Originally this blog recorded my progress as I worked towards my exhibition, Wanderings, at Quay Arts, Isle of Wight in June 2010. My blogging stopped as the exhibition went up, and I moved rapidly on to the all-consuming final weeks of an MA. Now, in April 2011, I want to pick up the threads of the story, and continue … not quite where I left off… but continue anyway.



The Display Only exhibition in the Big Blue Building was good! Over 100 people visited in the 6 hours it was open, which isn’t bad going for a slightly sleepy Eastbourne Sunday.

My policy of re-viewing and re-visiting continues to be worthwhile. I showed The Golden Seed installation which I have showed only once before as my MA show last September. I had to slightly re-write the story which accompanies the installation to take account of the different stage of the tree’s cycle (last time I showed it it was laden with fruit). The sound recording I’d made of the story was, I felt, an interesting step forward, though sitting through it for 4 hours of invigilation helped me identify the areas in which it could be pruned from its current 16 minutes, to a more listenable 10 minutes. (That’s another job on my To Do list.) It was interesting though, that several people who’d seen the installation last time, missed having a printed version of the story, so perhaps there is room for both sound and text.

The notion of “waiting for the harvest” which was suggested in the re-write of the story was re-inforced with the introduction of an armchair, coffee table and books, which I liked – it introduced the idea of a human presence behind the scenes and the domesticity of these additions worked well.

The most important thing however, is that I felt it all still worked, and most importantly, that it is worth showing again – even with all the time and effort (and slightly inevitable stress) which that involves.



Started installing today at the Big Blue Building temporary space where I’m re-trying my Golden Seed installation. Everyone else is installing at the weekend, so I’m in a position of some luxury, having the whole place to myself to spread out and construct my timber framed structure which forms the central part of my installation.

The downside of this luxurious solitude is that there’s no-one to help with the tricky bits! The loading and unloading from van and car; the lifting and moving and propping up. Over the years I have learned how to to do a lot of things single-handedly, but I have to admit, it doesn’t get any easier! It took all day, but I did manage to finish constructing the three frameworks which form the three sides of my growing chamber. Tomorrow I’ll stretch the silver mylar film over them with the help of a very welcome volunteer helper (thanks Erin!) so that hopefully by Wednesday I’ll be ready to erect the whole structure with the help of another welcome helper (thanks Clare!)

I think I’m on target, but still a lot to do.



What a strange and frustrating week it’s been. Annoyingly random hours for Census Collecting (but nearly all finished now!); an imminent weekend house swap in order to dog/granny/house-sit; a couple of days on-and-off spent wondering what was wrong with my suddenly dead internet connection, messing about trying to diagnose the problem, and eventually managing to restore it; and, most annoyingly three attempts to make a voice recording of the text for my forthcoming installation at Display Only next week using my new little sound recorder with what I now know to be a faulty memory card. Ho hum. I suppose if those are my worst problems it’s not all that bad! It’s just been a bit trying.

Anyway, I have made some progress. The new supplies I need for the installation are on order & should be here tomorrow. I think I’ve got the sound recording almost sorted – we’ll see. Then when I get back from the house-swap, hopefully I’ve got a reasonably uninterrupted week to install next week. The van is arranged for Monday to transport timber, materials and equipment. It’ll be good to get started.

Picked up my work from the East Sussex Open today – at least the video piece, Just Looking For A Place (Refuge) – the wall drawing will soon be painted out by the technical staff at Towner! And I actually remembered to set it up in my studio to photograph it properly before it’s all packed away. Hope I get the chance to show it again – it’s such a nice box!



The next project I’m working on is a one weekend only show in an empty shop space (with a difference), entitled Display Only, on the 14tth and 15th May as part of Eastbourne Festival. I say empty shop “with a difference” because the shop is the front section of what was originally a music hall come cinema come bingo hall and the space where I’m to make my work is a now truncated “Upper Circle”.

The focus of the re-visiting and re-viewing this time is the work which I made for my MA show last year. That work, an installation called The Golden Seed, evolved rapidly during the final intense four weeks of the course and was built for the space in which I was working at that time. At the end of the show I felt disconcerted that I was left with no “work” as such – just a pile of timber, 20 square metres of mylar reflective foil, 4 fans, a HID grow light, a tree, a text and five golden seeds. This seemed to me a slightly unsatisfactory outcome after a year’s work invested with such intense thought and research, and since then I have been thinking about how The Golden Seed might exist again in other spaces and perhaps in other forms.

So, Display Only offers me the opportunity of a quirky space in which to pick up the work where I left off 7 months ago and see what it might become this time.





Like Spread, the second piece of work re-visited and re-viewed for the East Sussex Open also had its origins at the Redoubt Fortress where I’d worked on a project during 2009. The piece, Just Looking For A Place (Refuge), is a short video, shown only once before, at the Redoubt, as part of a bigger body of work called Home is Where… It is one of a series of works which explore undefined spaces which all show signs of occupation by unknown inhabitants.

I was asked to say a few words about the work on opening night at Towner, and talked a little about its origin at the Redoubt and about my interest in our uneasy relationship with the natural world. But afterwards I felt dissatisfied with what I’d said. I felt I’d let the work down by not explaining its context properly, making it appear rather shallow and insignificant. I realize now how important it is that this piece should retain its links with other work from that project in order to form part of a bigger picture. So, how to do this?

Since Napoleonic times, the Redoubt Fortress has been home to scores of soldiers. Since the second world war however, it has had a varied history, housing a model village, an aquarium, and currently a military museum. Although open to the public, it is a constant battle to keep it in reasonable order, a battle not helped by a modern day invasion and occupation by a colony of urban pigeons.

I spent a lot of time in the museum, exploring artifacts which included letters and personal memorabilia from POWs and soldiers at the front. I became very conscious of the importance of “home” as something yearned for, treasured, missed – a place worth fighting for. At the same time, I was constantly reminded of the horror of destruction and violation of the home which I recalled as a feature of the Bosnian war, and the distress and misery of people displaced by war all over the world. This became the central theme for all of the work I made at the Redoubt.

In one of the display cases in the museum there was a miniature scroll of paper and a tiny cylinder into which the paper fitted, to be attached to the leg of a carrier pigeon. I was interested in the part played in war time by the very birds who are now considered “the enemy” at the Redoubt. A little research about carrier pigeons led me to the PDSA’s Dickin Medal, “awarded to animals displaying conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty” and awarded to 32 World War 2 pigeons who between them saved hundreds of lives. How ironic that these “brave” pigeons (possibly ancestors of the unwelcome squatters at the Redoubt), while carrying out their “duty”, were in fact simply following their natural instincts to fly home at any cost. The presence of the pigeons at the Redoubt quickly became the thread that joined my thoughts together and gave the work a form. The piece at Towner this month, Just Looking For A Place (Refuge), explores the spaces occupied by the mostly unseen, but clearly heard pigeon families, indignant and fearful at my intrusion into “their” spaces.

So, how to resolve the problem of showing this work in a different setting without loss of relevance? How to refer to the context of the work so that it doesn’t appear as just a single, unremarkable video? Perhaps the next re-viewing of the work should see two (or three) pieces of work become one? There were three important pieces which formed the core work at the Redoubt, Homing, a set of 32 certificates for the Dickin Medal pigeons, There’s No Place Like…, a digital animation, and Just Looking For A Place (Refuge). Perhaps the key is to show them only together, as one piece.

Watch the videos below: Just Looking For A Place (Refuge) and There’s No Place Like…

Digital animation, There’s No PLace Like… 2:09