I was awarded the Metal International residency to Shanghai as part of the Liverpool Art Prize and was in residence for four weeks in the city during November 2012.

This blog now charts how works begun in Shanghai continue to be developed back in my studio in St Helens.


I’m not sure how this blog will progress now, as I’ve started a Re:view bursary blog, so you might find more updates pertaining to this body of work over there, and I don’t want to duplicate myself.


Today I’ve been working on using the rubber stamp drawing process with stop motion animation, projection and more rubber stamps. Below is a video that I shot of the animation projected over the top of the drawing (sorry about the radio in the background). I’m about to start another stop-motion animation drawing with the stamps, but I got all set up, did some tests, then my camera battery needed charging. So to the computer for some blogging it is!

A stop motion animation made using rubber stamps projected over a drawing made using rubber stamps.

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I felt myself getting into a rut again with the stamped arrow drawings, but had a breakthrough on Wednesday this week. I’d always had in my mind that I could use this stamping process along with an animation process, so I had a go at photographing the drawings I’d made – panning across the surface of the drawing and seeing how that looks as a video.

I’ve projected those videos back onto the drawings and am quite excited about the combination. I think there’s going to be some mileage in how the still paper interacts with the moving projection. I was at the Duchamp, Johns, Cage & Rauschenberg exhibition yesterday and among all the other interesting things there, there was a room on presence and absence – there is an interesting parallel between the permanence of the print and the temporariness of the projection and how they interact.

This morning I’ve made a drawing specifically for projection (although I’ve since played with layering it within the video edit) and thought I’d share it here. It was quite interesting how making the drawing for projection produced a flow on the paper that I hadn’t tried yet – a way of not thinking about the aesthetic of the drawing too much (another link to seeing the Cage show yesterday maybe?)

Test animation using rubber-stamp drawings.


I’ve lots to share, it’s been six weeks since I did the photograms and I’ve been having fun pushing the work more and refining the presentation of what I’ve already made.

I’ve framed up the photograms and I’m increasingly happy with them. I showed them, along with my other current work, to Lorenzo Fusi at a portfolio review at Castlefield Gallery in March. He felt that the photograms and the drawings were more dynamic than my proposals for the digital projection works, but I think that I agree with him and I know that I’m at the start of a process with that work.

After doing the photgrams I felt that I’d got into a rut with each piece of work following a prescribed pattern (left/right/up or down), so I’ve been to John Moores University to get some arrows cut into rubber stamp material using their laser cutting machine. I’ve also had them cut interlocking panels out of plywood to make display boxes for my pinned collages. I’ve spent the last 3 weeks adjusting, gluing and spray painting the boxes and three of them are finished, the last one is nearly there. I’ve been reeeeaaaalllyy patient with making these as I want them to look great, and I know that when I spray paint things that they always look rubbish because I rush. So I didn’t. And they don’t.

The rubber stamps of the arrows have been really freeing. I’ve been ‘drawing’ with them and I’m able to try different flows that I wasn’t able to do when I was tracing the outlines or working ‘blind’ in the photograms. I’ve been trying to make myself work responsively to the page and the marks I’m making, trying not to think too hard, and pushing past the ‘don’t waste the expensive white paper’ gremlins. (Thanks twitter folks for their ‘just get on with it’ support, it was a great help)

I’ve had a clear down of the wall where I peg works in progress and recent experiments and am now displaying the boxes so that I can photograph them properly. It’s really refreshing to have a change of content in the studio, I’m going to look at the three sets of work (photograms, collages, rubber stamp works) and decide where to go next.

ooh, I meant to also write here that I’ll be starting an off-shoot blog from this, as I’m fortunate to be receiving a Re:View Bursary from a-n. I’m going to have critical support from artists who have an established practice in digital interactive media and from staff and students at Salford University who can help me to develop my proposal for the digital interactive projection that I keep going on about.


I’ve spent the last two tuesdays in the darkroom at the Brindley Arts centre in Runcorn, using their facilities to make some more work in the ‘Would you tell me..’ series.

I’ve been using the cut out arrow silhouettes placed onto photosensitive paper, then exposing the paper to the enlarger light numerous times – moving the arrows each time the light is turned off. It’s a process akin to stop motion animation, but the effect is a series of stills, or something similar to those long exposure photographs of car headlights at night.

It’s an interesting process to work with, as I work out how best to make the arrows move around within a space – something that is going to be really important as I make the floor projection that I plan. I am finding though that I’m doing the same thing over and over again – the composition of these works is the same as the pen drawings and my pinned collages, so the next thing on my to do list is to play with the meanings behind the arrows (as highlighted in the list of words in my last post). I think I might go back to pen, paper, and outlines – drawing around the cut out photographs, using certain arrows multiple times and trying to make the arrows communicate my interpretation of Shanghai’s rhythm more strongly.

One thing that I’d note that this process has brought to light, is that not all of the arrows that I have got in my collection are suitable for creating the work I want to make, so careful selection of the arrows will be important as I proceed.


I’ve been having a period of playing with the things and ideas I brought back from Shanghai in the past few weeks. I’m trying to prod and poke the ideas and works to see how they can develop further.

I’ve started some more pinned collages of the arrows – working in small balsa wood boxes and using limited colour palettes of the arrows. The boxes are quite interesting, as there’s 2 ‘canvases’ the body of the box and the inner lid. I’m thinking that they are like artist’s books: small, contained, readable. I’d like to include some text with them, so I’ve been working with the script that I wrote for the show and tell at Castlefield Gallery last month.

I’ve highlighted words from that text, then I’ve been through the thesaurus for each of those words, selecting more words that seem to link in with the work. Here’s the original list:

Pinning down

I’ve created a word cloud from the resulting list of words using tagul.com which I find helpful to highlight some of the more important words in my thoughts.

It’s making me think more about the meaning behind the arrows, how they work in changing people’s movement, how they link in with the rhythm of life in Shanghai.

I’ve been questioning whether I noticed more arrows in Shanghai because there were more or if it was associated with me not being able to read language so that was all I could read. I’ve been trying to take notice of arrows on signs now I’m back home, and they are there, but I feel that they don’t jump out like they did while I was in China. There’s definitely not as many stuck to the floor, and those are the ones that interest me most.