The reality of juxtaposition.

It has been just over 3 months since my Degree Show at Wimbledon College of Art (UAL). I had so much planned once this was over, so many projects I wanted to get started but in truth I have been like a fly trapped in a milk bottle – buzzing around wildly but achieving very little. It has been said to me that in order to make progress it is best to focus on one thing at a time.  This is all well and good, but I think for many of artists this is just not viable. I need to earn some income, I need (and want) to produce some art, I want (and need) to collaborate, exhibit and experiment. I also have a family, so hence have all the activities and responsibilities that entails. So my mission in respect to my art practice these days is to try and focus on just a few things at a time, and to try to relax into it more.

I have recently been playing with making small collages, physical and digital. They have tended to try and evoke a sense of place, a quick escape route in my head. One is based in Spain; Andalucia region. I have juxtaposed and transferred images of photographs I had taken on past holidays onto a solid oak wood block that I had previously primed with a mixture of rabbit glue and marble dust. It is relatively small; approximately 27 cm square. In keeping with my usual practice, I painted and drew upon this. I wanted the surface and image to be deliberately rough and incomplete in parts – as if an artefact with the surface showing through in places – like touching the walls of an old city, the heat of the sun bleaching the paintwork and drawing delicate cracks upon its history.

The other is a ‘New Zealand’ digital collage -in a wildish sort of state. I am from New Zealand originally but have not been back there for quite a number of years. Living in London, whilst I love it, there is a reassuring primal ruggedness about New Zealand which I miss and wanted to capture.


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The ground rolls.

Whether I am looking, perusing, or simply standing, feeling the solidity under me, it nevertheless possesses, embarks and gives a slow almost indiscernible rumble.

I am always humbled by the fact that it goes further and further below me, older than I can possibly imagine, a core, inner and outer, the latter made up of liquid iron and nickel – malleable, constantly changing, responsible for the earth’s magnetic field, the inner, mainly iron, dense and pressurised such that it behaves as a solid.

And the heat! This core, a burning mass, as hot as the sun. It defies explanation and feels to me like the outside is on the inside and the inside is on the outside. I love the idea of an earthly and cosmic connection entwinned intrinsically with our very being.

I have been working on a small series of mixed media works made of paper collage and painting where the painted ground plays an important part in determining the final piece. The collage fragments are pieces of photographs, loose cut outs of mainly nature and the urban environment.

After adhering them to the painted surface I step back to get an idea of what this composition so far suggests to me. Then working with paint, I follow what I see as patterns or movements. I try to leave a little time between each step, as this loosens up my perceptions. The earth spins and the ground that I stand on shifts and shudders as the way that I see things continually mutates.


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There is an investigation.

Something is to be found but I don’t know what. Collected moments have been captured in a particular area, in particular streets, focusing on graphic design, signage, lettering and evidence of historical fame.

Somehow the breaking up of experience creates more of an appeal than an elusive whole. Pieces of scenes allows for the opening up of questions and a myriad of open-ended possibilities. Where could that be? What does it mean? Why is this particular aspect revealed? What am I to understand from this? The rust of time scratches our curiosity. I seek the answers but each clarification often seems to create more uncertainties. At times there is comfort in the hidden, and other times there is a macabre fascination in the hunt for the truth.

Puzzles, quizzes, murder mysteries or the pronouncement of what appear to be straight forward questions. The disclosing is never simple.


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These words as I write encompass possibilities. Yes, if I wanted I could choose to defy the linear nature of the structure and conventions of the written paragraph. I could explode the visual layout and present in an alternative format but I think this would be too easy. Instead I’d rather utilise what we think we know, specifically to play with it; re-framing those coded understandings that allow us to exchange language to communicate a premise. Slants of light and shade can mask the reading in front of us.

The borders that make up a sentence; the capital letter, the comma, the full-stop, give us a beginning, a pause and an ending. But it is not as simple as that. What else comes into play in our compositions? What particular words are enclosed and what do they suggest to us? We can so easily assume certain words and phrases can mean the same thing to everyone, particularly when it is spoken or written in the same language. Yet the constant impossibility of language translation to articulate everything as it is meant to be understood surely is evidence enough that language is malleable and fluid. Everything is in a state of constant flux and that certainty of what I see and understand is as stable and unmoving as a shadow on the ground.

