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Summer Art Thread (2017)


I am pleased to announce that my work in progress – Painting the Town… (2017) will be included in this years Summer Art Thread in Leicester. I’ll be exhibiting at the LCB Depot. Taking place on 26th August, A jam packed with art, live music and market stalls. It would be great to see you there.

Cardboard Town – Workshop


During the Festival Art Show at Spring Bank Arts Centre throughout The Big Weekend at New Mills Festival 2017 I will be running a drop-in workshop for all ages. You can build your own section of a Wild West street with cardboard and lollipop sticks. Please come and join us and make your own contribution to the street, such as a saloon, hotel, livery stable, whatever you wish. All sections will be added to a new unique street for the weekend. It would be great to see you all there.

The Big Weekend – Festival Art Show


As part of New Mills Festival (2017) I’ll be taking part in the Big Weekend at the Spring Bank Arts Centre 23rd – 24th September. I’ll be running a drop in workshop where you can make your own Wild West street front. Please come along and check out some great work.

Un[dis]criminate


I am pleased to announce that part 6 of my animation Playing with Plastic (2016) will be exhibited online as part of a new archive UN[dis]CRIMINATE with the Unstitute online gallery.

Located in courtyards of the Unstitute – in between spaces, between other structures, temporary or otherwise – is a network of diverse encampments serving any number of uses; political or otherwise. In these digital encampments you can see the building of a new archive: UN[dis]CRIMINATE.

The outlying buildings of The Unstitute are not guarded by anyone in particular, and often entrances sit wide open for anyone to see. But mainly the nomadic eruptions in disused or otherwise vague areas of The Unstitute appear of their own determination, and deterritorialize as long as they please.

Painting the Town… Update (20/8/17)


I’m now a step closer to trying out my latest test video, the balsa beams and posts are all in place, I just need to wait for them to fix and I can them paint with the primer and away I go.

I have also been applying the last coat of paint to the loose pieces, which allowed me to complete the beaming of the model miniature. With the False walls in place I could complete the beams, just the one allowing for the 4 posts in the middle of the space to be added. I can’t believe how complex this piece is really, from my minimal aesthetic for gestures I have left the exterior world to test myself on a making level. I think I’ve risen to the challenge and ready to take on more.

Network (1976) Revisited


I’ve been meaning to revisit Network (1976) partly because it celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, another being that it’s an important film that sometimes becomes overlooked with all the 24 hour sensational news we have today, I wanted to see how this prophesying film has come to reality. As I sat down to watch it I realised much I had forgotten on this dialogue heavy film. I had lost practically all of the first hour, waiting for the “Mad as Hell” speech, which I admittedly did again, but was taken aback by the other scenes and build up to what is ultimately a scene that changes the course of the film and the direction all of the characters are going on.

It’s a very human film, going back you could say to Citizen Kane (1941) the need to be loved, the need for attention is at the heart of the film. It’s not human love or attention that most people strive for here. To be embraced, understood, cared for, listened, ultimately to be wanted and loved by another in the world. This is the cut-throat world of ratings, point share and audience percentages. A very cold world where what your station transmits makes the difference of the image you project to the world. The content that for the fictional station of UBS is becoming too much when it comes to news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) who I forgot how incredible a performance he gives. Where he character begins and ends in the film which is central to the stations rise and fall. Beale is a dead man walking when the film begins, he’s just been fired by his old friend and boss Max Schumacher (William Holden), the two men drown their sorrows before he faces his final weeks at the station. Filling him with a sense of uneasy freedom that we all get when we know that what we do will have none or little consequence that a period in our lives is coming to an end. “I just don’t care, I’m going anyway”. First saying on air that he will commit suicide, a surefire boost to the ratings. That’s before the powers that be begin to pay attention. Sadly this comes after the events that are depicted in Christine (2016) of a TV reporter who actually committed suicide on the air. Dark subject matter that Sidney Lumet can’t help but use to satirize the TV news industry. Satire isn’t a word  that really sits well with this film though, it’s too dark, shocking and I didn’t laugh once. Instead I was fascinated and drawn into the insidious world of the media. It’s a precursor to a future that has all but happened today.

When the outbursts start to attract attention, numbers start to go in the right direction which means that Beale stays, just for the sake of more promising ratings. Of course it makes sense to keep on the air what grabs an audience’s attention. However it’s the content of the outbursts which is really concerning. He knows there are troubles in the world. Network was made in an era when Watergate shook the country, and the Vietnam war coming to a bloody and very climatic withdrawal. The country is filled with suspicion and disillusionment, ripe for someone to vent on a platform that can reach a massive audience. The news is the perfect position for such an individual, who is fighting for their professional survival. 

