Working collaboratively from a distance

Sasha and I established Perpendicular studio back in 2012, since then we have been working collaboratively here in London. 
When Sasha told me in the middle of the year that she would be moving to Italy my heart sank.
Not only because of the work we do together but also one of my good friends was moving so far away.

Once I had processed the news we began to talk about how it would be possible for us to continue working from a distance and what form that would take. 
Whether distance was something we could directly address within the work. 
Could it be time based?
Would it be about our own landscape or geological makeup?
Or absence of the physical?
How do we structure this? on a virtual platform or by creating a physical book?
How do we use different ways of communicating with one another?

But what we did know was that the narrative began here in London with a series of walks. 
Armed with a camera, notebook, maps, jars and bags for collecting found objects along the way we embarked on our new pathway. 

Our first location was Epping Forest a space Sasha knows well as she lived about 10mins away from one of the many forest entrances. 

The second location we chose was the Thames Pathway near Woolwich because it was completely different to the coverage of the forest.

By spending this time together whilst observing, talking and sharing ideas we came up with a clearer idea about how we were going to structure this.


These seemed to be the most prominent elements that were becoming apparent. 

We talked about sending one another packages which could include objects, images, drawings, tests creating an ongoing creative exchange and we would respond by sending something we felt continued this link. 

It's now early December and we are still in the early stages of this process and have had three exchanges.

And the fascinating element about this process is the freedom we have allowed ourselves.
We don't know where this will take us, whether this work will ever be shown or exhibited, whether it feeds into a bigger piece of work. 

Most importantly our creative collaboration continues despite the fact we are working from two different countries.  
It's also the ultimate form of communication, with each package we include a very short note explaining the contents but what's more intriguing is how the visual language begins to unfold over time. 

We felt that we had to find a way of turning this opportunity into a positive move for our collaborative method of working. We also felt that our friendship is certainly strong enough to be able to create something quite unique. 

Reworking and Revisiting

The 1st of December 2017 BBC1 broadcast Imagine presented by Alan Yentob profiling the artist Rachel Whiteread: Ghost in the room.

This coincides with her exhibition at Tate Modern showing until January 21st 2018

The reason I mention this is because the subject of collecting and holding on to objects came up in the documentary. 
I'm sure this is part of many creative practices. 
I could even list a few other artists and makers that do this. Including myself so at the same time it's a very familiar way of working. 

My studio is filled with what may first appear to be lots of singular pieces of made and found objects. 
Often I'm unsure where or how these pieces will be used but I'm always confident that eventually they will naturally find their rightful home. 

So hearing that Rachel Whiteread kept a cardboard box from the cellar whilst clearing her mothers house. Which then became the inspiration for her installation Embankment 
2005-2006 in the Turbine hall at Tate modern, not only made me smile but also felt quite timely. 
As I'm currently working through the construction of a collection of works using this very method. 

Where objects that have become familiar to my everyday surroundings finally have the chance to be viewed in a different ways. The value of these pieces to me lie in where they have originated from this could be their location or their former function. 

Other pieces have derived from projects that have required much time and effort to either resolve or work through a particular idea. Often resembling remnants or sections of a larger piece. They could rarely be considered to be final refined pieces of work. 

However, I do believe that it's in these smaller objects that offers the most information and energy regarding thought processes and the act of making because they are made quickly and quite instinctively. Offering something more than a drawing.

But it becomes more evident to me that this is also an integral way of working.
Even though it can feel like a slow journey along the way.  

In-between projects

It can be difficult when you find yourself in-between projects.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds this feeling extremely difficult, yet when you come out the other end you realise how beneficial it was to have been given some time to think. 
These are times I find I'm able to return with fresh eyes and fully focus on the new task in hand.

During these quiet times there's always something I find to do.

1: Reading 
This is something I crave to be able to do when I'm rushed off my feet.
I usually take the time to do some research or revisit a subject I feel I can expand on from previous work.

2: Experimentation 
Over the past months or so I've been developing a material archive using clays and canvas.
Something I've been meaning to do for a while but haven't had the time.
Using different materials, soils, oxides, and mixing them into porcelain to create a comprehensive collection of tests for future works.

3: Explore new glazes 
While I have some time on my hands I've been mixing some new glazes that complement my existing ones.

4: Update website 
This is the perfect time to make sure all websites or profiles are up to date with new work or upcoming events.

