Visual Artist

Hello there!

Welcome to my blog, where you will find all my work, works in progress, there's always something going on, an ever changing place where the you can stay up to date with my work, from the idea, to the trials and celebrations. Also you can found a wealth of film reviews that influence my work. Follow on Bloglovin

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New Mills Arts Fest Update (23/4/14)


I spent sometime focusing on the work to be exhibited next month. Looking at the layout of the models, work directly from the set-up used for the animation shoot. I’ll be taking with me the main street, so the bigger buildings will be making the trip to New Mills. I am in the middle of making a further 8 street lights to accompany them in the windows. I originally had only 5, which were used in all the set-ups, moved around. Spoils the illusion a bit but when they are on display I don’t want that illusion spoilt.

So I’ll be working once more on the pieces, hopefully having all eight built if not starting to paint them too.

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I never thought I’s be producing models on a mass scale like this, using a simple process to make them up, they will add that extra bit of detail to the shop window next month.

Pericles in the West Update (23/4/14)


Act 5 is already at the half way point with only two scenes, although the way things look it should be a few more really. I am enjoying once more how the play wraps things up nicely. I can’t wait to pad out Acts 1-3 once more. I’ll be taking a break from that to focus on the model work once this act is complete.

Pericles in the West Update (22/4/14)


It’s been over a week since I actually looked at this work, stopping briefly with the arrival of the models which I will turn to in time. Today I completed the second draft of Act 4, which is quite long now in comparison to the other three acts. Which as I have said before I will go over again in due course.

I have decided to change one detail, which maybe detrimental later on. Where Pericles/Peter decides not to shave, then later not to wash. Which in the west makes little sense to me. Instead he may just let himself go at times. He is already guilt ridden by the events in the play, it feels to dramatic. I don’t feel that it will really detract too much from the plot which coming together now. I guess it’s like when a singer kisses a girl in the audience, and they decide to never wash that body part again, a flimsy comment which is both romantic and unhygienic. It’s that attachment to the moment you don’t want to lose.

Act 5 is up next before I start to make a list of sets required for the work, then I can start to look at the visual side of things. For me this is more exciting than the writing process, which takes me away from making. Without it the work would not be half as strong.

 

Come Fill the Cup (1951)


Come Fill the Cup (1951)I’ve seen a few James Cagney‘s films recently, all very new to me, still hoping to come across his earlier work. Nonetheless it’s great to discover this lesser-known pieces such as Come Fill the Cup (1951). From the beginning I thought this would be one of those issues film-noir’s which it is to a point in terms of subject matter. Not many film genres discussed alcoholism so frankly in the early fifties. The same can be said for Possessed (1947) which looked at schizophrenia. Aesthetically it’s not your straight-forward noir look of deep shadows, being much lighter. The subject matter is dark enough really.

Also a real jump for Cagney who tried for the rest of his career to leave the gangster image of the 1930′s behind, has not completely shaken it off. Faced with new demons – the bottle which causes him (Lew Marsh) to lose his job at  newspaper. It’s not until he hears “angel wings” he decides enough is enough, collapsing and being treated in hospital. Taken into care of Charley Dolan (James Gleason) himself a recovering alcoholic. Two men who support each other over the years.

Cagney is a good fit for the once alcoholic, who owns the role, able to secure his old life. leaving the drama of his old life behind along with his ex-girlfriend Paula Copeland (Phyllis Thaxter) who marries another time. The film seems to loose its drive whilst he is recovering, after the powerful visuals that made me stay with the film. Going onto have 6 good and clean years at the paper he was at before he downfall. It’s a request from his boss that brings his past and experience to the fore-ground. Not just a recovered alcoholic now, but a man who can help John Ives’s (Raymond Massey) son-in-law now    Boyd Copeland (Gig Young) is in the swings of alcoholism. Its seems that a man who has come out of the other end of this darkness is the one to save the man who married his old flame.

He has no choice to take it up, warning Ive’s that he’s not qualified, which doesn’t bother him. Come Fill the Cup could be  a standard piece of drama if not for Cagney who takes on the reformed role and helps another sufferer. Balancing out the drama at the beginning. I was alway wondering when, just when is Cagney going to fall off the wagon. (We have to wait a while). Something you wouldn’t find today, the fight to stay sober would be far darker in its portrayal than just talking about the symptoms, the lifestyle (if you can call it that).

It becomes about another struggling to live with his demons, whilst coming full circle in Marsh’s own life. How he copes when faced with the worst in his life to that point. That’s the real test of his strength for him. This also shows how versatile an actor Cagney was, who to a point was typecast as a gangster, did he best to break that with roles with a social conscience.

 

 

Suspicion (1941) Revisited


Suspicion (1941)I rarely ever revisit a film and talk about it. Usually watching it for the pleasure, sometimes there’s a need to understand what was earlier lost on me. I have a few lined up which I need to reconsider, not really seeing them for what they are. An underestimation of what they are about. So the first in a series of reviews I begin with one of the very first I watched about 3-4 years ago. Having already seen North By Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960) which I found to be more engaging than Suspicion (1941) which was darker in tone than the lighter North by Northwest with Cary Grant. I think I was caught up in the upper-class world that the earlier film took place in when Johnnie (Grant) begins to court Lina (Joan Fontaine a shy and reserved woman who falls for his charms. Who wouldn’t, its Cary Grantwho was Alfred Hitchcock’go to actor at the time.