It’s at out the halfway mark that really marks a striking change in tone. “Mad as Hell” as I learned came more from an spiritual possession of Beale who is no longer himself, more a vessel to express the insecurities of a nation still coming to terms with the greatest country in the world being turned upside down at home and abroad. History is about to repeat itself in some form or another. Trumps Administration is cracking at the seams and the situation in North Korea could easily end very badly for the planet. Lets hope things don’t get that bad though. Back to the fictional 1976 we see behind the scenes at the offices of UBS in fighting for control of the news. An internal war for control both creatively and financially. Mainly between content director Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway), Frank Hackett (Robert Duvall) and News director Max Schumacher Beale becomes a pawn in a giant game from ratings, as UBS improves financially and in terms of its position – I still get confused with all the media talk. Maybe that’s the point. Its a different world where people don;t really matter, they are disposable if they are not in the best interest of the company.

UBS becomes a network for the lowest common denominator, airing content for shock value alone, which was years ahead of what we have now. Not as extreme but this is a filmic world where anything is possible. Making deals with political extremists for content that is brave and pushing the boundaries, but showing how far they will go, not caring how they influence society politically.

With the introduction of the board of directors and a foreign takeover bid – Arab money. Money that provides Beale with his best material or intervention, preaching to his audience to rally behind him and stop the takeover. Writing to the White House to stop the bid being approved. It’s a prime example of getting carried away with a good thing, it will always bit back. There’s a scene very late on when the chairmen of the board Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) explains how the world works. To him its not based on a community of countries that try to cooperate and live alongside each other. Which we know is a hard task at the best of times. I was first shown the scene outside of the film in a lecture, it didn’t really make sense outside the context of the film. 3rd time around I now understand the speech and it makes more sense, money is how the world functions, countries are just places to deposit it within.

Looking back I can see how much Network correctly predicted, the war of the ratings will never end, pandering to the lowest common denominator will not go away until tastes change. I see a man whose used for the sake of grabbing attention, By the end of the film, he’s no more than a disaster, toxic to them and had to literally be killed off. The scene where the murder is arranged is always shocking, cold and organised so that they all get away with it. The room is filled with people who are soulless, no life outside of the industry, I’m relieved that Schumacher was fired allowing these amoral characters to carry on. I didn’t forget the weird affair between Schumacher and Christensen which was built on drive and passion that turned into a one-sided empty relationship where nothing can survive. Taking the affair on it’s own it shows how two very different people working in the same world are so far apart. One driven by quality, heart and warmth, the other driven by stats, ratings and positions. A montage sums up how little passion there is between them. Network holds up pretty much if you ignore the political extremism, there will always be infighting, pandering to the masses not to the intelligent audience that is craving to learn, not just be herded. The power of media manipulation is rife, we have to choose carefully what is not “Fake News” today. Instead of quality news coverage which I think we’ll never really have from one source. The film has allowed for a whole sub-genre of New room drama’s which mock the media so successfully today.

Painting the Town… Update (18/8/17)


I thought I would be taking a break from posting updates, how wrong was I. Working on the 3rd coat of paint for the cardboard furniture and false walls, I saw that I was moving rather fast. I didn’t want to leave the studio just yet, having taking about 2 hours on today’s coat. I saw the main piece and knew that sooner or later the beams had to be added, the last bit of detail that was required.

Thankfully I have two piece of balsa that are long enough to run the length and width of the piece, which made measuring up the material for cutting run smoothly. The beam structure soon went up, with supporting posts against the walls going up soon after. I was limited by what I could do really once the main body had gone up. I can’t fix in four main posts that would support the beams in the middle of the space. The beams were pretty easy to install, with only the false wall stopping me from completing it. Once the final coat of paint is applied and dried I can completed and wait to paint the beams.

I’m really please with how this is all going and itching to get the text video out and seeing how it all work together. I know the beams will change how the video will fall into the space, but that’s also down to the positioning of the projector. Lastly, one thing I noticed when I was handling the model miniature, with all the beams in place, it felt more secure as an objects, more stable even. I think the beams are actually working as beams.

Painting the Town… Update (16/8/17)


Today I’ve been away from the studio, however I felt the need fill that time with the next test video that will ultimately speed up working on the next test. Taking found footage from The Hateful Eight (2015) I was able to go through the same process of editing away to find the moments when the victim is reacting to the violence. Some of those moments were too fast to really work with, that’s even when I started to slow them down.

