Well the meeting on site the other day was a bit weird. It has now been decided that the central column that houses my four monitors is to be positioned to one side of the room rather than in the centre as originally agreed. The over-riding reason for this appears to be nothing more than a more convenient availability of power source – which could quite easily have been sorted. It will change the dynamic of the installation, and I am not happy, but won’t bore you or myself going over this again as it appears to be a done deal. I do try and get my head around the practicalities of the situation from the client’s point of view, but have little time for what appears to just be laziness on a certain person’s (better not say who) part.

On the much more positive side, I feel like the piece is finally coming together.

When I was more inclined to draw, I developed a style that sort of ‘sculpted’ the image off the paper. I make a myriad of marks that cross reference each other and somehow, almost by magic, the image seems to form out of them. This technique has sort of transferred itself into the way I make my video work… and particularly this piece.

It has been a long process of trawling though to digitise the juicy bits into the computer, and then sifting upon sifting the clips until something that seems to gel comes out. It might be described as organised chaos, ‘cept it’s not really chaos cos I always know where I’m going once I get half way there. More like editing whilst in the ‘zone’ (the zone being somewhere between trance, dreaming and plain mania). I never think it’s going to work, but somehow I usually get there. It’s like explaining something to one’s self.

You knew it was there but you just couldn’t see it, sort of thing.

The only problem with this technique is that I’m not too sure how long the process is going to take, so being all ‘business- like’ and delivering to deadlines can be a bit hit and miss. Still – I really need to get this piece out of the door so it’s hair shirts and late night edits for me at the mo.

We are now booked to install the tower on Monday coming so I have to have something ready by then… eeeeek …. bye bye weekend!


(continued from previous posting)

I now spend soooo much of my time doing tedious ‘design' work for clients who pay my mortgage, that I could quite easily be accused of being fatally deluded in clinging to the self image of ‘artist'.

But there is another side to this.

I spend a far greater amount of my time thinking about my work as opposed to actually doing it. It's easy to think in all the small, secret moments that take no time to organise. I have developed a way of working that means that I can make the actual piece during intense periods of activity that have been set aside from the normal daily routine. These might take bloody ages to put together as a final finished piece, but I do somehow get there eventually. My point is I suppose, that the work I make now, has for me more sense of purpose and value than my other ‘full time' work ever did. I make it because I need to, because I have something genuine to say or explore, not because I have an arbitrary ‘sustained momentum' from academic training. So maybe (for me at least) fitting my artist endeavours into and around my life is actually a higher form of commitment that my ‘full time' practise ever was.

I realise this is a very big debate, alongside the related issues of how to fund ones practice. Perhaps I do dream of that fantastic benefactor who will enable me to devote more time to the work. I can't pretend that it's perfect (and I would certainly make far more work if I had more time/ funding) – but there is no doubt that I'm in no danger of drying up in my present situation – I have enough ideas stored away to make a person dizzy!

And hey… I sold another piece this week.. just imagine what I could do if I actually got my act together and had a show!


Something finally worked out with the Specials project. I have at last found a competent joiner type person, who is able to build the video tower, and who also actually had something to contribute in terms of good ideas as to how it might all fit together. Tomorrow we go on a site visit (I've shown him photos of the site and a plan) and hopefully within a week this thorny aspect of the project will be realised. I spend so much time thinking about the content and reasoning behind what I do, that I am increasingly aware, it is all too easy to let the actuality of putting the show together become somewhat secondary. I think my mentality is still right in there with the painter I imagine myself to be, considering the canvas, balancing everything, making it work on some imaginary plane, and then just hanging it in some pure white box. Nice and easy. So why do I continually make life difficult for myself by expanding the work so it no longer becomes a nail in the wall, ‘stick it up there' proposition, but instead requires irritating journeys out of my comfort zone. T'was ever thus.

Yesterday AN mag arrived. Now it may be a bit self referential (this blog being on the same website), but I really feel a need to comment/ empathise with a number of artists statements here.

It's something I have pondered of recent times – the work ethic versus the credibility of the work produced. I read a quote from Cathryn Jiggens (who has a blog on here) along the lines of "I was a high achiever during my academic studies and so have continued this work ethic into my practice beyond – as most artists do.." I misquote but that is the gist. It struck a chord. It sounded like me at some other point in my life. It was an assumption I made of myself. Hard work equals good work. Very Methodist.

