Wednesday, 12 November 2014


I was interviewed by Nicola Pearce for Young Arnolfini about my experience as a young artist.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Some new sketches

It's taken me a few weeks to get settled in London, This week is the first time I've really dug my sketchbook out and done some drawings. I've discovered that Londoners can't walk. At first, on the street you want to blame tourists for forcing you to slalom all over the pavement but then you go in a supermarket and find that it's full of people with no spacial awareness at all. It's like trying to walk between custard. And it's fascinating. I've not pulled my sketchbook out in Waitrose just yet, instead I'm enjoying doodling on busy tubes- i don't want to get trampled by pink trousers. 

But the contrast to the movement and intensity at rush hour is the eery stillness and suppressed expectation you feel at night. 

This week the rest of the "drawer/printer" artist-teachers and I ran a workshop for the remainder of our PGCE cohort, designed to introduce them to some techniques and ideas from our specialism. I won't go into all the details of the exercises, but the idea was to explore various mark-making and sensory drawing in order to create a self portrait. We did some memory drawing, drawing the inside of the mouth- feeling it's shape with your tongue, some blind drawing, group drawing and translating some of the mark making into rubber stamps.

It was a fun day running the workshop, but it's also made me think that when i'm out and about doing observations i need to me more playful in how i get what i see and feel down onto the page.  

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Challenging myself to work bigger

I don't really like posting pictures of a 'work in progress', however here it is. Normally everything I make is about 60x40cm, about A2 size. Not through any conscious choice; when i'm looking for wood blocks to print you can usually find something that size in scrap stores. But after I went to the Peter Doig show in Edinburgh last year I've been itching for space and the opportunity to expand and go big. Now i'm in London I have the space (i don't really have the opportunity, this post is 90% procrastination) and I'm excited about trying something different.

This is going to be a collage reworking a composition i've explored before called 'Drifting too far from the shore'. It's at it's very early stages so far, what you can see in the photo is the rough horizon line and the beginnings of the sky. Until now my papercutting has been very fine and focused and delicate, and i intend to build this piece up and include more scalpel work, but right now I'm trying to have large chunks of colour, and lay it out expressively across the surface. If you think about 'The Sun is burning' by Simon & Garfunkel, it's a very tuneful, sweet song with overtly threatening, dark lyrics. Without repeating previous posts, this image is about the Waste Land and hopelessness and being lost, so I want the marks on the horizon to have foreboding undertones.

Drifting too far from the Shore. Linocut, 20x10cm

This image won't compare in size with for example; some of Doig's work. It's still relatively small. However stepping back and observing it over the weekend i've found that the scale still allows me to fall into the image and get lost in the shapes and forms, and the fledgeling landscape. When I'm working on this i feel i have to be bolder and more dramatic and stand up and walk around while i'm working. The contrast between this and certainly some of my smallest work is quite stark. I'm certainly enjoying that sensation.

Something I keep coming up against at school is trying to persuade pupils to work bigger, or out of their sketchbook, or on a different background. And the reason they don't want to is because they're scared it won't work. If you make a mistake in your sketchbook you can hide it and rip it out when no ones looking- if teacher doesn't spot it. And that's why i've plonked this unfinished thing on here, because I don't know if it's going to work. But it means that whoever stumbles across this post will have spotted it, and that'll motivate me keep on with it.

Just a small postscript: An English teacher was explaining grammar to me the other day. I should get it, but it's very haphazard. I will probably just keep on pressing keys at random\][;'

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Rivington Place, Inviva, Camden Arts Centre

I thought i'd share a couple of exhibitions I've been to this week.

Black Chronicles II is the ongoing exhibition from Autograph ABP at Rivington Place. Through portraiture, the show explores the Black presence in Britain in the last two centuries. It aims to document and archive this history in order to maintain an active memory of the lives of Black immigrants in Britain. It offers the viewer a chance to reflect on the important and often forgotten contribution black people made to the British Empire and nationally in the post-colonial era.  The show is dedicated to the late Stuart Hall and features text and audio from a key notes speech in 2008. I particularly enjoyed listening to his engaging reflections whilst studying the batter old photo albums displayed.

On the same site, at Iniva is an artist residency by Alida Rodrigues. By coincidence her postcard manipulations complement Black Chronicles. I found myself musing on the subjectivity of memory, and the way details- like her obscured faces- can be forgotten and changed. The photocopied plant illustrations she manipulates from horticultural manuals challenge the way these things are archived and presented. The space was an ongoing environment and it will be interesting to see how Rodrigues develops these ideas over her residency.

Camden Arts Centre is currently hosting Call & Response by Glenn Ligon. A well curated multi-media exhibition through three rooms. Ligon is exploring the Harlem Six. The black youths who were wrongly arrested and beaten for murder in 1964, leading to the Harlem Race riots of that year. The viewer will benefit from reading up on the subject before viewing the show which wouldn't have the same impact if you saw it uninformed. Unusually for me i enjoyed the video installation, inwhich you are immerse into a study on movement and expression in an all encompassing environment. The video is silent, and this silence contrasts nicely with the focus on quotes and transcripts in the other rooms. Ligon marries the police records of the events with a very visceral expression of the energy and malice in the event.

