Art in the environment, Cornwall

art in the environment - abstract sculpture near St Ives, Cornwall

Transience
Wood and acrylic paint. Zennor Hill, near St Ives, Cornwall. 25th June 2018

A transient sculpture composed of lengths of painted wood battens (the type of wood commonly used in building construction).
The sculpture was created by positioning a small number of battens in the landscape, photographing them, repositioning them and rephotographing them. Then merging the photographs.
As a result the work has an interesting relationship with time. The sculpture never existed in its entirety as depicted in the photograph, each batten only being in position for long enough to take a photograph. The sculpture only takes on its final form when the twenty-five minutes that it took to position and photograph the battens are compressed into a single instant.

A work of land art, an intervention in the landscape, or art in the environment. The wood battens are about a metre long.

Wellington boots with arms – photomontage

contemporary surrealist photomontage - wellington boots with arms emerging

Wellington boots with arms
Photomontage. June 2018

A photomontage showing arms emerging from the tops of a pair of wellington boots.
The arms are sinking down into the boots, as though the footware is devouring the owner of the arms. The theme of predatory footwear is one that I’ve explored several times over the past few decades. Another example can be seen here – shoes with teeth.
This photomontage was created while I was exploring various options for creating a sculpture that included wellington boots. I feel that these boots have a strong sculptural presence, and I’m quite surprised how under-represented they are in the field of sculpture.
The image, which I think probably falls into the category of contemporary surrealism, is meant to be both humorous and unsettling.

Shoes with extended laces – photograph

contemporary photography - shoes with their laces extended - slightly sinister

Shoes with extended laces
Photograph. June 2018

This photograph shows a pair of walking boots with their laces extended away from them.
I took the photograph when I noticed the boots on the floor (they are my boots). The laces and the lighting from the window create a strangely unsettling effect, to me at least.
The photo was taken while I was visiting Oban in Scotland – on the same visit as this slightly surreal photograph.
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A surreal alignment of heads

surreal photography - strange alignment of heads

An alignment of heads
Unretouched photograph. May 2018
A photograph of two people standing in a way that makes their heads seem to merge in an unsettling and humorous way.
The bizarre, surreal effect of the photograph is enhanced by the uniform bright red background and the colour the clothing. The photograph was taken on a ferry between Oban and the Isle of Mull in Scotland, May 2018.

Sculpture – translucent sphere on a marble column

contemporary art sculpture with translucent sphere for light effect

Translucent sphere on a marble column: 1993; height: 20cm
An abstract sculpture that uses a translucent resin sphere on the top of a marble column to capture the effects of the light.
In the photograph the sculpture is positioned on a slate base against a rough painted granite wall to give the work a robust organic feel.

Buttercup field with hidden object

Buttercup Field, Rosemorran, Zennor
Video. 27sec

A video of a field of buttercups that contains a hard-to-see object.
The object is revealed at the end of the video.
The video is on a recurring theme in my work – an investigation into perception, reality and illusion.
The video was taken behind my house at Lower Rosemorran, Zennor, in Cornwall.

Spoiler alert – the nature of the object in the video is revealed in the next section.
The scene in the video contains, on the ground amongst the grass and buttercups, a square mirror. The mirror is hard to see partly because of the distracting proliferation of buttercups, but mostly because the mirror is positioned so that the light from the sky doesn’t create give-away shadows or highlights (buttercups that are reflected in the mirror can look abnormally lit compared with the rest of the buttercups if the angle of the light is incorrect).

The work is filmed in an almost cliched, very peaceful and calming field full of spring flowers, which to me makes a nice setting for a work that at its most pretentious can be interpreted as being a prompt for questioning the nature of reality. At its least pretentious however, it’s just a nice visual joke.
Mirrors and reflections are common features of my work, as can be seen in the Mirror Art section of this site.

Anthropomorphism and a kitchen sink

contemporary art anthropomorphism - a sink plug hole that resembles the eye of a cyclops

Anthropomorphic kitchen sink: Photograph: June 2015

A slightly disturbing (to me) photograph of a kitchen sink. The texture of the sink’s surface along with the staining round the plug hole and the shape and position of the overflow give this image an anthropomorphic quality, giving the suggestion that the plug hole may be an eye while the overflow could be a nose or a mouth (or a mixture of both). If this sink does indeed resemble a human face the fact that the face only has one eye in the centre of its head suqqests a cyclops.
The plug hole and overflow can also be seen as being suggestive of other orifices.

Study for Square Floating in the Landscape

Study for Floating Square
Video. 36sec

A gray square floating in a clearing among bushes in the countryside (near St Ives, Cornwall).
The video is of an early study to assess the potential for the concept.
Finished works based on the concept would consist of squares suspended in the environment in positions where members of the public would encounter them, such as along pathways in sculpture parks. The locations of the squares could vary from trackside positions that are below eye level, at eye level and above eye level, where the squares would be seen to move relative to the landscape as the observer walked past. Squares could also be positioned high in the air, sometimes directly above the track, so that they are constantly silhouetted against the sky.

The square in the video, which seems to be floating in the air unaided, is of deliberately uncertain substance or nature. What is certain is that due to its shape, its colour and its position suspended in the air, the square is not a natural part of the environment.
One concept for the work is for the squares to be coloured with a non-reflective black (see image below) so that the floating squares could almost be mistaken for black portals out of the universe and into a featureless void.

