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.


I have my first opportunity to bid for a paid commission! It’s a chance to install work in a large foyer at Canary Wharf. What can I make that drives my practice forward whilst also meeting the brief?

I visit the site but make rooky mistakes. A tape measure is essential to check available dimensions, and I should have planned my questions before hand to shake out more information about the commission. Never mind – lesson learnt!

The space is so different from anything I’ve tacked before. My main concern is, can I actually come up with an interesting proposal? What this exercise has taught me is that there’s a process one must go through to allow ideas to develop. The main thing is to give sufficient time for this to happen and not to panic mid-process!

I first come up with an idea involving large Perspex panels but, on further consideration, I quickly realise it’s problematic – too heavy, too complex, too reliant on others to construct, and impractical in that it’s too large to store post exhibition so would have to be destroyed – a waste of good materials. Idea two is better – scaffolding components that replace my previous use of metal staffs – industrial, but interesting, with complex options for assembly and re-use. However, if the elegance of previous installations is to be maintained, the key is to scale up the collages in size appropriately – yet another exciting opportunity; to discover the potential of supersized collaging!

I usually sketch ideas roughly but this simply doesn’t cut the mustard this time so I make my first 3-D model from foam board, which after considerable practice I am now able to cut successfully into thin slices. I join these simply with string. It gives me a basic initial design, although I know from the way I work it will get tweaked in final construction in reaction to the specific characteristics of the materials themselves.

I decide to present my proposal as a Prezi – an on line presentation tool available free for low usage – which allows me to combine images and text effectively. It’s the next best thing to actually delivering the presentation in person and can be viewed anywhere if one has web access.

Overall, I’m delighted with how this project has gone. I really want the job – it would help my practice move forward considerably – but if I don’t get it I’m now so excited by the idea I will have to find another way to fund it!


It finally feels like some sort of normalcy and a desire to make work is returning after the exhausting madness of completing my MA. The first project is both fun and useful in expanding my making – an opportunity from Spinach, a central London space, to take part in an open exhibition. The brief is to respond to the question: ‘What does Object Abuse look like?’ As Spinach say, ‘the possibility for speculation really is limitless. Who is to say the object in question is passive and not active? What really qualifies as abuse […], is it quantifiable and can we envisage its subtler variations? For that matter, what is an object; or rather can we say what isn’t an object…with any real certainty? Isn’t everything an object?’

I view all art works as objects but, perhaps contradictorily, I do make a distinction between pictures and objects in relation to their dimensionality. The collages I make could be considered pictures – they can sit, hung neatly on the wall – but I usually strive to exploit their 3-dimensional capabilities – to maximise the physical presence of their object-like state. Whether an object is passive or active depends on the associations created in the mind of maker and viewer – mine masquerade as passive but have active, assertive intentions.

Collages already embody an inherent act of abuse – one of appropriation, selection / discarding, cropping, interruption, fracturing, juxtaposition, tearing, and destruction in the name of construction. Given this, can I abuse them any more than I do? I choose to take this challenge literally so I pick an action (in this case, to tear), and enact it to extreme. In this I’m influenced by the torn, layered edges remaining after layer upon layer of posters have been pasted into position and then removed to reveal eroded, ruined surfaces of debris such as seen in the shot included of an advertising space on the Kennington underground.

After some intensive construction, destruction and abuse, it results in the collage shown here. In its true manifestation, its layers are 3-D rather than flat, attached loosely at the side. They will curl gently over time, affected by the circumstances they find themselves in and natural properties of the paper itself. Unstable; shifting, changing.



Testing installation of ‘In the shadow of her gaze n.02’

Since this piece has already been installed in a light, airy, clean space (see images:…), when taking the exhibition down it made sense to take some time to test alternative presentation methods.

The first two shots show it installed on the floor. This doesn’t work – it’s hard to work with height without having a wall or other prop to utilise, and placing the work on the floor looks like it’s been simply discarded, in a BAD, uncaring way.

The other alternatives propped in a corner or displayed tightly leaning against a wall both work. Both give a more intense, frenetic hang than the original wall-based installation. My suspicions are this piece must react to the characteristics of the surrounding space and my specific motivations when installing it. I’m due to show this work again in October (…) in a space I haven’t yet seen but which I suspect is less ‘white cube’ and more domestic, which will better prove my theory.