Sunday, 29 August 2010


When Faith Moves Mountains Francis Alys

Everything emanates from some kind of story or another; whether from real life (loaded with empirical data and academic framing) or made up (entirely subjective and emotional). I’ve always embraced narrative in my work, partly because formal art language has always been rather alien. Consequentially earlier work didn’t operate within formal parameters; it was more politically motivated and focused on the efficacy of the art object in society.

Thinking about made up narratives… a visit to the Tate reminded me of an artwork I came across some years ago in an art journal or catalogue somewhere. An aspect of the piece depended on the verbal and anecdotal, to create a modern myth. I always loved the idea of ‘When faith moves mountains’, it reminds me of a piece of mine that no one saw in the flesh. It was an important piece, so I would always include it in talks about my work. Then at some point I started to become aware of the fiction that could be constructed around it.

Backpack and accessory for walk along Oxford Canal 1999-01

Although I’m striving towards a more intuitive process, I feel I can’t avoid the narrative, every time I try to condense it conceptually into paragraph, it never really seems to fit for too long. But coming back to that word – liminality… is it a state or episodic? The anthropological route indicates the latter, but I came across a very interesting essay that would support the idea of liminality as a state of being. I can’t make up my mind about it – the answer may end it all too quickly... so I’m floating – artistically, conceptually and professionally that’s the real story. I’m thinking that being relaxed about the meaning will bring more possibilities.

There will always be a story…

“Liminality may perhaps be regarded as the Nay to all positive structural assertions, but as in some sense the source of them all, and, more than that, as a realm of pure possibility whence novel configurations of ideas and relations may arise” Victor Turner 1967

Monday, 23 August 2010

Digital lens

Untitled Black Series 2009

It may seem obvious to say that there's a distinction between the drawings and the photographs I take of them. Documenting them on the light box was just that at first, a record. There is a difference in appearance from the work in the flesh; but I consider the subject not altered – more like ‘revealed’ - kinda like an Xray. I’d recently bought a new camera and discovered the magic of digital negatives. My first adventure into this world was like finding a secret door into Photoshop. Photography was the starting point of this blog, the luminosity of the screen gives the image a vibrance which is expensive to achieve with a physical print...


Recently I came across a word, for some reason I had never come across it before. Now it seems to be everywhere.

Liminal ‘of or pertaining to the threshold or initial stage of a process’ OED

studio sketch 2010

Its practical application is rooted in anthropology and was expanded by Victor Turner in the 1960’s to talk of relationships to a ‘social structure’ (i.e. society, a community, a group). Initially liminality explained the status of an individual undergoing some sort of transition -usually through ritual. On that threshold or in that liminal territory there isn’t any status - some attributes of liminality: invisibility, ambiguity, instability...

‘Liminality represents the midpoint or transition in a status sequence between two positions…' Victor Turner 1974

As I’ve mentioned before nomadism has always intrigued me. It seemed a more appropriate way to describe being in-between two cultures (certainly more preferable to hybridity) it’s like being home and away simultaneously. Marginality seemed negative and also well rehearsed. Liminality is different, the expansion of the term makes the concept very slippery - nebulous even. It’s difficult to work out whether the word describes being inside or outside. One proposition placed liminal beings in-between the cracks of the social structure - which I like more...

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


In relation to the exhibition, I’m sure you’re wondering about my grand statement. How is it possible to probe blackness as a cultural construct – much less through drawing? On a really basic level, I am trying to develop a more fluid and intuitive process. Something less known and something more discovered – it might seem like a really simple objective, but it’s taken me a long time to get here. In some respects I regard black as an unknown or invisible potential. So there is a loose idea around it, maybe it’s more about a point in time... Like most artists I make stuff because I have to. Naturally it’s linked to the things I’m going through and thinking about.

'In the house of my father' 1996-7 Donald Rodney

I had a recent realisation - I think I’ve been stuck in a time warp. Over the years I’ve been responding to one particular moment… essentially the cultural manifestations of the 80’s and 90’s ‘Black British’ experience. Driven by the political climate, the oppositional was in effect hardwired into the psyche of the black artist. I struggled with that, ultimately I couldn’t get over the degree of collusion that enabled my art school training. It felt like my moral compass was being tested…

I think (like most people) I have a lot of baggage, the struggle in understanding the academic framing of my position, the guilt from my wish to escape from it. Whether I understand it or not, colonial, postcolonial history and theory are amongst the many external forces/currents which envelope and influence my existence.

Monday, 9 August 2010


Untitled Black Series 2009

The show was a really great experience, in more ways than one, but ultimately I got to look back at some older drawings… then a dilemma - I can’t decide whether I’m taking a step sideways or backwards? This thing keeps on oscillating between singular vs multiplicity’, macro vs micro.

Untitled Black Series 2009

Here are some other things I’ve thought about recently:

Cosmology, The unknown

Black as a socio political entity

Jazz original black abstract

Electro music,



Primordial soup

Liquid modernity,

Rorschach blots…

Untitled Black Series 2010

Saturday, 7 August 2010

The Black Series: Suedbalkon Hamburg

Hello again anyone who might have missed me! I've been busy making a show in Hamburg and writing another blog about it - check out the images below...

The Black Series an exhibition and conversation between two artists consumed by ‘blackness’ as a space, material and cultural construct. Both artists chart carefully through a dark terrain, constantly moving and searching ...

Amanda Francis’ practice is preoccupied with the identity, specifically how context (external conditions and circumstances) affect identity formation. Currently she is interested in probing the stability of ‘Blackness’ as a cultural construct. Acknowledging subjectivity, as an individual who inhabits it, each drawing emerges intuitively and organically on paper. Here ‘blackness’ is presented as nebulous entity, constantly in a state of flux.

Paul Jones’ work stems from questions of memory and imagination. All his work has this strong thread connecting them. Though the viewer may find a myriad of materials and media being used, his goal is to push concepts through the work, balancing the believable, observable world with the unbelievable, the unseen, the unhelmlich. Using state of the art digital resources, Jones has navigated his gaze within the dark dystopia of strange skull landscapes venting volcanoes, and dark space anomalies. Features of this dystopic ‘space’ encroach and appear as anomalies within our own space and time, like a walking dream.

1. Untitled Black Series

6. Untitled Black Animation

3. Blackstar Series Paul Jones

3. Blackstar Series (background)
5. Untitled Black Series (Foreground)

5. Untitled Black Series

2. Envelope drawings Paul Jones

4. Wallhill Blackstar Series (installation view)

untitled_Wall Hill_blackstar series 2009 from Paul Jones on Vimeo.

Numbers correspond to map below...

If you want to know more about the show visit