Magician, psychologist, anthropologist, film director – when we communicate each of us throws into the ring an array of possible readings and transformations. The paint upon the canvas, the movement of the gesture and mark making, the tone of the composition, the fetishes we reveal and display. Words and sentences are not solitary entities. They are alive and potent, carved and sculptured, an orchestra of history, culture, interconnections and displacements cast out into the air and falling differently every time. Even a copy or reproduction is not the same as the one before. It sits in a different place of time and reading.

I pass by some windows and what I see reflects so much more than the physical environment outside. The images and shapes shimmer, dance and entrance me. What I see today will differ tomorrow as the surrounding world changes and my imagination is stirred.


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The broken down spaces could be called triangular, rectangular, prism-like but borderless. There is a crossing over, an infiltration, one piece encroaches upon another but as quickly as each aspect appears, it can disappear, out of view and out of sight as if it was never there.

She didn’t know this neighbourhood. A visitor, she wandered down the streets, noticing insignificant details and managing to miss well-known local landmarks. Her footsteps and eyes set the journey and she attempts to capture her visual experience with the camera on her phone. She feel watched. Looking up she sees Telecom Tower hovering above her.

You are all within MY neighbourhood. I stand as a giant among you overseeing urban landscapes you could not possibly imagine. I observe as the activity below ebbs and wanes depending upon the season, the time of day, the severity of global crises. I do not care. Structures and buildings come and go, many have been here, long before I, their crumbling surfaces turning to dust.

It is tired. How many times must it endure the changes inflicted upon it? Every year a little more of its brickwork gives way and needs to be patched up or replaced. It has served many purposes, a home for the gentry, an inn, and a nail bar with a couple of pokey flats at the top. It loses track but feels the indignity of losing its original high standing. It sighs. The windows rattle, the stairways creak and the walls give a slight shudder, disturbing an insect nesting in its crevices.

The masonry bee decides to move house. This hole has been its home for as long as it can remember, but it no longer feels stable or comfortable. It will seek a new cavity, in a sunny south facing wall in an old property in a different neighbourhood. Yes, it is time to upscale. It gives a small buzz of pleasure as the purr of a yellow van idles away below.

It is not here for long, a couple of minutes at most as its occupant delivers its contents. It is a nomad of sorts, belonging to no particular territory, although looking forward to its resting place at night, where its arthritic parts can attempt to recuperate. It is so very tired. There are bits of it that will not last much longer. Yet they are a family, working together; each is dependent on the other. Its unknown destinations and future is called into question. It trundles on its way, crossing spaces and neighbourhoods, in and out of view.

It passes her briefly but all that she registers is a slither of yellow as it sidles past.

Annoyingly the van is not always in my field of view, weaving its way around the streets, obscured by the landscape, the continual building works and equipment. Although I can see that it momentarily pauses by a nail bar, a converted old drinking establishment, where a bee quickly darts past on-route to a new neighbourhood.


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It has been a while since I have blogged, mainly because I have been focusing on finishing my final dissertation for my Masters followed by a certain amount of flummoxing about with family commitments mixed with needing to not do very much at all.

I am very happy to say I was awarded a distinction for my Masters. As I have said before, I very much enjoyed the course and found out quite a lot about myself in the process, particularly in respect to how much I enjoyed researching and writing. My final piece was a diarised performative piece of writing about a day in my life on a journey to my studio woven together with philosophical and theoretical context discussing the thinking and imagining that takes place during this journey. I brought in different voices such as a French character, a pigeon, an antique bowl, my grandmothers plait and a blue plastic bag.

What is next I wonder? I am very keen to keep the momentum going. I am looking into residencies and other projects. I have been doing some gentle perusing of undertaking a PHD but this requires a lot more detailed and thorough thought and investigation. It is probably more important for me at this point to explore the wider genre of performative writing, particularly in relation to art practice.

I am starting to get back to my studio although will use the space for more than producing visual art. I definitely see my art practice as having stretched out, fingering and entwining art-writing in combination and synthesis with my practical mixed media work.

I include within my blog today a few extracts from my Masters of Research Art: Theory and Philosophy dissertation. I hope you enjoy them.


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