Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Life Drawing @ Royal Cambrian Academy

Quick 5 minute warm up sketches

Final 45 minutes pose

I went to my first Life Drawing class in about 4 years the other night, my friend and studio neighbour Wendy Couling has started her new job as Education Officer of the Royal Cambrian Academy so I finally took the plunge and ventured over for the last class of the season, with Academy member David Chapman leading the class.
I have to admit I felt very rusty to start with, and some of the warm-up sketches really frustrated me, but after a few poses I'd loosened up and remembered just how much I love life drawing! After a short break it was time for the longer 45 minute pose, which I really enjoyed - credit is due here to the model Jan for lying perfectly still! By the time I was happy with overall proportions and lay-out I started to resolve some issues [mainly with the feet] it was then David informed us we only had 5 minutes remaining!#! I could of sat there drawing the whole night, but alas all good things come to an end! 
Classes will restart in the New Year so keep an eye out for listings on the RCA website 

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Wrapped In Plastic: Skeleton

I've had to neglect the blog, and indeed my work over the past week or so as we've been building walls in the studio: I now finally have an enclosed space, and 4 walls instead of two!! 
In the run-up to this momentous event I had to clear the studio to make room for the building, this meant piling everything up on one side of the space and throwing giant plastic sheets over it all... Thankfully 'Hollow Henry' my skeleton came with his own plastic sleeping-bag, and as soon as I put him in it the phrase: 'wrapped in plastic' and images of Laura Palmer sprang to mind, which naturally meant getting my phone out and snapping some pictures! 

Laura Palmer: Twin Peaks

Sunday, 25 November 2012


'Cherish' [Detail]
Acrylic and Found Doll

I was recently interviewed for the fabulous blog: YOUNG GOLD TEETH for a feature about the 'Doll  Parts' series. The blog is an interesting mix of art, culture, fashion and music, and since I discovered it a few months back I've become an avid reader, so I was thrilled to be interviewed for the blog! You can read the full article over on the Y.G.T blog

It feels very rewarding to have someone take an interest in your work and influences, and even more so when they place it within a critical context, so I'd like to say a huge thank you to Emily and the team over at YOUNG GOLD TEETH, cheers guys!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


I've started to use Pinterest as a bookmarking tool, it's a much easier and clearer way to do it compared to using the bookmarks on my laptop. I now have hundreds of things bookmarked on my browser but no idea what the vast majority of them are, since I can't see them without sorting through them and opening them one by one... so the major advantage of using Pinterest is the fact its visual! The social aspect is also great as I'm finding and being exposed to new things every time I visit!

If you fancy a gander at what I've found so far check it out here.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Skull-A-Day 0.6

The nice folks over at the blog: "SKULL-A-DAY 0.6" run a fantastic blog which, as the name suggests, showcases a different skull each day. On Friday they chose to feature my skeletal dolls [big thank you guys!] Head on over there to check it out!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

My Shop!

I've finally got round to setting up my online shop, after months/years of having it on my to-do list! I've chosen Etsy as my platform, as it has a rather nice sense of community on there. Hoping they'll be some more prints added in the near future, there's a link on the top menu on my blog or follow this one for a gander...

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Unexpected Guest: Liverpool Biennial - Mona Hatoum and Nadia Kaabi-Linke

Nadia Kaabi-Linke
Two channel HD video installation 

I went back to Liverpool in the week to explore the parts of the Biennial I missed on my first visit, top of my list was the Cunard Building partly because I knew Mona Hatoum had work in there, the theme of the biennial is 'hospitality' and the title of the exhibition the 'Unexpected Guest'; migration, immigration and globalization were prominent themes within the work on show.

Hatoum's work was as usual beautifully understated, aesthetically simplistic, yet packed a powerful punch. 'Present Tense' consists of vast rows of soap with tiny glass beads embedded in them, the beads mapping out territories which were meant to be returned to Palestinian control under the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, acting as a visual impurity in the pure cleansing soap, symbolizing the new borders enforced on the Palestinian people. The soap, then in turn acts as a metaphor for the transient nature of borders and land-control, as it dissolves and breaks down over time.

