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. 


After being given the challenge of taking five consecutive photographs of brick by my friend Sarah a couple of weeks ago. I realised that I haven't talked about brick or brickwork which seemed a little strange considering it has been so prominent within my practice for a couple of years now, and along the way I have been gathering some interesting images of different brickwork where and when I see it so I thought I would share them.....

I want to draw attention to how varied and fascinating this material can be. I think it is often overlooked or unnoticed because we are so familiar with it being used for domestic housing.
It's the oldest building material around it is dug from the ground, brick factories are located right next to clay pits so they can be in close proximity to extract the clay from the ground.

 Different regions have different clays running through, Stoke and Bristol is Red. London clay has quite a lot of lime in it making it yellowy grey. Sussex clay is grey. Every clay has a different quality. Creating various surfaces firing temperatures and coloration's. It's a material that can undergo extreme changes from colour to form it heats up in the sun and cools in the cold. It's incredibly versatile as a building material and allows any scale structure to be built. That's probably one of the main reasons why I'm fascinated with it and continue to be so. 

The two images below are examples of my own work fired and unfired brick this is the back of Pause which can be seen in Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford. This is a Cheddar Red brick made in Bristol at Ibstock's Specials Department.

Here is an exquisite example of brickwork and has to be one of my personal favourites Giles Gilbert Scott or known for designing Liverpool Cathedral, The William Booth Memorial Training College on Denmark Hill and Battersea Power Station. Shown below is the facade of Tate Modern on Bankside designed 1947-1960 and comprising of approx 4.2 millions bricks his signature linear design work is unmistakable. 

The three dimensional quality achieved through layering also captures the aesthetic of the period it was designed it represents modernity. Built during a time Specials Departments within the brick industry was thriving. The rounded edged bricks and bullnose bricks would have all been made by hand within moulds.

This image shows Giles Gilbert Scott's work in Lady Margeret Hall Oxford, this beautiful brick building is the colleges chapel. Again it's clear to see the style is reminiscent with the rounded edges framing the long slim windows but what I adore about this particular building is the subtle curve that moves into the elegant bulbous base something we don't often see within brickwork. I think we have become conditioned that brick is straight and somewhat rigid in it's form but that really isn't the case. 

This is a section of brickwork of a church in Romney Marsh these bricks are very narrow compared to the standard domestic brick we are used to seeing today. Mortar can also completely change the overall appearance of a brick in this case they both become equally important to the aesthetic.

Milan quite different in style to much of England's brickwork the small holes within the walls have been created by leaving gaps this has been used in some contemporary buildings as a way of allowing light into the the interior space.

This wall can be found at the back of the Oxo Tower in London. The reason this caught my attention was the bricks looked as though they had begun their life glazed and over time this has eroded away leaving this interesting surface quality of rough and smooth light and dark. 

I rescued this collection of bricks from Ibstock whilst working there. The imperfections during firing was the reason they were being thrown away and also the reason they made their way to my studio. They were far to unusual to end up in the bin and the fact they reminded my of Rothko's paintings another reason I gave them a home.

Brick wall in South London 

Three types of brick in South London including this beautiful Edwardian red with bevelled edges. 

Mossy brick wall in Wapping next to the river.

Red Edwardian brickwork in Lady Margaret Hall Oxford this was one of the reasons Pause had to be made from red brick. In order to create a narrative between site and object.
this college is also rich in different style and age of brickwork.

Brick wall and floor 

The new Student extension within Lady Margaret Hall these are contemporary hand made bricks. 

Check out my Pinterest page I have a board dedicated to brick showing examples from all around the world.