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#PostItNotePlea donations

Thank you!!


So i think things are heading in the right direction. I am working on a a community engaged art work and a couple of new sculpture ideas have popped into my head - all the best way!!

I working freelance for three businesses: Smiths Row art gallery as their Outreach Assistant running a programme of art workshops for young people with additional needs, Unit Twenty Three, a theatre and production social enterprise as their Education project officer and finally JustDifferent a disability education charity developing their educational products - all pay my rent and all use a huge amount of my creative energy and brain space so its been a while since i have made anything of any significants. 

Having my new studio has been good but i have mainly sat on the floor and thought. Until now…


The post it note plea is the main project i am working on. I am asking the community for their post it note donations to develop a large scale socially engaged wall installation for the Access All Arts event in Ipswich, Suffolk (28th September). 

The idea started when i found a post it note of my own that made no sense and i could never remember writing it. I am fascinated by the idea of taking a persons reminder and making it important again by creating a new narrative. We write notes down that in that second contain the most crucial information that the author is determined not to forget…and then a few minutes, hours, or days later the information becomes obsolete. 

Donations are coming in and i am using social media and even doing a radio plea on 7 July at 13.10 on BBC Radio Suffolk. So if you want to get involved please contact me for a SAE. 

Norwich University of the Arts - UG Degree Show

Today i travelled up to Norwich to see the under-grad Fine Art Degree. I was really impressed; there are always the the students that have panicked and thrown anything or somethings everything they have made, what ever the quality, on the wall but those we definitely in the minority. 

I love sculpture, materials, and concept lead work and when i got back from the show i looked through my photographs of work that i really enjoyed and there was a real visual connection with their work and to what i do, apart from one illustrator who i just found really amusing and clever - Ben Keable, look him up! 

So work i loved:

Kendal West, occupied corner 19.

Giles Bason, Pari Passu

Can i remember how to be an artist??

My first website blog post since i completed my MA at Norwich University of the Arts, got a proper job as Arts Educational Outreach officer at University of Essex, and stopped making anything half decent!

Its a scary moment when you think you may well have been left devoid of all artistic ability post arts degree.

I have moved studio, very sad but with mould on the ceiling, walls and a fungus growing through the carpet i felt it was time to leave The Little Red Studio and its own private graveyard. 

I am now on Lion Barn Industrial Estate in an old office complex with two PAT testers, a computer company, a an office supplies company, a music producer that doesn't seem to produce any music or even be here…and my soon to be new neighbour; Mr Joel Millerchip - Artist, illustrator and all round cooler person than myself. 

I think it might be research time - research used to spark all sorts of ideas for new work and i have WIFI here which is a huge improvement!! My last place didn't have running water or a toilet. 

Since my life catastrophically changed in 2004, my work and interests have been focused on beauty, life cycle and death and imperfections that are beautiful. 

I saw a crack in the road the other day and thought that it was absolute perfection. 

So…time to get myself into gear and become Amy Louise Nettleton, Professional Artist -  like it says on the bottom of all my emails. 


With Monday and Tuesday as my Installation days i planned to have the whole of this afternoon to tie up loose ends and photography my work. I was very happy when i left on Tuesday and relieved that it was all up and nothing had got broken. 

One thing that had been niggling at me was how small my floored based sculpture looked. In the 3D workshop the individual sculptures had been laid out with much more space around them and in the show i had only given just 4.5cms. When i arrived this afternoon i still felt it looked small. Whilst i had been away this morning, PFD the 3D team and some of the other students had all apparently said it looked too small and needed more space, so this afternoon we moved them and the work looks so much better. This is the final image: 

I was concerned that my work shouldn't be too imposing as it is always a big consideration when exhibiting with other artists. I think the room i am in looks fantastic, the work looks beautiful together, very calm, serene and reflective. 

So now to the Private View on 29th August and 2nd September when i find out my marks. Im looking forward to both...i think!

Installation days

Today and Monday have been my installation days. I find it very stressful as i have to rely on other to do most of the work for me. The prints and drawing had to be taken off the wall and had batons put on the back as the cord kept stretching in the heat and with the weight of the work so it was impossible to get the straight on the wall. I also couldn't put my sculpture out until the wall based work was up so it took me a lot longer than planned. 

Over all i am very happy with my work, but i can't believe how small my sculpture looks, when it was in the 3D studios it looked huge!

Final MA session.

Today i had my final MA session with PFD and 7 of the other part time and full time students. I am feeling under a lot pressure now, particularly with getting the written work done. I showed the group my paper hang for my floor based concrete and taxidermy sculptures and they agreed that this was the best layout:  

They suggested that there was very little space in between the works and that they could echo the shape and position on my pencil dot swarm drawing. I still don't have a finished photograph of the drawing as as soon as it was complete i raced it to the framers. I am picking all my 2D works up from the framers on Tuesday next week. The plan is that i display the nine sculptures as a reflection of the framed large drawing that is sectioned into nine squares.   I really like this ideas of the drawing and sculptures working as one piece. I should be able to get the diameter of the sculptures to match the diameter of the drawing. I just dont want the works to be too close to the wall. I need to think about this a bit more and on Tuesday after collecting the framed works i will be in the 3D studio deciding where each sculpture will go in the cube - im quiet exciting about this as i havent seen them all together yet.  

After this session i raced over the 3D to get my final set of three sculptures made. Technician Rachael kindly mixed the concrete so all i had to do was place the wings. i will take them out on Tuesday and all my practical work should be done! Just all the written work, an essay, full up to date blog to finish now! As well as the curation of my work. 

Research file

Last week i had a brief tutorial with Paul after i had taken the next lots of sculptures out of the moulds. I feel quite happy with how my practical work is going, i am on target and can see the finishing line. I am not sure the same can be said with my written work. In previous modules i have handed in a lever arch file containing hand written notes, exhibition guides and handouts and i have always had good marks for this - but not great marks. 

Paul showed me a couple of examples of previous research files which were printed beautiful bound documents with colour photographs, references, influences and other research. I feel as it is my final module i really wanted to push myself on the research and written part of my practice. 

So over the past few days i have been working really hard to pull this document together, i still have an awful lot to do but it is already a much more solid, relevant research document. My printer is taking a bashing. 

I dont feel able to start my critical reflection essay (2,500 words) until i have this research file finished. I will then be able to pull key ideas and research directly from this new document into the essay. I need five days to write the essay i think - so the race is on! 

Migration by Neil Baker

A very sweet and informative illustrated film by Neil Baker.

To london with a dead chick in a glass dome

Today i headed down to Mall Galleries, London with my lovely friend Annie. My sculpture (below) has been pre-selected for the Threadneedle Prize. 

The Threadneedle Prize is the UK's leading showcase for contemporary figurative and representational painting and sculpture.

Our aim is to promote and display works that use a variety of different mediums, styles and approaches, with an overall focus on the quality and confidence of the finished work. The competition sets out to promote and encourage excellence.

Experienced and emerging artists are invited to submit fresh and intriguing works that are strong and topical observations on the world around us. 

Its not the easiest sculpture to pack due to its many breakable, irreparable, one off elements but it survived the train journey. London was particularly busy due to the triathlon and the drop off for the final selection was at the back of Mall Galleries down a spiral staircase. Being paralysed this posed some challenges so i ended up having to set my work up (it took the work apart to deliver it) on the side of a road. 

Over 900 art works were pre-selected from the online applications, including mine, so i am not overly hopeful. I feel I have more progressive challenging work now - although it depending on lots of factors, including personal taste and what will fit with the other works. 

I will find out on Thursday, so "Sid" as he is nicknamed, may well be coming home sooner than i had hoped. 

6/9 done!

This afternoon i have released numbers 4, 5 and 6 concrete taxidermy sculptures out of their moulds with the help of Rachel MA student and Rachael technician. The second batch of concrete has come out much stronger and less sandy than the first. I am a bit disappointed that the first three don't have the cleanest of edges but concrete mixing is not an exact science and it could be something to do with either the amount of water added or maybe the heat.

I plan to set the last pairs of wings in concrete next Thursday 1st, then the following thursday take them out of the mould and experiment with how i want to lay the sculptures out before i take them up to the studios on 12th, 13th and 14th to install for the exhibition. I need to be exactly sure on the placings of each piece as the gallery/studio floor has been painted and i will not be popular if there are drag marks on the floor from my concrete cubes. 

I popped up to my exhibition space after cutting out nine 35cm x 35cm paper squares. I wanted to see how much space i could use and how the work may look in the space. 

I have a group tutorial next week so i want to discuss these possibilities for display with them but personally i feel the sculptures need to be displayed in a grid of 3 by 3. 

This layout was an attempted at a random display, where the audience could walk through the work, sadly it is impossible to make something look random and as i cant throw the sculptures up in the air and allow them to land where they wish i think i need to rule this idea out. 

Again i didn't feel a horizontal or vertical display would work either - the sculptures are meant to look like 
chaotic from a distance, i don't think i will get this feeling from these displays. 

I think the works will probably be set out like this although I'm not sure where the sculptures will sit in my space, i don't want them too close to the walls as i have 11 wall based pieces but also i need to be careful not to encroach on the other artists exhibiting. 

A Bird Ballet

I was sent a link to this beautiful film today. 

The swarms look almost like liquid, the freedom and movement of the forms are just stunning. 

Art cannot replicate nature, but nature can often make its own art. 

concrete mixing in 30', framers and cooking birds wings!


This week i have been focusing on getting my swarm dot drawing finished. I worked out that in the most heavily dotted areas there are 150 dots per cm2, i am yet to work out how many there are in the whole drawing. My plan is to get it to the framers on Thursday afternoon. The repetitiveness is mind numbing but i am really pleased with how its is looking. The final framed drawing is going to be huge.

I also found out that a sculpture i made before my MA has been pre-selected for the Threadneedle Prize in London. I entered a few months back and was thrilled to receive the confirmation email. On the downside this now means i have an expensive trip to London on Sunday 28th July. There is no guarantee that my work will make it in to the show so i really hope that my trip will be worth it. It is also displayed within a glass dome and the work is so delicate i am worried it might break before i even arrive!

Sadly i didn't get the Gainsborough House job, very disappointed. Its not the easiest to complete job applications in the last weeks of a MA, prioritising is always a challenge. 

I am also very aware that i have spent a lot of time on the making of my work for the show - maybe its time, once the drawing is done, to focus on more research and study! 

MA Presentation

Today i delivered my final MA presentation to my MA peers. I think it went reasonably well. I am fairly used to doing presentations, but those presentations are either to gain commissions or in schools to children and teenagers, so it was a bit nerve wracking. 

I had some very positive comments and some interesting ideas to research further. 

After my presentation i went over to the 3D studios to take my 30kg concrete and taxidermy bird wing sculptures out of the moulds. This is the first three sculptures and i still plan to make another six. I am really pleased with how they look. Rachael, the 3D technician  suggested i looked at different concrete sealants. I am going to research and request samples - what i would like is a sealant that stops the concrete from powdering, but also maybe add a varnished look to the concrete. I have some small cubes of concrete which i will experiment on. 

Interview at Gainsborough's House

This morning i had a slightly nerve wracking interview at Gainsborough's House for the position of Learning Officer. The galleries and house are beautiful and it would be a fantastic place to work. I felt i did my best and had lots to offer - it just depend on who else they are interviewing. If successful I would be in charge of all learning activities at the gallery, from talks and presentations to school visits and learning materials. it would be 17.5 hours a week and would compliment my other work that i do running workshops as an artist, working at SmithsRow and most importantly my own art practice - so fingers crossed. 

The plan for the rest of the day is to catch up on some paper work, improve my presentation for Thursday and do some more dotting!

presentations, printing and framers

The end of my MA is fast approaching and so far i seem to be on target for having a finished body of work ready for the show at the end of August. Today i met up with another MA fine art student, Rachael. Next week we have to deliver a 10min presentation on our current practice and what we are going to produce for the final show to all of the MA students, that includes: Textiles, Comm Design, Curation, Moving Image and Sound and of course fine art. 

Rachael and I did a run through of our presentations. Her nearly complete and mine know where nearly complete. It was very helpful thing to do. In my head i speak very fluently, im very articulate and i know exactly what i am doing and why i am doing it. When i actually speak - none of those things are true!

I want to convey in my presentation that my work is heavy concept lead, i want the audience to relate to the themes of movement, decay, prevention, memory and life cycle in their own way. I make my work from a very personal point of view and i don't want my personal feelings about the work to cloud the audiences ability to engage with the work. 

Its not about birds - it never was. I am using the bird motif to explore the above themes - birds are the perfect vehicle for this but i am sure i will move on as my practice develops on to other imagery. 

