Insect sketch from the imagination

Contemporary art sketch - insect print

Imaginary beetle sketch

Digital. 2012.

A digital sketch created for a print. It features a stylised insect drawn from my imagination.
The insect is drawn in a sketchy black and white style that is perhaps suggestive of images produced using traditional printmaking techniques such as woodcut, woodblock or linocut. It also reminds me of scraper board.
The black sky makes me think that it’s a nocturnal insect of some kind. It also looks a bit like a tortoise for some reason, with perhaps a bit of rhinoceros thrown in.

One World – globe sculpture

Contemporary art environmental sculpture using globes

One World.

Sculpture composed of commercially bought globes. February 2023.

A sculpture composed of one large globe with several smaller globes attached to it.

One of several interpretations of the work is that it shows that on the one physical planet Earth there exist multiple cultural world-views.

The theme of planet Earth in the sculpture also reflects my interest in the state of the planet and my concerns for environmentalism (which has been a concern of mine since the 1960s).

Ants as a Superorganism

contemporary art print – ant superorganism


Digital print. 2023.

A depiction of the concept of a superorganism.
A superorganism is the name given to such things as colonies of insects in which the members of the colony act together so that the whole colony functions as though it is a single entity, and in which the individual members of the colony are probably not viable to survive alone.
In the image hundreds (or maybe thousands – I lost count) of ants swarm across a rock and form into the shape of a huge single ant.

The subject of the image reflects my interest in both art and science.

Below is a detail of the work to show the appearance of the individual ants close-up.

contemporary art and science – ant superorganism

The image was created in Affinity Designer .

Metamorphosis – recycling in contemporary art

Environmental art - contemporary sculpture from waste packaging

Metamorphosis (from pie containers to insect larvae)

Wood (recycled food containers). 2021.

A sculpture fabricated from recycled wooden pie containers.
The pie containers, for Charlie Bigham pies (mainly fish pies with the odd cauliflower cheese in there), are stacked as curved forms suggestive of insect larvae such as caterpillars or grubs.
Insect larvae undergo metamorphosis when they change into the imago or mature form of the insect. Here the pie containers have undergone a similar metamorphosis by turning into the insect larvae.

This work reflects my interest in the natural world and the environment, as well as my concerns for environmental issues caused by human activity (this work being an example of recycling or upcycling of consumer waste).
An example of art made from scrap material. A form of arte povera perhaps.

Unstable construction

Contemporary sculpture made of workman's tools

Unstable construction made of G clamps

G clamps.    40cm x 40cm x 40cm (variable).    2021.

A sculpture composed of G clamps.
G clamps are usually used for holding work together temporarily, such as when components are being glued together. Here the G clamps are holding on to each other so that they are part of a structure themselves rather than an instrument for creating a structure. The angle of the piece gives the structure a feeling of instability. This could have allusions to the instability of the modern world that we have constructed through our use of industry and technology, where the very means by which we have constructed our world leads to its inherent precariousness, especially now that we are inflicting such serious damage on the environment.

Sculpture composed of expanded polystyrene packaging

Upcycled art - sculpture from expanded polystyrene packaging

Polystyrene Idol

Expanded polystyrene packaging.    35 x 55cm.    2021.

A sculpture fabricated from expanded polystyrene packaging – an example of upcycled art.
Upcycling, or the repurposing of waste or redundant material, is a common phenomenon in art, especially recently since the rise of environmentally orientated art or eco art (and the invention of the word upcycling).
Of course the practice is probably as old as art itself.
I’m sure I’m not the first person to notice the sculptural qualities of pieces of polystyrene packaging.

I call the work Polystyrene Idol because the shapes of the polystyrene in the piece are suggestive of the carved idols of some cultures. In the context of Western culture such an idol may be seen as an idol linked to the cult of consumerism, especially because the polystyrene is the material that protects consumer goods when they are in trannsit, and it is also the discarded waste material once the consumer goods have been acquired by the purchaser.

The hive mind of an ant superorganism

Hive mind of ant superorganism

Superorganism of ants or the ants’ hive mind

Digital image May 2022

An image of a swarm of ants forming the shape of one giant ant.
The image is intended to convey the scientific concept of the superorganism, where the individual members of an animal community (such as bees, wasps or ants) cannot exist as individuals but have to function as part of a larger unified communal entity.

The concept of the superorganism is similar to the concept of the hive mind. The hive mind is perhaps more closely identified with neural activity rather than physical activity, and in human society is associated with the concepts of collective consciousness, group think and other thought processes. Hive mind activities such as group think are not necessarily positive.

The work reflects my interest in science, evolution, the natural world and the environment. It is based on a conncept and image that I created in the 1990s for the Guardian newspaper.

Some people argue that human society is a superorganism, generally on the grounds that we live in an incredibly complex society that is full of specialisation of roles, and that society would fall apart if some of these roles were to fail to function. This definition however doesn’t take into account one of the prerequisites of a superorganism, which is that the individual organisms within the superorganism can’t survive alone. Humans can easily survive even if our complex society collapses – there are people all around the world doing that very thing right now.