffeted by wind or reflecting light or simply just growing quite visibly. The whole place is alive, flickering and teaming and I am only a small part of its aliveness.

I am not just starting to make work , I have been making work since I was little, this is a continuum, an ongoing movement. I think its called living.

I am really enjoying stepping out of the rat (art ) race and finding space to be myself not hustled by deadlines or others influence. I think I am learning to trust myself more. Not feeling I have to justify anything I do and using that freedom to let the work speak for itself is very empowering but not something you can be taught. I think you have to live it and be it and keep on doing it to really experience it.