I have decided to add in a short quote from Jean Baudrillard's Why hasn't everything already disappeared? In this small book he quotes Raymond Queneau (L'explication des metaphors): 

When i speak, it is not yet,
When i speak of a place, it has disappeared,
When i speak of man, he is already dead, 
When i speak of time, it already is no more.

I love these words. As a human race we are always trying to prevent the inevitable: decay and death. I explore this in my work, fragility, decay, the human condition are all aspects of our lives we must accept but very rarely discuss. 

In my presentation i will focus on my three main outcomes: sculpture, print and drawing. The works exploring challenging themes but are also extremely challenging for me to actually make. I am testing myself physically by producing these works. 

The concrete winged sculptures will be the most visual part of my work - they will clearly be seen from a distance and i hope will draw people in. The previous concrete and taxidermy sculptures i have made have all been stand alone, pieces. The are powerful but in a very serene way - i love the simplicity and minimalism of them but also how they are loaded with concepts. My new work is a series of these sculptures, i want to introduce an element of panic. I believe that to an extent we all panic and fear our own mortality as well as the people that are important to us. The work should be full of energy, potential, but also sadness in that freedom is being with held. I suppose this is how i feel myself. 

The embossed prints will be almost invisible until the view is right up close - i love the idea of framing (almost) nothing. The potential that these tiny raised dots could be obliterated with the smallest act really excites me. Obviously the ability to do that is taken away as they are framed - but the potential is still, that the image could be lost. These prints are about those fleeting moments in life that cant be captured, or savoured which is why the above quote works so well. 

Finally the drawing - a labour of pain and love. The repetitive dots are exhausting to make, the scale is bigger than any drawing i have ever done and again the ability to erase or destroy the marks are present. I love the movement of these flocking swarms of starlings - they have unbound freedom, they rely on each other to keep safe from predators. They are organic sculptures of the skies. 

So thats about it...i need to work on my presentation over the next few days. Rachaels presentation was really very good, very clear, interesting and academic - which is something i struggle with a bit. We both made constructive comments and hopefully will be more relaxed on Thursday afternoon!!


After this i headed up to the print room to see Ernst, he very kindly helped me re-size all 22 quality embossing (some were not great quality and remain in my "DUD" pile in my studio ready for mw to do something with. With Ernst help they all have beautiful torn edges and are all the same size. I am keeping one set unframed and the other will be framed for the exhibition. 


I then raced over to the Norwich Frame Workshop and met the very helpful, Lee. He helped me to choose a mount and a frame that wouldn't distract or interrupt the delicate embossings and the large drawing. This is what i have gone for (see below). The large drawing will be the same but with a slightly stronger thicker frame. My bank balance is going to take a hammering but i hope that some will sell. I dont see the point in spending over £5000 on an MA only to skimp on the final exhibition. So if you buy my work - the frames are rather good (so is the work) and more than worth the money!!

Packed uni day

Today i had a packed schedule. We started with PFD talking about the long awaited plan for where we will be exhibiting. We obviously all had areas that we hoped we could use and i think on the whole everybody was pleased with the plan. I wanted quiet a large space that was on the top floor - which is what i got. I didnt like the studio space on the second floor - it doesn't have a very airy feel about it and it has a wooden floor which i felt might distract from my work, as my sculptures will be going on the floor

This is where i will be exhibiting:

The pink dots represent the floor space i have been given, this will be negotiated again during the hang, as none of us are completely finished and some people are still experimenting. 

The large blue square represents the concrete and taxidermy sculptures - they may be exhibited in a grid or in a line or maybe randomly across my space. I am unsure as yet, but will experiment nearer the time. 

The orange rectangle represents the 10 framed embossings and the dark blue rectangle represents the large pencil dot drawing. 

I am quiet happy with the space and think the other artists i am exhibiting with will gel well. 

The second lecture was discussing the building work going on at Guntons building. This building hold the 3D workshops, the printing facilities and the computers. The technicians have made me a ramp so i can access £D but i wont be able to access the computers or printing facilities. They have agreed to link one of the computers in the PostGrad room next to my studio to a printer and bring me anything i need. Not ideal but then the whole Uni is very inaccessible on the whole. 


The final lecture was on pricing and selling work with PFD. I have some experience on this and have sold work before. NUA is taking 25% which is acceptable, however after spending nearly £5000 on the course and more on materials etc it is a bit annoying. I once exhibited with a gallery that charged 70% commission. It makes the work too expensive and out of 99% of the populations price range. I think i will have to price my framed embossings around £300 each. They are editions of 2 and are being framed really well. I want my work to be affordable but i still need to make sure i cover my expenses in framing and making the work. the large pencil drawing will have to be close to £1000 due to the endless hours i have spent on it and the framing costs. 

After all the lectures i headed over to 3D to mix 75kg of sand with cement. Three technician rachael helped me a lot and i left with three sculptures drying. the reason for the sand photos is that sand comes in an endless amount of colours and to ensure the best match i need to match the colour of the sand for each sculpture. We also weighed the concrete - 25kg sand to 8.3kg of cement and a bucket full of water!

Three down, six to go...and more wings to pay for. So far i have spent £90.72 - dead birds wings are expensive! 

Forgotten all about this

I am just applying for a residency with Standpoint. The deadline is tomorrow - oops! Here is the blurb:

Standpoint Futures is an ambitious residency programme for regional UK artists, providing bespoke, high-calibre opportunities for discussion and interaction with the London art world.

We support artists who are making a reputation in their region to spend time in London to make a significant impact on their practice and/or career without the need to relocate. We promote a dynamic and interactive network between London and Regional UK art world, working with excellent artist-focused institutions across the UK.

Residencies are designed to be flexible and responsive to the project, needs and desired outcomes of individual participants. The residency's chief aims are to provide high quality, individualized opportunities to develop the artist's practice and career, and to integrate London and the regional UK art world to promote access and the exchange of ideas.

Anyway the application doesn't allow a CV and instead wants you to fit your entire art experience into a box the size of a playing card! I was looking through my CV on my website and i had completely forgotten about this interview i did in 2011 for curator Becky Hunter on Emerging Women Artists. I think i still pretty much agree with myself which is a relief as you easily forget that once information is on the internet, it is there forever! have a look if you fancy: 


I bravely went to check to see if my first attempt at taxidermy-ing crows wings had worked - and it had. They are finally stiff and will be joining a growing collection of two pairs of jack daw wings ( not pictured) and two other pairs of crow wings that arrived in the post today. The lady also kindly donated a spare wing - not quite sure what to do with a single wing - but i'm sure i will find a use for it.

I still have another three pairs of fresh wings in the freezer that need sorting out, but due to limitations on space i can only really do one pair at a time. Also i had a donation of another four blown goose eggs.

I want to accrue all of my main materials before i get going on the sculptural works i have planned so over the past week i have been focusing on my drawing of a bird swarm. It is probably the biggest challenge i have taken on and i am finding it physically very hard. 

I need to start considering how i am going to frame the drawings so i will start ringing around to get some quotes later this week and discuss different ideas with the professionals. 

One of my worries, and something i hope i can impress to the audience is that my work isnt about birds, or swarms or wings or any mythical connections to these motifs. Its about the things that i really struggle with. Its about fragility and freedom and the potential to wipe out or destroy. The works i make are visual representations of issues all living things are faced with but very rarely discuss or even think of. 

I am using the swarms and birds and other materials to help me visually discuss these issues. I want my work to quietly shout the life issues that we are too scared to confront. I strive for my work to always be beautiful, but never decorative or illustrative. I want it to hit you in the stomach in a nice way (if that is possible). 

My work is a physical challenge for me to produce so i want the effort to be worth it. I want people to go home and still think about how my work made them feel. 

Tutorial With PFD and concrete cube mould

Uni day printing with Ernst

I have just completed my final blind embossed prints with the support of Ernst who runs the print room. Its been a challenge because the press i have been using has been very temperamental and i have a whole pile of "duds" - which may work there way out of the "duds' pile if inspiration suddenly hits.

I have been working with this image of starlings flocking - i think it is so beautiful and fragile - any moment it could disperse and it could never be replicated 

I really love the results of printmaking - its very precise, the results are very clean, crisp and professional looking (if done correctly) but i physically find it very difficult to really do much of the actually printing. So i have drawn and drilled the lino for the embossing but i haven't been able to print them myself. I do however hang around Ernst's ankles watching closely and generally getting in the way. 

I also wanted to see how the lino cut (or drill!) would work if i took a proper lino print from it, but i wanted to wait until all the embossing had been done just incase i couldn't get it clean again. 

Ernst took two prints for me and i think the result is interesting as an experiment but it negates my concepts of impermanence and potential for loss. Maybe i will frame the best one and fill a space on my wall. 

The print is upside down!!

I have also brought in my goose eggs and another pair of wings. I popped into 3D to pay for the brilliant mould they have made me, so as soon as i have enough wings i can start getting my new concrete and taxidermy winged sculptures made. 

So far i am on target for finishing all my work - my one concern is how i am going to display the work. Actually making the work has become quiet expensive so i need to factor in how much it will cost for the actual show. 

I also need to wait until mid July when my work will finally quieten down. I have had a lot of work with the gallery over the past week organising outreach activities and dealing with budgets.

Things i am reading and watching

I am trying to read but its not going so well, my concentration is very poor and i find i learn more from looking at images and watching films, documentaries or interviews.

I have borrowed 'Maggie Hambling: Making their mark', which is a short documentary about six artists discussing drawing.

I also have Cornelia Parker - What do artists do all day to watch at some point. 

I have really got in to  reading Antennae issue 7 which is on botched taxidermy. I think this will help when critically reviewing my work and i am writing lots of notes at the moment. 

PGCE interview

I had a bit of a panic a few weeks ago. I work lots of different jobs, many of them in the arts and i really enjoy them but because i am freelance the work isnt guaranteed and its often for short periods of time. I have a more reliable job at Smiths Row as Outreach Assistant and i am project managing a large budget for workshops as well but it isn't enough hours. I also work part time in schools across East Anglia which i don't enjoy as much as i used to. 

So my panic lead me in the direction of applying for a PGCE course in post 16 education. I love talking about art and i have delivered several workshops working with older children and taught adults life drawing for a few years now and i have enjoyed them. 

I had my interview this afternoon and it went fairly well - i am very used to "standing up" in front of strangers and delivering a lesson or a workshop. My main concern is that this PGCE will only really give me experience working with Level 2 & 3 students. I think i would be most happy working in Universities working with artists that REALLY want to be on the course. I don't officially have to make a decision until September and i have applied for another job in arts education so IF i get an interview and i am offered the job i will post pone the PGCE and explore other avenues first. 

I want to be an artist - but i enjoy inspiring others in their arts education and i think this is most achievable working in Universities as opposed to working in a six form or college. 

All my parcels are now put in the freezer

More wings have arrived from my Ebay bidding. I never thought buying wings on Ebay would be such a challenge. The last pair i was bidding on sold for £67.08 for one pair. So to ensure that i get undamaged, quality wings i will have to taxidermy more wings. This week i bought three pairs for the price of £9. 

Unfortuntely i forgot to tell the other people in my house that i would be getting wings delivered straight from the sellers freezer and that when they arrived they must go straight in the freezer. So the wings sat in a parcel for 2 days on my bed until i came home to find them. No great! But they are in the freezer and don't seem to have suffered - or smelt. 

Studio - planning

Today i headed over to my studio to plan for my PGCE interview (see PGCE blog post) and also mock up my idea for the concrete plaques and birds wings. I wanted to get a feeling for the size of the sculptures and also think about how they could be displayed. Ive used newspaper cut to the size of my moulds.

We still dont know exactly what spaces we will be given to show our work for the MA Show. So i don't want to get to fixed on a particular idea for display. 

London & MA Proposal

Today i travelled down to London to meet the other MA students. I had a plan to get to the Hayward exhibition and see the new temporary exhibitions at Tate Modern. I was fairly underwhelmed by the Hayward exhibitions, apart from the amazing photographs of Richard Greaves Installations. I am enchanted by his work:

Richard Greaves (b. 1952, Montreal) erects cabins that appear to be on the verge of collapse. Like houses of cards, they defy the laws of gravity and approach utopia. Celebrating asymmetry and banishing the right angle, they shatter the norms and principles of construction. These buildings exhibit settling and distortion, both flaws in the eyes of conventional architecture. They tip us into an unreal world and put our senses and our perceptions to the test.