5: Photography
Photograph any outstanding work 

6: Explore outside the studio
Changing my surroundings and exploring new places, visiting exhibitions, seeing new things, can be really helpful to move thinking forward when you feel a bit stuck. 

7: Talk to others 
Although I often have to gear myself up to leave the studio sometimes. I do fully understand how important it is to talk to other makers and artists. 
Talks, presentations, openings are all a beneficial way of utilising time. 
It keeps you fresh, informed and knowledgable.

Why I choose to collaborate.

Collaboration and why I choose to work with others?

Collaborating with other artists and makers has become increasingly important to me.
A couple of years ago five of us from the Crafts Councils hothouse programme in 2012 met in a pub in Southwark to begin discussions about organising an exhibition on our own terms.  To be able to make work we wanted to make without having to write a proposal or fulfil a brief.

At that time our aim was an exhibition, after several meetings and many email conversations between us all we had secured two venues to show this new work and called it Haptic/Tacit. 

We applied for an Arts Council grant and was successful, we invited Kimberley Chandler
to write an essay for us and invited our mentors from Hothouse to exhibit along side each of us.

The exhibition was about strengthening artists networks, encouraging conversations and critical observation.

With the grant we were able to produce a catalogue to accompany both exhibitions, in this we included a conversation between each pairing giving a deeper insight into the working relationships between mentor and mentee. 

The entire process between meeting in Southwark and opening the first exhibition in London was two years. 

During the take down in London we were discussing where to go from here as this had become something more than simply five artists and two exhibitions. 

The title of our exhibitions soon became our collaborative group name.

We set the exhibition up in Oxford in January 2017 during the 7 weeks there we ran a collaborative making workshop for adults and a Q&A chaired by Kimberley.

During this time it gave us some time to begin to think about how we go forward.
The idea of continuously working with different artists and makers was something we found exciting because it keeps the process fresh by introducing different ideas, working methods, materials, and pushing the group dynamic. 

So the core of the group remains the same including Kimberley and each exhibition or event we will each individually invite another artist or maker to work with us. 
Based around a subject or theme. 

Each pairing can work however they choose they can make a collaborative piece of work together or make work that responds to one another. 
This is collaborative working on multiple levels.

The catalogue is another element we intend to continue with Kimberley, we will also invite professions, curators, scientists, architects.... to contribute around the subject we choice.

Together we have a stronger voice, we draw on one another strengths, we can explore the possibility of making work that we personally want to develop and It's always about the group and not the individual. 

The next step for us is updating our website but in the meantime 
for more information about our work to date follow the links to Instagram and twitter

Perpendicular studio 

Is my other collaboration.
Perpendicular was founded in 2011 shortly after Sasha and myself finished our MA at Central Saint Martins. Together we felt that we are able to make larger more ambitious spatial work.

We have a wonderful harmony in the way we work together, collaboration is often about pushing the work beyond your own solitary vision, throwing ideas around until you are able to find a resolve. 
Listening to the other person taking everything into consideration and working through different viewpoints.

Collaboration for me is about sharing thoughts, moving forward to achieve the same vision. to have another pair of eyes, to challenge, to share the workload, and to push you out of your comfort zone. 

Otherwise we remain small and inward looking. 

Haptic/Tacit exhibition at the Leyden Gallery and The Old Fire Station, Oxford.

The opening paragraph from our introduction written by Bonnie Kemske

In October 2016 Haptic/Tacit opened at the Leyden Gallery for one week.
It was always our intention to have a short run for London and a longer run outside of London.

Just as a reminder as my last blog post talking about this was back in April.

Haptic/Tacit is a collective including five makers who met in 2013 on the Crafts Councils development programme Hothouse.

What we all have in common is an innate fascination with making and material language.
Some of us are bound through process or material others by concept or exploration.
This opportunity has enabled us to develop creative networks and to be able to involve our mentors or buddies from the programme to showcase these working partnerships.


Kim Norton
Laura Ellen Bacon

Jane Cairnes

Annie Turner

Laura Grain

Shelly Goldsmith

Tomas Appleton

Giles Macdonald

Grant Aston
Bonnie Kemske

Install begins

Group discussion before opening 

Opening night 

We were given some Arts Council funding which enabled us to print an exhibition catalogue. 
We felt this was an important element to support the two exhibitions, as it helps to build a deeper understanding and greater insight into each partnership. The catalogue includes five conversations between each maker and mentor and touches upon elements around working practice that can't possibly be completely visible just by experiencing the work.

