Environmental art – planet earth in a kitchen waste bin

This is a visualisation of a concept that I’m thinking of developing into a piece of finished artwork.
It’s a form of environmental sculpture.
The work will consist of a conventional domestic rubbish bin with a black bin liner inside it.

environmental art - earth in a rubbish bin sculpture
From most angles (as in the image on the left, above) the bin will look like any conventional bin: however when viewed from close up at the front (the image on the right, above) the observer will see that looking inside of the bin the blackness of the bin liner gives the impression of a dark void within the bin. Visible in the void will be a glowing representation of the earth. The effect will be of the earth suspended in the vastness of outer space. The bin will appear almost to be a portal to another dimension.
The idea of a mundane rubbish bin containing a portal into outer space is very appealing.
I haven’t yet decided how the representation of the earth in the bin should be realised. It could be a dimly glowing globe or it could be a digital display on a screen positioned near the base of the bin.
The work is an environmental statement and carries an obvious message – that at the human race’s current rate of consumption of the earth’s resources we are treating the earth with contempt and are effectively placing the planet itself in the rubbish bin. The message is obvious because there is no time for subtlety here! Think of it as the sculptural equivalent of an environmental campaign poster.
The work is a development of a concept that I had in about the year 2000, when I produced several drawings of the earth falling into a wastepaper basket. The sculptural potential of using a real rubbish bin to create an illusion of outer space is a more recent development.
The emotional impact of seeing the earth floating in the black void of space inside the bin refers to some extent to the iconic photographs of the earth as seen from space as photographed by the astronauts in the Apollo moon missions.

Work created January 2017, Cornwall.

Shoes with teeth

surrealist shoes with mouths and teeth

Shoes with teeth: January 2017

A study for a surreal work composed of a pair of shoes with mouths and teeth. The teeth in this study were added digitally.
The shoes were chosen partly because the holes at the toe end give the impression of eyes.
An unsettling aspect of this concept is that it is normal for a person to put their feet into shoes – however these particular shoes look as though they would devour anything that was placed in their ‘mouths’. They are almost lying in wait for feet to be placed inside them.
This work may be interpreted as being a metaphor for the manner in which consumerism devours people (especially clothing and fashion consumerism).

Drawing Machine – a barograph repurposed for the purposes of art

Dada or surrealist sculpture - a barograph creating a drawing

Drawing machine. Barograph, ink. January 2017

A work composed of a barograph, the arm of which is creating a fine pen and ink drawing of a landscape.
A barograph normally draws a graph recording air pressure over the course of time on a sheet of graph paper attached to a rotating drum.
This barograph is in the spirit of surrealism and dada – it is a scientific instrument appropriated for the purposes of art (In C P Snow’s two cultures thesis this would count as cultural appropriation).

Art and science – String Theory with nylon cord and mirrors

Art and science -infinity mirror effect resembling high energy physics experiment

String Theory: Mirrors, cord and light source: January 2017: width 30cm height 30cm

A study for a work composed of mirrors that are configured so that they create reflections round a symmetrical axis and also create reflections in infinite regression.
The reflected object in this work is a single short length of coloured cord (about 40cm long). The cord is brightly coloured and is lit by a directional light source which gives the cord the effect of being a pulsating energy stream in a containment vessel, perhaps in a high energy physics laboratory.

Shoes with mirror image

contemporary art shoes -mirror reflection - humorous

Shoes with mirror image: January 2017

A pair of shoes and a mirror, with the shoes positioned so that the reflection of the shoe in the mirror coincides exactly with the other shoe on the opposite side of the mirror, thus merging the real shoe with the reflection of the other shoe.
Like a lot of my works that involve illusion this one explores the line between reality and our interpretation of what we perceive.

Odd shoes reflected in a mirror

Humorous contemporary art - a mirror with the reflection of a shoe

Odd shoes reflected in a mirror: January 2017

Part of a series of works involving the reflection of shoes in a mirror, with the shoes positioned so that the reflection of each shoe in the mirror coincides exactly with the other shoe on the opposite side of the mirror.
In this work the shoes involved are not a pair.
This creates a double dissonance in the viewer. Firstly the viewer has to interpret the fact that the reflected part of the shoe is not part of the other shoe, and secondly the viewer has to interpret the fact that the two shoes are different (with the degree of difference varying depending on the position of the viewer and thus the amount of the shoe that is behind the mirror that is visible).
Like a lot of my works that involve mirrors and reflections this one explores the line between reality and our interpretation of what we perceive.

Rauschenberg: Automobile Tire Print. Thinking along the same track.

On a recent visit to the current exhibition of the work Robert Rauschenberg at Tate Modern I was interested to come across a work that I was unfamiliar with – Automobile Tire Print (1953).