Mona Hatoum 
'Present Tense' 
soap and glass beads

Nadia Kaabi-Linke
Metal spikes and found bench

Nadia Kaabi-Linke's work also caught my eye during my visit to the beautiful Cunard Building. Her metal spiked park bench is reminiscent of Hatoum's work, fusing comfort and discomfort together with familiar objects. Throughout my time spent observing the bench I had to fight the overriding urge to sit down! 
The spikes are traditionally used to discourage birds [usually pigeons] from settling/roosting, and of course park benches are places upon which roosting in humans is encouraged, combining the two raises very interesting issues - I only actually considered the human's standpoint initially - its a conflict of freedom and control, and the issues this raises, especially within cities and other urban environments were both objects are common sights. Freedom is considered a promised right, and leisure and down-time an end goal for many daily tasks [with vast chunks of society living for the weekend] yet unfortunately that's not always the case as daily life takes over and dictates our schedule - the fine spikes and harsh lighting mean the danger and repression of the piece is unclear until you approach it, you at first consider it an inviting chance to rest yet as you get closer you see the unwelcoming rows of hard metal spikes.

The use of bird spikes is also interesting when you consider the artists heritage, as she states on her website:

"In the Tunisian─and in the Arab imagery in general─doves are considered as a symbol for freedom and peace. For this reason the anti-roosting-appliance appeared strange to my eyes after I saw it for the first time when I came to Europe. Western democratic countries claim for human-rights and freedom to secure peace but they seem to neglect this natural right for urban doves, although the dove was already mentioned in the Old Testament where Noah released it to discover land after the Great Flood (Book of Genesis 8;11). It seemed to me unscrupulous to invent a tool that dictates pigeons or “peace doves” where to sit and to shit to stop and where not."

Kaabi-Linke's second piece 'No' was also incredibly provocative, consisting of two facing video projections: a crowd of people stood united opposite a lone voice [represented by a mouth]. The piece dealt with the rigorous visa application process facing those wishing to enter the UK, with a floating mouthpiece asking endless questions and the crowd replying with a unanimous 'NO', at first glance the piece seemed also comical and satirical, but there is a strong undercurrent of prejudice, persecution and inquisition, at times it felt very much like a witch-trail or the Holy Inquisition, there is a frightening feeling of the mass of people - who in numbers are great and powerful, being at the mercy of a single faceless bureaucratic voice.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Doug Aitken: the SOURCE

Doug Aitken's piece outside of Tate Liverpool was one of the highlights of the Biennial for me, a beautiful piece of public art, mixing sculpture, light, video, architecture together wonderfully, the artists interviewed were also hugely fascinating - its always interesting to hear what inspires other artists, how they formulate ideas, and to get a glimpse into their methodologies, I just need to go back at night so I can see it from the outside projecting outwards...

I'll let the Tate's website do the explaining:

Aitken’s first public realm installation in the The Source will showcase the artist’s pioneering approach to public art. Creative visionaries of all ages and backgrounds, working across different art forms, will consider two questions: where does the creative idea start and how is it realised? Participants sharing their thoughts with Aitken include David Adjaye, Devendra Banhart, Beck, Thomas Demand, Liz Diller, William Eggleston, Jacques Herzog, Mike Kelley, Lucky Dragons, James Murphy, Philippe Parreno, Richard Phillips, Jack Pierson, Stephen Shore, Paolo Soleri, Tilda Swinton, Ryan Trecartin and Jack White.
The work will be housed on Liverpool’s historic Albert Dock in a temporary pavilion designed in collaboration with British architect David Adjaye OBE. This deliberate separation from the traditional gallery space will create a new creative territory and cultural destination. The pavilion will have a night-time presence, with the work projecting outwards from the structure.
Aitken said:
This project is about the roots of creativity. Many of the people in this project are working in very diverse mediums and it’s that common thread that I’m interested in. The project is very much about the empowerment of the viewer. I want the installation at Tate Liverpool to be a destination: a place that one can go to and walk into this field of ideas. It will be a celebration of the power of the individual and the forging of a borderless new creative territory – I’m incredibly excited.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

'Dream a little dream of me'

'Dream a little dream of me' 
Cyanotype on Paper 


“Dream a Little Dream of Me” 

On Christmas Day 1909, William Murphy strangled Gwen Ellen Jones. He then slit her throat with his knife before dragging her by her hair into a ditch, where her body was later discovered. 

William having lost touch with Gwen, had sought her out, having discovered her living with another man, let his rage got the better of him. 

