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Members Show (2018)


I am pleased to announce that my latest piece – Painting the Town… (2018) will be part of this years members show at Two Queens in Leicesters Cultural Quarter 25 May | 6:00 – 9:00 (Launch) 26 May | 12:00 – 6:00

Featuring the work by:
Mita Solanky, Tom Harding, Harry Freestone, Darren Baxter & Helena Mcleod, Maarja Henisoo, Lucy Andrews, Amrit Doll, Khush Kali, Mateus Domingos, Jane Domingos, Daniel Sean Kelly, Kerry Jackson, Leila Houston, Abigail Morris, Katerina Luchkova, Les Hayden, Luke Elson, Scott Mason, Jack Halford, Gino Attwood, Daniel Goodwin, Tim Hardman, Tony Walker, Daniel Cowlam, Jake Kent, Melissa Beardmore and Finn Morris.

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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.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (20/5/18)


Today has been a challenge, one I hope I am meeting head on. The challenge to create layers that connect up. After some research I came across a model miniature that I am using as a reference for my own. I’ve taken a section to replicate in my cardboard style.

Taking the whole side of a box I began to sketch out a rough cross-section to build up a low-relief piece that I knew would keep me busy. It’s been a learning curve, I started out fleshing the roofs of both section of tunnel. I started to realise that I was going to fast, forgetting that I need to get to wrap those sections, I had two roofs set-up before this happened. I stopped to wrap up the first one before carrying on. Then I move on to flesh out the ground that connected with the layer below. Once I had that section in place I was busy wrapping again where I spend the rest of the day.I also added to supports above – forgetting the extra pieces so far.

I knew I wouldn’t finish the piece, with the base still to be added and more construction on the shaft too to begin. I’ll be adding some balsa too in that area. I’m happy with the sloping floor which I hope I can populate with cowboy figures and wagons, just to see if they fit at this stage.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (19/5/18)


I’ve made a few steps in the right direction now. Taking the base of last weekends model miniature and building underneath it a more cave like structure. I began by drawing up a series of pieces that had a more overtly arched shape. A shape that works quite well when I fixed them to the base and secured. I noticed that once I stood it up right it was top-heavy. I had to think about how to balance it out whilst also maintaining the look of the cave. I had a spare cardboard tube in the studio which I grabbed, cutting to size and butting into position.

Once I knew it was secure and able to stand up I began to wrap it up with brown paper once more. Again it went pretty well. I had enough time to make another base which I began to wrap. Now the step up, I wanted to join the two pieces together making it a whole piece. which was a bit slap-dash in places. I knew that it fitted my overall aesthetic and I could wrap over these parts. The good think about this work that any new additional parts that are created and joined can look naturally part of the whole with the help of the paper. I know that looking at this finished test piece that I could have wrapped it a bit better where the joins are hidden, that’s something that comes with time and practice of making these pieces. I’m also considering that the supports need to look more natural, maybe pieces of cardboard either side. It’s something to take to the next piece.

The next step is a big step is to make it possible for the layers to be connected to suggest that travel between them is possible. I know that can’t be steps, it might be a series of shafts, or could there be a staggered drop between layers. I’m imagining both options right now which need to be research before I make a quick piece like this again. It’s back to the research for now.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (13/5/18)


The aim of the day was to construct two layers of a tunnel, one, the entrance and a level below. I didn’t quite meet that but I have still made some progress as I can share below. I had a bit of a false start, even after I made a solid start on a new test piece. I got so carried away with making the walls I forgot to add the roof above that forced me to unwrap what I had already done to add that structure. On the wrapping front I decided to buy a roll of brown parcel paper which I’ll now continue to use and distress before fixing into place. My reasoning is that I have used fresh unused boxes in the past for piece so why not here, The paper’s distressed before being used, taking it away from its desired function.

As I began to wrap the new improved piece I had tried out the folded edge method which looked good to a point. The point being that after a few more pieces were added in places, it looked too neat. I was given some advice during the day to added ripped pieces, which I adapted to fix on top to appear more natural too, which it does.

I tried this method out on the next piece, the base and potential ceiling of the next layer, It worked really well, so I decided to return to the top half which really changed the who look of the piece. I felt it would be patchwork, but honestly it adds more authenticity than I imagined.

