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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That moment in the evening
Coming back from nowhere in particular
Thinking about nothing at all
The cars line the streets
And the street stretches ahead
The lights are not yet on
Yet there is an eerie glow
Spreading slowly across the sky
Turning in discomfort
Enormous in its reach
It does not feel natural
But yes, it’s kind of beautiful
And I soak up its aura


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Then and now
each slice of life slashes experience like a knife
Streaming past, fast,
elusive, ephemeral,
unable to grasp

Data, images, history, time,
moulded experience, subjective – mine
Yet patterns emerge,
like a haunting musical refrain,
gnawing at the edges of your being,
a dull and piercing pain

Powerlessness and collective guilt,
rumbling, grumbling, tumbling waves on the shore
converge, subvert and obliterate what went before

And what is left, the dust and residue
hangs in the air, an incomprehensible cloud
hiding behind the here and now
We breathe it in and blow it out


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It’s the start of a new year and the start of new art work. Currently I am visiting my repository of photographs and cropping these in different ways – fragments of fragments in a sense and seeing how I alternatively view and present these. I am trying to apply an emotional neutrality, as if my take on things is simply a fleeting, temporal glimpse much like a photo on the move, before my attention focuses on to something else.

At the moment I am printing these off on Japanese paper which is meant to be suitable for an inkjet printer, although so far, the printing is not entirely successful. I’ll need to think about what to do about this. I will be collaging and painting within these – applying iterative processes but with different outcomes.

There are various other things I want to think about. One of these is how to use recycled material to print and paint upon, use as a base or frame within, whether this be old cardboard, scraps of wood, or alternative materials such metal scraps. Any suggestions welcome! Also I want to introduce new mark making mediums to my exploration and continue to play with and develop my art writing.


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Distance

I have been doing something different this month; working in the hospitality sector to bring in some extra money and also to shake up the focus of my observation and experience. It came at a good time. Just before I started I was a victim of common assault as I was on my way to my studio. This altered things – the place that I looked forward to going to be creative and experimental changed to one of fear and unease. I hope with time that this will resolve itself but it has been a shaky old few weeks and of course all swaying on the uncertainty and stress of these Covid times.

The making of art currently seems a long way away, but it does not concern me. I know that as soon as I am ensconced again within my studio, the ideas will start flowing, fuelled by the last month’s going-ons. There are things I know I want to play with. These are mainly to do with process and materials; experimenting with different papers, collage and print transfer. An art friend and I are also going to be putting together a proposal for an exhibition so at some point we will be sitting down, gathering our thoughts and trying to put down in writing our research interests and ideas.

It is important to me that I carry on with my creative art writing. It is hard to know how to continue with this, so I will occasionally use this blog as a space to experiment and share. It won’t always be about my visual art practice.

Once thing I do feel (which I suspect is the same for many people) is a certain level of exhaustion where I don’t want to think about anything, question anything, reveal anything. I just want to be and to hover over the facts and statistics and continual murmurings of stress and outcomes.


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