The key element that holds the catalogue together is Kimberley Chandler's essay called Material Talk. Looking at how we have come to work together and the importance of the collective voice. 
The conversations and dialogue we have ignited with Kimberley will continue in Oxford where you can hear us in conversation where Kimberley will be chairing the evenings event. 

Shelley Goldsmith

Laura Grain 

Giles MacDonald

Thomas Appleton 

Bonnie Kemske

Grant Aston

Laura Ellen Bacon

Kim Norton

Annie Turner 

Jane Cairns

Haptic/Tacit opens in Oxford on January 13th at the Old Fire Station and can be visited until March. 

During the exhibition we will be running a workshop and a Q&A. 
More information can be found on the website. please note although these events are free to attend tickets will still need to be booked in advance.

The Old Fire Station, Oxford 

Setting off from Vanguard studios to pick Grant up.

We finally arrive after an epic six hour journey from London to Oxford the day of the train strike.

Day 2 of install we Laura and Giles.

The decals installed after much fear they maybe too large.

 Our catalogues ready for the opening Becki kindly made a shelf for them to be neatly displayed throughout the duration of the exhibition.

Giles MacDonald and Thomas Appleton

I changed my collection to scale it down slightly for the space. This was discussed with the gallery at the very beginning. Collection 2 was three renditions of brick ranging from the found object to fired and unfired porcelain creating small assemblages.

Collection 3 was exhibited on grey slate instead of mirror glass showing a handmade rendition of the brick form in black and white. Made from porcelain and black clays the cracks and stresses reveal the making process and hi-light the evidence of my weight applied to the material.

Laura Ellen Bacon

Laura Grain and Shelley Goldsmith

Grant Aston showed different work in Oxford as his previous work was being exhibited overseas.

Bonnie Kemske

Jane Cairns 
Jane remade this piece, changing the darker lines than ran through the work shown in London. 

Annie Turner 

Collaborative making workshop 

Jane and Grant ran a collaborative making workshop for adults one Saturday afternoon. 
The idea behind this was to get everyone thinking as a group. 
Architecture was given as a starting point as this lends itself to structural building methods, it immediately triggered ideas of scale.
Additional props such as wood, bamboo canes, string etc were used to help create a foundation and the clay could be introduced in and around that.

The exhibition

The Window

We were given the opportunity of having a dedicated window to introduce the exhibition from the gallery shop entrance. 
In order for this to have an impact we decided that CaCO3 was to be hung in two parts as it filled the entire space and is a piece of work that talks about material, scale and locality.
The chalk for this work was gathered from Sombourne chalk quarry in Hampshire. One of the last chalk quarries in the UK. 

Bjarke Ingels Serpentine Pavilion 2016

Bjarke Ingels designs this years Serpentine Pavilion 2016 a Danish architect.

What immediately comes to mind when looking at this structure is a church. 
I know for sure that I'm not the first person to say that. On a personal level I instantly find that quite intriguing. The pavilion is known as an all welcoming space for people to visit and experience, to gather, to sit, to pass through. There's a similarity in function here. 

The design itself drew my attention to the finer details and the simplicity. 
It started with the brick form these individual hollow cubes have been made from extruded fibre glass. Allowing light to transmit throughout the interior space. Cleverly stacked creating this undulating curve from the base up into the middle. There is a wonderful sense of air, possibly because green parkland outside can still be seen through the hollow centres.

As you look up, the two walls appear to conjoin or fuse together it's simply a visual illusion created by the angles and positioning of the hollow cubes and the way the light hits the edges.

The day I visited was beaming with sunshine my experience was a bright light and uplifting space that fluctuated from transparent to solid depending where you stand it was in a constant state of flux.

The new Switch House, Tate Modern.

I finally made it to the new Switch House at Tate Modern
 designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron. My intention was to leave it a little while before visiting in the hope the crowds would subside. 
A late summer Sunday afternoon turned out to be the perfect time to visit. For anyone interested in materials, architecture or concrete this new extension is a real treat. As you enter the space from the Turbine room what immediately confronts you is the original wall scarred from it's former function. 
With the addition of the elegant concrete stairs you can't help but be blown away by the consideration and skill in construction that has taken place here. 

From the outside it is obvious to see the that the extension tapers in towards the top. Where a viewing platform can be experienced on the 10th floor.
Inside there are three main rooms curated according to subject each room has a dedicated floor. 