Since 1989, the self-taught Quebec artist Richard Greaves has devoted himself to the creation of a huge architectural environment that is in constant expansion. It is located in Beauce, Quebec. It sprawls out in a forest, on a plot of land that he bought with friends and where he has chosen to live. The environment consists of some twenty or so cabins and shelters made from abandoned barns doomed to demolition or to oblivion. Richard Greaves proceeds in three stages: first he takes them apart, piece by piece; then he takes the various components back to his site; and, finally, he rebuilds them, alone, in his own way, using no measuring instruments and making use of nylon rope. A multitude of sculptures made with the aid of objects gleaned from rubbish dumps are likewise strewn across the plot. 

I love how he treasures and breaths new life into materials that have been doomed to decay and rot. Within in my own work i use materials that have been left over after life and death and make them precious again. I think i would like to make constructs, but on a miniture scale using some of the found objects i have in my studio - maybe a project for after the MA!

I then went over to Tate Modern to see the Ellen Gallagher exhibition. I wasn't overly keen on her work; the amount of work she had made was more than impressive but i found a lot of it very 'samey. I did find Room 9 very interesting though. She had a series of works titled Watery Ecstatic which included cut-paper collages of marine organisms. The collages were almost completely white and if you stood more than a few feet away from them you couldn't  seen anything but white paper. I was pleased to see this as i have nearly finished a series of blind embossings on white printing paper. From a distance i want the audience to think there is nothing there, and only when stood up close is the image revealed. They were also framed very simply in beech wood frames and float mounted - i think this is how i will frame mine. 

More, and more and a bit more.

I am at a stage of mainly collecting materials, gathering research and negotiating with technicians in the vein hope that i can pull it all together into something worthy of an MA final show!

I am developing dots in front of my eyes with the large scale bird swarm drawing which is coming on pretty well at the to follow soon. 

I am still draining Goose eggs and counting then re-counting them in the hope they have multiplied over night and i dont have to spend any money on buying more. 

I have also bought another three pairs of crows wings that need drying out. This process involves my mothers kitchen coffee trays, cling film (to protect the tray), borax to dry the wings and my dads shed for a month at a time to let the wings dry out. Its a family affair!

I feel i am working at a good pace but i can always do more...i think!?!

I am trying to fit in a bit of reading in between a lot of work in schools and at the gallery i work at part time. 

This PDF is a brilliant resource and worth a read if you are interested in taxidermy, Damien Hirst or contemporary sculpture.

I am off to London on Thursday and hope to visit the Haywood exhibition, the Tate modern and maybe PACE or Saatchi if i am lucky. I will book to go down again to cover the west london galleries and the natural history museum next month when the is less work pressure and more MA pressure!!

Goose hunt

After buying 2 or 3 goose eggs at a time from a lovely lady in Southwold i quickly realised it would be 2015 before i had enough to explore the idea of making a larger scale version of my original work using goose eggs. 

I have spent some time trying to find a supplier and today i travelled up to Pulham Market, Norfolk to collect my first batch of 20 goose eggs. I had hoped they would be my last batch as i already have 15, but 35 goose eggs dont look like a lot. 

The lovely Norfolk Geese helped me out:

Every artist blog needs a photo of cute goslings: 

Ready for de-egging, i managed to empty 5 this evening and break one - at that ratio i will definitely need to buy more!

Group tutorial

add notes

Vegetarian taxidermist?

Throughout my MA i have had to meet learning objectives and now that i am in my final semester and on the big push to the final MA show i thought i should 'man-up' a bit and taxidermy my own birds wings (and also save some money in the process). 


Demonstrate understanding of the materials and processes associated with your subject through experimentation, research and application. 

This afternoon i took my newly purchased crows wings out of my mothers freezer and bravely opened the package they had been sent in. The wings are HUGE and so beautiful and also not quite as gross as i thought they might be. 

I am using Borax to dry them with and they should be stiff in 4 weeks.I have got another pair that have been dried in the post and have my eye on three other pairs of crow wings at the moment (not in the garden...on ebay!)

First Day back, First Day of MA final semester!!

This morning my tutor Paul ran through the expectations for the final semester. I feel quiet prepared for this semester and feel in a good place to crack on with my research and practice so i wasn't too overwhelmed. We also had a short proposal writing session to prepare for writing our MA proposal in two weeks. Below is mine...


MA: Project proposal workshop task.

Give a brief description of your proposed project.

I propose to continue with my current line of enquiry, extending my research and practice in the presentation of my work and my knowledge of contemporary drawing practice. I will explore print and drawing processes and spend a significant amount of time developing finished works of art suitable for exhibition.

List at least five current practitioners or examples of practice wholes concerns, ideas or interests relate to your own.

1.   Kate Lewis – pin swarms

2.     Izabela Zolcinska – capillary drawings

3.     Beth Beverly – taxidermist

4.     Jon Barracolough – All or nothing over, written sentences

5.     Hussein Chalayan – Fashion Designer

6.     Rio Simic – concrete and butterflies

7.     Wieki Somers – designer and research, ashes sculpture and consumer or conserve research paper.


As well as previous artists I have focused on over the MA


What form might the proposed work take?

I will use this final semester to develop a large body of work; experimental works will feature with a focus on resolved works for exhibition. I envision a constellation of 2D and 3D works including a large pencil dot swarm drawing(s), a series of embossed prints, swarm drawing on a mass of goose eggs and a floor based concrete and taxidermied winged sculpture.  I may also accompany the works with a pamphlet similar to SNU.


List the main research methods you will employ to inform your practice.

I will use primary research visiting exhibitions and museums across East Anglia, London and Barcelona. Continue my work at SmithsRow where I have to opportunity to work alongside international curators and artists. I will continue to read critical and relevant texts on sculpture and contemporary drawing practice currently:


Mr Wilsons’ cabinet of wonder by Lawrence Weschler

Concrete and Culture by Adrian Forty.

The Porous Practice of Drawing:

System, Seriality, and the Handmade Mark in Minimal and Conceptual Art by Meredith Malone.



Briefly describe how these methods will communicate your ideas/concepts to an audience or client?

My research, group and self critiques (particularly in my blog) will give a more in-depth explanation to the works. I would prefer the audience to develop their own ideas in terms of what the works are about with out too much explanation. I hope the varied material outcomes will support my themes of the ephemeral, the fleeting, movement, restriction, memento mori, and life cycle.  I want the audience to have an experience when viewing the work so I will research lighting and possible video to enhance this.


How will you plan the project and what difficulties might there be in achieving your aims.

I will use my online reflective diary to plan, discuss and resolve and critique on my visual outcomes as well as my research. I will also use a simple timetable to plan studio time, arts related work, exhibitions and gallery visits. Sourcing materials is always more time consuming than expected so I need to focus on what I want to achieve in this short time before MA hand in. Drawing an making large scale sculptures is a physical challenge for me so I need to plan my time carefully, engage with technicians and pre-empt any physical issues I may have during the preparation and exhibition of the final show.

I also did a little doodle of what i would like my final show to look like right now, this will probably change tomorrow but its always good to have an idea. 

I am working on the 3x3 pencil drawing at the moment and have almost finished the embossings that are either side. The eggs in the corner are a challenge as my goose friend has stopped laying so i need to source a new goose. 





Over the past week i have been working on the image for my new series of embossings. I decided to use this image as i like the structure and the differing weights of marks. I hope i can achieve this. 

I want to have a series of prints so will take ten embossed prints from the lino at different points. I should end up with a set of ten prints that appear to grow from a small collection of dots/birds culminating in an image similar to this above. 

This is the first print i took today, i wasn't feeling very well so didn't really get as much done as i hoped to. I plan to emboss every thursday after lectures and work on other things at my studio in Suffolk during the week. 

1,000,000,000,000's of dots

Whilst i am working on my embossing at NUA i need to be able to work on other things at my studio during the week. Last semester i started a series of drawings of birds flocking which i also reduced and simplified down to tiny pencil dot marks. I really want to challenge myself this semester so i have begun a 120cm square drawing. My work explores restriction, movement amoung other things and attempting these drawings really challenge those two theme for me in a very physical way. I hope the drawing will be as beautiful as i imagine. I have really done a lot of drawing for quiet a few years. 

This is the image i have chosen to work from. I have sectioned the drawing into nine smaller squares as i couldn't source the size of paper i wanted as also i would have struggled to reach across the paper to draw as well as having to find a way to transport the paper between my studio at home and my studio at NUA. 

I am having to work on the floor despite sectioning up my drawing

After two hours: (this may take me longer than i originally expected...maybe years!


Today is hand in so the end of my reflective diary/blog posts for the ASU4 and SNU modules. 

Now on to the final masters project, a scary thought that it will all come to an end in three months then back into the real world which i left in October 2012. It will be nice to get back to exhibiting properly again and taking on more arts based work - its a challenge to balance working full time in the arts and doing a full time masters degree. Lots of late nights, early mornings and 7 day weeks. 

Getting a head start

After handing in my first semesters work back in January i had a lull of about 3 weeks after hand in where i wasn't really making or researching and i found it really challenging to pick up where i had left off. So after hand in today i was determined to continue with an eager pace

I began tentatively exploring blind embossing at the end of my second semester. I am really interested in the fragility of embossing, a mark that could be obliterated with a single touch. Something that from a distance doesn't even exist, yet up close the image is revealed. 

I wanted to continue with the bird swarm imagery. These abstract sculptural forms exist for just seconds before evolving into something entirely new. They are the epitome of freedom and movement, two abilities that i will never have. 

Sometimes i forget that the work i make is so personal to my own situation, which i hope is a good thing. I have been very sure that my work should never contain images of disability as i want to explore the challenges i face through a wider issues that all people have experience of in one way or another. 

Anyway, i have been exploring ways of achieving clearer embossed marks, as last semester i use metal sheets and a stippling tool which didnt really produce the marks i was hoping for. 

Just before hand in i tried drilling holes through thick 3mm card and today i tried to emboss them. Although it worked the holes were very uneven and the marks resulted in something that looked like squashed egg cartons. 

I want minimalism and perfection so Ernst the print technician suggested i drilled in to lino board instead. Over the next three weeks before the next semester officially begins i plan to work on this. 

Printing and hand in pre-panic

Today I headed into NUA on my own to get some more blind embossing done. Monday I had spent all afternoon drilling through the card board plates which is really difficult as i could barely lift the drill. I think i must have made about 200 holes in the plates. 

The prints are drying still so i haven't been about to take any photographs as yet (you have to soak the paper in a water bath to emboss the paper). The embossing was much more pronounced with the cardboard plates than with the metal plates but the drill bits tended to chew the edges of the holes a little and this came through in the prints - which wasn't awful its just not a clean as i would have hoped. 

I also did another tester using lino - this gave the most pronounced result. Ernst increased the pressure of the press for the test print on the left as the smaller holes were not as noticeable on the original print on the right. 

The plan now is to make a series of 25 prints of a single flock of birds. I will add more holes to the same plate so the swarm builds across the prints. 

This is really for my final MA project as hand in is Thursday and i don't want to be adding anymore. 

I also had time to get my critical evaluation essay for SNU spiral bound and found my new studio space as the MA students have sadly been kicked out of our studio for the under-grads to put on their final year show. 

Critique with PFD and pamphlet presentations.

This morning the full time fine art students and the curatorial students had a group critique with Paul. it was one of the most beneficial discussions i have had at NUA and i came away with lots of avenues for research. 

See notes:

Paul really liked the drawings and felt they were compelling images but the stands overly humanised the work. he said that the stands invited the audience to touch the work and if i considered showing the work on the floor they would be become power and it would invite tension. "Vulnerability is powerful". 

Rachel said the eggs were more vulnerable off the stands and that was exciting

Andrea (one of the curatorial MA students) she would place them on a table if they were in one of her exhibitions

Christine (the other curatorial MA student) said she envisions lots of them laying on the floor, it was terrifying idea that encouraged the ideas of fragility "safety in numbers". She felt that if they were on the floor it would make people less inclined to touch them. 

Paul suggested a very low built plinth as another option to displaying them on the floor. 

I spoke about casting them but the group liked that fact i was working directly on to the egg shells. 

Veronica suggested i incorporated the eggs into the concrete cubes

I think the plan now is to make more egg drawings, do a lot of embossing, a lot of drawing and explore the concrete and taxidermy. I also want to have another go at editing the bird swarm videos. 



This afternoon we presented (and gifted out) our pamphlets. It was great to see the different interpretations of a pamphlet. 

Claires: A little pamphlet of little thoughts shows the sheer determination of her printer after running all sorts of paper and card stock through it to make 15 different examples of her pamphlet. 

Rachael: A white paper bag with a beautifully printed pamphlet inside really echoed her working practice.

Rhonas: An unbound pamphlet of individual pages was really interesting and allowed you to read it in which ever way you wished - ut was probably the most interactive pamphlet. 

