(Current Studies, by blog description (2015-16)) - Click on each label to see corresponding posts!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Preparing for Graduation; A bit of 'Screen Printing'...

I spent a productive day in the workshop on Wednesday, having decided upon the creation of a small keepsake for each of my friends that I have made during my journey towards my degree and understanding of contemporary art and illustration.

Some time ago I created a photoshop drawing of my final piece in order to enlarge it to become a pattern for my intended work. As a result of this, I was able to create a clear acetate copy of the drawing which I was then able to use as a positive image that could be exposed to a photosensitive/ultraviolet sensitive ink which had been deposited on a very fine screen mesh.

The mesh is then used as a negative, and the thick slow setting ink can literally be forced through the washed image that now becomes positive, onto any material, fabric, or substrate that one chooses. This is done with the aid of a squeegee tool that forces the ink through the mesh and onto the material
  The screen needs to be washed to ensure that the negative image on the mesh will allow sufficient ink which is a very thick consistency, to be pushed through by the squeegee. Once done, the screen can be used continuously for quite some time before a re-wash is necessary.

I was able to create in the order of 20 prints onto a very fine muslin material. I'm delighted with the result and I will go on to make at least another 10 prints of my gnome design in order to help my chums celebrate graduation and they're going home.
 There is a little cryptic message, in the top left-hand corner of the image I wrote the words "The Gnome Preservation Trust"… This message, hopefully, will give my chums a way of remembering a few things that I think we all learned during our three years together.

  • Firstly, 'The Gnome' is a little aid memoir never to look at something and just simply dismiss it. You can look as deeply as you want to into any fragment to find meaning and reflection; whether it may be a facile object such as a garden gnome, or a deeply spiritual symbol, everything should be looked at VERY carefully!
  • Secondly, the word "Preservation" is really a message about preserving your values, never to be persuaded into doing something that you don't want to do, yet at the same time keeping an eye on self-preservation and ensuring that you get something out of everything that you do in future.
  • And Thirdly "Trust". Trust your instincts, and trust your friends and people, if you believe that they trust you.  Never betray that trust, as you would never expect them to betray you.
Going Gnome!..

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Reflections on a chance conversation...

I got very valid feedback about my final piece;  I had an interesting conversation with Dr Alison Rowley, on Monday in that whilst she congratulated me, (in fact, she came out of her way yesterday to come over to me whilst I was waiting in a queue about to buy some coffee, when I got a very slight and gentle pat on the back, on which I turned around for Dr Rowley) to exclaim how much she liked my work and said that it was fantastic!

Interestingly today, I bumped into her again whilst talking to another student. I mentioned to Dr Rowley that whilst I am exploring the possibility of continuing to perform a Masters degree, she asked me what area I would be wanting to study?

I explained one of my ideas around the possibility of creating new visual and symbolic methods of interpreting business architectures, especially infrastructure architectures and how I could symbolically represent them in such a way that they may be able to be re-engineered to help companies, particularly large corporate ones become more dynamic in this 21st-century. Dr Rowley almost suggested through a leading question that "it seems that your final piece on the good gnome is and was a one-off and you've finished that now(?)"  I wasn't sure if this was a comment, a statement or a question.  Reacting somewhat to it as a question, I was quick to respond that whilst I have indeed finished a large piece, there was still much work for me to do and I am still deeply engaged not only with the body of work that I have produced during this last year but I also feel that there is potential for a lot more, deeper philosophical engagement with the initial ideas I have begun to develop...

 Unfortunately as a passing conversation (which it was), I was unable to articulate that the work never really stops in my mind; it is just that I have found a convenient point during my practice to create something which 'may have the feel of a finished object', but I am extremely conscious that there is a great deal more for me to explore particularly with regards to object oriented philosophy.

Regretfully, I was unable to articulate this to Dr Rowley in the very short time that we had together and I was disappointed with myself, in that I was somewhat tongue-tied in trying to explain how I want to continue with the existing theme and potentially turn new artefacts out into the artistic domain in order to express this deep and highly engaging theme that I have been investigating on my journey of understanding.


 Hopefully having written these short words, I am in a better position to articulate the continuance, or my intention to continue with this investigative exploration. Whether that produces completely new artefacts in a totally different direction from the theme of gnomes is yet to be seen, but I am confident that there is more that I can explore and I want to be in a better position to explain this next time a highly regarded academic is able to have some dialogue with me...  I need to be better prepared!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Exhibition Opening Night!

And here we are! We've made it!