Reflecting at the finished work for the day I have come further forward, However much I have the aesthetic down, the overall construction is not quite there, I need to build it up more like a tunnel, even with a ridge on the base was not enough. It needs to be more rounded above. Yes it’s narrower but it’s not looking like a tunnel really, it’s getting there slowly which is what I am taking away from this weekend in the studio. Next time I’ll take my decisions from the end of today and apply then to the next layer, building under this base with a more rounded tunnel and an improved base for that too.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (12/5/18)


After an unwanted extended break from the studio due to illness I made a much needed return which has been very productive. I’ve done more than I had expected to do which is always a bonus. I was greeted this morning by a nice donation of cardboard from another studio holder, something I am accustomed to, but not to this degree. A number of flattened boxes with a lovely note.

So I began where I left off, the structure that was essentially a tunnel on the corner in between two walls of cardboard, ready to be fleshed out during the day in preparing for brown paper to be wrapped and fixed around the cardboard frame that was built up. I’d had to say the hardest part was constructing the framework for the ceiling of this tunnel. I had already cut away the majority of the ground to allow me easy access to eventually add the brown paper on top.

The wrapping itself was pretty easy going, I think I’ve improved since I made the rocks for my animation a few years ago, being more precise with where I fix it in place. Even fixing to the framework. My only concern with the paper is that it comes in strips which naturally have harsh or even torn edges which spoils the illusion to a point. I don’t really want to reveal that. An early thought is to fold over these edges to create something new in the texture of the rock faces. My only concern is that I will be soon running out of brown paper. My only option is to constantly reuse as much as possible. I do have a roll of parcel paper, however it’s unused, so not at the point where it can be recycled. It’s something I would have to purchase new to use for different purpose. I’ll have to make that decision when I’ve exhausted my current supply.

Moving on I also made a base – the ground of this tunnel, complete with a mound to create something more natural to look at. Making use of my most recent donation I pieced two leaves of the boxes together and drew out the area that needed to be wrapped up, with a mound and section of another on the side. I finished the day by bringing both elements together to complete the desired piece. I’ve got the right scale, it needs some improvement and I also need to reduce the width of the piece so it’s more like a tunnel not a cave, which can be more expansive. I’m saving something like that for later when I know what I’ll be making for this piece. Now it’s just about understanding how to make these pieces before adapting them to the concept which needs to be research more before going further. I know I need to look at the notion and drives behind the policy of Manifest Destiny and seeing how an alien translation would look.

The Homesman (2014) Revisited


A few years ago I came away from The Homesman (2014) with a negative opinion of the film. I was left cold by the twist in the final act that left me wondering why would they do that to Hilary Swank‘s character. Without thinking it maybe a faithful adaptation of the source material by Glendon Swarthout, which is where my frustration must be properly directed not to actor/director Tommy Lee Jones. Soon after watching the film the DVD was off the shelve and out of my mind, written off as a bad film. That was a few years ago, allowing me to come back and give the Western another chance. I remember being too critical of it, not looking at the beauty that was on the screen. I’ve come away from this revisit feeling far more satisfied, maybe I needed that gap of time to reflect and think, lets give this another go. One of those better decisions made on a whim which has paid off. So why, just why has this film got better with age for me.

Firstly I was struck by the films visual beauty, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a recent Western that has captured the vast openness of the landscape with such delicacy. Placing man on horseback only adds to this splendor. For a time we’re allowed some romanticism of the West before this land is finally tamed. Leaving a sketchy plot to be fleshed out again for me. Beginning with spinster Mary B Cuddy (Swank) a god-fearing woman who works her farm and becoming desperate to find a man and settle down. The reason for her permanent marital status soon becomes blindingly obvious. Her over bearing god-fearing nature, doesn’t make her wife material for single men wanting to make a mark on the land. As much as we understand the reasons for her rejections, you can’t help but feel bad for her. She wants what everyone else has. Social pressure is not on her side either, living alone at her age can only be frowned upon or the talk of the town.