I was pleased with my final pamphlet although if i had had enough time i would have loved to make 15 so i could have given one out to everyone, instead they had to settle for a PDF version. 

I had some good comments and Carl said that it made sense that i make something as opposed to printing a more traditional version. I think i may continue making pamphlets as they are a great way to summarise your working practice and its an accessible resource to carry with you. 

new job and critical review

Whilst balancing my MA commitments and my other jobs i have taken on developing and managing a series of workshops for SmithsRow (art gallery). Its a fantastic opportunity and i am really enjoying all aspects of it from researching for artists, organising venues and budget management among a million other tasks. i think its is really important for me to carry on workings in the arts throughout my full time MA as it develops my professional practice which in turn benefits my MA. 

Its is really very difficult to get work in public art galleries and arts education and i have been lucky to have had lots of experience since graduating into 2009. i was speaking to another MA student last week and he asked how i got work in the arts. I thought back and sadly realised that i worked for nearly two years on voluntary and unpaid internships, arts events and workshops. 

I am researching full time opportunities starting in September, including residencies and other project manager positions but there is very little about. It is worrying that as every August comes around a new lot of artists and curators emerge with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, all vying for the same few positions.  Needle and Haystack comes to mind! 

This afternoon i have been preparing my files for my MA hand in next Thursday and also writing my critical review. 1500 to critique three months worth of work is really not enough. I am about half way through and have already written over one thousand words so i think later on this week i will be heavily editing!


Today i finished my pamphlet for my Award Specific Module. There wasnt a huge amount of guidance in terms of how the pamphlet should look but i was quiet sure that i shouldn't to a computer based pamphlet as my practice is concerned with materiality, making and is usually 3D. I also tend to use found materials so it wouldnt make sense to print off a pristine folded piece of paper. 

i dipped the bottom of the pages in to a watery concrete mixture and used a slice of concrete from a grave stone for the front cover. 

I wanted the pamphlet to explain my interests with both text, images and the actual materials i used in making it. I think it is probably more of an artist book than a pamphlet but i have also made a PDF version which will allow me to share the pamphlet with the rest of the MA students, set out in the requirements. 

Front cover

pages 2-3

pages 4-5

pages 6-7

Pages 8. 

I am looking forward to Thursday to see how others have tackled making a pamphlet, particularly the other fine art MA students. 

I have also finished my first larger scale bird flocking drawing> I have been working on it for several weeks and i didnt really comprehend how time consuming it would be. I plan to draw my next one on A1 paper and then experiment with drawing directly on to the walls. 

We are in the process of being moved from our original MA studio to another space so the BA students can start to set up their final degree show. I hope to start working in our new space as soon as possible. 

Visit to Londons Natural History Museum and Lucy+Jorge Ortas new installation at St Pancras Station.

Today we (my lovely family and i) travelled down to London and went to the Natural History Museum. I have been wanting to re-visit for years. It was really interesting to see all the victorian taxidermy but i am certain now that i am not really interested in taxidermy as an art form within my own practice. I wont necessarily make extended bodies of work using taxidermy. What i am interested in is the Semiotics of the materials i am using and how those materials support my concepts. 

I also had the opportunity to see Lucy and Jorge Orta's new installation suspended in the ceiling of St Pancras Station. I looked beautiful in the sunlight!

The Cloud: Meteoros installation by the Lucy + Jorge Orta is the first of three public art installations which will hang above the Grand Terrace, replacing the Olympic rings which were suspended from the roof during the 2012 London Games.

On top of the large clouds are figures - a reference to the passengers who await their trains below.

Artist Lucy Orta said: ‘I hope our sculpture, suspended in the midst of this incredible architecture, will be one more way for the millions of visitors to admire the beauty of the space and to take their minds off the mundane.’ 

These are a couple photos that i took:

I wish they hadn't used blue ropes to suspend the works - surely in 2013 it is possible to use clear acrylic. Despite this the work did look incredible if not slightly over shadowed by the beast that is The Lovers. I have seen the artists' work before as they were commissioned to make a site specific work for the gallery that i work at. 

Tutorial with Kelly Large and group critique with Carl Rowe and a bit of embossing too!

This morning i had a really insightful tutorial with visiting lecturer, Kelly Large. We discussed all of my visual outcomes with a particular focus on the goose eggs with bird swarm drawings as they seem to be working towards the direction for my final MA show. 

She asked me to explore the eggs further, making multiples, photographing, developing a floor based installation, to look at using other materials to cast the eggs, combining them with concrete. Also she encouraged me to continue working with the bird swarms in large scale drawings and prints.

Kelly liked the idea that instead of using the eggs stands to display the goose eggs that i perhaps develop a series of photographs of my holding the eggs - similar to this early photograph i took:

Im not sure about this idea - but its worth experimenting with. 

I have lots of ideas buzzing around in my head now - which is a really exciting place to be heading in to your final module for you MA (i think!)


This afternoon tutor Carl Rowe held group critiques with the full time and part time one fine art students. It was great to see other students work and understand better what they are doing. I was hoping for constructive criticism which would allow me to go away and consider further where i am heading with my work, but it was more of a presentation, that i didn't really feel was very beneficial to my own practice. 

We all really enjoyed Rachael's presentation, which resulted in the room full of bubbles. 

Below is a rough transcript of the my presentation:

  • I discussed how i had come about my most recent visual outcomes.
  • explained the connection between Slime Mould and birds flocking/swarming and how this turned my ideas away from making a curiosity cabinet and towards exploring how to represent the swarm.
  • The links between my interest into freedom, fragility and potential and the swarms. 
  • How the cube with the branch definitely appears too illustrative and looses all impact that the single bird and the wings in the concrete cube have. 
  • My interest in the minimal, in materiality, in beauty
Carl commented that this piece:

Appeared to be a violent act with an element of the comical.

Rhona commented: That the piece was powerful and she found it difficult to look at

I then moved on to briefly discuss the eggs, taking into account the comments i had received from Kelly earlier in the morning.

Rhona liked the potential that the eggs could smash and Carl liked the stands that the eggs were on(it is a challenge when you have three tutors that all have different views!). 

I showed the group the image of me holding the egg - see above and Sarah commented that it looked more like an advertising campaign.

Carl also suggested that i explore displaying the work in a glass or perspex box in which the eggs floated in a dense clear fluid - not a clue how i would do this but i am sure it is possible. 


After a very quick critique i raced over to the print room to work with Ernst to get my metal plates embossed. Using the print room is really not very easy for so i really relied on his support.

Due to the stress put on the metal from the hundreds of stipple marks i had made the plates had actually dramatically bent out of shape, so he put the plates in the lino press first to flatted them out, but luckily it didnt flatten any of the marks out. 

We did just two embossed prints before the metal became too flat to get noticeable marks out of - i am pleased with the results (apologies for no photos of the finished results) but as i can only get two prints out of a plate its not really feasible. 

Ersnt helped with with a small test piece of 2mm card in which we drilled holes through. This gave much more defined marks so i have taken home two pieces of the card to prepare for a week on tuesday when i can devote more time to printing. 

SmithsRow Salon on the Open Call

This evening i went to SmithsRow for the first Smiths Row Salon, which aimed to consider the nature, function and politics of the open exhibition format in today's artistic climate.

The panel consisted of:

Kaavous Clayton, artist, founding chairman of OUTPOST and curator of The Minories

Bill Jackson, artist and winner of Suffolk Showcase 2011

Jessica Lack, journalist and Guardian contributed

Prof. Lynda Morris, Curator and founder of EAST international.

The discussion was really interesting and focused on how open, open call exhibitions should be. How they benefit the wider community, what is the role of the artist in the open call, what is the future of the open call and how an open call exhibition works. 

A key discussion point was How can ambitious can you be? Open call exhibitions are aiming to show the best of the best. There was a long discussion about the quality of submissions for exhibitions and a show can only be as good as the submissions. 

The audience were then invited to ask questions. There were quiet a few questions on how the current show was selected. 

My memory is completely failing me now, but the discussion could have continued very late into the night. I am looking forward to the next panel discussion. 

It was also really great to meet Prof. Lynda Morris who has strong connections to Norwich University of the Arts. I plan to go to her discussion on 16 May at NUA.

Pecha Kucha

20 power point slides, each at 20 seconds, in front of your peers and four (the fourth arrived after my presentation) university lecturers? Slightly nerve wracking!

i am quite used to doing presentations on my work but i am very aware that i have the best intentions to speak fluently and be very clear and descriptive about what i do and why i do it - this rarely happens. 

The Pecha Kucha was a good experience, i have never worked to a pre-timed presentation and 20 seconds is very fast. 

Below is the feedback i received written by my notetaker:

  • Loves your work
  • idea of degeneration - grasp an idea and run with it
  • Use of my blog is a great developmental tool
  • fragility of tangible outcome. Intrigued - different approach
  • Good clarity of presentation
  • open-ended approach, the idea of failure is important
  • Likes the outcomes, philosophical, thought provoking, loaded with ideas
  • Confident and thought provoking
  • beauty - need to qualify it further
  • beautiful work
  • politicised environment
  • likes the negotiation of the title and work
  • useful things to go forward
  • not keen on the display stands for the eggs
I think i need to go back and speak to the lecturers as they spoke so fast that it was difficult for notes to be taken but over all the comments seemed to be positive. 

What i wanted out of the presentation was some constructive criticism to help me develop a way forward. Its very nice to be told that people like your work but it doesn't get me anywhere. I would rather someone said that they didn't like it and these are the reasons why. (or maybe i wouldn't)

The other presentations were very interesting, although not all were Pecha Kucha presentations which was a little frustrating as i made sure i followed the brief. It would be very important in a job situation that you stick to the brief - i know of artists that haven't and they have either been cut short or asked to leave. 

This afternoon we had more presentations with Carl - these presentations were meant to be more of a critique. I have mine next week. 


After the presentations i popped over the the 3D workshop to get a piece of wood cut to size. I am working on my pamphlet for ASU4 module. I think most people will be doing theirs on the computer and printing it but i think it is important to make mine as if a piece of sculpture as my practice isn't digital. This then poses a problem because we are required to make an edition of 15 do i will be making my original and then i will have to scan in the pages and i think i will have a PDF version as my editions - its a bit more environmentally friendly than printing them off. 

Studio and Blisters.

After work i went straight to my studio to try and finish my embossed plates of birds flocking. I want to blind print them next week at Uni but they are so time consuming. 

This semester i wanted to free up a bit and experiment more particularly in my ASTU unit. I haven't done a lot of printing, apart from screen printing, for some time. I hope these plates will work but i am quiet worried because when i hammer lots of dots close together it makes the metal bow a lot. 

I managed to get them to stage that i think they are finished - i wont really be able to tell until i print them to see what effect i can get. I love the idea of having something quiet sculptural in a 2D form, something that you can touch. 

I dirtied my fingers up with oil pastels and took a finger rubbing, I'm hoping i get a better result in the print room, particularly as i ended up with a huge blister. 

I also still have a bird flock drawing that is only just started - i wanted to do some very large ones but they take hours to just to a small version so i think i will have to leave the larger drawing for my final masters projects - they do look beautiful when they are done. 

SmithsRow exhibition

I popped into SmithsRow today (i work there) and took a photo of Do not betray the moment for some distraction ahead while the gallery was empty. 

Its a curios thing that the curation of an exhibition can change the work visually and conceptually. At Uni i had the piece on a very tall, thin plinth - the work looked very imposing and was strongly lit with Veronica's dramatic monochromatic painting on material behind. 

At SmithsRow it is on a very small wide plinth, low to the ground with the wings facing towards the wall, rather than out into the space. I don't dislike it, i just feel it loses that imposing nature, it doesnt look strong and the potential for flight is lessened. 

Im not sure what the role of the artist is during the curation of an open call exhibition - should we have a say in how our work is displayed. If we do then it is a logistical nightmare; 30 works were chosen for the exhibition, a few artists have two pieces but i guess that there are 24 artists taking part in the exhibition. To get them to agree on how their work should we displayed and who they feel their work sits best next to would be a time consuming challenge. 

Killing 10 birds with one stone.

Today i saw A LOT of art! 

I popped over to FirstSite in Colchester with a friend to see Richard Hughes exhibition Time is over, Time has come. His sculptures, reference the cast-off and dilapidated objects of urban wastelands, using a labour intensive process of mould making and resin casting. We both have an interest in the unwanted but my interest lies more in the organic and nature and Hughes more in the industrial and remnants of the man-made. 

The piece i LOVED, and the piece i didn't even realise was "art" was Blue Heaven which comprises of 300 individual piece cast in bronze and painstakingly hand-painted to resemble 'Blu-Tack; that once held posters on the wall. I walked past this piece 4 or 5 times and just assumed that it was left over blu-tack from a workshop (there is often children's art work put up on these walls during a workshop session. 