Here’s a photo of part of Rauschenberg’s tyre print on a T-shirt in the merchandising section of the exhibition. Maybe the idea of the T-shirt is that the wearer will look as though a car has driven over them. If it’s an intentional joke, that’s quite witty for contemporary art (if a bit grisly). Rauschenberg seemed to be quite a fun loving person himself though, so it’s perhaps fitting.

rauschenberg-automobile-tire-print-t-shirt_4170

I very much like Rauschenberg’s experimental approach to creating art, in this specific case particularly so because the technique that he came up with is one that bears a strong similarity to an idea that I thought up myself during my early days as a cartoonist, when I created the greetings card below for a series on the subject of leisure activities.

rauschenberg-automobile-tire-impression-print-parallel-concept

I drew this cartoon in 1994 using pen and ink. Rauschenberg created his Automobile Tire Print using paint and a car. He did it in 1953, so he beat me to it by a good forty years.

Mirror based art with reflections of screws

Mirror based contemporary art with screws

Mirrors and screws: March 2017

A study of reflections using mundane everyday objects to create interesting formations.
Here ordinary hardware screws are arranged to form a dynamic expansive configuration.
Screws lend themselves to this study partly because of their physically dynamic shape – large at one end and then tapering away at the other – and partly because of their intended purpose, which is to hold things in place – the exact opposite of dynamic expansiveness – which brings a slight touch of paradox to the work.
Anyone looking at the image who feels that I ought to have lined up the screw heads – it’s a deliberate act not to have aligned them, even though in real life I am an obsessive screw head aligner.

Contemporary art - mirrors reflecting objects to give optical illusion effect

Contemporary art: mirrors + multiple reflections = illusions.

An example of one of my projects in the field of contemporary art exploring mirrors, reflections and illusions, here using a piece of cord that is reflected multiple times to give the impression of a closed circle.

contemporary art mirrors and multiple reflection illusion

This work consists of three mirrors creating a triangular box with the reflective surfaces facing inwards. The box is placed over a length of brightly coloured meandering paracord. The cord is laid so that the section that lies inside the triangular box is reflected on the box’s sides to give the illusion of forming a circle. The second photo shows the piece from a different angle to show the structure.

mirrors and illusion

mirrors and illusion

Metamorphosis of a hand into a sinister life-form by multiple reflection

contemporary art - metamorphosis of a hand into sinister alien life-forms by reflection

Metamorphosis
Mirrors and hand. October 2016

Three mirrors forming the vertical sides of a triangular box turn a hand into an alien creature. The hand is intruding into the box through an opening in the corner.
An exploration of how a familiar object (a hand) can be transformed into something completely alien purely by the use of simple mirrors.
A study of the familiar becoming unfamiliar via a mundane agency.

Contemporary art exploring reality and illusion using reflections in mirror

Corporate art

corporate contemporary art - animated artwork in office foyer

An example of how one of my works may look when installed in the foyer of a large office building.

The works in my Complexity series, which are mostly in the circular abstract form of the examples shown here, lend themselves very well to spacious office foyers due to the way that they work well at very large scales.
The works can be displayed as static images (such as in the form of large prints) or as very eye-catching animated images (either projected or on multiple electronic displays).
An example of an animated artwork is shown below. There are more videos here.

The amount of detail in these artworks is truly incredible, and cannot be appreciated when viewed on a computer monitor. The images below are details from several of the artworks to give an impression of the detail involved.

corporate contemporary art - detail

contemporary corporate art - detail

Below is a detail of the animated version of the image above. As with all of the animations the speed of the animation can be varied between slow (giving a calming effect) and fast (giving a dynamic effect).

Any corporate art consultancy that is interested in this work – please get in touch.

Art Gallery Exhibit about Unconscious Discrimination

Art Gallery Exhibition with Height Discrimination

Art Gallery Exhibition with Height Discrimination (concept)
Photomontage with digital additions. August 2016

This is a concept visualisation for an art gallery exhibition or installation that only allows people below a certain height into the event.
Its purpose is to point out the prevalence of unconscious discrimination within society.
The work is conceived as a humorous comment on discrimination, especially some of the less high profile discriminations that are prevalent within society, such as in this case discrimination by height.
Taller people in general are more successful than shorter people (all other things being equal), however it’s a social imbalance that is generally ignored, unlike for instance the imbalances caused by race or gender.
This work deliberately disallows people who are above average height to enter a room. These people will probably feel a little bit miffed by this, and will wonder why they are being discriminated against.
A notice near the entrance will explain that in society in general greater height confers higher status and thus allows more doors to be open to taller people than to shorter people (even if they are totally unaware of the dynamic). This work seeks to point out this situation by having a door where the opposite is true.
It might be worth pointing out that you’d never see a notice above a room where people were being interviewed for the post of the CEO of an important organisation saying “No one below 5ft 5inches need enter this room”, because it’s very likely that no one of that height would get anywhere near that door in the first place.
A work concerned with art and society and sociology.

