Tuesday, 25 January 2011


So studio wise, I’ve got something to sink my teeth into. Doing something repetitive is good. I’m taking part in a group show at Dilston Grove, I’m usually really crap at relating to themes, but this one revived an idea I had while back.

Actually the earlier days of this black project were a little more investigative of black cultural phenomena. But at the time it still felt too known – so the form continued to grow backwards for a while there. Anyway having drawn that spot for so long, chain mail seems to make sense. I made a test piece before I’d even looked at the space – but a church is a church I suppose. I’m gonna make the final structure with smaller units – as you can see, I’ll be able to stop thinking for a while.

Monday, 24 January 2011


Cazuelas (detail) 2002 Gabriel Orozco

So last week I finally got to see the Gabriel Orozco at the Tate. About a year ago I came across his stuff in an essay by Briony Fer - I didn’t really know much about his work at that point. So the proper introduction was through that Eva Hess exhibition at Camden arts centre. The show essentially focused on the beginnings of things, little actions, materials gestures that hovered between nothing and the final; this is where I came across Orozco’s ‘Cazuelas’ (beginnings). I was interested in these pieces for several reasons; the reoccurring circle/sphere, the ritualistic inspiration from Mali, the fact that he was somehow messing with the function of an object (before it could even prove itself useful) and his use of clay – which had a very strong affinity with Anna Mialino’s work. But I suppose it was the idea of something unfinished, something constantly in-between states that interested me. I also really loved his ‘Samurai’s Trees’ for totally different reasons - more aesthetic and ‘crafty’ ones.

I attended his talk at the Tate, it was quite funny at times - he seemed kinda bored with the situation. Although there is a lot of thought invested in the work, he was spoke about it rather casually, which I liked... but I’m not sure if I learned anything new from the experience - and the show? Well I’m starting to think that anything shown at Tate is too late… somehow that space managed to cut off the blood supply, you can mess with the name all you want but its still a museum. I bought the catalogue though, and in some ways I enjoyed that encounter more.

Any way I seem to be drawn to artists presenting the process at the moment (or maybe a fictionalised version of it). The very next day while nursing a hangover I came across Amanda Ross Ho. The work is incredibly referential of an existence in the studio – I like some of her stuff very much.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


You wonder over the years why you are drawn to the particular exhibitions. It’s not that you want to do what they do, but certain traits/questions arise which have an affinity with your own.

I’ve found Cindy Sherman’s output rather repetitive over the years, but I’ve kept half an eye on it. In almost twenty years of looking at her work, I finally came across the ‘real’ Sherman, (a non fictionalised image) but couldn’t trust what I was seeing. So it looks like she’s succeeded to dissolving any notion of truth within photography (well… certainly in relation to her own image). She is effectively a chameleon, a blob constantly in a state of mimesis. The only truth that has remained however is age. In this new work she has forgone makeup and opted for digital manipulation. I wish she had dared to go another step further - making herself timeless, some how trapping herself in the 80’s when she started this work.

Jeff Bridges and Clu his virtual 80's copy

That same day I saw a very different show ‘Peaceable Kingdom’ and attended a talk by the artist at Marlborough Fine art. Cathie Pilkington spoke about her difficult relationship with ‘sculpture’. One particular piece really communicated that struggle; a funny ducky character, continuously making copies of Barbara Hepworth sculptures. It was tragic to see this character making something, so unlike herself. Perhaps Babs is hoping that the repetition will eventually convince her otherwise.

Babs 2010 Cathie Pilkington

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Fall out

Jan 2011

I made this ball from synthetic fibre some time in December, and didn’t know what to do with it initially. In some respects I think of it as an ‘Afro puff’ (a term I remember from the 90’s). I showed it to a friend of mine, who really got into the precision of the thing– the perfect sphere. He encouraged me to take it to the barbers.

Haircut 1992 David Hammonds

I like my synthetic ‘Afro puff’ because it’s not real, and it resembles the spot (that unit) I’ve been drawing repetitively. I suspect the shavings might have a place in the process, so I won’t be going to the barbers yet.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


Dec 2010

So the drawings have paused for a while, jus a little while though - I need a little more tactility and I hoping in time that the two may come together in someway. Actually, my hang-up with sculpture has always been about hankering for sensuality, perhaps above and beyond more ‘formal’ concerns. In fact, for many years the work struggled to have structural integrity and always depended on some sort of assistance on my part, once somebody described my pieces a ‘handicapped’.

Now arriving back at form exploiting that instability seems to make sense, although right now I feel like I need to get acquainted with working in physical space again. I’m sketching at the moment, playing - thinking about the work in pieces. This just came about in an afternoon after seeing a show; I think the important thing to take away from it is the fact that nothing was fixed. It was a loose assembly of things in my studio, which have already devolved back into functional objects or parts of other sculptural propositions.

My first outing on another blog...

visiting studios: Amanda Francis: "My work is always shifting and I have learnt to embrace these changes as part of its ‘being’ in the world. The subject has morphed ..."

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


This blog started retrospectively and it’s been difficult to move out of that tense. It’s been an extremely helpful activity, but to continue being useful I think it’s got to be more immediate and risky. So I’m not sure what that means in relation to content, there might be more crap but it’s not a show. I can and should make more work, but I think another dimension needs to be added here – the things I encounter, I will endeavour to do more of this in 2011.

Peppermint studios 1996

So the end of last year was a little distracting, as I let other things take over. There had been some play with the camera in the studio – results seemed quite simple and obvious, and that idea got in the way actually…. Talking to an artist friend about this we admitted the danger of constantly looking for complexity at the cost of whatever is actually in front of you and its potential.

These experiments reference things I did a long time ago, I’m hoping that revisiting this stuff over a decade later may offer something I hadn’t anticipated…

A new resolve…

So apart from the usual of lifestyle promises, I’ve decided to make one resolution artistically and that is to be more self reliant with my practice in relation to the contemporary art world and its politics – to have a more expanded view on things historically and geographically…

Although as an artist and teacher I’ve spent a great deal of time looking at contemporary work and discourses, the next challenge is to sort the nourishment from the crap. What I mean by this is developing a certain amount of steadfastness, as the zeitgeist continues to present very eloquent and researched propositions - so compelling that they can be destructive, if encountered at the wrong moment. Also resisting those superficial ideas of success and failure, since absorbing them takes the potency out of the product and hands the power back to those who determine those ideas.

I’m not talking about ignorance here; I think it’s about confidence and also prioritising my needs in the process. I still want to float it’s the kind of escapism I crave, but perhaps there will be at least one tether that maintains a relationship to the ground…