Between Object and Architecture
Performer and Participant
Living Cities
Artists Rooms Louise Bourgeois 

On the ground floor known as The Tanks there is a mix of film and installation. 
Here's one example. 

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster Séance de Shadow II (bleu) 1998

Between Object and Architecture: 
I think it goes without saying that this was the room I had the most affinity with.
It's material led and the scale of most of the works stood beyond human scale. Showcasing the change of art and sculpture becoming more immersive.

Saloula Raouda Choucair, Infinite Structure, 1963-5 Tufa Stone.

Christina Iglesias, Pavilion suspended in room, 2005 Steel 

Tony Cragg

These rooms challenge the viewer, you have to work with some pieces and others force you to physically move beyond the usual standing position. 

I found it really inspiring, to see such a diverse range of interesting thought provoking work curated together. Creating a clear dialogue around work created during the 1960's. Minimalism was sweeping art, sculpture, music and architecture.
Art movements were crossing over and experimentation with the everyday object was becoming more prominent. 

Performance and Participant: 
Performance is something I often struggle with unless it immediately ignites an interest.
However, what I was immediately drawn to was this collection of works and body pieces worn by Rebecca Horn for her performance Icarus Redeemed 1970-73. 
The construction of these structures, the physicality involved whilst manoeuvring them and the elegance and flow captured in the series of photographs below. It has dance like quality to it. 


The final comment I want to make about my visit is the lattice style brickwork, constructed as part of the facade of the building, reminiscent of Indian brickwork to allow air flow and light. 
In this case I think it's simply for visual impact allowing light to gently glow into the interior walkways. Behind the bricks are glass windows that open and close encased between large concrete beams.
I also noticed that each brick stands on small pads positioned in each corner to hold them in place and also to avoid the use of mortar for a clean finish.

It's a stunning addition to an already breathtaking space. Bringing a focus to performance, live art and installation. During a time where it's so important to support the arts and culture and to bring about a greater understanding how this provides a truly contemporary international view of modern art. 

MA Design: Central Saint Martins 2011

It has recently occurred to me that I started this blog 5 years ago shortly after finishing my MA at Central Saint Martins in 2011. We were the last year to graduate in the Lethaby building, Southampton Row in Holborn, and for the first time allocated the large room on the ground floor.

Here are a few images from our final show MA Design Ceramics, Furniture, Jewellery.
All Images have been taken from the University of the Arts Central Saint Martins degree show blog 2011.

Anne Frobeen 

Sam Sheard

Alexander Mazur-Knyazeva

Elena Nunziata

Niloufar Afnan

Kim Norton

Capability Brown 300 exhibition at Syon Park July 2016

Design work by Ian Estevens 

Well here we are in June and I must admit running a little behind from our original plan to be open for May, but on the plus side things are coming together quite smoothly. 

One of the reasons we have been delayed was that we had to wait for the roof to be installed. 

It's now in situ and looking great!

Here are some images of the space a few months ago.

And here is the brand new roof...

The seating has been removed the hanging baskets have been cleared and the walls are being built around the entire space to create an open light environment. 
The fence at the front entrance will be removed which will also help to create the illusion of space and the signage will be moved to the outside entrance. 

Brian kindly prepared a few samples for the walls, the idea is to keep it light by using a birch ply treated with Danish oil to help waterproof the surfaces and protect against rain. 
Although we have the roof the space is still partially open at two ends. 

The plinths will also be built using the same methods to create a clean contemporary feel to the exhibition. 

Plants are going into large wooden planters either side of the central space creating an opening for the title of the exhibition.

The walls have been completed and plinths planters are in position and whilst Ian and I are in the process of finalising the graphics there has been enough time to see how the space stands up to rainfall. 
With an exhibition partially exposed to the elements it's been slightly more challenging particularly when it comes to considering the placement and display of objects.

This was the space a week ago.. 

29th June 2016 
With two weeks to go we are finalising the design work and gathering the objects together to be displayed on to the plinths.
These are currently being divided into tools and plants. 
Every object selected has been carefully extracted from the original household vouchers Susan has been transcribing. 

It's surprising how many objects particularly the building materials such as nails and screws have remained much the same. The language may have changed slightly but I'm sure within the building trade nails are still referred to as 8d,10d,12d, 
As I found out last week this equates to the size of the nail. for example a 10d = 3''
The letter D is an abbreviation for a penny, but the D originally came from the old Roman coin the Denarius where carpentry nails were bought by the pennyweight. 

