A video of a dense swarm of flying ants at the top of Zenor Hill, Cornwall.
The 16 second video is extended by repeating and reversing several times.
A swarm of flying ants consists of male ants and virgin queen ants performing their mating ritual. Following this nuptial flight the fertilised queens will dissipate to form new colonies. The males will die.
Flight and Freedom
Video. 2min 56sec. November 2018
A video about freedom and its opposite: limitation or confinement.
Freedom is expressed by the unconfined wheeling flight of the crows. Limitation is symbolised by the inert, motionless statue around which the crows are flying.
Pathos is a major ingredient of the work, because both the birds and the statue have wings, but only the birds can fly.
The unconstrained flight of the birds only serves to emphasise the fact that the statue is rooted to the spot.
The work is a comment on the desire of the creators of the statue (us) to have the power of natural flight, and their obvious inability to have it.
The statue is on Alexandra Palace in north London.
Wings of Stone, Wings of Feather
Video. 2min 13sec. November 2018
A video about flight, showing crows flying round a statue.
Both the birds and the statue have wings, but only the birds can fly.
The wheeling, swirling motion of the birds only serves to emphasise the fact that the statue is a lumpen object rooted to the spot.
The work is a comment on the desire of the statue’s creators to have the power of natural flight, and their inability to have it.
The statue is on Alexandra Palace in north London. It’s probably made of concrete.
A sculpture showing how I feel the human race is treating the planet – by putting it into the waste bin.
The sculpture consists of a standard kitchen waste bin, lined internally with black material and with a back-lit image of the earth at its base. The result is the illusion that by looking into the bin you are looking into outer space as though through a porthole in a spacecraft, with the earth floating in the distance.
The kitchen waste bin was deliberately chosen as the reciprocal that contains the earth because of its banality, to emphasise how we are depleting the earth’s resources through mundane consumption.
A version of this work was shortlisted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2022.I’ve been creating environmental art in one form or another since about 1970.
Travelling Glomeris Marginata Video. Lower Rosemorran, Zennor, 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
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.
Dog Walk: dog poo bags
Plastic bags arranged on path. Unspecified contents. Video. Cornwall. June 2018
A video of an art installation in the countryside that comments on the behaviour of some dog walkers.
The work features an avenue of discarded dog pooh bags.
The work was inspired by the experience of going on many walks in the countryside and coming across discarded black plastic dog poo bags: sometimes hidden, sometimes in full view. There’s a theory that the dog owners leave them there to be picked up on their return, however, many of them don’t do it.
The work was created near St Ives, Cornwall.
Update, 2021. This work has taken on more relevance since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, as more people purchase more dogs, which in turn produce more excrement. The fact that some of the new dog owners are quite casual in their ownership responsibilities is reflected in a marked increase of discarded dog poo bags.
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.
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.
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?
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.
This phenomenon is possibly a good starting point for a fountain or other water-based artwork or installation.
For a long time I’ve been interested in the way that the landscape is transformed by the effects of sunshine and shadows, and by the way that we often hardly notice the extent of the difference between the two (other than by a general feeling of pleasure when the sun brightens things up – here in cloudy Britain anyway). The scene filmed here in the grounds of Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, hopefully captures some of the transformational effect of sun and shadow as the sun emerges from behind a cloud (and then goes in again).
The various people in the background add a surreal air to the whole scene.