Milk bottle heads – sculpture from recycled rubbish

Contemporary art - sculpture from recycled rubbish or junk - milk bottle heads

Milk bottle heads
Plastic milk bottles, ink. September 2018

Plastic milk bottles with human heads drawn onto them.
These heads are an example of art created from rubbish. Their recycled nature is partly an observation on our throw-away consumer culture.
The bottles are surprisingly head-shaped, reminding me somewhat of various non-Western forms of sculpture. I particularly like the way that the milk bottle handles make very interesting and bizarre noses.
I’m in the process of making several dozen of them, as their impact is increased as their numbers increase.

A Leaf Changes Colour in Autumn – Painted Maple Leaf

Contemporary art - a leaf painted blue with red polka dots

A Leaf Changes Colour in Autumn
Leaf, acrylic paint. September 2018

A maple leaf painted blue with red polka dots.
The leaf had fallen from the tree in autumn.
The inspiration for this work came partly from the fact that the leaves on the trees were changing colour in the autumn, prompting me to think of changing their colours in other ways.
In previous years I’ve painted acorns and suchlike in unusual colours.
Like a lot of my work, this work is involved interacting with and responding to the natural environment.

Contemporary art and the environment - a maple leaf painted blue with red polka dots
A detail of the painted leaf.

Disembodied Hands – near St Ives, Cornwall

Contemporary art - disembodied toy hands on a rock near St Ives

Hands
Plastic hands, granite rock, Cornwall. Each hand, 7cm. October 2018

A pair of toy plastic hands positioned on a granite rock.
The hands give an unsettling feeling about the presence of the rest of the person to whom the hands belong. It’s almost as though the rest of the person is there, but in a ghost-like, invisible form.
It is in some ways a piece of art about presence and absence.
The work was created near St Ives, Cornwall.

Contemporary art, Cornwall - dismembered toy hands on a rock
A closer view of the hands

Random Squares and Concentric Rings – abstract digital art

Contemporary geometrical abstract art - composition of squares and rings

Random Squares and Concentric Rings
Digital. October 2018

Abstract art based on circles, squares and rectangles.
A major compositional feature of the image is the relatively random distribution of squares on one side contrasted with the very enclosed and restrained concentric distribution of the rings on the other side. This is a deliberate contrast between randomness and constraint. The fact that the squares all have their sides horizontal and vertical is a deliberate feature of restraint imposed on the relatively randomly positioned squares.
The rings are not perfect circles. This is partly to disrupt any preconception that they should be perfect circles, especially in an image that’s composed of basic geometric shapes.
The use of squares and long thin rectangles is probably influenced in part by Mondrian and the de Stijl group.

Travelling Glomeris Marginata

Travelling Glomeris Marginata
Video. Near St Ives, Cornwall. October 2018

The creature in this video isn’t a woodlouse, it’s a pill millipede, of the species glomeris marginata.
It’s climbing up the outside of a door frame.
I was struck by the way that the millipede seemed to be gliding along its course up the door frame as though hovering slightly above it, as its multitude of legs are concealed. I also like the armour plating, which, along with the hovering, makes the creature look like either a high tech machine or an alien. Or a hybrid of both. The feelers help too.

Cluster flies on a window – insects as art

Cluster flies on a window
Video. 17 sec. Near St Ives, Cornwall. October 2018

When I made this video I assumed that the flies that it features were house flies that had been feasting on a rotting animal carcass concealed somewhere within the walls of the building. The sinisterness of the insects was intended to be a feature of the video.
Since then a bit of research has informed me that the insects were in fact harmless cluster flies (pollenia rudis).
Cluster flies enter buildings on autumn evenings in search of shelter from the worsening weather conditions. Then the following day they sometimes want to get out again, as in the video.
They may enter buildings in small numbers or they may enter in thousands. In the case in the video it was many many hundreds.
The flies live in the countryside, where their larvae feeding on earthworms. They aren’t a health hazard (as far as I know).
Knowing that the flies were harmless and had entered the building seeking shelter rather than being house flies fresh from a rotting corpse in the attic altered my view of them considerably, and I now rather like them, at least on the video. They are an inconvenience though.

I particularly like the way that the flies in the video are moving in an almost choreographed manner. It’s like a little piece of performance art.
The nice calm view out of the window (apart from a bit of wind) is in stark contrast to the dynamic motion of the flies on the window pane.

Shoe Heads – surrealist sketch

Surrealist shoes

Shoe Heads
Ink sketch on paper. 23cm x 23cm. August 2018

An ink sketch of two figures with shoes as heads. The shoes are a pair.
This is one of a series of concepts involving shoes and other footwear in varyingly surreal contexts.
My intention is to create a sculpture of this group.

Minimalist abstract – black square with circle removed

Contemporary minimalist gouache painting - black square with circle removed

Black Square with Circle Removed
Gouache on paper. 30cm x 30cm. June 2018

Part of a series of abstract minimalist paintings of black squares with a circle missing from a corner, in this case along with the part of the square that is separated from the main body of the square by the circle.
This painting is a study of presence and absence. The black square has the quality of a solid, impactful entity while the white circle and top left corner give the impression of absence or negative space.
In other images the black square itself conveys a quality of negative space, suggesting a black void in the centre of the image.

