Archives for posts with tag: Parafin gallery


More excellent news is that I have been accepted as one of the Open Door Residency Artists for the BEYOND project run by Allenheads Contemporary Arts to take advantage of its new on-site astronomical observatory and to consider the word BEYOND as an open ended starting point for discussion.

The timing is perfect as I am about to begin my Chisenhale Studio4 Residency where I will have a large space to develop ideas from this experience that build on my current research looking at cosmic particles, the shape of the universe and the philosophies and mythologies that first attempted to understand the cosmos and relate its vastness to the human experience.

1802 frozen galaxyI spent a wonderful weekend with 12 artists enjoying perfect moon gazing weather in the dark skies of Northumberland, seeing galaxies in frozen puddles, plunging into the darkness of the forest or the inflatable planetarium and discussing ideas generated as we shared our own interests and observations.


1802 forest

I am thinking about what stories might be told if our ancient eyes had reached beyond those points marked out on the first star charts. Maybe Atlas would have had more daughters. Hopefully with the help of the brilliant open source planetarium Stellarium that we were introduced to I can add another layer of narrative.

From my vantage point on earth, the moon slides quietly, the stars twinkle through the atmosphere, satellites pass serenely by, but I know that just 15km above my head is a very violent place of high energy collisions as protons slam into our atmosphere, break apart and rain down, on and through me.

1802 Cloud chamber lightningThe opening paragraphs of The Power by Naomi Alderman prickle with the power they describe

“The shape of power is always the same; it is the shape of a tree…branching and re-branching…the outline of a living thing …the shape of rivers leading to the ocean…the shape that lightning forms…the shape that electricity wants to take is that of a living thing .. this same shape grows within us …power travels in the same manner between people..”

A brilliant novel. Shifts perspective to reflect the world back at us to shine the light on some uncomfortable truths.

A fascinating book to help understand the activity of matter is The Particle Zoo: The Search for the Fundamental Nature of Reality by Gavin Hesketh. I got this book to learn about the characters of the 12 fundamental particles and the forces that they interact with. It presents an unseen world of spinning, colour changing oppositely charged partners, repelling, attracting, sticking together, passing messages or passing straight through each other; releasing and absorbing energy in constant activity. Out of this melee which appears, once you get to the smallest scale, to be made of nothing but points of energy all things are formed.

1802 muon

I have been reading this in tandem with Stephen Fry’s reworking of the Greek Myths – Mythos. Just as improbable.

1802 parthenon

Captivating performance storyteller Ben Haggarty brought to exquisite and gory life three retextured Greek Myths under the banner The Fate We Bring Ourselves – decisions have consequences at the Crick Crack Club event Myths Retold at the British Museum. He spoke afterwards about the intimate space of the darkened circle that forms around the storyteller where each audience member feels personally addressed.

1802 Ben Haggerty

Mythological thinking looks at the whole – the micro and the macro and sees commonality.

The New Materialisms reading group that I have been a mostly absent member of is currently reading Donna Haraway Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene


1802 Donna Haraway

Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival


Fabrizio Terranova’s film, screened at the LCC, brought the text to life with her infectious mix of enthusiasm, joy and bewilderment at the world and her passion for new ways of thinking. The director spent a few weeks with her and her aging dog Cayenne in their Southern California home, exploring their personal universe as well as the longer development of her views on kinship and planetary welfare. Animated by green screen projections, archival materials and fabulation he has created an enchanting insight into the mind of Donna Haraway.


1802 Bjorn Hatleskog

Bjorn Hatleskog Perpetual Jellyfish in Liminality at Gallery 46


“The tentacular are not disembodied figures; they are cnidarians, spiders, fingery beings like humans and raccoons, squid, jellyfish, neural extravaganzas, fibrous entities, flagellated beings, myofibril braids, matted and felted microbial and fungal tangles, probing creepers, swelling roots, reaching and climbing tendrilled ones. The tentacular are also nets and networks, it critters, in and out of clouds. Tentacularity is about life lived along lines — and such a wealth of lines — not at points, not in spheres.” Donna Haraway

Also ‘Staying with the Trouble’ and hoping for a positive collective future are London duo patten at Tenderpixel asking ‘how do we make it to 3049?’