He later said that he could not think of her with another man, and that he was not sorry she was dead.

He quickly gave himself up and was brought before the courts and later hanged at Caernarfon prison on the 15th of February 1910.

William Murphy holds the dubious honour of being the last man to be hung in both Caernarfon and North Wales.

This is the piece I produced for the 'YsbrydNos' exhibition with Bocs in Caernarfon for Halloween, the exhibition took place in the yacht club which is housed in part of the Castle and the tower is near to the old prison cells and the site of gallows where hanging would take place, I chose to focus on the last man to be hung in the town [and indeed North Wales]. My new skeleton came in very useful for this piece, as did my friend Sioned, who kindly loaned her neck for the skeleton to strangle, so a big thank you to Sioned :) 

The title and indeed the inspiration behind the choice of subject matter came from Chapel Club's fantastic 'Surfacing', its a song I've loved since I first heard it, the use of the Mamas and the Papas for the songs hook is genius, so I wanted to incorporate a little familiarity to the image but with darker undertones...

Sunday, 4 November 2012

blinc: digital art festival Conwy 2012

October 26th, 27th and 28th saw the Castle town of Conwy transformed into a giant piece of digital art, numerous buildings in the town became projection backdrops for digital, video, sound and light art created by a host of local and national artists.

The event is currently in its second year, and like last year coincided with Wales' largest food festival. The event also paid homage to Alan Turing.

Famed for his mathematical intelligence Turing was fundamental to The Enigma Machine success in the 2nd World War, and considered one of the forefathers of modern computing.
To mark the centenary of his birth, Artist / Curators Craig Morrison and Joel Cockrill were commissioned by the Arts Council of Wales to make a significant light work dedicated to Alan Turing.

The piece, which is entitled ‘Thank you’, was installed in Conwy Castle. Two large lasers programmed with Rolling Spheres or ‘Hyperboloids’ positioned high above the town on the castle towers, beamed green lights that swept across the sea and the sky, the beams flickering at a frequency calculated using Morse Code projecting ‘Thank You’ towards the heavens.

To accompany the lasers a large scale white neon positioned on a plinth, identical in size to the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, so that Turing’s poetic epitaph can be read while the lasers pulse into the night sky behind.

Craig states that “The significance of the plinth is inherent to the piece. The Fourth Plinth celebrates all that is contemporary in the arts today. Alan Turing’s abstract mathematical achievements epitomize what the plinth represents and in some way is responsible for probably most of the artwork that is displayed. His fundamental work in computing has helped to shape what we see in contemporary life. His wartime work on codebreaking definitely contributed to the preservation of our freedom of expression.”

Other artists taking part responded to the town and its history, here's a few videos from my favourites:

Neil Coombs:

Neil's work explores surrealism and its relationship with every day life, the photomontage video creates a face using ordinary everyday objects we normally don't notice or give any time too:

Wendy Leah Dawson:

Wendy's piece explored the swarm and hive mentality in bees, transforming an old chapel into a giant beehive, Wendy also paid homage to the towns historical bee keeping and honey traditions:

Alan Whitfield:

Alan's video was projected onto the Castle - which was incredibly moving and overwhelming  - the scale, soundtrack and Alan's presence made for a very powerful piece! Here's the web version of the video and below that is a photograph by Roger Smith  of the projection on the Castle

Elly Stringer + Alys Hughes:

I couldn't find a version of Elly's beautiful video entitled: 'Hireath' [loosely translates in English as 'Longing' - but there is no direct translation] that I could embed but she has put it up on her wonderful blog so head over there for a peek! The video was projected onto a bus outside of the British Legion, and watching it made me think of the time I spend daydreaming on the bus home from work, longing to get home, its a really evocative piece and beautifully made!

 Alys, who performs in the video, each night completed a live dance performance in front of a projection inside the British Legion, which was stunning I have to say! Over the weekend they then repeated the performance this time in front of the projection on the castle - which unfortunately I missed :(

It is a privilege to have such an amazing event right on my doorstep, and I count myself lucky to have seen it - especially considering the whole event was free! Well Done to all the team, organizers, helpers, Arts Council Wales, Cadw, Conwy County Council and of course the Artists involved!!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

San Francisco Papergirl

I'm exhibiting and taking part in the Papergirl San Francisco project, having previously been involved in Papergirl Calgary and Papergirl Bristol. It's a fantastic project providing free art to everyone!

