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.
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.
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:
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.
A low viewpoint looking into the mirror cube, as below, shows the infinity mirror effect at its best.
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.
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.
The chess board contains no black squares – they are an illusion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Shoe last, cigarette, lamp base. May 2018
A cobbler’s last with a cigarette inserted into the circular hole in the last that is designed to accommodate a handle. The last is mounted on a lamp stand.
The sculpture utilises the human tendency to pareidolia, the interpretation of shapes as human faces, to create a surreal head.
Similarly, the sculpture’s title, Last Cigarette, utilises the human tendency to reinterpret words to create puns – in this case the word ‘last’ referring to the wooden cobbler’s last, meaning that the cigarette is the last’s cigarette.
Cardboard cereal carton, acrylic gouache, finger. June 2020
A cardboard cereal carton of the type with an oval window in it to reveal the contents, painted with black acrylic gouache. A hand is placed inside the carton, with one finger protruding through the window.
The photograph here has a strange unsettling quality partly due to the disconcerting suggestive appearance of the finger, which looks like a penis. If it had been a penis the image would have definitely been a piece of fetish art. The fact that it’s actually only a finger gives the image an uneasy air of dissonance. It’s meant to be quite humorous.
Another unsettling element to the image is that the physical context of the components are quite hard to read. The black box is not on a surface, as it is on the end of the arm that the finger belongs to (mine). The background includes an open door The door handle is visible upper right, with the door frame to the immediate left of the box) and there is the edge of a chest of drawers at the extreme left.
It’s hard to tell how big this sculpture is from this photograph.
The square ends of the two blocks from which the sculpture is composed could maybe be a metre across. In fact they are closer to five centimetres, as the piece is created from lengths of two by two wood (two inches by two inches).
The work has a strange relationship with scale. It’s small, but it could be big. If there was a zoom facility for three dimensional objects that worked in a similar way to that on computer and phone screens, where you simply touch the surface and drag in or out to change the size, this sculpture would beg to be dragged just to see how it worked at different scales.
At it’s actual size this sculpture looks as though it’s happy at the size that it is, while somehow containing the spirit of a larger sculpture within itself. In some ways it gives the impression of being a large object that is somehow being perceived as being small, as though viewed through the wrong end of a telescope .
As I mentioned, this work is composed of two pieces of two by two wood. This is a common size of wood sold in long lengths in timber yards for use in general construction projects. This sculpture came about when I picked up two short offcuts of wood from a different project, that each had been cut at 45 degrees at one end, and placed them on a work surface on their angled faces. They instantly acquired a dynamic and vital presence. Due to the manner in which they rested at an angle they looked as though they were embedded in the surface with part of their form submerged.
One of the things I like about this work is that it is made from extremely simple components – two pieces of wood from a builders’ merchants and a bit of acrylic paint. Yet it doesn’t look like a work created in the spirit of ‘detritus art’ in which the work is deliberately engineered to emphasise its origins in the flotsam and jetsam of contemporary culture (Artists such as Philidda Barlow, whose work I like greatly, and Abraham Cruzvillegas come to mind as good exponents of this genre). In fact this sculpture could almost be mistaken for a tiny example of the ostentatiously highly engineered work that are quite common in modernist sculpture.
Wood, ceramic, acrylic paint: Height 12cm: August 2017
A sculpture composed of two identically shaped, differently coloured elements.
The two elements are set at an angle to the vertical to give the impression that they may be partly concealed within the base on which they stand.
The elements of this sculpture are short lengths of 2×2 wood. It is deliberately made from mundane material at a small scale which gives the work a surprising intimacy.