1802 patten 3049 3

I had the pleasure of hearing Mark Dion talk about his work, love of systematics and the usefulness of taxonomies as tools of communication at Whitechapel Gallery on the opening day of his show Theatre of the Natural World.  Like Donna Haraway, he is concerned with extinctions, environmental exploitation and catastrophic interaction with other species and expressed a pessimistic resignation that our future is unlikely to be a positive one unless there are some radical changes.

1802 Mark Dion 1

1802 Mark Dion 2

Archaeology came with the Anthropocene.

1802 Mark Dion 3

His recreation of a Wunderkammer is another step in the journey for a collection of objects that were removed from their original environment, placed on display in a cabinet of wonders, then captured as drawings that were turned into engravings and then published in print.

1802 Mark Dion 5

Manually sculpting the objects using the limited information gleaned from the prints as a guide they are returned to 3D. Ghosts of the past losing clarity with each transformation.

1802 Mark Dion 4Looking at the aura of objects Secular Icons in an Age of Moral Uncertainty at Parafin questions the idea of art as a system of belief based around looking and valuing objects beyond their intrinsic materiality. Lower floor was closed when I visited so didn’t see everything. Though just contemplating the horrors associated with Indrė Šerpytytė’s giant lightbox totem constructed using the first blocks of colour that appear from the google search ‘Isis beheading’ was enough.

1802 Indre Serpytyte

Indrė Šerpytytė 2 Seconds of Colour

Hell on earth continues. Glenn Brown Come To Dust at Gagosian had some genuinely creepy offerings and an obsessive repetitiveness.

1802 Glenn Brown

I did find Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death from Above compelling despite its bleak vision. Hung at an angle to appear that the sky is indeed falling and it is not the heaven we wished for that is descending upon us.


1605 Mercator World Map 1569When paradise could not be mapped on the known land it was believed it must be on an island over the ocean. Dare to dream.



on my island none of this would be true  – a dynamic group show at the new Arebyte Gallery space on City Island curated by Chris Rawcliffe took its title from the last line of a poem called Security, written by Tom Chivers for his book Dark Islands (Test Centre, 2015).

1802 Tom Chivers Dark Islands

It was another chance to see Verity Birt’s Venus Anodyomene a spoken text and video work with Holly Graham and Richard Forbes-Hamilton.

1802 venus anadyomene.jpg

The rhythmic narrative evoking a slippy oozing layered earth world of geology, archaeology, lost time or excavated memories was enhanced by the boardwalk approach to the gallery in torrential rain alongside the exposed mudbed of the River Lea.

1802 Hannah Regal

Hannah Regal What Transpires in the Field of a Body That is the Base of Her

1802 Gery Georgieva

Gery Georgieva Europa Airlines Stand


“Again and again
from a garden
that never
existed” Ludwig Steinherr from Before the Invention of Paradise

What goes on in nature under our radar beautifully captured in Sam Laughlin’s series A Certain Movement as part of the Jerwood Photoworks Awards. Intimate moments and hidden processes lifted from nature with a quiet sensitivity.


1802 Sam Laughlin

Sam Laughlin from the series A Certain Movement


1802 Florence Trust

Visited Mayra Ganzinotti in the chilled and vaulted splendour of Florence Trust Winter Open Studios. Her beautiful work mixes crystal forms in geology with the body; rhythm and structure.

1802 Mayra Martin Ganzinotti.jpg

Mayra Martin Ganzinotti

Other exciting work and use of materials going on was from Amanda Baum and Rose Leahy

Unexpected juxtapositions offer new paths to tread.

A group of artists and writers, selected by Payne Shurvell, were each asked to respond to the same image either with a text or intervention directly over the image. 256 possible diptychs were created. New pairings are hung daily in random combinations pulled out of a hat. The Arca Project lets fate or coincidence decide the outcome the audience will experience depending on when they visit. The concept to present multiple readings of one event draws on the ethos of W. G. Sebald who revelled in mixing things up.