Here is an example of vellum parchment this was used for the original garden plan drawings. The receipts were written for 2 skins of vellum for plans
The skin used for Syon parks design work would have been calf and I managed to get hold of some remnants from a company called William Cowley in Buckinghamshire who have been making Vellum using traditional methods since 1870. 

Wednesday 6th July 2016
With one week to go until opening the install for all the graphics begun. It was a resonably early start to the day with fair weather making it easier for the everyone working on site that day.

All the plants were selected according to the original plant list for Syon that entire list can be seen around the edges of each planter. 

Monday 11th July 2016
With two days to go until opening the printers installing the graphics started their second day on site. We encountered a few technical issues the previous week which slowed us all down slightly, but we swiftly made it back on track and everything had been positioned onto the walls by 1.30pm leaving myself and Topher to finish the final planting and positioning of artefacts. 

As it would have been impossible to include all the plants and tools that were originally used or planted. 
Small transparent containers filled with seeds give a more rounded idea of the range of flowers, herbs and vegetables that were documented on the receipts. 

These include onions, spinach, red and white clover, spring bulbs, carrots, mustard cress. 

Here's an example of one voucher invoiced to the Earl of Northumberland in 1756 for garden tools and equiptment.

Image belongs to the Northumberland Estate

The people and workers plinth in progress showing tools plant seeds and other materials such as hay seed, dung and brick. 

The exhibition officially opened on Thursday 14th July to the public and Syon visitors and will continue until the house and garden closes for the winter season on Sunday 30th October 2016. 


You will be able to visit the exhibition without having to pay to go into the house and garden. This was something Susan and I felt was really important for it to be open and available to everyone. Whether you are an avid follower of Brown or a new convert to his work.  

I'd like to say a big thank you to:
Susan Darling 
Ian Estevens 
Topher Martyn 
Brian and his team at Syon Park 

It's been a real collaborative process from start to finish. 

Quiet, Still, Minimal. Images whilst travelling...

Back in April 2014 we travelled by train from Montreal to New York. 
I did write a very brief post about this experience at the time but what I want to revisit here is a series of particular photographs in the order they were taken, similar to a very short storyboard of images that need to seen together.

Considering the length of the journey It's a snap shot of a short moment in time.
The reason I've pulled these images out is that there's something quite magical about the quality of light that occurred as the day was beginning to draw in.

These muted blue grey tones mixed with the hazy light impacted with a filmic atmosphere.

Despite the fact this was two years ago I still recall the mood that filled the air. 
As we slowly crawled past the industrial aggregate site with masses of materials piled up sitting against the stark concrete structures and the highly engineered bridge dotted into the vast landscape. 

This part of the journey instantly pulled my attention away from my book or internal thinking and immediately resonated quiet still and minimal. 
Something I'm often striving to capture in my work. 

Haptic-Tacit Exhibitors

Following on from the last blog Haptic-Tacit.

I talked about who was involved in these two exhibitions, how we came together as a group and why we are doing this. 

In October 2016 we will be showing at the Leyden Gallery in London E1

In January we are moving out of London to Oxford

Each one of us has invited our Buddy or Mentor from the
hothouse3 programme to join us.

The line up looks something like this: 

Kim Norton
Laura Ellen Bacon

Jane Cairnes
Annie Turner

Laura Grain
Shelly Goldsmith

Tomas Appleton
Giles Macdonald

Grant Aston
Bonnie Kemske

During Hothouse we were each given a buddy where 10 hours contact time 
was allotted. The role of the buddy was someone who was working in a similar way and could be a support throughout the six months. 

The role of the mentor was someone who may be working in a similar way or in my case I wanted to gain more knowledge about arts commissioning and working outside the gallery context so I was paired up with Francis Lord a curator and arts consultant. 

Both of these professional links and contacts were hand picked for each one of us. 
From my personal experience both pairings were really well considered and perfectly matched.

This part of the programme set you up with a mini network and some cases new friendships and peer groups. 

That's one of the reasons we wanted to include the Buddies and Mentors. In some cases parallels will be drawn between the two practices this can be through material, through working methods or through thinking approach and concept. 

Again in my case working with Laura the similarities firstly begin with space and scale. 
Although we work in very different materials I think we are going to look at weight and density or the illusion of these two words and how that differs between willow and clay. 