57 students in total, have completed either a degree in contemporary art, or illustration, or both. Amazingly I fit into the latter category!

The opening-night of the graduate exhibition was truly amazing, with many hundreds, yes hundreds of people, a rough estimation, which includes those who visited the graphic arts and animation, together with photography exhibitions this evening (Friday, June 10, 2016) is likely to be in the thousands.

The exhibition is no less than spectacular. I was lucky enough to have my trusty Canon camera with me and a few shots of some of the work together with a short explanation are shown below;

In Joseph Bradley's work, he explored a series of illustrations that captured the true atmosphere of a story that he had created himself. All of this had been hand drawn and in some cases complemented with digital artwork.

In Laura Broome's work, she created a body of work which in essence was a documentation of narrative which connects the artist (Laura) with the earth on a very personal level.

In Joe Daniel's body of work as an illustrator, he explored the relationship between style and identity and the theme of absolution through the creation of a western style (cowboy) themed comic book.

Alice Rainford created a stunning body of work which included a sculpture of grabbing arms together with a series of paintings that symbolises the grip of depression, and that grip and effect that it has on its victims.

Jen Reid provided an installation which was particularly innovative as an illustrator, in which she aimed to raise the awareness of dyslexia is a learning disability.

The beautiful and intricate painting by Orestis Sakkas was wonderfully staged in a chamber that had been totally blacked out, with his work suspended beyond the reach of the viewer across a floor earth and leaves. Accompanying this incredible vantage point was an audio track of a musical piece that the artist himself had created in collaboration with a friend. This work was truly inspiring and in his own words one – 12.V11 is an atmospheric abstract painting that engages the viewer with themes of "ecological death" and the destruction of the natural landscape.

In Lizzie Taylor-Hall's body of work, and engaging series inspired the artist to explore and address societal injustices through the means of painting.

In Charlotte Phillips work, she shows how combining art and lifestyle products can facilitate self-expression.

And finally in my own works which were my attempt of a deep enquiry into anamnesis; (building something new by recalling elements of the old and abandoned) and the enquiry into loss grief and the quotidian mixed together with the fragmentation of fading memories and contemporary philosophy of speculative realism.

These are just a very short selection of some truly excellent works and I would commend anybody with an interest in exploring current culture to visit the exhibition which runs from 10 June through until 24 June 2016 at the University of Huddersfield.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Book Review, Georges Bataille, by Michael Richardson, Part 4.

In Michael Richardson's book, Georges Bataille, published by Routledge in 1994, I have already touched upon some of the concepts that Richardson draws from Bataille with regards to the sociological terms of how he viewed society's structure. As previously explained, Bataille used the words homogeneity and heterogeneity; which generally was used to express a difference between an organised society based upon inflexible law and cohesion (homogeneity), and a society that is based on cooperation heritage and customs and unique rituals or expressions (heterogeneity).

Bataille used these terms to critique a capitalist society. He explained that whilst there is usually a drive towards homogeneity, there is usually some opposite sort of resistance through the structuring of society which is heterogeneous. He points out that in capitalism the economic accumulation of individuals is homogenous and thus every individual eventually becomes categorised and reduced into their own unique social roles and thus stops them from cohesively forming together collectively in a heterogeneous way that encourages collaboration. Ultimately Bataille's view was that this tends to destroy a creative society and the enthusiasm for collaboration in creating new ways of production or even thinking is stifled. (Richardson, 1994, p35, 36)

Whilst I agree in principle to some of these thoughts, again I think it's important to think of the context of how society was forming whilst Bataille was writing these observations. One thing that is particularly important in the 21st-century and contextualising society against the technology that has developed over the last hundred years, is the emergence of the Internet and the strength and power of its heterogeneous communication to all levels of society, thus in many ways removing the social classifications and stigma between the classes that has been apparent for the last 2000 years and more.

If we now move on towards how Bataille thought about how society would benefit from science and technology, Richardson points out that he was ambivalent. He was suspicious about scientific methodology, however, he tried to think about things objectively with a form of scientific rigour. It also seems that he felt that science and knowledge were two separate things, and it has been said that he went on to become quite subversive of the scientific, or the accepted scholarly method. This rebelliousness was not about disagreeing with a methodological process, however. Again it is worth remembering that in the context of the time in which he worked, there was a lot of intellectual charlatans about, and it is perhaps his recognition of this that makes him appeal to the post-modernists!