I in the previous test I had previously chosen to slow them to 25%, which I settled with. However this time around I had to go even slower to have the same effect – 15% which allows the reactions to stay on-screen and have some effect. I left in a spectators reaction, which I was unsure about initially. I feel it’s important to keep as it shows how others perceive/experience it. Obviously there is no set rule when it comes to slowing down footage in this manner, every piece is different so I must see how footage looks when I manipulate it.

I’m hoping to add another coat of paint to the model miniature soon which is gradually becoming whiter as time goes by. Then when all the pieces are completed I can work on installing the beams that run the length of the piece, then it’s more painting, but nowhere near as much/long.

Painting the Town… Update (13/8/17)


I’ve returned to the studio to make a start on the painting of Minnie’s Haberdashery. I’ve decided to use both primer and acrylic paint this time. I know this will make the painting slightly longer. 3 coats of primer and 4-5 of acrylic.  So far the process to paint with both took less than 3 hours to complete. Of course it will vary from coat to coat.

It’s great to see colour (white) to be in this piece which is pushing me in every direction at the moment. I need to consider also working on the material that will be projected. I hope to get that together soon as possible so I can have smooth transition to the next test.

Again I won’t be posting updates as I add more coats, that would be pointless really, I’ll hold back until something happens to share again.

Remainder (2015)


I just caught Remainder (2015) purely on recommendation from Mark Kermode a film he compared with Synecdoche, New York (2006) another film that caught my imagination in terms of how realities are constructed, both within the film and the theoretical consequences of those constructions. When Tom (Tom Sturridge) suffers brain damage in an awful accident in London, his whole life becomes fragmented. Having to start over again really. Learn to walk, move, to be him again, which is something we never really see, more a version that is after the accident. After a massive payout from the accident he’s in a financial position to try to understand what happened to him. That’s before we see a guy who alienates his brother, his ex and those who just want to help him. Is this him before after the accident, an abrasive guy who just can no longer function normally in society. You would want to steer clear of this guy for a while at least, could it be the brain damage that has altered his personality? None of these questions are really answered.

Instead with a payout (around £8.5 million) he sets about reconstructing a fractured memory. With the money behind him he can start to realise what is going on in his tormented head. Turning to Naz (Arsher Ali) who is quickly hired as his PA, producer and general assistant who takes more than he really has to. A guy who is the conscience of the film – not that you’d really know as he is rather passive unless really needed, You could easily read a sexual relationship of dominator and dominated – Naz being mostly dominated throughout this odd yet rather fascinating film.

I would like to have known how the accident first occurred as we discover it acts as time-loop that would in theory allow the events to unfold infinitely which would allow for a more horrific and disturbing film than what we have. So what do we have when he’s back on his feet. A loner with financial freedom to try and reconstruct his memory, or one specific one, as the clip above begins to really move the plot forward which up until then does drag, as we like Tom are unsure of where things are going, just as much as we are. After the meeting which goes pretty well, we begin to see the perfectionist really breaking out, the control freak who through ear pieces and pure power, his memory starting to resurface. It’s rather odd to see an old lady being told at whim to move forward and then in reverse, to have the sound levels reduced, everything is at his whim. It’s not virtual reality – or is it. It’s a reality that he has constructed to allow him to explore what is or what.

I’m very much reminded of Synecdoche, New York when a theatre director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) construct and direct a whole world. Yet there’s more creative freedom in this controlled environment. He allows his actors to bring their own interpretations of the roles. It’s a collaborative construction, not one that’s dictated. He has the remote control. There’s no delegation here. The similarities lie in the loss of time, it has no meaning here, only to allow us to re-enact what is going on in and now outside of his head. Both are driven for the truth and at great cost to the men. Before long we see him paying actors to play-out a more intimate moment in his flat, is his torturing himself or wanting to understand this moment in his life. He’s deadly serious and shows no or little thought for those who are part of his recreations.

The action moves from the block of flats to a reconstruction of a bank where a robbery took place, Tom’s fascinated to understand what went on there, how it played out. But why, and how is that connected to him. Only a guy he knew – Chris (Jumayn Hunter) whose killed and believed to be linked to the crime. It’s an avenue he must explore, an instinctive urge within him to explore. He doesn’t care what lengths he goes to, he’s almost suicidal in his acts. The robbery becomes the central focus of the film as Tom begins to pay for a full-scale replica of the bank, the street it’s on and the sky above. It’s like a film set without the cameras to capture the action, no audience to witness the crime, just actors who blindly replay the scene over and over again. A time-loop which can be controlled at his whim.