I also really liked repeat to fade which is an installation that creates the illusion of a room fallen in to disrepair. It looked as if the paint was peeling upwards revealing a mirror - it was quiet disorientating.

The work is quite challenging for a non arts based audience, the space was quite empty and i always feel uncomfortable at FirstSite with the gallery assistances who are either watching you intently (out of boredom) or chatting to their friends. (too harsh!!). 

I will try and re-visit the exhibition before it closes as i think its one of those that you 'get' the second time around. 

I also saw:

Humphrey Spenders photographs. Spenders was an Essex based photographer who documented social history of the 1930's on a 35mm camera. Im not really into documentary photography of social history, the photographs were well composed - maybe composed for capturing daily life. I dont really enough to have an opinion on this photography. 

Jim Ede collection of works by Christopher Wood, Ben Nicholson (one of my artist heroes) and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. I love drawing exhibitions - they are always really exciting and momentarily encourage me to start drawing more again. 

I then went over to The Minories Gallery, owned by the art school that i did my undergraduate degree with. They had a really nice commercial photography exhibition on my James Maturin-Baird 'who records images and presents them in a way that make them appear to punch through our physical world'.

There were other works by photographer Noel Myles - I love the work, it was well though out, maybe too many pieces - it was overwhelming. Lots of images from the natural world, abstracted into almost cubist photography.  

Artist due peter chatwin and Pamela Martin  (i want to look at their work much more when i have some time and sculptures by Desmond Brett.

A bit of an art over load today maybe - especially as i did it all in 90mins!

Back to Uni

A productive first day back at NUA after the Easter break!

In the morning we were critiquing our Artists Statements in small groups. I write artists statements A LOT, but i am not a very eloquent person, i tend to write a statement with a non-arts audience in mind. I have been in arts education for quiet a long time now, i have worked for several curators/arts directors and in professional public art galleries but even now i go to exhibitions and read some artists statements and think to myself 'what the hell are they talking about'. 

I write too simply sometimes and maybe underestimate my audience so this is less "non-arts audience" with out too much "what the hell are they talking about" (i hope)

Her instinctive understanding for combining discarded and often mundane materials results in beautifully crafted two and three-dimensional works, which explore often challenging themes surrounding the failure of the human condition.  These recurring themes of fragility, the ephemeral, life and death attempt to confront the viewer in the subtlest of ways.

She works on the edge of a complex interplay between aesthetic, materiality and concept.  Her titles develop as a process during her research and often are decided on before the initial idea is fully developed.

Inspired by artists as wide ranging as Cy Twombly (b.1928, d. 2011), Dieter Roth (b.1930, d. 1998) and Steve Bishop (b. 1983); the artist draws the majority of her ideas from personal experiences of loss and her Buddhist practice.   Memento Mori, a Latin phrase meaning ‘remember we must die’, is also prominent throughout her practice resulting in what could be described as a constellation of works, each complimenting but challenging the concepts and imagery of the next.

I had some good feedback from the other students; it will continually need alterations but i am much more able to write a statement quickly than i was a few years back. 


After a quick break for lunch my second session was with Carl Rowe. One of the tasks for this module is to develop a pamphlet/publication/artist book. 

I have some ideas but they are pretty vague at the moment. we looked through lots of examples, some less printed, some hand made, one offs, editions. I thought originally i would hand make a satirical artist book on concrete, then to make editions i would scan the pages. I need to think about it a lot more and maybe do a few experimental 'pages'.

After the session most of the students went off to a lecture but i had already arranged a plinth to be brought up to my studio. I wanted to get my now FINISHED egg shell pieces photographed.

I played around with the display for about 30mins but this arrangement  seemed to work best. Also i suppose they are arranged in a formation that some birds fly in. I am really pleased with the little stand that i bought. 

I think the work fits in perfectly with my practical research and interest in life cycle, fragility and loss. Next week if i am a little less busy i want to write about 300 words about this piece, where it came from and how it relates to my practice as a whole. 

I also managed to photograph the lighter concrete cube. I can't lift the other one on my own so i will have to do it another time. 


I have applied for the Threadneedle Prize today. Since starting my MA i haven't even thought about exhibiting until the Suffolk Showcase. I really dont like exhibiting locally and i need to get back into the practice of applying for exhibitions and residencies as my MA draws to an end in August.

I have applied for the TN Prize in the past and not even got through the first selection - but its worth a go. 

I have also applied for a live-in year long residency which would be ideal but i have a horrible feeling that they wont have wheelchair access so that will rule me out straight away - a frustrating fact of life i am afraid. 


I made it to my studio this afternoon after a bit of a break over Easter and completed another egg, seems like the right time of year to be using eggs in my work. I also remembered that i need to work on my metal embossed plates which are really not close to being ready for print. I wanted to focus on the eggs so i can photograph them at University on Thursday ready for my Pecha Kucha presentation. 

I read a really interested article about swarming called From Ants to People, an instinct to swarm (article)  and it finally gave me a working title of 

Intelligence of the collective mind

This title might alter but i always feel more comfortable with a title, the work has some sort of grounding and purpose for existing. Or maybe it just makes me feel less anxious when i get asked what the work is about, and then i can at least start to tell them that to give me some time to come up with an appropriate response. 


This evening i listened to a really interesting radio interview about Susan Aldworth who was commissioned by St Thomas' Hospital to make a series of artworks reflecting epilepsy. She used her friend Max Eilenberg and other patients experiences to develop the work, which is on display at the Nation Portrait Gallery..

It was a very odd experience to listen to Eilenberg talk about having seizures, as i also have seizures. This aspect of my life tends not to merge into my work, and i tend not to talk about it if i don't have to. Im really not comfortable with making work explicitly about my disabilities, but ultimately my situation informs my practice. My concepts are deep rooted in the loss i have felt, going from an able bodied 18 year old to a very ill, now paralysed adult. I am just very determined that i don't use any imagery in my work that could be connected to my experiences. 

A proper sunny sunday

Today i have been working on my egg shell bird swarm drawings. I have now finished my third egg with two more planned (i like 5). I really love the fragility and the minimalism with these pieces. I am very careful that my work is very concept lead, because they are always the most successful works. Using organic materials, particularly ones that are remnants of birth or death work really well and seem to have more impact on the viewer. 

This piece explores the experience that both birds that swarm and human have - we need others of our own kind. We are (in most cases) born alone but to be successful we need others. We are a product of our origin but also of our environment and those we 'swarm with'. 

Titles have also been really important and in the past i have often had the title before the work is even full conceived but titles have been evading me recently. 

I also came across American artist Katherine Jackson - she makes some incredible installation and public art works using LEDs and glass - something which way over my head but what i absolutely love are her drawings and i can see a real visual connection between my swarm drawings and her works. This is a particular drawing that i love of Jacksons. 

At half past three, a single bird
Ink on paper
14" x 18", 2006

Kate Casanova

I come across all sorts of amazing artists thanks to Twitter. Just found Kate Casanovas website - beautiful work.

During my BA i used lots of organic materials; mainly fruit, but i love this idea!

Suffolk Showcase

I got selected for the Suffolk Showcase at SmithsRow, Bury St Edmunds. The judges were artist and printmaker Adam Bridgland and Guy Noble, arts curator at University College London Hospitals: both people with strong connections to the region. Out of 300 submissions just 40 works were chosen, with a range painting, drawing, print, sculpture and video.

I went to the Private View tonight which was a big success and very busy. I have been selected for this exhibition the three times i have submitted before, but its always a bit nerve wracking when you are also employed by the gallery. (Although i have never met either of the judges and the works were viewed with out artists name/info - so its Kosher!)

And they are cooked...

In between sessions with Mark i also managed to get both of my new cube sculptures out of the moulds. The whole bird sculpture was far easier to get out than the one with the branch - which involved brut force and several knives and a hammer. 

These photos are truly awful and the plan for after Easter break is to get them on a plinth and photography them properly. 

I need to consider what i have gain (apart from another two sculptures) from making these two piece. Are they any "better" than my original, do they say anything more? 

I like the colour of the concrete its much blue-er and denser than the original piece. 

Lots to consider

Cube 1 - Untitled

Cube 2 - Untitled

I really love Daniels paintings as the back drop for this sculpture. My original winged cube was very mono-chromatic, where as this cube is much more colourful. The small concrete cube is not part of the piece - i need to think carefully about the plinth i use as the branch is a challenge

Mark Wilsher

This morning we had a group tutorial with Dr Mark Wilsher. His website biography described him as an Artist & critic based in Norwich, UK:

My artwork is grounded in the belief that art is essentially a social process. In recent years I have been interested in the public sphere and in 2011 completed my PhD which was a critique of the use of dialogue in describing relational art practices.

I often work with the spoken word, live performance and text, although I am as likely to make sculptures, installations or drawings. Since 2001 I have written regularly for Art Monthly and contribute sometimes to exhibition catalogues, most recently for the Royal Academy's Modern British Sculpture.

From 1999 to 2005 I worked as a curator at a series of public gallery spaces in London, staging projects and exhibitions by many artists including Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane, Juan Cruz, Cornford & Cross, Bob and Roberta Smith, Carey Young and David Medalla. It was a fun time, just before the absolute institutionalisation of curating by academia and the proliferation of curators with master's degrees, and taught me a lot about different audiences and different views of contemporary art. This is informing my current work which looks at how contemporary art is received, understood and used by its various publics.

I thought the session was going to be a bit more of a critique on our work and what we are currently developing in the studio but it turned out to be a more general discussion on art - which actually was really interested but perhaps didn't really give any pointer on where i could go with what i am doing. 

We discussed:
  • Each others work, as opposed to describing our own. Rachel, Daniel and Veronica described my work as: Beautiful, cabinet of curiosities, 3D, putting together strange things which ask questions, turning the ugliest think into something quiet beautiful.
  • Rachel and i decided we shared common themes in our work - particularly a love for materiality and themes of memory and loss, we are both very controlled in what we do. 
  • We all had very different views on art, some of us really weren't interested in the art world, some didn't feel the need to exhibit. I am a real art lover and i dont feel my work is ever finished until it has been in the public domain. 
  • Mark discussed how the art world works like a pond, when you throw a stone in it makes a ripple, the circles get bigger and you can build you audience this way, by connecting with other ripples
  • John Cage - Work is not complete until its exhibited 
  • We briefly discussed Outsider art
  • mark said to keep as informed as possible, create your own world, convince people!
  • We discussed Damien Hirsts salesmanship and how we feel about artists that work in this way
  • How artists use assistants and who owns the work. Roland Barthes Death of the Author
  • Truth and integrity in the art world and art works
It was one of those random discussions that went everywhere and no where but that was 100% worth the ride.


This afternoon we had Mark again. He delivered a short talk on his own practice which was really interesting and later discussed journals and publications, as we will be creating our own small pamphlet in the coming weeks. 

I think i want to make a pamphlet about something really mundane - but develop it into an art work in itself. Maybe something you have to interact with to read - i.e. paper folding. 

My current obsession is concrete so maybe a pamphlet on concrete? We have another session booked with Carl Rowe after Easter to find out more about how to develop our pamphlets so this may give me other ideas and perimeters to work to


This afternoon i have been at my studio working on the bird swarm drawings on egg shells. I think i will do a series of 5 and as i have a few weeks off uni coming up due to Easter and its something that i can do with out a technicians support. 

The fragility of the egg shell is really important as are the impermanent pencil marks that could be wiped away as quickly as they appeared. I want to expand my work with these bird swarm drawings; possibly into print. 

Although i work with very prominent themes of potential, loss, decay, death, beauty, momento mori...i find it difficult to make work that is visually similar. I am interested in materials, in the beauty of the object and the importance of the concept - im not really interested in duplicating. So making these bird swarm drawings are a bit of a challenge.

I get bored too easily! 

I also had a play around with different ways of making the marks for the bird swarms - i think paint is a big FAIL! There is no control, its messy and i think i like to suffer a bit when making my work. 

If there doesn't feel like there is enough effort and time invested into the work i am making it doesn't hold any value for me. 

Dialogues 2013

Today was an entire day in the lecture theatre taking part in NUAs Dialogues series, here is the blurb:


On shifting ground: the endurance of abstract painting

7th March 2013

Dialogues 2013 responds to and reflects upon the current dialogue and reexamination

of the status of abstract painting that has been generated by a

number of recent exhibitions, survey shows and publications. Many of these have

continued to successfully engage the public with notions of abstraction, and with

abstract painting in particular. The title for this year's symposium, On shifting

ground: the endurance of abstract painting acknowledges both the history and

legacy of abstract painting, its continued relevance for contemporary artists

working today, and reflects the continually moving terrain in which it operates.