I’m reminded once again of other independent women in the genre, a whole band of women try to make their way across a trail in Meeks Cutoff (2010) relying on two man to lead the way, who are essential lost and clueless. We are left wondering if they make it to the end of the trail. That’s of no concern for Mrs Jorgensen (Olive Carey) and her daughter Laurie (Vera Miles) in The Searchers (1956) who are left waiting for men to return from their 7 year search for two younger women. Both are able and willing to make a life in the West, domesticating the space around them. Cuddy is more than able to survive, but now that’s no longer enough. We see three women lose their grip on their mental faculties, developing conditions that clearly need help that is beyond the abilities of their families or townspeople. Again I’m reminded of The Searchers if only briefly, a rag doll that’s mothered one of the disturbed women like one of those found at an Army fort, rescued white women from Native Americans, clearly disturbed, but drawn to the doll that was once Debbie’s. Clearly a substitute for lost children and a reference to the genre’s past.

We’ve not even met George Brigg’s (Lee Jones) who is still a way off, allowing us to really get to know Cuddy unable to find a husband, takes up the opportunity, fighting against public opinion to take on the task of Homesman, carrying these three troubled women over the Missouri River to Iowa where better care awaits them. Cuddy may appear to be a strong women, yet there are moments of weakness, wondering how much she has taken on alone. Why does she do it, is it distraction from her spinster life, a chance to prove herself in the eyes of god and maybe meet a man who wants her at the end of the trail. With her characters fully fleshed out, we understand and empathise with her.

Now we can meet Briggs a man who’s not off to the best start, smoked out of a sod-house that he’s broken into. Everything we learn about him we struggle to take at face value. It’s only through his actions that we begin to trust him. His meeting with Cuddy can only be seen as miraculous leading him to take the job of helping ensure that 4 women make across the open country. Even today the Wild West is still perceived to be a man’s world, as much as Cuddy wants to go it alone, she still relies on a man for security. She asks for little else from him expect his word to complete the journey under threat of God’s wrath. Or it maybe the promise of $300 at the end of the job.

Either way it’s a long journey that is met with a few obstacles along the way that lead up to the twist I had completely forgotten – Cuddy’s death. The reason I all but gave up on the film. It wasn’t a fever, but a suicide. Unable to go on living as a spinster and a giving into her natural urges and not staying true to her faith. Leaving Briggs with the women to look after, something he hadn’t signed up to, however he rises to the challenge, causing a change of character in him, which surprises me.

I can still see the feminist connections between The Homesman and Unforgiven (1992). Here we have a man working out of obligation for a woman, Cuddy’s takes control, causing a limited role reversal to occur. Whilst in Clint Eastwoods film, three men come to avenge a woman who they hardly know. Taking payment for a job to exact justice that the law won’t deliver for them. Both films see women attempt to take control of their destiny’s in a male dominated landscape. Also looked down upon by society, the prostitutes for their profession whilst Cuddy has become a social concern, without really helping her. Ultimately it’s the men who save the day in both films, they carry the guns and the knowledge to save the women and return to a state of living outside that where women exist. Staying with Homesman to conclude the closing scenes see a transformation to become a better man unlike William Munny whose lost to the violence that was once his life. It takes more time with a woman to soften a man of the West, or the modern West.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (1/5/18)


As my most recent work is winding down I’ve decided to push my making even further – tunnels. Well that’s part of the reason, as much as I want to see how tunnels would look on a large-scale. Another major reason is to flip the idea that is explored in the film and comic book Cowboys & Aliens, looking at manifest destiny which was the basis for the White Western expansion and forced removal and relocation of Native Americans. Without getting too political in this post, I wanted to further look at how the flip of the coin in both print and film looked at the Aliens belief in their own manifest destiny over the planet, putting the White man on the other side of this ideology. However in both book and film they win the day and the status quos restored, progress is allowed to carry on. I want to see how it would look if the Aliens did win, they were able to communicate for reinforcements who arrived and enslaved human kind.

I’m jumping forward a few years to look at the possibility of a group of White man or Cowboys hiding out in an invade United States, just another section of an invaded planet. I’ve not even thought about that yet, focusing on that role reversal instead. So today I’ve made a start on how things might look physically. I’m learning a new side of my practice again. This time very confined spaces – tunnels. I can already make exterior rocks that can be moved about for animation. However I’ve not made anything on a large-scale or higher detail with this technique.

Today I made a test piece that was the entrance to a tunnel, using as plastic cowboy toy figure again for scale as I hope to use them in the final outcome. I also started working with cardboard tubes to begin with as I flesh out the tunnel, which was completed with strips of card at the base of half a tube. Before really beginning to flesh out the walls and legs, which were later wrapped in brown paper. It worked really well, even taking my time as I wrapped the paper around. The only trouble I have at the moment is working in the tunnel to cover it. I know eventually it would be darkened or blocked off.