Again against this backdrop of rebellion towards the Academy and the negation of the Dadaist, surrealism emerged by real establishing of what they saw to be the true human condition. In post-war Europe, circa 1946 Bataille wrote the article "the moral meaning of society" in which he writes about the general disenchantment of surrealism as it seemed to lack the rigour of the scientific method. This strengthened Bataille's quest to explore his own psyche and therefore work towards how to understand others in society by deeply engaging in an attempt to understand himself. However, he does this in what seems to be an almost random and unprocessed way which potentially opened his methods up to criticism, whereas others sought to do the same through a very structured and arguably "scientific" process.

The outcome of all of this, set against the backdrop of the two world wars brought about the emergence of philosophical commentators such as Foucault. It was Foucault who proclaimed "the death of man", and what he meant by that was that individuality or individualism was in severe crisis. In Foucault's terms, he suggested that "man would be raised, like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea" (from the book The order of things: an archaeology of human sciences, 1973, New York: Vintage books, page 387).

In contrast to this, Bataille felt that whilst the individual or indeed individualism had reached a roadblock, something new needed to emerge that put forward societies ability to allow individualism to flourish and yet, not get so strong that something monstrous and terrible emerges, such as a repeat of the rise of Hitler or another despot. It is this grounding of the individual being part of a social collective nest that he went on to explore in much more detail. Organisation was essential as a background, and yet the ability for lots of fruitful individuality to emerge in what we now tend to call rhizomatic community is what I think Bataille had in mind.


  • Craig, E. (2002). Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Foucault (1973). The Order of things: an Archaeology of Human Sciences.  New York: Vintage books.
  • Richardson, M. (1994). Georges Bataille. London: Routledge.
  • Stoekl, A. (1986). Visions of Excess: (Selected Writings, 1927-1939 of Georges Bataille), (1986 Second Edition), Edited and Translated by Allan Stoekl. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Preparations going well for the Exhibition...

The gallery exhibition at the University is coming along wonderfully now, with all students having virtually completed all of their works, well in advance of the opening night on 10th June.

Yesterday I spent most of my time helping one of two students finish off fixing their work within the gallery space, following some recommendations by the various lecturers, around the re-siting of some of the works. This was necessary in order to provide a better flow of context through the studio galleries, which was done by making suitable juxtapositions of artworks from the various disciplines of contemporary art, illustration, or both. Some of the suggestions included, in addition to the re-siting of some works, placing multiple artworks vertically in a line to create a totem effect, rather than the traditional horizontal triptych of three (or four) paintings in a row. This columnar style presentation provides a little more impact than that of the former.

In another display, it was decided to take a multiplicity of painted images beyond the confines of the natural frame; that is, the wooden boarding of the studio walls, and sweep some of the images actually onto the ceiling, and diagonally opposite; sweeping some of the images onto the floor of the gallery itself.


  • The diagonal arrangement described above is highly contemporary, providing both a magnified  presence and disturbs the integrity of the art piece from the norm. 
  • This breaks the traditional image of the frame to image relationship and I think is a highly creative and useful device to grab interest, attention and a sense of aura beyond the images as just artworks on their own.
  • I think this was a particularly good example of a demonstration of the practical skills in gallery curators and was a valuable lesson not only to myself, but I suspect many of my peers.

The next big job will be to paint the floors of the studio spaces to make them much more presentable as true gallery spaces.  I'm sure that with sufficient support from the core team of students the work will be completed according to schedule.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Just a little excursion to make some sheep dog whistles...

Finding myself with plenty of time to make things today, I chose to spend a little more time in my workshop making some simple sheepdog whistles from some seasoned wood that I had cut from a Holly tree a couple of years ago. I had been keeping the word, in fact, it was in a log form, nice and dry and virtually forgotten about. Nevertheless, after successfully making similar whistles out of mahogany in the past, I did the same thing again in preparation for the up and coming Holmfirth sheepdog trials in June/July.

Using the existing mahogany sheepdog whistle as a template, that I made some years ago, I marked out the wood and correspondingly cut it with a coping saw.

This formed the outline of the whistle.

A slot was then cut cleanly and accurately using a tenon saw, which provides a perfect gap for the top and bottom plates of the whistle. I believe it is these two plates vibrating in unison with the passing through of a finely balanced rush of air, together with the correct placement of the tongue, to produce the inimitable and unmistakable sound of the whistles used by local farmers to control their sheepdogs.

The mahogany version shown here is at least five or six years old and makes a beautiful high-pitched, yet nicely timbered (yes you heard that right, timbered) sound. I think that these wooden whistles are quite unique as only plastic ones or aluminium versions are available on the market, but this wooden style produces a much more flute-like, pure sound.