Bird Form – an abstraction from a raven or crow

Semi-abstract artwork of a raven or crow

Bird Form
Ink on paper with digital additions. September 2018

A drawing based on an abstracted raven or crow-like bird.
The creature in this drawing is only superficially meant to resemble a raven or a crow. It’s actually meant to resemble something rather simpler – not a lot more than just a triangle on legs with a beak (Other drawings of similar creatures bear no resemblance to any recognisable biological genus at all). The body is meant to have very little form or obviously functional components (There are no eyes, wings or arms for example). The body is simply a structure for holding the legs and beak in place.
The creature is meant to convey a form of mindless brutality, largely conveyed by its posture, its lack of eyes and its vicious beak. Real crows, ravens and other members of the corvid family are, in contrast, are far from mindless, being renowned for being among the most intelligent of birds.
The image is in some ways a study in anthropomorphism. Crows are often perceived as being malevolent creatures, largely due to their appearance (The black feathers, the large beak). If I’d created the image using, say, a robin as the inspiration for the bird, would it have looked so full of foreboding to us as a human audience? Even though robins are in fact a particularly aggressive species.

Mirror-based artwork – multiple reflections inside a cube creating the illusion of the word “OXO”

contemporary art mirror cube multiple reflection illusion

OXO Cube
Mirrors, paper, acrylic. March 2017

This is one of my prototypes of a mirror-based artwork that I’m developing.
The work consists of four mirrors forming the vertical walls of a cube, with the mirrored surfaces facing inwards. Each mirror reflects the mirror opposite it, including the reflections in that mirror, so the reflections build up to form infinite reflections (or, more accurately, multiple reflections, as the reflections gradually fade due to light loss).
As well as that, where two mirrors meet in the cube’s corners each mirror reflects the other corner mirror, creating a different set of multiple reflections.

In this artwork the design on the cube’s floor forms this image:

contemporary mirror OXO Cube base

In each corner of the cube the semicircle and angled line in that corner is reflected  in the mirrors to appear to form the word “OXO”.
Each of these words “OXO” is then reflected infinite times in the other mirrors in the cube.
This artwork is titled “OXO Cube”, as it’s just too good a title to ignore.

contemporary mirror based OXO Cube

A low viewpoint looking into the mirror cube, as below, shows the infinity mirror effect at its best.

contemporary art infinity mirror reflections in OXO Cube

Steel Eye – reflections in a sphere

steel ball sculpture - reflections creating eyeball effect

Steel Eye
Steel ball on ink sketch. 13cm x 13cm x 2cm. August 2018

A steel ball placed on a sketch pad in the centre of a radiating vein-like pattern. The reflections in the sphere give the effect of an eye-like form.
The work can be thought of as a study for a floor-based sculpture with a large steel sphere placed on a floor onto which the radiating vein-like lines are applied. It works very well at a small scale however, with the steel ball approximately the same size as a human eye. The intimate size of the small version makes this version quite unsettling, while a larger version would possibly be less unsettling but more visually intriguing (because the reflections in the ball wouldn’t invoke so precisely a human eye).
The initial concept came to me while working on a different project involving a steel ball (but not reflections) on a sheet of paper. I noticed that the reflection of the white paper and the room on the ball gave the impression of the white of an eye and the iris of the eye.

reflective sphere sculpture - reflection creating eyeball effect
A close-up of the steel ball, showing the reflection from the side
study for spherical reflection sculpture - steel sphere creating eyeball
The sketch on the sketchpad, with the steel ball in place

Chess set, disintegrating board with optical illusion (there are no black squares).

contemporary art sculpture - disintegrating chess board with illusion of black squares
Chess: Black Holes
Wood, acrylic, chess pieces. February 2016

In this work I’ve created a chess set out of short blocks of wood.
The first thing that the viewer notices when looking at the work is that the chess board is fragmenting or disintegrating.
Less obvious however is that the chess board is composed only of the white squares. These white squares are the tops of the blocks of wood, the sides of which are painted black. It is the black sides of the blocks that give the impression of the black squares of the chess board. The seeming existence of the black squares is a visual illusion, as they are nothing more than black holes. See the photograph below. The illusion is as true with the actual, three dimensional chess set as it is with these photographs.
Part of the impact of the piece is in the way that the viewer only notices the ‘black holes’ of the missing black squares on the chess board after already being intrigued by the disintegrating nature of the board.
The piece has political overtones, in that it is partly about the disintegration of power (as symbolised by the combative nature of the game of chess) and the disintegration of order (as symbolised by the rigid grid of the chess board). It is also about more existentialist themes such as dangers that lurk in the world (the black holes as traps or stumbling blocks) and the nature of physical reality (with the holes representing the unknown parts of the physical universe (such as the actual black holes that result from collapsed stars). It’s also just a nice visual illusion, and thus contains humor as well as its more weighty themes.

contemporary art chess set
The chess board contains no black squares – they are an illusion.

Contemporary art chess board

Starburst

contemporary giclee print - optical effect

Proscion II
Giclee print, March 2018

A still image from an animated work showing a starburst effect.
The image was used in the Deep Space event on 21st April 2018 at Sterts Theatre near Liskeard in Cornwall.

Watercolour study: stability and uncertainty

A contemporary watercolour study of stability

Watercolour study: stability and uncertainty
Watercolour. 20cm x 20cm. 2018

A watercolour painting created as part of a series exploring the depiction of simple, precise geometric forms (such as the triangle here) using techniques that introduce imprecision to the geometry of the image.
A study of order, stability, uncertainty and potential disintegration.