We have a group meeting in the next few weeks and our press release will also be ready to begin spreading the word. We are also in the process of discussing a networking event during one or both of these exhibitions for past and present hothouse participants.

In the garden with Entelechy Arts and Siobhan Davies Dance at the Garden Museum.

In the Garden

I'm finally getting around to writing about my collaboration with Entelechy Arts in Deptford in 2014.

 This amazing experience ran along side my exhibition Lines, Levels, Layers
Which was part of the year long Human Nature season at Siobhan Davies Dance.
Both myself and Christian Kerrigan separately worked with Entelechy to produce a movement based performance accompanying our indivdual work shown at the the dance studio in Elephant and Castle. 

Entelechy Arts works from the Albany theatre in Deptford South London and run a programme of weekly workshops such as ambient jam working with the elderly, people with varying levels of disability and the local community. 

'Entelechy Arts is a participatory arts company based in south east London. Entelechy
works with people of all ages, abilities
and backgrounds to produce high quality theatre, music, dance and video events
and performances.'

From entelchy arts website

I was initially working along side Rebecca Swift to discuss how we could approach this and met a few of the dancers and volunteers including Shane Waltner a weaver who had also exhibited at Siobhan Davies in 2012.

I attended a ambient jam session one afternoon to get a taster and a greater understanding about the approach and more importantly get to meet some of the regulars attending these sessions.

For me this was one of the biggest steps I made out of my comfort zone.
I went along with notebook and pen in hand. Expecting to be quietly observing from the corner of the room.

Instead the reality was quite different I was encouraged in to the centre of the action. Boxes of props came out including paper brightly coloured fabrics, musical instruments, sounds, dancing, movement, colour and and most importantly happiness.

This group varied from people with profound physical disabilities, sight and hearing impairments, some of the participants were in wheelchairs others had come along with family members and carers so I had to think on my feet, throw all inhibitions aside and just get stuck in the best way I knew. 

Visit to the Garden Museum

Our first visit to the Garden museum in Lambeth took place very early on in 2014. 
The museum was set up in 1977 on the former site of St Mary's church which sits next to Lambeth Palace and has this small but perfectly formed garden at the back. In the centre is a fine example of a knot garden.

'The church is the burial place of John Tradescant (c1570 – 1638), the first great gardener and plant-hunter in British history. His magnificent and enigmatic tomb is the centrepiece of a knot garden planted with the flowers which grew in his London garden four centuries ago.'

From the Garden museum website

With a couple more visits and then some group meeting we all came up with a  a copy of our working score before the event. Where our thoughts, observations, ideas and plans all went down on paper to share with the rest of the group including the musicians and volunteers. 

Soil was one of the key elements, the ground, being rooted, attention to the nuanced moments, allowing the performance to naturally unfold as Entelechy always do with such elegance. This experience was about surrendering control and allowing the senses to lead the outcome. 

The day of the performance 

The performance at the garden museum on Sunday 6th July 2014 
These wonderful images taken by Gorm Ashurst really capture a sense of openness, happiness, and freedom to explore. 

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and unfortunately I was unable to make to final performance as my dad had so sadly passed away four days earlier. 

Although I wasn't there in body I was certainly there in spirit and finally feel I am able to reflect back on this experience with great fondness and thank Rebecca for subtly encouraging me to step out from being the observer and becoming immersed. 


Haptic:  Relating to the sense of touch, in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception

Tacit: Understood or implied without being stated

These two key words are for the title of two group exhibitions involving 
Myself, Jane Cairns, Thomas Appleton, Laura Grain and Grant Aston. 

 Together we are working towards two exhibitions starting in 2016 following through to 2017.

 We all met on the Crafts Council development programme Hothouse in 2013.

This programme has given us a strong peer group connection that has continued to flourish long after we finished.
 Our motivation behind this initial idea is to be able to make work that we wouldn't normally have the opportunity to explore and to be able to work on our own terms.

During these two events we are planning some networking events and possibly a Q&A

More to follow in the next few weeks. 

Changing the Landscape: Capability Brown at Syon

Here we are in the middle of March and the exhibition at Syon Park is looming.
One of the challenging elements of this project is that the exhibition is going to be in a  courtyard with a partially covered roof. 

This is the courtyard as it stands right now!

I'm expecting this to be completely transformed in the next six weeks. 
The fence is coming down and stud walls are being installed around the edge and back of the space. 

This is looking towards the entrance as you enter the visitor centre.