The history of abstraction within painting is a long and involving story, one

accompanied by notions of radicalism, revolution, detachment, and a sense of

impending collapse. But in a contemporary culture where artists compete with an

endless array of information, visual languages and histories, painting continues

to defy the gravitational pull of its much anticipated demise, and remains an

urgent and exacting exponent of visual arts practice. The apparent resurgence of

interest in contemporary abstract painting, and its reappearance within recent Art

School degree shows, would indicate the continued vitality of this endeavour.

Dialogues 2013 is the 4th iteration of the Dialogues project, now established as

an annual feature of the academic calendar for Fine Art students at NUA. Its

central aim is to provide a platform for dialogue and encounter with a range of

artists, academics and practitioners in the field. This symposium will introduce a

range of projects, ideas and practices to the Fine Art community at NUA, that will

help to question the meaning, relevance and currency of contemporary abstract

painting today.

We are pleased to announce the following speakers for Dialogues 2013:

Sarah Shalgosky

Curator of the ‘The Indiscipline of Painting’ (2012), Mead Gallery, University of

Warwick. Narbi Price

Artist & John Moores Prize winner 2012.

Michael Brick


Simon Granger

Artist & Senior Lecturer Fine Art, NUA.

Chair: Paul Fieldsend-Danks MA Leader, NUA

Plenary Chair: Dr. Krzysztof Fijalkowski, Senior Lecturer Fine Art, NUA

The lecture series was really very interesting despite the fact i don't paint any more. Lots of really interesting things were said that i could connect to with my own practice. There was a lot of discussion about titling work, as Sarah curated a show with no titles or artists names. 

Narbi said that "Titles can shadow the interpretation of the work", he titles his work "untitled" usually and Sarah believed that "titles can stop you looking". 

Michael, in discussion about Avis Newmans work in the final session of the day, quoted a section from the poem Little Gidding by T.S Elliot:

"...We shall not cease from exploration

And at the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time..."

I love this quote - its what we do as artists every day - explore, go around in circles and find something new (we hope!)

Visiting Artist

Today i was invited to Kenninghall Primary, Norfolk, to work with whole school as part of their arts week. I think its really important that i do this kind of work as talking to young children about my art practice allows me to simplify down my concepts and ideas and question whether my work meets my aims. Children are the most critical critics!

I have been struggling a lot with how i can meet the targets of the two different modules of my Masters Degree when working on one body work.

Im still not 100% clear, but i think for my Self Negotiated Unit i will focus more on the finished objects/works and look at how i display my work, as well as questioning my concepts and ideas. So more about the finished article and less about experimenting. 

For my Award Specific Unit i want to focus more on new processes and materials, be more experimental and worry less about delivering finished pieces. I want this module to allow me the freedom to explore new ideas with out the worry of completing works to exhibition standard - it maybe that i hand in some finished work, some experimental ideas and some rough sketches that will lead me in to my final MA project. 

I am still find it challenging to separate these two modules - it doesn't seem natural at all. I have been working and exhibiting out of education for nearly 4 years and its not something you do. 

Concrete hell!

I have been down at studio most days after work, which this week included teaching Art at a PRU school and taking them on a field trip to take photographs, working at another school talking about being an artist and then starting my new job at SmithsRow art gallery as their Outreach assistant...bit busy! 

The drawings are coming along and i now have a small one finished and have moved on to a larger drawing. The strangest thing that has happened this week is that birds (starlings) have started to flock above my studio each night so i have managed to take some video of the forms in the sky - i've never worked in video before but i'd really like to explore using the footage as part of my work. I will try and figure out how to embed videos in my website sometime this week. 

Today was an "independent study week" so it was really quiet at uni. I took advantage of this and mixed the concrete with one of the technicians and put it in the mould - sounds simple enough but it took 2.5 hours. Trying to fill two moulds with 50kg of concrete when you are paralysed is a ridiculous challenge and i regretted every second of trying to do it on my own. I also asked for the concrete to be mixed really wet to get a smooth finish - MISTAKE No.765!

I finally got them roughly how i wanted them - i ended up making two cubes one with the branch and Jay wings and another using a whole bird - if it works and bird hasn't forced itself out of the concrete (which it kept doing, despite it being dead for over 100 years) it will look as if the bird is flying out of the side of the cube. 

Sunday - not a day of rest, a day of studio

I braved the freezing weather to head over to my studio. I am slowly building a small set of flocking bird drawings, although none of them yet are suitable as finished pieces. This is the most resolved drawing i have done so far.

In my studio i have weird and wonder things including a collection of goose eggs which i have used in the past in my work. I decided to start drawing one of the flocking bird dot drawings directly on to the shell as an experiment. I think it could be quiet interesting to show the drawings in this way although technically it is quite difficult to do as the surface isn't smooth or flat and the pencil smudges easily. This image is of about 30 mins in to the drawing before it go too dark to continue. 

Also bizarrely as i was drawing starlings started to flock above my studio, it went on for about 20mins before they roosted and i managed to take a short video on my iPad. I might consider using the film in some way or maybe borrowing better equipment to film the flocking. 

Although drawing isn't my favourite thing to do i am really enjoying the repetitiveness of the mark making. I am making sure also that none of the marks directly resemble birds as its not really the bird that i am interested in, its the natural phenomenon and the ephemeral sculpture forms they produce. 

I am back to my studio tomorrow afternoon to continue with the drawings. 


Today was a bit disjointed and manic with two tutorials, an epic visit to the library and working in the 3D workshops all afternoon trying to make designs. 

This morning i discussed, with my tutor Paul, where i was going with my work. I am keen to make another two or maybe three concrete cubes and experiment with the positioning of the wings, different species of birds and also incorporating other materials such as whole birds or branches. I want to remove the surrealist connection. Im not sure how or if this will further my research but i want to do it as when i get an idea in my head i can't easily move on with out finishing it. I also talked about producing sculptural flocking bird drawings to support my sculptural work which Paul was really keen on. He wants me to consider scale as my work is often of similar dimensions, so i am going to try and think big with these drawings.
Concentrating on drawings when i am not at Uni also gets around the problem of me needing support and time to make my sculptures. 

I also talked about a deconstructed curiosity cabinet which wasn't as popular - i think its an idea that will progress and develop as my sculptures are completed. 

I then raced over to the library and ended up borrowing more books than i can carry: 

Putnam, J. 2009, Mythologies.

Root, D. (1996) Cannibal culture : art, appropriation and the commodification of difference. Boulder; Oxford: Westview.

Gibbons, J. (2007) Contemporary art and memory :images of recollection and remembrance. London: I. B. Tauris.

Jones, C.A. and Galison, P. (1998) Picturing science, producing art. London: Routledge.

Gill, C.B. (2000) Time & the image. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Kac, E. (2007) Signs of life : bio art and beyond. Cambridge, Mass. London : MIT Press. (Leonardo; Leonardo.).

I was actually in an exhibition called Picturing Science in west London; although that isn't the reason i borrowed the book. 

I also went and bought some A3 and A1 heavy weight paper for the bird drawings. 

This afternoon i had a tutorial with my other tutor Carl. I find having two modules running co-currently almost impossible to comprehend. So for now i will just work as if i am doing one and worry about it more nearer the end of hand in. Last semester i didn't have any problems with the two modules as i understood the difference but this time around i am baffled and i don't seem to be able to get a clear answer as to how they are different. 

Carl seemed to be more interested in the deconstructed curiosity cabinet, but i am feel less certain about why i am wanting to make one. During his module we will be expected to make a pamphlet so i may think about incorporating the idea of a curiosity cabinet into a pamphlet of some kind, look at historical pamphlets for curiosity cabinets, and exhibitions. 

So after leaving more confused than i started off i headed off to the 3D workshop to fix my branch into my new mould ready of the concrete. Its been a challenge to figure out how to make the branch look as if it has grown through the concrete - sticking wings out of the top of a mould doesn't pose many problems but trying to get something to go all the way through a mould whilst still keeping the clean lines is more difficult. 

Rachael, the 3D technician drilled several holes in the side of my largest mould and i then attempted to fix the branch through with sealant and Gaffa tape. This will need to dry so i won't be adding the concrete until next week. 

After Life: The strange Science of Decay

Today i was stranded at home and sadly missed a symposium by several of my lecturers and the opportunity to interview Peggy Franck. Disappointing but i spent the day doing research and thinking (i do a lot of this) about new work. 

I borrowed a documentary for the library called After Life: The Strange Science of Decay. It was a BBC4 programme by George McGavin. He explores the science of decay in an experiment at Edinburgh Zoo, using microscopes and time-lapse cameras to investigate what happens when the contents of a pitch and garden are left to rot for eight weeks. He reveals how moulds, microbes and insects break down foods and objects, and explains why these processes are vital in nature. 

A part from being pretty disgusting it has given me several ideas that i could incorporate into my work. 

I am still keen to make a deconstructed curiosity cabinet with two of my birds wings in concrete (which are due to be made on 21st February), I am also still searching for old glass panes and logs to use instead of plinths. 

I have always been interested in preservation in life and art; I wrote my under graduate dissertation on whether we should preserve organic art and when we loose the author in this process, so i would like to introduce an element of preservation into my work again. 

During the film McGavin explained that if you remove water and oxygen you can slow down decay, I am playing with the idea of incorporating a vessel of water into the curiosity cabinet as well as a pile of Oxygen scavenger crystals. 

The winged cubes represent a struggle with freedom, potential, prevention, beauty, life and death. I think using water and the oxygen scavengers would be interesting and would extend the concept of life/death/freedom/control.

McGavin also talked about Slime mould which is an incredible self organising system that works to source food, spreading across a tree or the ground it then sends messages back to the other strands of the mould to tell the whole organism where the food is. He compared the mould to flocking birds, with no leader or no follower but that it/they have the ability to move as one. 

I have always been completely in awe of birds that fly in these sculptural forms, and i think i would really like to make a smaller body of work looking at these forms that 1000s of birds make. 

I think it would work well with my cubes, the initial idea i have is to develop a series of smaller sketches of birds flocking (Starlings make the best flocking sculptures apparently). I then would make a larger drawing, attaching a thread to each "bird"/dot and having these threads tied to a weight or object on the floor, bringing the drawing into more of a sculpture. The birds, with their infinite freedom will then be controlled. 

So the plan: Deconstructed curiosity cabinet floor based installation/assemblage incorporating concrete wing cubes x2, log plinths, glass panes, wooden structure, water, oxygen scavengers...

Series of small drawings of birds flocking and a large drawing/sculpture that weights the bird drawings to the floor via a weight or similar. 

In my head i know what it will look like - i think!! 

Bird via 1st class mail

I have finally managed to buy an antique (1920's) taxidermied bird which is on its way via 1st class royal mail. I am bidding on a few others, i am still not entirely sure how the whole birds will be used. 










I hope it will arrive before i start making the new winged cubes as i may use the bird in those pieces.

Clair Chinnery

This evening i went over to University Campus Suffolk for an artist talk by Clair Chinnery and her PV for her solo exhibition at the universities gallery, Waterfront. 

What initially attracted me to going what that her art practice was predominately research based, which is something i really want to develop within my working practice. 

The exhibition, Cuculus Prospectusis, body of work comprising of sculptures, prints, drawings, sound and video. The result of an extended period of practice-led and academic research, her work explores the parasitic habits of the Eurasian Cuckoo Cuculus Canorus, as a metaphor for and means to understand human and animal colonialism, migration and shifting ecologies.

I took some brief notes while she was speaking, notes which i felt maybe relevant to my practice. She spoke so confidently and eloquently about her work that i kept forgetting to note down what she was saying. 

She studied an MA specialising in Sculpture and said she was more interested in the object and the space than surfaces, of which i feel the same.

She uses Hybridity as a recurring theme both physically and conceptually. 

In the past she used structures and objects more commonly found in a gym, she altered them and the work was commissioned for the cultural Olympiad 2010.

She is still completing a large drawing project based on an extract from Alfred W. Crosbys Ecological Imperialism about the Austrialian Brumby horses. The extract talks about how 400 horses were culled and Chinnery after reading this tried to imaging what 400 horses ears would look like. She then began the task of drawing those ears. Visit this link to read more about the project.