I was disturbed at the lengths he goes to, the control freak nature of the character makes him very unlikable, yet we carry on watching as we want to know what is this all about. A clinically controlled set that is carrying out the same test right up until the final test where reality is the new variable, shaking up the cards, going out to the real location, the actors have been lab-rats in one giant laboratory experiment, with no real purpose more than to explain the fragments of the mind of a guy that you come to really dislike. It’s the whole process and methodology that keeps you involved in the dark film that really gives you little to work with.

Patients who suffer with amnesia would relish being to have the freedom to re-enact scenes from their fragmented or lost memories in hoping to fill in the lost parts of their long-term memory. I was drawn to the low-key initial creations, the drawings and cardboard models that allowed Tom to start to piece together his past, which turns out to be a vicious circle he is doomed to repeat, there’s no room for change here, not like in Groundhog Day (1993) which allowed weatherman Phil (Bill Murray) to relive and learn from the day and improve himself in order to finally escape this loop which first was too much to handle. Tom is nothing like Phil, who was just as unlikable to begin but finds redemption in his ability to learn and grow. This is pure sci-fi that shows sometimes are destiny can sometimes never be altered. Flawed yet deeply fascinating, with questions that are left unanswered after seeing a guy we hardly know become someone you care little about yet your hanging onto know whats going to happen

Painting the Town… Update (9/8/17)


I’ve decided to take a few days off after a period of great activity. I feel the speed I am going at is not going to be a good thing if I keep it up. I need to stop, reflect and do other things. I am hoping to return later in the month to prime/paint the work before I project.

With my decision out of the way I had a shorter day in the studio, working on firstly on the new design for the chairs, which meant less detail but taking the same form. I felt when comparing the two designs, that it would be easier to make the second one, however it started to look like a babies high-chair. I feel though that ultimately that less is more in this case. I may change my mind during my time off and create 21 new chairs.

I moved onto add the funnel to the furnace/boiler and also attempt to smooth out the main body of the model. I’m not all that happy with this piece, I think because it still out of my abilities when it comes to curved cardboard, working with tubes can be hit and miss.

Moving onto what I have the most fun at – the Balsa wood detail. Maybe it was the change of material, working with something different that made it all the better for me. I also used less than I cut, usually its underestimated. This time I decided to pay more attention to the window frames, which are thinner, so I cut strips in half. I found that more satisfying too as it was more thoughtful than the average gesture. Maybe I am developing a new model language, or my making is simply changing as I move forward with this work.

When I return to the studio I will be beginning to prime and them paint the entire model, which I think will take me through the rest of the month.

The Deep/Djúpið (2012)


Just recently I’ve been watching quite a few foreign language films that have all been very engaging, the one previous to The Deep/Djúpið (2012) was Julieta (2016) which I remember being discussed on it’s release in the UK. I must admit that I did try to write a review yesterday but failed to have the fire in me to get past a few paragraphs to really make it worth my time. I may return to it as and when. Having seen Deep/Djúpið  I was unaware of what I would really expect, knowing only that there was a ship wreck, beyond that I knew little else. I think going into a film, foreign language or not its best to know as little as possible as it can really raise your expectations. I had very few beyond the description that came with the recording. Over breakfast I was taken back to 1984, and to an Icelandic Island where a tragedy was about to unfold.

We meet a group of men on a night out, it’s cold, snowing and tempers are running high at the time. I’m already thinking how are they not wearing more layers than they are here. I’m not considering that they are used to these temperatures so its nothing new to them. Unusually for a film we are following the more unlikely of characters, a man whose more rotund, not your the kind of man you expect to see leading a film, which in itself refreshing. Gulli (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) whose an average guy enjoying himself on a night out. Away from Hollywood representation of men at least is more true to life. For now we don’t know that the focus of the film is on him, as we meet 5 other men who we get to know before they set off on another fishing trip. Ironically the only real connection to Julieta. We see a few of the men back home, Palli (Joi Johannsson) who has a wife and kids. A man whose loved by all he knows, these moments are all important as we lead up to our time at sea. We also have a young chef whose about to be pushed by his new captain. All these moments allow us to get to know the men before they set off for the North Sea.

The look of the film is semi-documentary, not really getting in the faces of the characters, allowing them to just get on with life on the fishing boat. I was reminded briefly of the visceral imagery in Leviathan (2012) that took us into the silent world of fishermen at work, given only the images and silence between conversation aboard a ship. The audience is teased very early on into the trip as a net gets caught under the surface. Thankfully the first time they are able to save themselves from capsizing. Making me wonder why they would cast their net in such an area, aren’t these experienced fisherman out on another trip. It shows how incompetent the crew might be, do they not know the waters well enough to avoid this section of the sea. It’s a flaw in the film that is not explored. We are left wondering just why did they do this in the first place.

