I’ve been making collages with edges that aren’t fully fixed down for some time now. I’m both frightened of and seduced by the possibility they are at risk of collapse and capable of re-configuration on a whim. However, my endeavours so far feel somewhat half hearted: to date, the biggest ‘collapse’ to occur was for a minor section of one of the collages within In the shadow of her gaze n.02 to fall forward. However, is there actually a need for any element to be permanently attached? Could every component remain separate – self-contained – or would this render the work no longer a collage?

Things said about collage:

– The word ‘collage’ is derived ‘from the French word for “to glue”’ (1)

– It is ‘an artistic composition made of various materials (as paper, cloth, or wood) glued on a surface’ (2)

– Through it, disparate pieces sourced from a frenzy of material are forced to become one (3)

– It involves cut edges, distinct parts, assemblage, and hierarchical arrangements (4)

– It is ‘a piece of art made by sticking various different materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric on to a backing’ (5)

– It is ‘a collection or combination of various things’ (6)

What I conclude from these opinions is that my proposal not to glue things down distances what I make from the traditional fine art notion of collage. However, many of the other characteristics embodied within what I make link to the approach of collaging. My conclusion: the work operates closer to a non-fine art view of the medium as an arranged collection of elements.

One could argue my attachment to the term ‘collage’ is irrelevant. Why not label it as assemblage, for instance? However, for now it seems to supply an anchor point I’m finding useful for making and in terms of my conceptual thinking.

On another tack altogether, the phrase ‘the animal necessity of ruining each other first’ caught my attention in a book I’m currently reading. (7) The implication: to ruin is linked to the animal in us. Is the ‘ruining’ of the image that takes place in collage linked to the animal? I think, in my case, I may argue (and wish) logic underpins it, linking it to a palatable philosophical viewpoint, but in truth my actions are governed by the instinctual, primary motivations of the animal. This is hard to admit, acknowledging a loss of control to the base within us, perhaps revealing more of my nature than I wish.

(1) James Gallagher, ‘Preface’ in Cutting Edges: Contemporary Collage, (Berlin: Gestalten, 2011), p.2.

(2) Ibid

(3) Ibid.

(4) Clunie Reid, Artists’ Roundtable: Perspectives on Collage, (talk in London: Photographer’s Gallery, March 2013).

(5) Oxford Dictionaries, <http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/collage>, accessed 21st November 2013.

(6) Ibid.

(7) Sarah Hall, The Beautiful Indifference, (London: Faber and Faber, 2011), p.43.


I have spent the last few weeks preparing another installation-based proposal involving the use of scaffolding. Pulling together these worked-up proposals has been an interesting and valuable exercise to determine the next step forward. However, it’s also somewhat problematic and frustrating in that I now feel partially stuck until I can realise at least one of the proposals and understand the successes and failures of such an increase in scale and use of scaffolding. If none of the bids are accepted, I will need to look for alternative funding sources and exhibition venues.

However, in the meantime, what I can take forward is the ‘object abuse’ angle of the work mentioned in the last post. My intended approach reminds me of the tactics used by fellow A-N blogger and artist Ruth Geldard (www.a-n.co.uk/p/3134411), who uses a particular verb to act as a constraint within each of her pieces. The list of verbs I’ve chosen are: to erode, to fracture, to shift, to tear, to patch, to darn, to peel, to adorn, to accrete, to graffiti, to re-delineate. My next task is to manifest these abuses by producing at least three pieces of work suitable for showing in wall-based exhibitions or more contained spaces. The scale of the collages is increased to 41 x 66 cm and I intend to test different mounting approaches – Dibond, Foamex, and fabric.

Excitingly, I’ve also been invited to show ‘In the shadow of her gaze n.02’ () in the CCW Alumni Show, 9th to 17th December, the Triangle and Workhouse galleries, Chelsea Collage of Arts, 16 John Islip Street, London, SW1P 4JU. This is the third space it’s been shown in and I wonder how its character will alter this time?



At a recent lecture, Yve Lomax talked about the importance of inventing your own problems, and I realise this is one of the key lessons to emerge from completing my recent MA.

I now feel able to define my practice; to articulate the issues it addresses, as well as position it within wider conceptual / theoretical thinking together with the work of other artists. This gives me a starting point – a foundation – from which to take on new challenges; To ask myself what questions they raise in relation to what I already know about my practice. If I can’t frame this question, then the exhibition, opportunity, or commission simply isn’t right for me – it doesn’t take the work forward.

As an example, I recently posted about the ‘Spinach’ ‘Object Abuse’ challenge, which I chose to re-frame as the question: ‘what does an abused collage look like given one can argue collage is an inherently abusive medium in the first place?’ This resulted in me making something that pushed the abuse of materials to an extreme degree; I built layers of paper up only to selectively erode them, destroying parts of the image in the process but also creating surprises. It took the collages in a direction that feels exciting and full of potential.

Being able to invent – define – my own problem focuses me on specifics that have the power to drive things and stops me floundering, unfocused, in a sea of too many possibilities.

Did I need to study an MA to reach this point? For me, yes; I think the unknowns in terms of being able to define my practice were too extensive at BA to allow me to frame a question. However, perhaps I’m remembering this wrong? May be I always worked this way but the questions were wider – less focused – at BA and consequently more of a struggle to work successfully with?

‘Object abuse’ seems to be working for me as a concept so I’m going to extend its framework to apply a series of actions to collages – erode, fracture, shift, tear, patch, peel, adorn, build up, graffiti, re-draw. This is a problem that focuses on games, but it may prove productive.