1802 TonyGrisoni StephGoodger

I only had time for a brief visit to Liminality [The Unknown] at Gallery 46 which was a shame as I think I missed some good things. But I did see the delicate and fluid interpretations of sound technology diagrams by Mary Yacoob

1802 Mary Yacoob

Mary Yacoob Draft Drawings

also her meticulous ‘Seraphim for Sanctus’ inspired by a choral score for ‘Sanctus’ and the prophet Isaiah’s visionary six-winged angels.

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Mary Yacoob ‘Seraphim for Sanctus’ detail

I have been contemplating the circling angels of the Empyrean that dazzled Dante when he reached the final sphere of heaven. It might be the first time I have really thought about an angel as an other being/species not just a good human with wings.

1802 Empyrean Gustave Dore.jpg

Gustave Doré The Divine Comedy’s Empyrean











I have had to say goodbye to my studio space and all the other wonderful facilities and people at the RCA.

1507 studio

Lots of ideas were formulated in this little corner and I will miss it very much.

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I spent the last six months pretty much in the screenprinting room

1507 screenprinting

working on the mirror circles for my final show.

1507 circle

There wasn’t much time out but I did try to see some exhibitions that felt were relevant to my own concerns.

I hadn’t come across the work of Michelle Stuart before and I found her exhibition at Parafin Gallery very inspiring.

Michelle Stuart Night Over Alice Springs

Michelle Stuart Night Over Alice Springs

I was drawn to her spiritual aesthetic. The subtle use of colour and juxtaposition of images set within a grid structure bind themes together to create a whole from fragments. I like the way she uses objects, incorporating natural materials and sacred symbolism, referencing alters and rituals.

Michelle Stuart Ring of Fire

Michelle Stuart Ring of Fire

I was excited to see Diana Thater at Hauser and Wirth mostly because of the promise of seven holy ‘kunds’ – or water tanks- and waterfalls that create two tiered pools within her projected installations. I thought this might relate to my own ideas using water in my work giving some insight into water as a sacred medium.

I was disappointed. Due to poor light levels and projected image quality what should have been an immersive experience was frustrated by an awareness of ineffectual technology exacerbated by the front door repeatedly opening and  flooding the space with even more light. There were no ‘kunds’ visible. The gallery assistant thought the pools may be projected onto the floor but with the light levels too high it was not so much that ‘…the pools of water occupy a liminal state between reality and imagination’ but must be totally conjured by the imagination.

Diana Thater Life is a Time-Based Medium

Diana Thater Life is a Time-Based Medium

Online you can find an image more akin to the promises of the press release.

Galtaji Temple near Jaipur

Galtaji Temple near Jaipu

For my second year at the RCA I had David Blandy as my tutor. I think we have quite a few crossover interests in our investigation of contemporary society which manifest themselves in very different ways. He works with video and references music trends and gaming aesthetics and is quite performative. It’s very engaging and has a fine humour.

1507 David Blandy

He screened his video How To Make A Short Video About Extinction for us in the lecture theatre, it was good to see it on a big screen and appreciate the disaster movie genre it plays off though the DIY amateurism invoked does perhaps mean the small screen is its home. Eitherway it’s very funny (while obviously trying to make some serious points too). He put me onto Miranda July, also funny while highlighting some cultural idiosyncrasies , whose book of short stories No-one Deserves To Be Here More Than You I am enjoying at the moment.

I have visited his exhibition showing the video hercules-rough-cut at the Bloomberg Space.

David Blandy

David Blandy

It has huge presence. Ominous and mesmerizing it engulfs you in a kaleidoscopic bombardment of image and dialogue tracing the history of civilisation on its frenzied trajectory to what must be an inevitable implosion. Surrounded by rotating images and screens and immersed in continuous rap-speak that fills your head there is no space to escape.

David Blandy Hercules:Rough Cut

David Blandy Hercules:Rough Cut

It captures the obsessions that are driving our civilisation over the edge into oblivion employing the same seductions that hypnotise us as we are carried along unable to resist.