The second time around the net is caught and it’s too late, the winch is still going out and they are slower to react. We have been waiting for this to happen really, what will they do, will they get themselves out of this incident. It’s how the react that is the direction the film leads us. We see a father and son loose each other, a chef never to cook another meal  whilst Gulli tries his best to rescue the remainder of the crew. Breaking Palli free before the real drama begins, going into survival mode. I forget this is the North Sea, becoming more about wanting these men to get back out of this cold water. 3 men soon become one – Gulli is the sole survivor of the crew, the man we weren’t expecting really in classic film terms. It’s awful seeing him all alone in the freezing water, with only a seagull to keep him company, for without the bird we would be in the world of Robert Redford‘s All is Lost (2012) and surviving at sea.

Its a different kind of survival, there are no books, no kit to work with, just pure instinct and the need to stay alive, to stay sane in the ice cold waters that has just taken his five colleagues. You could say it’s the Gull who saved him, kept him talking. Ignoring that seagulls come out to sea to die, he obviously close to land. His life does flash before his eyes in super 8 format, something you either go with or see as contrived as we return to this method a few times to allow flashbacks to happen. We are taunted with another boat that is so close yet so far away. Gulli has to swim to stay alive. Time really is drawn out before he finally spots land and faces another battle, the harsh rocky landscape and the tide that throws him about like a bit of drift wood. He finally makes it back to familiar ground, with bleeding feet and exhaustion.

He soon becomes the talk of the island, the loss of 5 men at sea and one survivor, something professionals all believe to be a miracle to survive from. You start to think about how and why he survived and it becomes glaring the obvious the more time we spend with Gulli, his extra weight acted as an insulator, not the scientific community reach that conclusion for sometime. Instead he’s invited to take part in medical research. We are wasting time here as we don’t need to see him treated like a lab-rat, the miracle is not a miracle, even to those who aren’t medically trained. It’s the weight, the fat that insulated him – they call it Seal fat, which is laughable as his parents would have to be Seals and we would have to be the world of Men & Chicken (2015). All I can think of now is puppy fat in children which is nonsense too.

Anyway flaw found I move onto see a man whose been poked, prodded and tested until he can take no more. Wanting to get on with his life. Do what he promised God he would, allowing others and himself to grieve and move on. To finally go back out there and put his life at risk once more, a fisherman a trade he cannot give up. It’s his life and the only one he knows, it’s a dangerous one which we have seen affect him far greater than we could imagine. On balance The Deep does have good intentions and have real heart. It fails to explore why the men cast their net twice is low areas, instead it focuses on the ‘miracle’ that was an overweight guy surviving in the North Sea. Common sense could have saved us a lot of time and given is a very different film. We do however really care for Gulli whose not allowed to process what’s happened and to get on with his life.

Painting the Town… Update (8/8/17)


Today was all about populating the floor space of Minnie’s haberdashery, which was starting to take shape yesterday. On the list were mainly tables and chairs to be made. First I got to work on the tables, the ones I found last time were adjusted with taller bases. I then moved onto a few of the other more angular tables, I found my making process changing today, with a flatter top before the legs were added. Previously I was sometimes having the legs flush with the top. I feel the free-standing pieces are better though, the designs will be taking onto future model miniature furniture.

I spent a lot of time working on the chairs, I made a start on the tops of four, however I found the construction of the legs to be tricky and cumbersome. Working with single-ply cardboard and the scale of the work the pieces soon became flattened, just from working with them. I had a good design when I finally had a design I was happy with. I am considering a more minimal design to try out next time. Whilst I am also looking at having none at all. Looking at the previous model miniature I made no chairs. However I feel that they may clutter up the space, there will be 21 in the space of a few different designs. Maybe I should plod on and make more if not all of them and see how they look.

Part of me is wanting to leave the cardboard making behind for a day apply the balsa detail, which in itself will be increased in some detail. Again finding the balance.

I finished the day by making the furnace/boiler which is not my best work, and did take sometime to get it to a place I was happy with. I still need to some work to it before I can happily leave it.

So I have reached a point where some decisions have to be made before I leave the making behind and start to paint the piece. It’s going really fast at this point, I know with painting it will definitely slow down I have more than doubled the loose pieces that need my attention.