This is the back looking towards the visitor centre, where birch walls will be installed. 
So we should be left with a clean airy rectangle to begin work.

As for the roofing Topher is researching several options and solutions. 

I came across the company Sefar several years ago when Sasha and I were working on Lucid Space. 

They are based in Switzerland and produce these super strong architectural fabrics and skins for exterior structures and roofing. So they were my first port of call for roofing solutions. To help Topher's search.

So taking this into consideration we need to factor in weather conditions and structures that will sustain changes in temperature and our unpredictable english rain.

From the very beginning I've intended to keep it clean simple and open. 
Capability Brown's approach to design was forward thinking and very modern for this period in time. He brought about a new english aesthetic and sensibility to gardens in the 18th century and a style that is instantly recognisable as being Brownian.  

All of these elements seemed relevant whilst designing the floor plan, design layout and the presentation overall presentation.

As usual I started with compiling pinterest boards I find it's easier to gather information together in one place it brings about a sense of focus it also allows a visual style to develop quite quickly.

Here are some wood samples for the walls and plinths It's not a huge space so we need to keep the colour palette fairly light and work with the natural light that will be filtering in.

Initial colour samples for the design work. 
To see how it works for the general graphics and sits against the wood. 

We are really lucky to be working along side an excellent graphic designer Ian Estevens who is currently working on styling the exhibition. 
I will begin to filter some of his images through in the next few weeks.

Capability Brown at Syon.

This project has been brewing for quite a while now, When I think back It maybe approaching nearly two years. 

For many keen gardeners and garden lovers 2016 marks the 300th birthday of Lancelot Capability Brown. 

A figure in garden history that really changed the English landscape from highly formal structured garden spaces we expect to see during the 16th-17th centuries. 
To open expansive landscapes or parklands that emerged during the 18th century and still remain across many sites today. 

Browns style is instantly recognisable some fine examples such as Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, Compton Verney in Warwickshire, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire are the ones many of us will be familiar with. 

 The garden I'm going to be talking about is Syon Park. It sits directly opposite Kew Gardens It's one of Browns smaller garden spaces and lesser known but one of the best preserved.

Back in 2014 I met Susan Darling a garden historian whilst I was busily working on my exhibition at Siobhan Davies Dance. 

During this time we started discussing Brown 2016 as Susan was in the process of researching Capability Brown's garden at Syon. 
Susan was and still is methodically working through the archives on the Northumberland estate in Alnwick. Including the original receipts from the build and construction of the garden. Revealing an enormous amount information that wasn't formally known. 

That's one of the reasons Syon Park was so keen to host an exhibition this year.

Over the past year or so we have been exploring how this body of research could be presented in the form of an exhibition. 

Susan would have always been a key figure in this as the entire exhibition has come about from her own research. 
The uncertainty was my involvement and whether the initial ideas for this would be suitable.

In December 2015 after previous meetings, site visits and conversations, We proposed our ideas where a more formal presentation was arranged at Syon Park with head gardener Topher Martyn. 
From there on in we have started work to open the exhibition in May 2016. Exact dates are to be confirmed but I will be updating our work in progress over the next couple of months.

Follow the link below for more information about Brown and Syon and Susan's article written for the London Gardens Trust. 

Changing the Landscape: Capability Brown at Syon. 

Topher Martyn Head Gardener 
Susan Darling Garden Historian and researcher 
Kim Norton Curator and design
Ian Estevens Exhibition design

The brick continues

With more brick compositions coming through I'm beginning to think about how these can fit in to the next couple of exhibitions. They may simply be part of the work in progress that directly feeds the final work or they may be shown on mass as a collection.

These two pieces of Cheddar red brick from Ibstock in Bristol are off cuts from my final MA design Pause. Cutting these bricks was quite difficult each brick weighed 12kgs making it a hefty cube. The cutting wire tended to move a lot as I sliced through and the clay was so grainy and heavy with grog I ended up with these wonderful circular marks across the surface. The marks from the stacking shelves are still imprinted on the bottom in the form
of tiny dots. 

I collected some of these remnants from my time spent in the factory they seemed too interesting to throw into reclaim. The pieces shown in the photographs below were shaved off the side sections and the bottom edge of the seating space.

The images directly below were pieces I have carved some of these bricks had to be 
re-carved or reworked. 

These two pieces were cut by Ben. Whilst he helped me during the first couple of days setting up. 