However the average man in Grant has a far darker side that starts to reveal itself when they marry and move into a world if debt and doubt. Living in a house that has yet to be paid for and a husband who won’t take a job. The life of a playboy, emphasis on the playing with his friend Beaky (Nigel Bruce) who is in his own little world.

Whilst Lina and Johnnie are squarely in reality with a different set of morals. One living by his wits to get the money he wants, whilst the wife wants stability and safety in her life. Its Johnnie who is control of everything here, helped very much by Grants charismatic performance that steals the show. Leaving both the audience and Lina in the dark as to his true intentions. Lina and the audience develop a very different picture from that of the gambling man. Who could even kill to get what he wants. We never see any deaths on-screen, more a suggestion of what could be. The power of Hitchcock has travelled across the Atlantic and slowly being honed up to become what we see in his later films of. It’s not so much what we see but what we don’t, that power of suggestion. Even the dramatic imagery of a death is just in the imagination.

I think what made me come away from the film so disaffected was the ending that after such a climax, on the open road became a happy ending, very much in the style of films at the time. On thinking about it there is still room for what happens after we leave them on the coastal roads. Will there be another argument, which leads to a death. Who knows. That is the power of Hitchcock which was very much misunderstood at the time. I now hold the film in a higher regard, not as strong as other works of the decade such as Shadow of a Doubt (1943) which really questioned what we really know of people’s past and the true drives.

Pericles in the West Update (18/4/14)


A very brief update today. Before I left for New Mills I received in the post the cowboy figures 1:72  that I ordered at the start go the week. I knew that they would be smaller than my film noir figures, just not prepared for exactly how smaller though.

I’m really going to have up my game in terms if scale and detail, working on a new language which has less detail. I will now be able to make use of the matchstick that I bought years ago for some of the detail. This will be a real test for me. At least with these models I can still experiment and even have men riding horses. I’ll be returning to this project properly next week after the holidays. I could still do both outcomes and see which leads the way.

New Mills Arts Fest Update (18/4/14)


I’ve been on the train a lot this week, up and down from London for my first show in the capital before heading up north to New Mills in preparation for the town trail next month. Stopping by to see some friends I made during my residency there in September 2012. The main reason was more about measuring up the space so I can start to plan which models I would like to display.

I’m really lucky to have such a big space to work with, allowing more to bring up the majority of my Have You Seen? model miniatures. I have a few considerations in mind with the space. First is that there are stands in the window which will divide the work. These stands both interrupt the displaying in terms of gaps but height. I’m hoping to work out a solution to that soon.

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I also have the entrance where customers entering the shop may knock and damage the work, so they can’t go at the every edge.

The other large window space is a window-sill which is almost twice as long, and wider, so larger models can sit there. I will have to make a few more street lights for the full effect before adding the cars and a few figures. All that’s left to do is to work out the models to take from the street plan, or to make up a new one.

The Inconvenient Indian – Thomas King


The Inconvenient IndianI’ve just finished Thomas King’s  The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North AmericaI can’t help of the opening narration by Spencer Tracy in How the West Was Won (1962) which speaks of how the land that became the United States was won, tamed and made. It touches on the Native culture of America, which I have learnt more about in this loose account of North American Aboriginals. I read it over the course of 3 months or so in my lunch-breaks at work. Every time without fail I came away shocked at the treatment of these people who once were free to live and worship as they please. Since the first Europeans landed, they have pushed, killed, lied and evicted the Native American.

My view of the Native was originally sympathetic, wanting to understand more about their depiction on film, who are only an obstacle for the whites who tore through. My last western saw a tribe being swooned by Randolph Scott in Santa Fe (1951) who took their leader for a ride on the Iron Horse who then concluded was trapped by the rails and was no real worry. I guess that was a consideration, besides the fact that the laying off thousands of miles of tracks brought hunters who killed off the buffalo which was the life blood for some tribes.

The Inconvenient Indian is a light look at how both Native Americans in both Canada and the U.S. have been treated politically. With hundreds of treaties signed (land grabs) which allowed the growth of the countries. Whilst in the last century each tribe has been fighting for recognition, and lost land.

There are a few successes, such as the casino’s which they still had to fight for. They are slowly emphasis on slowly gaining lost lands, like in Alaska. Buying land when they can, at the expense of the whites not able to use it more profitably. It seems that two very different cultures are living on the same land, two very different driving forces, one profit and the other being touch with the land.

If you want to take a first look at the Native Americans, this is a nice easy step into that world. The content is heavy at time, balanced out by King’s delivery, a mix of sarcasm and wit, he’s developed a thick skin to the things that have gone on for his people. I can’t leave this without thanking Marilyn over at Serendipity for making me aware of such a fantastic read that kept me both gripped, shocked and engaged.

Lastly I want to respond to this book, with so much going on, I need to put it to one side for a while, focus on Pericles and see what theme and ideas are there. There is so much there I would be crazy to ignore it.

 

Pericles in the West Update (14/4/14)


I’ve made a good start at Act 4 of Pericles now, which is getting longer than the other acts. I will definitely be adding more depth and dialogue to the previous acts. I must bear in mind a lot more is going on in this act, which is a big reason too. I’m probably about a third into this one, which is saying something.

I have also given in after constantly being distracted by looking for figures, buying two packs of Cowboy model figures. I will then have enough to mix up, cut up and re-glue into place. It will also set the scale of the sets that are to be built. I know they will be a lot smaller than my regular models. Then it’s a matter of finding a language within a language of the model sets to signify what I am saying.  There will be less detail, like on the film noir models, which was reduced to a few brush strokes. This will again test my making and painting skills. My writing skills are already being put to the test.

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