Here's a little background to the Papergirl phenomena:
Papergirl is an art project, founded in Berlin, which in the style of American paperboys distributes rolled art pieces by bicycle for free. The project was founded by Aisha Ronninger and has been carried out every year since 2006. The project started from the tightening of a law against graffiti. Papergirl is a project that embodies street art in a new way without violating law.

The exhibition will run November 3rd - 10th at the Incline Gallery and then on November 11th the work will be rolled up and distributed around San Francisco! So if your in the area look out for the bikes and grab yourself some free legal street art!! 

If you look carefully you can see my name listed on their website

Friday, 2 November 2012

Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead

Today is 'Día de los Muertos' or 'Day of the Dead' as it translates to, a traditional Mexican festival which originates from an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess 'Mictecacihuatl', its similar in some respects to the Christian All Saint's Day and All Souls Day which fall on the same dates [November 1st and 2nd].

The holiday is seen as a day to remember and honour the dead, with families and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. Gatherings often take place in cemeteries with the gravestones of the departed decorated and adorn with the favourite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them, often the tone is humorous - remembering the good times, and more of a celebration than an a mournful event.

Shrines are built at home in a similar fashion full of the departed favourite things, shells are worn on clothing to make noises to wake up spirits, sugar skulls are left as offerings for hungry spirits, and pillows/blankets are laid out for returning spirits to rest after a long journey from the afterlife.

Skulls are a common symbol of the festivities which celebrants represent in masks and facepaint, called calacas (colloquial term for "skeleton"), the painter Sylvia Ji uses this image beautifully in her work!  Chocolate and Sugar Skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead, are given as gifts to both the living and the dead.

Despite not being a religious person, I have a huge amount of respect for 'Día de los Muertos', the idea of celebrating a life and paying homage to the departed by remembering their favourite things is a lovely comforting and positive part of life, I often visit deceased relativities/friends in the graveyard and just sit and chat as if they were still alive, to me that's how I deal with their death. 

Naturally the symbology of the holiday has also had a huge influence on my work and methodology too, my fascination with anatomy extends to the uses of it as a symbol, here the skull/skeleton is seen as a symbol of mortality, a reminder than life and death are two sides of the same coin, we also all depend on our skeleton for support - without it we wouldn't be able to function! The belief here is also that our personalities continue in the afterlife - so if your deceased relative was a policeman you'd buy a skeleton dressed as a policeman for the altar/shrine to honour them, the icon then acts as a beacon for the departed soul to find its way back, hence the variety of skeletons engaged in various activities and guises! I've tried to do something similar with my dolls, since each doll is given its own personality by the makers, I've tried to give the skeleton I've painted on a personality too, and of course like the traditional doll the owners/viewers project their own ideals onto the doll too! 

So I hope you all take advantage of 'Día de los Muertos', take some time to remember those you've lost and honour them in whatever little way you can x 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

YsbrydNos / Night Spirits: Bocs

Halloween is very nearly upon us! Naturally I love Halloween and all things spooky, so I was super excited to be invited to be a part of a special Halloween Exhibition with Bocs in Caernarfon.

'YsbrydNos' or 'Spirit of the Night'/'Night Spirits' if you prefer is set within the Castles walls, and the exhibition is inspired by Caernarfon's dark and nautical history. I've produced a brand new piece based on the last man to be hung in the town's prison [I'll post it in a couple of days] If you can make it over there's a whole day [for children] and evening [for adults] of art, music, poetry and festivities! 

Artists exhibiting: Barry Morris (Badge), Cathryn Griffith, Charles Yorke, Dion Hamer, Dylan Williams, Gethin Wavell, Mererid Haf, Morgan Griffith (Sonomano), Nader Kohbodi (Mr Kobo), Rebecca F. Hardy, Sarah Mc Eachran, Sara Rhoslyn Moore and Yvonne Tsang.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Caught My Eye: Manchester Street Art

Spotted this beauties around Fred Aldous - such wealth of talent on display, it's a real pity I didn't have more time as there was heaps more that I wanted to get some snaps of  :( 

Spotted this building whilst driving around Manchester, it reminds me of Rachel Whiteread's work...