Same idea, different artists

contemporary text-based art

Two manifestations of the same concept by different artists.

Drawing. 2019. Photo: Harrison & Wood, Frieze, London. 2022

An example of different artists thinking of the same idea independently.
The cartoon drawing is a joke about text-based art from a series of cartoons that I drew on the subject of contemporary art in 2019.
The photograph is of a sculptural text-based work by Harrison & Wood at Frieze London, 2022.

Contemporary light sculpture

contemporary light sculpture

Shadow Rings.

Card, acrylic paint, LED light source. 2022.

A light source shining on painted and folded card cut-outs in the form of rings.
The shadows cast by the light form half of each ring on the base.
The image above shows the light turning on and off to show the effect.
An example of contemporary light sculpture.

Procession

Contemporary sculpture - hands as feet

Procession. May 2022. Toy plastic hands, wooden spheres.

A sculptural piece consisting of toy plastic hands (finger hands) attached to wooden spheres.
The hands are almost the only anatomical feature possessed by the spheres. This makes their function ambiguous – are they actually hands, or are they feet or even wings?
The ‘creatures’ in the procession are quite unsettling. Their lack of anatomical features other than hands gives them the impression that they are crawling clumsily and blindly forward.
Other artworks in this series feature these objects suspended by thread on a mobile. In these works the hands are unmistakably also wings. In the natural world the wings of birds and bats have evolved from hands (or front feet, which are what hands have evolved from), so the idea of hands being used as wings is far from far-fetched.
This work shows my interest in evolutionary science and the natural world.

The Oppressor Impaled by the Oppressed

 

Political contemporary art - hammer and nails

The Oppressor Impaled by the Oppressed. This version, May 2022. Hammer, nails.

A sculptural piece consisting of a hammer nailed to a surface.
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 hammer become impaled by the nails? Were the nails hammered into the hammer by another hammer? In that case the nails are not necessarily 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.
The use of handyman’s tools such as hammers, pliers and spanners is a recurring feature of my artwork.

Metamorphosis (from pie containers to insect larvae)

Upcycled art - sculpture from food packaging

Metamorphosis (from pie containers to insect larvae)
Wood (food containers).      2021.

A sculpture fabricated from wooden pie containers.

The pie containers, for Charlie Bigham pies, 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 metamorphosis to turn 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 being an example of upcycling of consumer waste).

Unstable construction

Contemporary sculpture from G clamps

Unstable construction 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 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 environmental damage.

Polystyrene packaging sculpture

Upcycled art - sculpture from polystyrene packaging

Polystyrene idol
Polystyrene packaging.    35cm x 55cm.    2021.

A sculpture fabricated from 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 to notice the sculptural qualities of pieces of polystyrene packaging.

Nailed and clamped sculpture

Contemporary sculpture with nails and G clamp

Clamped and nailed
G clamp, nails, wooden sphere.    20cm x 20cm x 15cm.    2022.

This is almost an accidental artwork.
The nails in the sphere are there to attach other objects to. The G clamp is there to hold the sphere together (It’s actually two hemispheres glued together).

Formation of wood blocks

Contemporary sculpture - wood blocks

Wood block2
2″x2″ wood, acrylic paint. 2022. Height: 12cm, width: variable.

A cluster of blocks of wood painted very matte black on the sides and bright white on the top. Positioned so that they almost suggest a formation, but not quite. Developed from my chess piece, in which most of the blocks formed a more regular chess board formation.

Tower of vinyl records

Contemporary sculpture from vinyl records

Sculpture
Vinyl records, mixed media. 2022

A sculpture constructed from old vinyl records.

Contemporary sculpture from vinyl records at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens

The work in my solo show at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, Penzance, Cornwall. May – June 2022

Art from discarded objects

Contemporary sculpture from upcycled objects

Sculpture
Ball and other detritus. September 2021

A sculpture constructed from old objects such as a discarded ball, clips for holding paper on a drawing board and a discarded homemade ‘constructivist’ toy.
An example of up-cycling in art, with associations to art movements such as arte povera.

Mirror art

Contemporary mirror art reflections

Mirror piece
Wood, acrylic, mirrors. Height: 18cm, width: 23cm. June 2021

A sculpture formed of two painted wood blocks placed in the angle between two mirrors.

Lit sculpture

Contemporary art sculpture

Crucifix
Wood, plastic, acrylic, torch, Height: 11cm, width: 18cm. November 2020

A sculpture formed from a wood block, plastic hands and a small hand torch.
The work is composed of very simple components (the wood block is a piece of 2×2), its impact here being the result of the lighting. It looks good without the lighting too, of course.

Earth Bin – environmental art installation

Earth Bin
Sculpture/installation. January 2017

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.

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

Plastic milk bottle heads as large wall mounted sculpture – visualisation

Contemporary sculpture - based on plastic bottles

Giant milk bottle heads
Visualisation of wall mounted sculpture. September 2018

This visualisation is a development of my work in creating human heads from plastic milk bottles.
The heads are vastly over-sized compared to the original plastic milk bottles.
The size of the heads gives them an impressive air, similar to that created by, for example, giant Egyptian sculptural heads. The primitive markings that create the faces are reminiscent of ancient ritualistic statuary. These factors, the ancient and the impressive, give the work a tension due to the mundanity of the objects that are actually represented – discarded plastic milk bottles with fibre tip pen faces drawn on them.
These heads are partly a comment on our throw-away consumer culture. The size of the milk bottles can be taken to represent the size of the problem of consumer waste, especially of one-use consumer waste (such as plastic milk bottles). The faces drawn on the bottles are a reference to the fact that it’s normal people who are generating the waste.

The work reflects my interest in art and the environment (I created my first environmental art in the early 1970s).

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.

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

Below: a video of the work.

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