Before I left I made a start on a more elaborate piece that was looking at the inside of a tunnel, meaning a roofs needed. I could only make a rough start on the piece, drawing in walls and supporting pieces. I have decided to cut this piece out to be solely the walls on the base. This is where it’s starting to get complicated, the removal of most of the base allows me to construct a ceiling  that can be more effectively worked. I know if I build something intricate it will have to be built in sections to allow me to complete them to a good standard. Sadly I was called away before I could take any photo’s of this piece. I’ll be back in the studio soon enough to hopefully complete the piece and improve on the overlapping of sections that I know will come with time.

Painting the Town… Update (29/4/18)


Today I’ve been focusing on a suggestion that was made to me during the open studio last week. Focusing on the audio – playing with that to see it through and see if anything comes out of that experimentation. If I’m honest, whenever your given ideas so late into a piece of work that you know is almost complete aren’t generally appreciated. If anything it’s just little hints and tips to refine it.

After editing together the final versions of the videos to be projected into the model miniatures. I wanted to look at even the possibility of a solely audio element. So taking the nearest model miniature to hand and tweaking its video to become another test. I copied and lifted the audio and began to play about with it. I settled on a version where the segments of audio slightly overlapped each other.

Testing this first version I could see straight away that something was happening. The audio fills the space more immersive than the projection on its own. It also acts as  draw to the piece without the need for video, which is a bonus. The projection is confined to the space it’s directed to also, which is limiting.

However I took the video idea further by refining the test further. I first adjusted the volume of the audio track, whilst adding the video to the end with no audio, which was again very effective. It leaves the visuals open to interpretation what the audio might me, which draws the piece back to one of the principles of my work – not to insult the imagination of the audience. Removing audio is another way of achieving that. The audio can be unnerving on first experiencing the audio can be quite jarring and also cliche. Slow-motion action with the slow-motion audio on loop can be hard on the ears, but that’s what draws you to the piece, the strangeness of it is a characteristic of the piece I don’t want to loose. The audio is a cry for help and attention.

So where do I go from here? I need to decide how if any of these elements goes through to the final outcome and rolling them out. Otherwise I’ll keep the refined versions ready to show.

Painting the Town… Update (22/4/18)


It’s been a long and trying day in the studio. I came in wanting to set up all of the model miniatures ready to document ready for submissions. However I was hit by a two technical issues, one clearly my fault, the other I just can’t understand. So I need to by more kit than I had already planned to ensure that these 4 can be working together.

All said and done I have had the time to get everything done that aimed to do, Sundays are pretty good to allow me to get more done in the studio. I have to now consider the possibility of now adding an audio element to these pieces. After an interesting conversation during open studios yesterday.

I could be adding (if only to see what happens) audio only elements to the videos that are projected, I could add the opposite of pairs audio in each piece to see what happens. Whilst also having an audio version of the videos should play on their own. I’m interested to see how this works as it allows the spaces to be completely filled, not just to projected in a carefully chosen area. I know that I can’t try too many more ideas as the piece is fast approaching its conclusion. Testing many more elements would be too much at this stage. All said and done this is an idea I can’t ignore.

I’m going to have a busy week now writing submissions now.

Painting the Town… Update (17/4/18)


As I approach this years open studio I have really been starting to take the safety of these pieces of seriously. As stable as these pieces are when I’m testing, they are not with the public, and I know they can if knocked…fall. So I devised a method of adding triangular feet to the base of two of them. These two are the Unforgiven pair, which I’ll be testing out this coming weekend with the public.

I came into the studio, starting the day by adding a few more coats of paint to the new additions which are now in place. I also applied fresh gum-tape to further secure the plinth. I’m surprised I had enough to go around and still have plenty left over. The opportunity to finally see this large piece projected into was too good to pass up.

I was then freed me up to focus on further stabilising the model miniatures for the public. I had an idea for triangular legs, but I knew I needed to flesh them out at this scale, so I decided to sandwich them out with strips are cardboard inside two triangles. Repeat that method 3 more times and hopefully I have made a piece more stable for the public. Only time will really tell as I make a start on the other legs for the other pair next weekend before I do another test with all again.

The real test in this Saturday, if things go to plan I will be a step closer to bringing this piece to a close and exhibition ready.