The Waterfront Gallery Exhibition decription:

Building on earlier works How to Speak…: The Breeding Birds of the United Kingdom, 2000, and Briefe and True: Lost Landscapes, 2005, which are also on show in this exhibition,Cuculus Prospectus expands imaginatively Thomas Harriot's 1590 A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia. Harriot’s Report was partially designed as a ‘prospectus’ for English colonists and included descriptions of resources - plant, animal, mineral & human - of modern coastal North Carolina, USA.  Cuculus Prospectus extends such Early Modern ideas, additionally investigating natural history, taxonomy, animal/human migration and global environmental change.  In this exhibition, the fascinating behaviours of Cuculus canorus - including the use of 'brood parasitism' to reproduce – are explored through differing works in a wide range of media. In researching this work the artist attempted to simultaneously think and act as both ‘Human’ and ‘Cuckoo’. This conjunction produced a strange logic through which various individual works emerged. Methods that the artist refers to as ‘pseudoscientific’ were used to make decisions and organise information forming the basis of the works that make up Cuculus Prospectus. Through these, audiences may learn a great deal about Cuculus canorus, though the work is as much about our (human) selves.

For this body of work she focused on the parasisation of the Cuckoo and was interested in how the birds can alter its eggs to fit the hosts nest, how it chooses its host and how to show her research in a visual way using a pseudo scientific mode of display.

During her work in North Carolina she supported three students as part of her research. These students then developed work from aspects of Clair's practice. (Paula Lucido, Laura Degenhardt, Ruth Simons)

I thought the exhibition was beautifully curated, the works were interesting. The piece i really connected with was a series of wall plaques called Those who have served. The names of all the host birds (for the Cuckoos eggs) appeared on the plaques as if they were fallen soldiers or long gone boys from a private school. The work made me feel for the heroic birds that lost their own young and nurtured the chick that ultimately killed their own. The work really did feel that dramatic. 

When clair was talking she spoke of how when visiting the Natural History's Ornithological store in Tring, she was ticking the boxes of all the specimens she wanted to view i.e.: eggs, skins, nest materials, and she came to the tick box called The Spirit Collection. She said she excitedly and ironically asked if the museum even had saved the birds spirits. These were of course the specimens preserved in solutions in glass bottles. But i too loved the idea that they might have the spirits of the bird. In fact its something i might think about for my own work. 


Today i have been down at my studio experimenting with the idea of a deconstructed curiosity cabinet. I have a few old photograph frames and a glass pane, a branch, the birds feet, wings and a small concrete cube which i was playing with. 

I know in my head that i want the work/works to be large scale, to combine taxidermy wings or whole birds, panes of old glass, branches... and i think because the objects i had in my studio were so small i found it difficult scale down my visual ideas. 

The ideas that i try to force are very rarely successful and i feel like i am forcing this a bit at the moment. I felt that what i was doing at my studio today was placing objects that i had no hand in making or altering. Its important to me that the viewer can see 'my hand' in my work and not view it as a selection of carefully chosen objects - which is what a description of a scientific curiosity cabinet is. Im an artist not a scientist or a collector. 

Next week i am making the new winged sculptures and embedding branches into the cube of concrete. I think once i have these finished i will be able to extend the sculptures into a larger work and incorporate the curiosity cabinet. 

Polly Franck - Outpost Gallery, The exhibition that nearly broke my chair

Yesterday afternoon we headed down to Outpost Gallery which is a small exhibition space in Norwich city centre. I had never been before and i soon realised why. The "walk" down from Uni to the gallery is entirely down cobbled streets and wheelchairs dont have suspension!!!!

The exhibition was really interesting and next week we will be interviewing the artist via Skype so it was a great opportunity to see the work before this conversation. 

As i have said i love materials - particularly concrete, glass, gold, and organic materials. Franck had used a lot of glass.

The exhibition was as a result of a two week residency. She used a photograph of materials being dyed as a starting point and collected objects which she moved around the space. The objects included, glass rods, a trolley, a bath tub, string, glass jars, two camera tripods, dye, cotton... the work was called A household with responsibilities. 

I liked the work, it looked good (which rightly or wrongly i think is important), everything was very considered in its placing. 

The one thing that i really connected with was the use of the word constellation as a way of describing the works. In an interview with Amy Leach she says this:

AL: You'e described the exhibition as a constellation. How do you see the relationships between the different groupings of work, the glass jars or the piled flooring and trolley? Are they one whole or separate, interdependent moments?

PF: I tried treating the works as autonomous individuals, to give them space so one could look at them separately rather than leave the space as a studio or as a total installation. I wanted it to be a clear decision; making works that are on the one hand finished but also deal with the process and the potential the carry inside of them. 

I am going to pinch this idea of a constellation because i think it is a fantastic way of describing my ideas for my current and future works. Lots of my previous pieces work really well together and i would love to show them as one installation but the idea that all my art practice is a constellation of works really appeals to me. 

©Peggy Franck

Rut Blees Luxemburg

As part of a series of lectures arranged by NUA, Rut Blees Luxemburg delivered a really interesting talk on her art practice.

Ruts website: Here

Rut Blees Luxemburg (born 1967) is a German photographer. Her technique is to take photographs at night, mostly exploring the urban landscape. She is a Tutor at the Royal College of Art.

I thought her work was beautiful. I use photography purely as a way of documenting and i occasionally sell photos of my work, so i know very little about photography as an art form.

© Rut Blees Luxemburg
I took a few notes: 

  • Exhibited internationally, Pompadou centre, V&A, Royal Academy
  • Interest in the gaze, looking, daring to look. 
  • Titles are very important in her work
  • Photography is a medium of chance, she uses a long explore time in her work, (Towering Inferno). This image became the image for The Streets album cover
  • Has shown her work in public space - under a bridge in Shorditch
  • her images often incorporate greenery in the top of the image, with danger below picturing security wire and cameras.
  • New body of work looked closer at the city of London. Image and language exist together for the artist. The desire to understand and the need to decipher is very important.
  • Element of chance. Liquid and water became more important and how nature is evident in the city
  • Common central is the title for her whole body of work. The double meaning of common interests her. That was is shared and that what is beneath the ground and sensual.
  • Uses Johnston font as it is symmetrical 
Unfortunately i had to leave before i thought she was a very good speaker and interested even me, with my lack of knowledge of photography! 

The Plan

This morning at Uni we had a really positive, worth while discussion about our plans for making over the next two to three month. It was a group of the full time MA fine art students and the Curation students and it worked almost as a group crit; it was really helpful to have this discussion with the curation students there. 

My plans are always fabulous in my head - i can picture what the work will look like and understand very clearly why and how i am doing it. The issue i have is explaining this others. 

I want to continue with my current practice working with concrete and taxidermy. Ive been really inspired by the work of Steve Bishop and i need to do more reading on his intentions and concepts. 

I will initially be making another two cubed wings but i want to incorporate a branch that penetrates the cube, this is going to be a real challenge but i feel that the branch will take away any surrealist imagery. It will also break the tension of the clean lines - which i really like but feel its something i need to explore. 

I want to consider display much more and develop a series of pieces that work as one installation but that can then be separated out into individual pieces for exhibition. 

I really want to make a deconstructed curiosity cabinet that these pieces will be part of. I want it to be big, to challenge myself and the viewer. I hope to use reclaimed glass panes and wood for the structure. 

After my visit to the Wellcome Collection i am thinking about incorporating Marigolds into the work - i have used organic materials a lot in my work and they have such strong connotations in death ceremonies, i think they would work really well within this work. 

I think my tutors want me to be more ambitious in the scale of my work. I have always felt that my smaller work forces the viewer to consider the concept of the work more and it has more impact because it has a precious quality - something to be careful of, that needs protecting. 

But i am wondering if i can still keep these elements in a larger work...?

Ultimately i love materials and the discourse around the materials - how a material makes us feel a certain way. I love the curious, and i want the viewer to feel something, to connect the work with an experience that they have had - just as i do when making the work.

Lots more to consider!! 

The Wellcome Collection. The Death: A Self Portrait

Today i braved a journey on the train down to London to see Death: A self Portrait at the Wellcome Collection, Euston Road, as well as sneaking in a quick drink and chat with the wonderful Catherine Hemelryk, Curator at NN ( in the Wellcome Collections cafe.

Gallery introduction: 

The exhibition showcased 300 works from a unique collection devoted to the iconography of death and our complex and contradictory attitudes towards it. Assembled by Richard Harris, a former antique print dealer based in Chicago, the collection is impressively diverse, including art works, historical artefacts, scientific specimens and ephemera from across the world. Rare prints by Rembrandt, Dürer and Goya are displayed alongside anatomical drawings, war art and antique metamorphic postcards; human remains will be juxtaposed with Renaissance vanitas paintings and twentieth century installations celebrating Mexico’s Day of the Dead. From a group of ancient Incan skulls, to a spectacular chandelier made of 3000 plaster-cast bones by British artist Jodie Carey, this singular collection, by turns disturbing, macabre and moving, opens a window upon our enduring desire to make peace with death. 

The exhibition was fantastic and really inspiring. Death is a recurring theme in my work so i really wanted to get to this exhibition before it closed at the end of February. 
I took my iPad and made notes as i wondered around the gallery for two hours. The skull was a motif used in the majority of the works - something which i never use, but several of the pieces gave me ideas for potential new works. 

These are the few notes that i made that i felt could influence my practice.

Bruce Connery: " Its frightening to have things floating around the world with my names on them, that people are free to interpret and use however they choose". 

The 17th Century mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal argued that it was easier to endure death without thinking about it, thank to think about death when it seemed a remote prospect.

Read this book - The hour of death by Philippe Aries

Marigolds are traditionally included in Mexican death ceremonies, day of the dead, because of their bright colours and strong perfume are believed to lead the dead to the alter. 

Artists to look at:

June Leaf - Gentleman on the green table

Antikamnia calendar, Momento Mori

ray Johnston - collage work

More Ultima Linea Rerum - 1570

John Issac's Sculpture, Are you still mad at me. 

The exhibition was really well curated and lead you around 6 differently themed rooms. John Issacs grotesque sculpture of what looked like a half chewed human, encouraged a variety of reactions whilst i was in the exhibition space. It really was a very challenging piece. The only piece that i felt was a bit odd was Jodie Cundy's skeleton chandelier, it was hung in a very dark space almost in the stair well on its own at a very low level. It was almost as if it was in a side room, being prepared to be hung in the main exhibition but they hadn't quite got around it to it yet. You couldn't walk the whole way around the work and ifelt it didnt show off the work as well as it could have. This image shows it lit up, which it wasnt during my visit and the view, impressive as it is, was from halfway up the staircase (which i couldnt get up).

Its a shame the exhibition is now nearly at its end, and i would love to see Richard Harris's entire collection as it seems to be continually growing. 

New Job

Sadly i am not yet one of those artists that can be in the studio and be making full time. Maybe i wont ever be, but i do try to keep my work within the arts. I currently run life drawing classes, run workshops for children and adults, the occasional bit of face painting and teach as well as exhibiting, residencies and commissions. 

However i have a new job. I am SmithsRows Outreach Assistant and i will be working with a great group of artists and amateur enthusiasts three times a month to help them run their group. I will be supporting them with exhibiting their work, attracting new members, applying for grants and fundraising and a lot more besides. 

I am excited about the challenge and looking forward to Post MA, i see myself working in gallery education part time as well as continuing with my art practice; which is the most important thing to me.

SmithsRow is a great public art gallery with some fantastic shows, which i have been lucky enough to work on with three of the past curators, as well as exhibit in. 



 During assessment our university studio space was on lock-down so i took the opportunity to visit a few local exhibitions. 

On 25th January I popped into SmithsRow, Bury St Edmunds to see their new exhibition 'Flicker: Artists and Super 8'. (Annoyingly i missed the private view due to the snow - Wheelchair+Snow= house bound!) I arrived just in time to hear curators Rosie Grieve (SmithsRow) and Chris Mizsak (Cambridge Super 8 Group) discuss the exhibition They discussed the works of 17 artists and the relevance of the Super 8 medium to contemporary culture. The talk was fantastic - i knew nothing about Super 8 film and very little about film as a genre in fine art. Film is something that i don't ever think i will experiment with but i really enjoyed the exhibition - two of my favourites were Giovanna Maria Casetta's The Death of the Non Blonde Part 1 and Naren Wilks Lyrebird Soup. Cassetta's work was a small wall based digital projection (2.5x2.5inches) paying homage to the famous fountain scene from Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita. The piece was made following an experiment the artist made to live with the experience of life as a blonde for six months. The image was grainy and made a constant whirring noise - it was almost like watching a ballet dancer in a music box. Wilks piece was much more humorous and was show on a large screen back to back with several other works. The film was a playful re-interpretation of the classic "mirror scene" from the 1933 Marx Brothers comedy masterpiece, Duck Soup. It wasn't originally filmed on Super 8 but used the more reliant HDV which was then exported on to Super 8 using a film out process. 