At school this week I observed a year10 history class studying Powell's Rivers of Blood Speech as part of their module on immigration. It made me wonder how you could perhaps bring these shows and different elements together, with the archives, written records and create a visual response based on memory and identity.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

On going artwork: paper cuts

Over the next year I'm doing teacher training at the Institute of Education, so of course my studies are my main priority. Mostly. I've decided this year artistically i've got the opportunity to concentrate on research and sketchbook work as I begin to build up a new body of images. I'm in the early stages of an exciting collaboration with a composer, Alexander Thacker, where we're looking at some writing by T.S Eliot, and for me it flows thematically very nicely from my previous series on the Fischer King. 

After the Bear Mountain Picnic, papercut
My layered woodcuts are very time consuming, so I'm experimenting with layered papercuts for the next few months. Naturally there's a bit of Matisse going on there, but i'm trying to transfer the drawn nature of my mono papercuts into more complex structures. Combining the line with the colours. And of course, I'm not working in bed with a nice assistant to help. The composition below is one I've used before. The bear Mountain picnic in the title refers to a Bob Dylan song. I enjoy the contrast between the apparent serenity of the image and the chaos of the subject matter. 

National Original Print Exhibition, Bankside Gallery 16th- 28th Sept

Loved the Print exhibition at Bankside Gallery next to Tate Modern. There was a great variety of prints in the show, both in terms of technique and subject matter. Particularly I liked this woodcut by Tom Hammick. It's especially evocative when you see the real thing because it's scale allows you to explore the detail in the woodgrain. I'm enjoying the balance between stillness and energy.

Tom Hammick. Past the Narrows, woodcut

Summer Sketchbook work

I've finally got around to putting some new bits and pieces from the summer on here. I wanted to share a couple of pages from my watercolour sketchbook.

My personal rule with my sketchbooks is that I don't take pages out, and so glancing through a book some of the images are terrible and some are alright. And I think thats important because for me my notebooks are working documents. I don't want to start feeling precious about the content. I'd rather be precious about the object itself. 

I don't paint watercolours to sell, or even to frame and put on the wall. My enjoyment in making them is being able to flick through my sketchbook looking at them as a collection of working drawings. For me they're a little exercise where I can mess about with mark making, with colour and as observation practice. 

These drawings are from a trip to Cork during the summer. The thing that struck me the most was the colour in the hedge rows (expertly un-illustrated here) with the range of vegetation and wild flowers. They were literally buzzing with insects. You compare that to the carefully manicured hedgerows in England, which are square with the occasional tree and beer can. 

Monday, 9 June 2014

"And when we roam we will roam forever (No one will understand what we meant)"

The library at Bower Ashton campus in Bristol is being expanded at the moment, and assuming the work is ever completed, the librarians were looking for more artwork to go on the walls. This is a drawing i did of the inside of the library- minus the shelves. Below are some photos of the transition from drawing to papercut...

I did the drawing with a teracotta pastel pencil and i really like the colour, so I decided to try to recreate it with oil paints. The paper is cut down bread & butter paper. Roughly A2 size.

Usually I work completely freehand, but because i had a tight (self-imposed) deadline I put in a few pencil guidelines, but all of the detail was improvised. I've never cut into an surface coated like this before, and i don't know if it was the paint but i found my blade blunted very quickly.

I always start a papercut with the figures. Simply because if you mess them up its not so hard to start again- not that i ever have started again. Just roll with it... Once i had an idea where the figure was going to be I started putting in the pillars, and they give the piece its perspective.

This is a reverse of the finished piece. I think its quite beautiful in itself. Outside the front of Bower Ashton campus is a horrible neon sign that says "You are forever changed you will never be the same again" I think its purpose is to punish hungover students arriving for lectures with its vomit inducing drivel. But when I was thinking about a title for the papercut i heard a song lyric that in terms of rhythm and content reminded me of this eyesore. So I called it "And when we roam we will roam forever (No one will understand what we meant)"

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Well who'd have thought they'd model the google self drive car on the people not the chair. I wonder how it handles on a slippery slope?

Sunday, 11 May 2014

sketchbook 2014

Here are some sketches and doodles from the last few months. All my ideas start in a sketchbook. It's the place I push them around and bash them into shape.

Monday, 5 May 2014

studio photos

The excellent Rebecca Hudson took some photos of me splicing away in my old studio in Bristol. In the last few months i've been busy interning in the art department at Beauchamp College in Leicestershire, and i've been back in my notebook consolidating ideas for some new pieces. You can see some of my drawings here. 

Monday, 3 March 2014

Linocut Workshop at the Robert Smyth Academy.

Today I've been running a Lino cutting workshop at the Robert Smyth Academy in Market Harborough. I managed to grab some photos of some of the work before the students ran off at the end of the day. The year 10 students brought in photos relating to their current course work, we then spent the morning thinking about how they might interpret these images first as drawings and then in anticipation of making them into prints. I'm so impressed with the results, and considering some of the pupils hadn't done linocuts before and to produce work of this quality in one day is amazing. I hope they take what they've learnt today and carry on developing it.