Earth Bin – environmental art installation

Earth Bin
Sculpture/installation. November 2018

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 appearing to be 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.

Environmental contemporary art installation - planet earth in a rubbish bin
Environmental art installation: the earth in a rubbish bin

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

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

Environmental art – heads created from discarded milk bottles

contemporary environmental sculpture from consumer waste - sculptural head created from milk bottles

Milkman
Milk bottle, ink. August 2018

Slightly unsettling heads created from empty plastic milk bottles.

Like many artists I have a habit of collecting waste and recycling it into works of art.
The sinister appearance of these heads, drawn as they are on post-consumer waste in the form of discarded plastic milk bottles, can be interpreted as a comment on the fact that we as humans are destroying the environment through (amongst other things) our profligate use of plastic packaging.
The fact that the heads also resemble the type of craft-play objects produced by children can be interpreted as alluding to the western world’s current tendency towards a philosophy of consequence-denying pleasure seeking in which the adults in society fail to take responsibility for their actions beyond immediate self-gratification.

contemporary environmental art sculpture created from consumer waste - heads created from plastic milk bottles

Fin – an addition to a rock formation, Cornwall

contemporary art - concept drawing for sculpture in the landscape near St Ives, Cornwall

Fin
Photograph with digital drawing, September 2018

A photograph of a natural granite rock formation with a drawing of a fin-like object added to the photograph as though it is attached to the rock.
The rock formation in the photograph is on the Penwith peninsula in west Cornwall, a few miles from St Ives. The large rock on which the fin is  drawn is a rocking stone, known locally as a Logan stone. The stone is said to move slightly when pushed correctly.
The image is a finished artwork, despite the fact that it resembles a concept study for a sculpture in the landscape. The drawing of the fin is deliberately  inconsistent in  terms  of photographic realism with the rest of the image.
Having said that, the development of the concept as a sculpture is a possibility.

Hammers – photomontage for sculpture in the landscape, Cornwall

contemporary sculpture land art - giant hammers

Hammers
Photomontage, Cornwall. June 2018

A photomontage of a concept for a sculpture in the landscape.
The landscape in the photograph is the Penwith peninsula in west Cornwall.
The hammers are meant to project a sense of overbearing force, the fact that there are several of them possibly implying organised force (such as military force). Hammers, to me, have a certain anthropomorphic quality to them, suggesting a degree of human identity – a long thin body with a head at the top. The blank facelessness of the heads of the hammers in this image suggest a mindless power.

contemporary sculpture  in the landscape - oversized hammers

The concept also contains an element of humour directed at the art world, in that the massive scale of the work comments on the often gigantic scale of works of sculpture and other interventions in the landscape. Oversized everyday objects are a common feature in sculpture.

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.

Mixed media artwork: watercolour with fresh fruit

abstract watercolour painting with fresh fruit

Abstract watercolour with fresh fruit
June 2018
This image was created by a process of serendipity.
I had recently created the abstract watercolour square using a technique that I’m experimenting with at the moment. Then I decided to experiment with creating sculptural forms from bananas. I placed the banana on top of the watercolour while I wondered what to do with it (not normally good practice) and decided that I liked the composition and the contrast in form between the watercolour and the fruit.

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.

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”

Last Cigarette – a surreal found object sculpture.

Surrealist contemporary art - shoe last smoking cigarette

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

A shoe last mounted on a lamp stand and with a cigarette inserted into the circular hole in the last that is designed to accommodate a handle.

The sculpture utilises the human tendency to pareidolia, the interpretation of shapes as human faces, to create a surreal head.