But a lot of water has flowed under various bridges since. I spent many years after leaving my own college, devoting myself to my work, and, in the process, (and in hindsight) trying to sustain a momentum that originated from the very privileged position of having all that grant aided space in which to think. Not a bad thing – a great thing. But somehow (and I say this for me only) when I think of those ten or so ‘artistically intense' years after college I realise that the work was becoming increasingly ‘academic', ‘professional', ‘self-referential'. I might as well have had a ‘proper' career. I was churning it out.

Then I looked further up the page in AN. There was another quote from Stuart Mayes "Although I think of myself as an artist I realise that I spend the majority of my week away from my practice – being at work…isn't the same as being there doing it". Well I can certainly relate to that.


.. and so that was Christmas. This is traditionally the time when the masses attempt to unmass the amassed. Yes – join the gym in other words. Well (with no particular feeling of smugness) I can at least say I’ve been there and done that. If you had asked me three years ago what I thought of people who had to use up their surplus energy on a treadmill I would probably have been less than sympathetic to the cause. I was however converted to the gym a couple of years ago – as a much more controllable (and less painful) alternative to running round the streets of Newcastle (or not, as the case may be).

So here is the newly reformed and remodelled me. A veritable living sculpture. Well ok – I’m getting too carried away now. Anyway – I describe this only to paint the backdrop of my artistic progress over the last week or so.

I had planned to really get into my Specials piece over the xmas break. I have sooo much material to digitise and review before I can begin the process of properly piecing it all together. This of course isn’t necessarily the most appealing part of the process , and can typically involve me swearing a lot at computer screens and generally getting frustrated with my ‘state of the art’ technology. To be fair to myself I did try and make the effort – an hour stolen here – a couple of hours in the evening when others in my household were watching the tele etc. – but I wasn’t really getting my teeth into the job as the lure of chocolate pudding and re-runs of rubbish films lured me away like sirens onto the fatal rocks, beckoning like the hopeless candidates for x factor that you just can’t resist laughing at… (or loony inventions on dragon’s den for that matter).

So it was in this state of mind that I finally arrived at the gym for the damage limitation exercise, my preferred weapon of choice being the cross trainer for the big burn and a bit of a sweat.

Of course, even though I may appear to the rest of the world to be engaged in absent minded daydreaming, I am often sifting through the stack of ideas that keep floating across my little landscape of creativity. Well, perhaps not floating, more blown really.. and not like tumble weed down some desert track either.. no, more imagine a man (and this did once happen to me in real life) with a briefcase full of documents walking down a windy train platform. The case bursts open and all its contents – from the sandwiches that just land with a dull thud – to the many crisp white sheets of A4 – scrawled on and generally abused, scatter, blizzard like, along the platform.

Well there I was – on the cross trainer, on my virtual platform, and chasing those ideas in an erratic attempt to get them back into the case, and into some order. And – hey – it worked!

The thing about repetition is it can tend to free the mind into another, clearer space, where the A4 sheets get retrieved and, amazingly, new combinations of those ideas can suggest previously unconsidered ways forward.

In short, over a distance of 5 miles (ok I lie – 5 kilometres) I had mentally mapped all that must be done, in such a way as to provide me with a genuine high, and a sense of achievement that had no link to the distance travelled on one spot!



Well sometimes one is preoccupied with higher thoughts and all that stuff… and sometimes it just comes down to ‘who knows a good joiner??’

I have only one visit left to Specials before I have to get stuck into the hard work of sifting though all the material I’ve acquired, and make some sense out of it all.

At this point the many practicals rear their heads, not least of which is that I need a good, reliable, preferably amiable and certainly talented joiner to build my video tower for me.

Now I don’t imagine it’s gonna be difficult for someone with a little experience to put together – just needs to be flat, serene and able to house the four wide-screen monitors we have to put in it. I did have a man lined up – but I get the feeling he got a better offer – as he never returned my call to action.

Perfect example of capitalism in all its’ glory, working at its’ rudest and most aggressively selfish.

Ok sorry – it’s christmas. Don’t over react… time to be a little more forgiving to the errant tradesman. Only dear, errant tradesman you have left me with a little problem.

I did ring the Baltic – thought they might have a list of people who they use – ‘oh yes’ said the lady on the telephone- I’ll get someone to get back to you. Of course they never did (oh sugar… there goes my chance of a one man show in the new year).

Right – back to being mr niceguy.. I really do understand.. I really do understand that there must be far more pressing problems at the Baltic at the moment…

** Note to self ** try not to mention names in the new year – progressing in the art world is hard enough without the need to exercise ones’ desert dry wit in some larger direction.

So I digress…