Art in the landscape - floating black square in landscape
A video still showing a floating black square that may be interpreted as a “hole in reality”

Abstract watercolour painting: White Circle

abstract contemporary art watercolour painting - white circle

White Circle: May, 2018.
An abstract watercolour painting that plays with the tension between the absolute stable state of a circle and the chaotic state of the rest of the image.
The perforations along the edge of the paper are an integral component of the composition, being part of the disruptive tension in the work.

Ceramic sculpture – organic form

Modern ceramic sculptural form

A ceramic sculptural form.
The work is slightly suggestive of a fungus such as a stinkhorn, although the work was conceived as a purely abstract sculpture.
The sculpture is 25 cm tall.
Created in 1995.

Below is a view of the sculpture from above, in directional lighting. This view shows well the dramatic differences that differing viewpoints can make when viewing three dimensional artwork (or anything else for that matter).
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Modern art ceramic sculpture - organic form

Ceramic sculpture

Contemporary ceramics - clusters of coloured ceramic cones or filaments

A group of works composed of clusters of coloured ceramic cone-like forms.
The forms are individually rolled by hand as cones and are then distorted to create a sinuous waving effect. They are each between 1 cm and 25 cm tall.
The forms were conceived as purely abstract, however they have an organic feel to them and have something of the suggestion of marine or aquatic organisms about them. They could be worm-like creatures emerging from the sea bed and waving in the ocean currents.

Dancing teapots

I like to sit down with a sketchbook every so often and draw whatever comes into my head. Objects with bird-like features are a recurring theme. These slightly surreal dancing teapots are a good example.
This is a pen, ink and watercolour sketch drawn in Cornwall, April, 2018.

Last Cigarette – a surreal found object sculpture.

Surrealist contemporary art - shoe last smoking cigarette

Last Cigarette
Shoe last, cigarette, lamp base. May 2018

A cobbler’s last with a cigarette inserted into the circular hole in the last that is designed to accommodate a handle. The last is mounted on a lamp stand.

The sculpture utilises the human tendency to pareidolia, the interpretation of shapes as human faces, to create a surreal head.
Similarly, the sculpture’s title, Last Cigarette, utilises the human tendency to reinterpret words to create puns – in this case the word ‘last’ referring to the wooden cobbler’s last, meaning that the cigarette is the last’s cigarette.

Ionn – abstract contemporary animation

Contemporary abstract moving image art meets science
A detail from the work

A detail from an abstract moving image work from a series in which multiple copies of a single shape move and interact using simple computer algorithms, creating complex shapes.

Ionn (detail)
Abstract moving image: April 2018

To see higher resolution videos and more information about this series click here.

Abstract composition of geometrical forms: circles and squares

Abstract art - composition of geometrical forms

 

Abstract composition, created 2012.
The composition is a study in confinement, with the geometrical forms in the composition seemingly squeezed into the space within the composition. The angled square in the composition touches each side of the frame, which itself is a square. This adds to the composition’s sense of confinement as the image has no specific top and bottom and can be viewed in any orientation, giving the impression of ‘no way out’. Not only that, but the square format suggests that the enclosed square and its accompanying circles can almost possess a degree of freedom of movement by being able to rotate within the frame – a form of movement that in reality possesses no more freedom than does the movement of a hamster in a wheel.

Metamorphosis of a Human Hand into an Alien Life-form

Metamorphosis: March 2018
 
 
This is an early version of a project that I’m working on: it shows a video of a hand in which the video is flipped as a mirror image in order to create a strikingly bizarre image resembling an alien creature.
The video is an attempt to highlight the way that even the things that we treat as totally normal and mundane are in fact full of strangeness and wonder.
In the video I’ve used the simple technique of mirroring something as a way of removing it from its normal context. Thus I’ve made something that’s as ridiculously familiar to us as our hands look so ridiculously alien and disconcerting. Who’d have thought that you had such strange things stuck on the ends of your arms?

contemporary art - metamorphosis of a hand to become alien by reflection

Art and science: abstract animations concerned with the creation of complexity from simplicity.

Proscion. March 2018

A piece of abstract digital animation that uses my technique of overlaying multiple copies of the same image made to move relative to each other in simple ways and to interact with each other so that, for instance, the colour displayed in the resulting image changes.
This “starburst” animation is composed of multiple overlaid copied of a 36 pointed star.
A key motive behind these video animations is the linking of art and science through the exploration of the creation of complex forms from the interaction of simple forms, with particular reference to the creation of the incredible complexity of the universe from its incredibly simple building blocks. There’s more about this here: Complexity from simplicity: contemporary artworks.

Proscion – abstract moving image artwork

Contemporary art abstract moving image - starburst
A detail from the work

A detail from an abstract moving image work from a series in which multiple copies of a single shape move and interact using simple computer algorithms, creating complex shapes.
In this work multiple versions of a simple star shape are modified in size and colour to create a complex star form. Smaller clones of this star form are then ejected from the original star form, in an action that suggests the birth of new stars or the creation of matter in some other dimension of the universe.

Proscion: Abstract moving image: March 2018

To see higher resolution videos and more information about this series click here.

Study of the motion of water ejected from a hose spray head in pulses

Study of the motion of water ejected from a hose spray head
Video. 11 seconds

A very short video capturing the motion of water as it is ejected in pulses from a conventional garden hose spray nozzle with the head set to different spray modes.
The brevity of the water pulses makes it possible to see patterns in the spray that are normally concealed or are absent when the water is ejected as a constant flow.

Fountain study - water ejected in pulses from a hose nozzle
A still from the video, showing the pattern created as a result of the pulsing effect

This phenomenon is possibly a good starting point for a fountain or other water-based artwork or installation.