I have long been a fan of Gordon Cheung’s work so was excited to be able to chat with him about my work when he visited the RCA on what was described as an artists promenade. His interest in relating ancient mythologies to present day financial trading and historical markets such as tulip mania to current boom and bust economics are fascinating subjects.

Gordon Cheung island

Gordon Cheung Island

We also attempted to discuss quantum and particle physics. He had been key in selecting my etching Forest of Eden for the neo:print prize award that I received last year so I was able to go into more detail about what had inspired me to make this work. Originally it was Giambattista Vico’s story of wild men inventing the gods as they cowered in the forest under thunderous skies that led to my research into the myth of the wild man. This myth stretches back to the tale of Gilgamesh’s quest for immortality. In history the wild man’s characteristics reflect topical fears and aspirations, violating the taboos of civilization and symbolizing the repressed desires of society. They oscillate between horror and fantasy.

Susan Eyre Forest of Eden

Susan Eyre Forest of Eden

I wondered who a contemporary wild man might be. Someone on the edges of society, both fascinating and repulsive. I had come across images on the internet of this person who posts photos of himself posing almost naked with guns strapped to his body. He had become an internet meme, shared with equal disgust and fascination. In this etching I placed him back in the ancient forest of all our origins.

The most recent of work I made while at the RCA was Sun Factor. This work allows an alternative access point to my ideas about escape from reality and the search for something outside the ordinary. It explores ancient and modern ideas on sun worship and the rituals that are part of these cultures.

Susan Eyre Sun Factor

Susan Eyre Sun Factor

I used etching for the ancient cliffs and gold pigments on chine colle for the obelisk. The figures are screen printed in high saturation, a reminder of the early days of package holidays and glossy postcards and also of skin damage and loss of connection to the powers of nature. The sun as apocalyptic fireball is a reminder of its true nature which we often forget to acknowledge.

Sun Factor has been selected as a finalist for the HIX award.

I had been experimenting with images printed on translucent fabric submerged in water with a view to using this in my final show.

Susan Eyre submīrārī

Susan Eyre submīrārī

This came from the idea of looking through a surface to consider what is there but unseen by our limited senses   Sometimes the images in the water float and sometimes they sink or fold according to the otherwise unseen movement within the water. The activity in the matter of the universe is going on around us unseen – other intangible things like the aura of place and the dream of paradise cannot be pinned down or explained in terms of materiality.

Susan Eyre submīrārī

Susan Eyre submīrārī

I spent a long time searching for the right bowls for the images floating in water. I had in mind something you might find in the world of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell but ended up using the same simple very shiny ones as I had originally found for Café Gallery – Objects Of.

1507 dry clay bowl

I tried giving them a clay outer shell – it didn’t work but the cracked result was inspiring for future work.

I chose to exhibit the water pieces in a cluster for the RCA MA Show rather than each one placed at the base of the individual sculptures as I had previously.

1507 veiwing submirari

submīrārī installation

mīrārī  comes from the latin miror whose etymology is to gaze in wonder.

Now that I had 7 sculptures (one for every day of the week) I felt each work had more weight holding their own space.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

Susan Eyre everydaymatters

There is a similarity in the way an image is experienced as a surface to look through and be absorbed into connecting the pieces in the installation.

The images in the bowls are more dreamlike, idealised landscapes whereas the images on the mirrors come from the everyday locations that happen to be called paradise.

Susan Eyre everydaymatters (6/7 escapism  - the life)

Susan Eyre everydaymatters (6/7 escapism – the life)

In conjunction with the MA degree show I led the organisation of our event WHAT WAS I THINKING. This was a chance to look back at the thinking behind our degree show and the ways in which decisions get made and also the alarm we sometimes feel at what we have embarked upon.

1507 what-was-i-thinking

We invited David Cross as our guest speaker. David Cross has an international reputation as a lecturer and academic. As an artist, he began collaborating with Matthew Cornford, in the partnership Cornford and Cross, while studying at St Martin’s School of Art in 1987, and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1991. In addition to producing aesthetic experiences, he maintains that a key function of contemporary art is to test concepts, assumptions and boundaries.

