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.

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

Art and science: abstract animations concerned with the creation of complexity from simplicity.

Proscion. March 2018

A piece of abstract digital animation that uses my technique of overlaying multiple copies of the same image made to move relative to each other in simple ways and to interact with each other so that, for instance, the colour displayed in the resulting image changes.
This “starburst” animation is composed of multiple overlaid copied of a 36 pointed star.
A key motive behind these video animations is the linking of art and science through the exploration of the creation of complex forms from the interaction of simple forms, with particular reference to the creation of the incredible complexity of the universe from its incredibly simple building blocks. There’s more about this here: Complexity from simplicity: contemporary artworks.

Proscion – abstract moving image artwork

Contemporary art abstract moving image - starburst
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.
In this work multiple versions of a simple star shape are modified in size and colour to create a complex star form. Smaller clones of this star form are then ejected from the original star form, in an action that suggests the birth of new stars or the creation of matter in some other dimension of the universe.

Proscion: Abstract moving image: March 2018

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

Study of the motion of water ejected from a hose spray head in pulses

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.

Fountain study - water ejected in pulses from a hose nozzle
A still from the video, showing the pattern created as a result of the pulsing effect

This phenomenon is possibly a good starting point for a fountain or other water-based artwork or installation.

Photograph of mundane domestic setting – beans tin in washing-up bowl

Contemporary art photography - mundane domestic situations

 

Photograph: Heinz Beanz tin in washing-up bowl
January 2018

This photograph is from an ongoing series in which I photograph mundane scenes and objects in everyday domestic settings. Other photographs in the series show such things as cup rings on work surfaces, shadows of soap containers cast by lightbulbs.
The photographs are all aesthetically pleasing (to me). One of their purposes is to show beauty in normally overlooked situations.

Video exhibited in the London Group Open Exhibition 2017

This video, titled Spyk, was exhibited in the London Group open exhibition, 7th November to 1st December 2017.

Spyk
Abstract moving image: 2017

The video is from my series of videos in which multiple copies of relatively simple forms are rotated at different rates to each other, thus generating complex forms. There are more of them here.

The London Group was founded in 1913 by a group of artists including Lucien Pissarro, Henri Gaudier Brzeska, Jacob Epstein, Walter Sickert, Duncan Grant and Wyndham Lewis. Its aim was to be an artist-based group that could act as a counter-balance to establishment institutions such as the Royal Academy. Current members include artists such as Frank Bowling RA, Anthony Eyton RA and Dame Paula Rego.

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

Art in the Environment, Cornwall

contemporary art in the environment - intervention in the landscape, St Ives, Cornwall

This work consists of a length of brightly coloured cord hanging over the branch of a hawthorn tree in a patch of woodland near St Ives, Cornwall.

The simplicity of construction of the piece is important. The observer will hopefully notice the almost total lack of endeavour required to create the work, while also noticing the (hopefully) relatively high aesthetic payoff as a result of that endeavour.

The two bright vertical lines formed by the work contrast sharply with the dark shadows and the tangled and twisted branches and twigs of the hawthorn and  blackthorn in the wood.

The fact that the cord creates two hanging lines gives the cords an increased presence when compared with a single hanging cord. They seem to resonate against each other and create a more concrete effect than would be achieved with a single one dimensional strand.

A lot of land art and other art in the environment strive to use only natural ingredients in the composition of the art, good examples being the work of Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy. This work however consciously uses artificial material in the form of nylon paracord.

The placing of brightly coloured plastic into the environment refers partly to humanity’s imposition of artificiality onto the natural world. This is partly a message about the despoiling of the environment by our endeavours. The fact that the nylon cord is simply draped across the branch of a tree helps to reinforce this message, as the cord acquires qualities associated with the detritus of our throw-away consumer society. The fact that the cord is plastic reinforces this further, and the fact that the straight lines of the cord are cutting through the organic forms of the woodland gives a slight sense of violent imposition.  However, the brightly coloured plastic looks quite pleasing in some ways and to some sensibilities, so the work is also saying that humanity’s imposition of artificiality onto the environment has a positive side to it (but also that just because something looks nice doesn’t necessarily mean that it is).

In fact, where would we be without the artificiality that we impose on the environment?  The artificiality that we create is one of the greatest achievements of the human race. Would you like to live without the electric and electronic devices that populate your life? (The coloured cord could easily be a length of electric cable). The main problem is that we just create too much artificiality. Hence some of the ambiguity in this piece.

The use of coloured cord in this work was undoubtedly inspired by the work of Fred Sandback.