 Here's a shot of Pause once finishes and installed.

No Cure For Shell Shock by Dylan Malik Orchard

A while ago I was kindly asked to design a book cover for Dylan Malik Orchard. A London based novelist, poet, and short story writer.

He has recently written a collection of poetry about conflict and the human experience with a focus on war but it's essence is strongly anti war. 

'No Cure For Shell Shock'  
Published in December 2015 it can be found on amazon just follow the link to order a copy 

Or any good bookshop can order it for you.
Take a look it's well worth an read! he's very talented…..

Making ideas with brick.

My first blog post for 2016.

So far I've been working on several different projects some I can begin to drip feed images through. Here are some ideas emerging for a couple of pending exhibitions later in the year.

My continuing fascination with brick is a starting point. Some of these pieces have been found some have been given to me and others have been carved by myself. 

What I'm immediately thinking about is weight. 
Or how these pieces and compositions can join together to make one large piece of work.

Revisiting these porcelain chunks that were initially split into sections. However,  I've never fully explored the fact that they all belong together. Considering that they were cut from one piece of clay there is an immediate connection.

The cuts and joins, the raw outer edges, the traces of being handled.
These elements have been a consideration of mine for a while now and it may have been something that remained part of that feeding process whilst developing another idea. 

I often find that pieces of work that have been produced quickly as part of a bigger thought can still hold their own as a stand alone object. There is a huge value in these pieces and to move them into another context can often unlock those initial thoughts that may or may not have fed the final work that they were originally born from. 

As well as being consumed by the idea of weight in clay I have also been throwing other key words around such as suspension, gravity and balance. 

Using existing work to begin this process I ventured outside with a bag of string, hooks, wire, sheeting, fabric and with Ben's help we began to explore how we could convey these singular descriptive words through objects and compositions. The works will not be shown outside but I find it so much easier to have space as opposed to being restricted to a room or studio. It also helps to have the addition of the elements to contend with because this could help change the direction of the thinking or help to stumble across something that would never have previously been a consideration. 

This is a starting point! I still have a long way to go but I always enjoy the time that allows you to really experiment with ideas without feeling they are too precious. Thoughts and ideas come and go quite swiftly at this stage. 

Physical traces of making through language

Week 3: Thinking about where I was last week with new compositions and objects. Since then I've had a couple of conversations that have led me to begin to look at language. 
Our understanding of particular words and how those words translate into an action, motion or movement. 

Below I've included the written verb list by Richard Serra to which this enquiry completely hinges on and my own list of important words that have relevance either within my making process or my practice as a whole. 

Looking at some of these words more carefully I would say that they definately have a link to the material I'm using. 


I wonder whether this is a case of my material knowledge and understanding or whether I'm making assumptions about the material. If I asked someone to describe clay I wonder whether any of the words I have just used would be included within their own description. 

I think that has to be my next step forward. 

This is an example of a very simply process through the action of pushing using a rolling pin by pressing down using my own body weight and applying pressure. So what we have in this one simple action is the involvement of two to three other words listed above. 


Is there a way that these words and the way we engage with the clay can simply be made by one action through interpretation of the selected word. 

Initially I thought that I was going to strip all tools away. I'm convinced that the hand held pieces of clay can be made through the use of hands and a surface such as a table. 

With regards to scaling the work up, on reflection I think tools will have to be incorporated but again it's very much about how they are being used and this will have to be carefully documented in the same way the smaller works have been. 

Week 2: Compositions with Objects.

Last week I started looking at the relationship between some of my smaller ceramic objects originally through the use or instruction of a particular word and some of the found objects that have been given to me or collected by myself. 

This week i'm extending this exploration to a series of porcelain objects originally matched up with Sasha's photography shown last year in Arthouse1.

Whilst I'm working on this smaller scale I'm always considering how these structures could be scaled up. 

The collection of five images below have been taken from every angle or rotating the porcelain piece around in order for me to understand the points of contact between the objects or surfaces. There are resting points here, some fit more comfortably than others. The porcelain piece has two distinct surfaces one side is glazed and the other is untouched from being wrapping in it's bag. There are varying thicknesses throughout the slice and it's possible to get a sense of that as there are small areas that the light reflects through. Another point of interest here is the space that is created in-between the two objects where light and shadow come into play. 

Here by contrast I'm looking at how the porcelain objects fit into brick and contains it.
There is a more intimate connection here where light shadow and space does not exist between the two.