Shoes with extended laces – photograph

contemporary photography - shoes with their laces extended - slightly sinister

Shoes with extended laces
Photograph. June 2018

This photograph shows a pair of walking boots with their laces extended away from them.
I took the photograph when I noticed the boots on the floor (they are my boots). The laces and the lighting from the window create a strangely unsettling effect, to me at least.
The photo was taken while I was visiting Oban in Scotland – on the same visit as this slightly surreal photograph.
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Sketch of an imaginary organic form

contemporary art monochrome sketch - unsettling imaginary organic form

Sketch of an imaginary organic form
Gouache with digital additions. Height: 32cm. July 2018.

This is a sketch from my imagination. I think that the body of the organic form in the sketch is probably inspired by the nests created by potter wasps. I used to watch potter wasps creating their pot-like nests when I visited France.

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.

A surreal alignment of heads

surreal photography - strange alignment of heads

An alignment of heads
Unretouched photograph. May 2018
A photograph of two people standing in a way that makes their heads seem to merge in an unsettling and humorous way.
The bizarre, surreal effect of the photograph is enhanced by the uniform bright red background and the colour the clothing. The photograph was taken on a ferry between Oban and the Isle of Mull in Scotland, May 2018.

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.

Buttercup field with hidden object

Buttercup Field
Video. 27sec

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 near St Ives, 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.

Anthropomorphism and a kitchen sink

contemporary art anthropomorphism - a sink plug hole that resembles the eye of a cyclops

Anthropomorphic kitchen sink: Photograph: June 2015

A slightly disturbing (to me) photograph of a kitchen sink. The texture of the sink’s surface along with the staining round the plug hole and the shape and position of the overflow give this image an anthropomorphic quality, giving the suggestion that the plug hole may be an eye while the overflow could be a nose or a mouth (or a mixture of both). If this sink does indeed resemble a human face the fact that the face only has one eye in the centre of its head suqqests a cyclops.
The plug hole and overflow can also be seen as being suggestive of other orifices.

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”

Abstract watercolour painting: White Circle

abstract contemporary art watercolour painting - white circle

White Circle: May, 2018.
An abstract watercolour painting that plays with the tension between the absolute stable state of a circle and the chaotic state of the rest of the image.
The perforations along the edge of the paper are an integral component of the composition, being part of the disruptive tension in the work.

Ceramic sculpture – organic form

Modern ceramic sculptural form

A ceramic sculptural form.
The work is slightly suggestive of a fungus such as a stinkhorn, although the work was conceived as a purely abstract sculpture.
The sculpture is 25 cm tall.
Created in 1995.

Below is a view of the sculpture from above, in directional lighting. This view shows well the dramatic differences that differing viewpoints can make when viewing three dimensional artwork (or anything else for that matter).
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Modern art ceramic sculpture - organic form

Ceramic sculpture

Contemporary ceramics - clusters of coloured ceramic cones or filaments

A group of works composed of clusters of coloured ceramic cone-like forms.
The forms are individually rolled by hand as cones and are then distorted to create a sinuous waving effect. They are each between 1 cm and 25 cm tall.
The forms were conceived as purely abstract, however they have an organic feel to them and have something of the suggestion of marine or aquatic organisms about them. They could be worm-like creatures emerging from the sea bed and waving in the ocean currents.

Dancing teapots

I like to sit down with a sketchbook every so often and draw whatever comes into my head. Objects with bird-like features are a recurring theme. These slightly surreal dancing teapots are a good example.
This is a pen, ink and watercolour sketch drawn in Cornwall, April, 2018.

Abstract watercolour

contemporary art abstract geometrical watercolour

An abstract watercolour.
The painting is meant to be partly suggestive of pure abstract forms and partly suggestive of half a sphere hovering above a column.
The texture on the forms is created using a watercolour pencil.

Abstract watercolour – unintentional tribute to Brian Rice

abstract watercolour painting - black square with red and blue

An abstract watercolour painting
May 2018. 110mm x 110mm

The black square and the blue teeth in this abstract watercolour were painted en plien air in a wood full of bluebells in the grounds of Hatfield House, Hertfordshire. The red centre or the square was added later in the studio.
I thought that this painting was a spontaneous composition from my own subconscious, but a few weeks after I’d created it I was browsing through a book from my bookshelves of the work of Brian Rice in which I found multiple versions of very similar images.

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.

Ionn – abstract contemporary animation

Contemporary abstract moving image art meets science
A detail from the work

A detail from an abstract moving image work from a series in which multiple copies of a single shape move and interact using simple computer algorithms, creating complex shapes.

Ionn (detail)
Abstract moving image: April 2018

To see higher resolution videos and more information about this series click here.

Abstract composition of geometrical forms: circles and squares

Abstract art - composition of geometrical forms

 

Abstract composition, created 2012.
The composition is a study in confinement, with the geometrical forms in the composition seemingly squeezed into the space within the composition. The angled square in the composition touches each side of the frame, which itself is a square. This adds to the composition’s sense of confinement as the image has no specific top and bottom and can be viewed in any orientation, giving the impression of ‘no way out’. Not only that, but the square format suggests that the enclosed square and its accompanying circles can almost possess a degree of freedom of movement by being able to rotate within the frame – a form of movement that in reality possesses no more freedom than does the movement of a hamster in a wheel.

Audience participation proposal for Tate Modern Turbine Hall

Tate Modern Turbine Hall - audience participation installation concept

 

A concept for an installation in the Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, incorporating a zip wire or ski lift that traverses the turbine hall from the top of the east end to the bottom of the west end (thus utilising to the full the cavernous space within the hall). Date: 2017

En route from the top to the bottom the wire passes through the centres of a series of huge coloured rings that are suspended from the roof of the hall. The rings are positioned so that they create striking configurations when viewed from different positions on the floor of the Turbine Hall. Particularly impressive sight-lines would be from the west entrance to the hall and from the platform. The rings are linked together by struts that subtly fuse the rings into a single entity.
Use of the zip wire/ski lift would give the audience the opportunity to ‘fly’ through the centre of the artwork – an opportunity that to the best of my knowledge isn’t possible with any existing art installation.
As with many of the installations in the Turbine Hall, the audience interaction is an integral part of the work itself.
In the diagram I have added the option of a walkway that rises up from the hall’s floor in order to give earthbound members of the audience the opportunity to pass through one of the rings.

While at one level the zip wire is a reference to the current culture of organised and managed entertainment, especially adventure-orientated entertainment such as the zip wires in the various tree-top adventure centres that now exist in locations such as public parks and the Eden Project, at another level the wire can be seen as a physical ‘communication cable’ that allows people to override the normal laws of physics that keep them earthbound and to enter the artwork in an almost supernatural gravity-defying way, the cable being a physical analogue to the electrical communication cables used in digital technology that allow people to enter extraordinary but controlled virtual spaces.

The concept references several works associated with the Turbine Hall: One Two Three Swing! by Superflex, Test Site by Carsten Höller and Marsyas by Anish Kapoor. I think the Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson’s in there too.

Metamorphosis of a Human Hand into an Alien Life-form

Metamorphosis: March 2018
 
 
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?

contemporary art - metamorphosis of a hand to become alien by reflection