David Cross

David Cross

Looking at global economics and systems of value which govern the art world as well as wider issues of capitalism and our blind commitment to material consumption fuelling economic growth he poses the question  – can we reclaim the vanishing point and reconnect our individual perspective with our collective capacity to envision and plan for a more ecologically stable future?

Early in our first year at RCA we had a seminar with the provocative title Why Print? This caused a lot of argument at the time as we found there were very many opinions on what was and what was not considered print, the value of craft and the place of the multiple or cheap reproduction. As we progressed we learnt to respect each others approaches and realised that the diversity of our group was a strength from which we could all learn.

Rob Miles Cmd shift 3

Rob Miles Cmd shift 3

Rob Miles was our MC for the event and gave an introduction which set out the challenges we faced during our MA and will continue to tackle as artists.  He explained that in such a programme as printmaking there are many processes we could choose from to express our ideas and it was through this exposure and interrogation that we found our own individual affinities from digital media to etching and many combinations in between. New reproduction technologies offer opportunities for exploration,  the old techniques feed into the new, and the new reinvigorates the old. To study Fine Art today is to navigate a plethora of possibilities across an ever widening field of possibilities, often dauntingly so but this also offers us a new representational freedom as artists.

Navigating these new possibilities is something we had discussed in seminars which led us to authors who write about the impact of the web, image saturation/appropriation, and new ways in which we view the world that lead on to questions of reality and representation.

As a point of focus for our event we referred to the politics of the image theories of Hito Steryl in the e-flux journal The Wretched of the Screen.
Her comments on the condition of groundlessness in her essay free fall a thought experiment on vertical perspective seemed particularly relevant.
          ‘Imagine you are falling. But there is no ground.
          Many contemporary philosophers have pointed out that the present moment is distinguished by a prevailing condition of groundlessness.
          We cannot assume any stable ground on which to base metaphysical claims or foundational political myths.
          At best, we are faced with temporary, contingent, and partial attempts at grounding.’
Peter Glasgow spoke about ways that material might be gathered, piled up, held onto and left over to form a body of work.
Peter Glasgow

Peter Glasgow

Using American TV series as his research material he used this analogy to look at work in the degree show as a gathering of material.
Peter Glasgow I'm dead in the water here

Peter Glasgow I’m dead in the water here

 Jilly Roberts narrated The Case Study, a story which explores her ideas of how perspectives can get influenced and altered depending on their content and origin.
Jilly Roberts

Jilly Roberts

Mixing factual accounts with her own experiences out in the field researching architectural landscapes and the invention of the Wardian Case.
Jilly Roberts

Jilly Roberts

 Daniel Clark discussed his research into the cross section between sound and printmaking
Daniel Clark

Daniel Clark

 covering the strange sensations we experience when exposed to very low frequency vibrations  the mysteries of the aquatint box and the sensory drama of the eruption of Krakatoa.
Daniel Clark Volcano

Daniel Clark Volcano

 Amy Gear brought our attention to the link between landscape, language and the shape of words, focusing on the rich history of her native Shetland
Amy Gear

Amy Gear

and how we mimic through language and also through our work.
Amy Gear Stack

Amy Gear Stack

 Meg Ferguson and Maito Jobbe Duval who both work with text and moving image discussed the ideas of French Philosopher Maurice Blanchot to explore their experience of uncertainty in the creative process.
Meg Ferguson

Meg Ferguson

Meg spoke about the ‘leap’ of faith necessary to make work and its value as a catalyst to move forward, letting go of control and falling into the unknown of the unconscious mind.
Maito Jobbe Duval can you see it

Maito Jobbe Duval can you see it

Maito read from Blanchot’s Thomas the Obscure while screening her video work Can You See It encouraging us to think the image of the thought.
Sarah Gillett read a story from her book which accompanied her work in the degree show.
Sarah Gillett

Sarah Gillett

We were transported to a suburban Mum’s night in which was suddenly impacted by the enormity and chaos of the universe both physically as a meteorite hits the conservatory and poetically as we contemplate the points in our lives when new perspectives open up to us.