Dandelion seeds and anthropomorphism

contemporary art drawing - anthropomorphism in dandelion seed

Anthropomorphic dandelion seeds: Pen and ink sketch: September 2015

A dandelion seed head in which the seeds have human form.
The image is disturbingly ambiguous. Is the fact that one of the seeds is drifting away from the seed head a sign of freedom or simply a sign of fate? It also looks as though it may be a suicide attempt (although the ‘parachute’ would prevent It being successful). And what can be read into the fact that the humans in the anthropomorphic seeds have no heads?

Contemporary art and climate change – pollution

contemporary art and climate change - pollution and breathing equipment

Breathing on a polluted planet. Digital image. First version: 1991; this version: 2015

A work concerning climate change and pollution.
This work is created in a cartoon-like style. There are several reasons for this. One is that I create quite a lot of cartoons (which have been published in newspapers such as the Guardian and magazines such as Private Eye), and another is that I think that the cartoon style is a particularly good way of communicating about subjects such as global warming, pollution and the various crises that are currently afflicting our planet. One of the appeals of the cartoon art style is that it generally lacks ambiguity, so its message is clear and unmistakable, which is very important with subjects that are as important and clear-cut as climate change.
Other contemporary art styles on the other hand tend to thrive when they contain a degree of uncertainty in what is being said, requiring the viewer to interpret the work as they see fit. Contemporary art that puts forward a message unambiguously can often tend to come across as rather dead, didactic and hectoring.
Also of course, cartoon art, due to its nature, can easily be reproduced in print or electronically without loss of quality (both physical quality and emotional quality), thus making it available to a much wider audience than most contemporary art – which can only be a good thing when the work tackles an important subject as climate change.

contemporary art and climate change - pollution and breathing equipment

Spanner Man

Sculpture - a workman's spanner with a ceramic head attached

Spanner Man
Ceramic and spanner. July 2015

The ceramic head in this sculpture is held in the jaws of the spanner by a thin wooden rod that forms the head’s neck.
It is uncertain whether the head is trapped in the jaws of the spanner or whether the head and the spanner form a single entity, with the spanner as the body (The shape of the spanner suggests a seated or crouching body). This tension is part of the appeal of the piece.
Workshop tools such as spanners and hammers are a recurring feature of my sculptural work.

sculpture made from workshop tools - spanner with head
A close-up of the top of the spanner

Coloured rods aligned with a mirror

Contemporary art with mirror reflecting coloured rods producing optical illusion effect

Colour Discontinuity 2: March 2017

A colored rod reflected in a mirror, positioned so that the reflection of the rod coincides with another rod of a different color on the other side of the mirror, creating an ambiguous optical effect.

A study in the perception and interpretation of ambiguous visual stimuli.

A headless classical statue ‘defaced’ by a graffiti face

Humorous contemporary artwork - a classical statue with a cartoon head

Defaced/refaced statue. June 2015. Classical statue, marker pen

A humorous work consisting of a headless classical statue with a cartoon-like face drawn onto the oval form of the neck.
Part of the humor of this piece is the juxtaposition of opposites – the elegant and timeless form of the classical statue in contrast to the crudeness and immediacy of the contemporary head.
The piece also contains dark humour and an unsettling quality due to the fact that the drawn two dimensional head is occupying the surface created by the decapitation of the statue’s three dimensional head.
The drawn on face also has the appearance of graffiti, so it could be said that the act of giving the statue a face is in fact defacing the statue. The word deface literally means to remove the face (as occurred with the vandalisation of statues in the past), so the fact that the act of adding a face to a statue can be interpreted as defacing the statue is ironic.

Hammer and nails – a study of oppression and rebellion

Political contemporary artwork about oppression and rebellion - a hammer and nails

The Oppressor Impaled by the Oppressed. June 2015. Hammer, nails, plank.

A sculptural piece consisting of a hammer nailed to a plank of wood.
Part of the concept behind the work is that the hammer is being empaled by the objects that it normally hits.
This is partly a metaphor for oppression and rebellion, and it’s also a study in irony.
How did the nails come to be impaling the hammer? Were the nails hammered into place by another hammer? In this case the nails are not the downtrodden oppressed rising up to overthrow their oppressor using their own power, but are more like the followers of another power (another hammer) that may turn out to be as oppressive as the hammer that’s been overthrown.

Other versions of this piece have the hammer on a horizontal surface, such as on the top of a plinth. Other versions use different numbers of nails. The vertical version shown here is in some ways more disturbing than the horizontal ones, as the vertical format gives more of an impression of the hammer being violently empaled rather than simply nailed down. It is also disturbingly suggestive of a crucifixion in Christian iconography.

28 Disks – interacting simple shapes forming complex shapes

28 Disks (detail): Abstract moving image: February 2015

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 28 disks follow circular paths. Where even numbers of disks overlap they present white, while where odd numbers of disks overlap they present black.

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