I am trying to be more open in the exhibitions i visit - i think ONLY going to exhibitions that are relevant to your practice can make you closed minded. 

The other exhibition that i went to was Avis Newmans Mobile Relations at The Gallery, NUA. I popped in after collecting my new moulds from the 3D workshop at NUA. 

I used paint very large abstract works and i am still draw to painting - but only to look at, I'm not sure i will be digging out my oil paints any time soon. 

The exhibition was beautifully minimalist which allowed her simple serene works to 'breath'. What really interested me was how the works were displayed. (Display and the curation of my work is something i am really focussing on over the next few months). Her recent works explore the boundary, the unframed and the incomplete. The larger canvases were sat on small metal cages, with other smaller canvases in front and behind. A wall at the end displays 24 muted canvases in a seemingly random way. The exhibition worked very well as a installation, as opposed to a selection of individual works. 

I didn't get a lot of time to spend in this exhibition so i will be going back again soon. 

Jack Vickridge makes me want to paint.

When i was at school i only painted. I made large scale abstract paintings that i cut and burnt into then stitched back together. I was really interested in surface and how a painting can become a sculpture when you can see through it. At 14 i didn't understand i was doing it for this reason but now i do. 

However i very rarely ever paint now and i am quite happy with this, apart from when i hear others talking about painting - then i WANT to do it. I love the fact you can just paint and get on with it, you don't need a workshop, or tools or weird and wonderful materials, you can just do it anywhere. 

The urge came back to me after a really interesting talk as part of NUA (Norwich University of the Arts) Lecture series. 

Jack Vickridge is a young artist that was born in Singapore and who studied at the Royal College, London. Below are some very quick notes i made whilst he was talking. 

©Jack Vickridge
Here is a link to his website:  

He began by making small sculptures from sculptural mediums, but doesn’t like the work now.

At the end of his MA he abandoned 3D, looked more at the surface of things – less form and more substance.

He looked at gestures, making marks, retaining the moment of creation – hitting wood with hammer or drilling through boards. He was criticized for this work as it wasn’t grand or beautifully finished.

Supplements  Gallery – Post MA show and he still works with this gallery to date.

MA show – light, movement and transience, used polystyrene balls stuck with kinetic energy to the wall – lit by a bulb under a fruit crate. The work wasn’t visible in the day time but changed in the evening lights.

He rented a studio in London – focused on the surface of plasterboard and cardboard. Revealing the layers from underneath. Patchwork.

H had sheets of foam board in the studio and allowed everyday activities to build up marks – ie the board might get stood on, bashed, knocked.

He has exhibited with Steve Bishop an artist that i have been looking at recently who makes sculptures from taxidermy and ceramics.

He commented that - Sculpture – you have made this massive thing and contributed a weight to the world – and you might not even like it!

New work for New York exhibition 2012 – looking at transparency. Found It difficult to make multiples that the gallery wanted. He asks - How do you make work when you don’t really want to make the work?

Making mixed media sculptural pieces that are wall based – using concrete, foam board, paint – casting from surfaces.

Uses the shape of an S in many of his print

Process lead and material driven

Chance and the random? – connecting with something you cant understand or comprehend. Harnessing things you cannot control. Using the outside world to your advantage. 
©Jack Vickridge

I really enjoyed the talk. Something that i struggle with in my own practice is really understanding what i am researching and attempting to explore or resolve. Vickridge really understands what he is doing and why. I need to think more about this. The thing we have in common is an interest in materials - although my interest is more in how those materials are read and how they support a concept or metaphor. 

Writing this down, the urge to paint has passed me by...until the next time. 

Back to Norwich

The first day back after a long break arrived today. Due to me being a full time MA student i have two modules that run co-currently. This is a huge challenge because you are expected to meet two sets of criteria in two slightly different ways, often with and in my case, with one body of work. 

In my head i find it almost impossible to separate the modules, so rightly or wrongly i consider them as one so not to fragment my practice and figure out what goes where when hand in is looming. 

Morning session:

Over the break we were set as project proposal task. I actually really enjoyed writing it as i had the time to think about what i really want to do and also reflect back on the feedback i was given. 

Below is a shortened version of what i wrote:

Give a brief description of your proposed project.

I propose to continue with my current line of enquiry, extending my research and practice in the presentation of my work in a more considered way. I want to explore non-traditional organic plinths (tree stumps) developing installations or environments as opposed to single sculptures.

List at least five current practitioners or examples of practice wholes concerns, ideas or interests relate to your own.

Steve Bishop, Polly Morgan, Maissa Toulet, Karley Feaver, Tessa Farmer,  Mark Dion and  Claire Morgan.


What form might the proposed work take?

To ensure I do not have a period of time where I am not making, I will make two or three further winged cubes and hope to explore whole birds with other sculptural mediums.  I hope to source a large tree stump to accompany the sculptures, to emphasise that the sculptures are not surrealist oddities but something from nature; captured.  I also plan to explore digital photography; taking the sculptures into the natural environment (woods, fields, etc). I am considering the idea of making a deconstructed curiosity cabinet, using the cabinet as an element of the work rather than just a vehicle for display.


There were several other questions about health and safety and research methods - i have cut out the less interesting parts i hope!

Today we had an opportunity to discuss what we had written with two or three of our peers and the feedback we get from each other is always really valuable. Sam and Richard suggested for areas of further consideration: 

"Definitive Intentions - more confidence in stating what you are going to produce" - I think this is something i struggle with as my work often evolves and i try not to be too rigid in my thought processes. 

"Consider also using a handwritten journal for thought, feelings etc that might be too personal/private for your blog". "Consider using taxidermy models" - My work is very personal, as most artists work is but i try not to delve too much in to my personal connection to the work as i want the viewer to feel their own feelings about my work. I don't want to influence them too much. I also find that it is so easy to access an online blog - less to carry, less messy (my handwriting is atrocious!). But it is a good point and i will consider it. 


Afternoon session:

The afternoon started with a quick discussion about how to meet the criteria for the module - a key element of this particular module is an online blog - which i really find so useful to my work and will be using it even more as a sketch book and way of discussing new ideas as well as gallery visits and talks. 

I will be working, as with the morning session, with the support of my Learning agreement - which i find really helpful and SHOULD keep me on track!

After this session we raced over to a brilliant talk by Jack Vickridge which was part of an on going (but almost finished) lecture series NUA have been running since September. 

MA Feedback

The move from BA (which ended in 2009 for me) to MA is less of a jump and more of a leap of faith over a cavernous drop where only those scary hyenas from the Lion King live at the bottom of. But it seems that i have just about made it so far. 

The feedback from my tutors was really positive and i feel like i should have a clear vision of where i am going for the next few months. This vision is a bit blurry right now! I need to work out what exactly i am questioning in my practice. I know i can make work, that in general people like. I think i know why i am doing it but a clearer idea of what i am questioning would be helpful.  I want to steer clear from making surrealist works, avoid any haha humour and make work that is more poetic, that makes a statement and challenges the viewer to consider their own situation. 

I also need to be better at planning my time. I need the support of the 3D technicians and our diaries don't often work very well together. I want to end May with a much larger body of work. 

I also need to get back to exhibiting - before my MA i was having 5-6 national group exhibitions a year. Attempting to work full time and do a full time MA is a challenge.

Preparing for hand in... a quick run down of my portfolio

The worst part of going back to art school is the dreaded deadlines. I often work to deadlines for commissions or for exhibitions but there is the added pressure of having to justify what you are doing, why you are doing it and then have lots of research to prove that its worth doing. 

This afternoon I have been down at my slightly damp, mould on the carpet, water stains on the ceiling studio preparing my two modules for hand in. 

I am not a prolific artist, it takes me a huge amount of time to make anything. I also am not that keen on making multiples; once the piece is done I very quickly move on but the way of a masters degree doesn't really let you do this - it focuses you more, which I need. 

I now have a modest (very) collection of screen prints. The main 2D piece are two prints that I have laboured over for the past month. See below. I decided I wanted to make some supporting 2D works to accompany my bird wing sculpture. I had been screen printing the image for a few weeks before the Christmas break and decided just before Christmas to work into them using collage and i did a test piece on a screen prints that i had done on very light weight, low quality paper. 

I have been a bit obsessed with Freud's Death and War essay, 1918, and wanted to incorporate it into the prints. But just to give myself an extra challenge i decided to write the entire essay using a goose feather and a brass ink pen nib (see image). It only took 6 hours!! And here is the offending piece of stationary. At the end of Freud's essay he writes "Si vis vitam, para mortem"If you wish life, prepare for death which i wrote along the feather.

The essay discusses that as humans we do not believe that we can die, because every time we think of our own death we are present. We cannot imagine a death where we no longer exist - therefore psychologically can only believe we are immortal. This is a very brief summery and the essay discusses this idea much much deeper as well as discussing the war (WW1) and how the cavemen understood death up until the present day. But i felt the quote was really poignant. If we want to live, we must accept that we will die. 

The final two prints started out as a screen print of my main sculpture, then after not drawing for quite a few months i found some beautiful images of birds and incorporated a flying bird in to the print "Do not betray the moment" and a dead bird with real feather wing in to the print "for some distract ahead". I also found a 1970s biology book and cut a section about birds out and added it to the prints before writing over the Freuds essay. 

I really like the prints, i think the mix of college, drawing and writing works well and the neutral colours are perfect. I hope they have the same poignancy that my main sculpture has and also that they can stand alone from the sculpture. 

Hand in is tomorrow, so we shall see!

Ipswich Museums curiosities

Today I went to an appointment with Curatorial Assistant Debbie Barnes to view the Museums collection of curiosity cabinets.

Ipswich Museum, which was opened in 1881 to replace the smaller museum of 1850, has two examples of Victorian Curiosities Cabinets. 

The two conjoined piglets in small glass cabinets were both originally acquired in 2008. Now in storage, they are classic examples of the Victorian obsession with the weird and wonderful. Both piglets were stuffed and placed in ‘realistic’ settings. One is set at a miniature trough with a ring through its nose – as if it was an adult pig and the other set in a field with ears of corn in the background. These oddities would have been a prize possession in the Victorian era.

Copyright to images - Colchester and Ipswich Museum services
The museum has two other cabinets, both at their Colchester site. These cabinets are dioramas of lobsters which i hope to see later on in the year. 

So i can now finally finish my essay tonight and get back to the studio to work on my very unfinished prints. 


Back to work after christmas/new year

Over Christmas i have taken a break from making and have forced myself to work on my research essay (see previous post). Both of the collaged prints are finished in terms of the drawing and collaged sections but I am still struggling with how to incorporate the title and whether the title will appear on both prints. 

I have decided that i will make a diptych, that will be shown together but also need to be able to be exhibited as individual pieces. 

Today has been the first day of writing, i have made a pen from a feather and an old brass pen nib (i seem to have 100s of these nibs). I am going to write the entire War and Death essay by Freud and hope that it wont end half way down the second print - i cant think of a way to ensure that both prints will be finished without cutting sections or repeating sections so its fingers crossed. 


Research into Practice essay.

As part of one of my MA research into practice essay i am required to write a 2,000 word essay. I have chosen to write about curiosity cabinets with the title of

Curiosties: From the 14th century to contemporary art; how has the role of the cabinet evolved? 

I have very nearly finished it. Before christmas i went to Ipswich Museum to look at their collection of Victorian Taxidermy and found out that they have two curiosity cabinets. So i have an appointment booked with their Curatorial Assistant on the 7th january when i will be able to finish my essay completely. 

Ipswich Museum's Victorian display.
Although i dont make traditional Curiosity Cabinets, my work does often have the feel of a museum piece and i have been introducing elements of taxidermy. I suppose i am most interested in modes of display as its something that i really struggle with. I don't know how to creatively display my work with out falling back on the traditional, bulky, ugly white plinth. It is my challenge for 2013 to explore different ways to exhibit my work. 

Pigeons Play Jazz. 

Collaboration with birds? Nothing like a bit of pigeon jazz to write your MA research essay too!

Screen print collage

I have been looking at different images for the next two screen prints. I found one of gravestones and started drawing it out but it was a really awful drawing. I am not great at straight lines - never going to be an architect - all my buildings would be curved, wobbly or leaning to one side!

I really enjoyed drawing the bird and have now found a beautiful image of a bird in flight. I think the two images will work really well together - a contrast of life/freedom/liberty and death/stillness. Again its a challenge but i am quite pleased with the outcome. 

When i was screen printing i tried to print text on to some dress pattern paper and i hope to include these in the print once finished. 

More wings and things

I have purchased another set of wings - this time from a Jay. I wasn't thrilled with the "dove" wings as they has been dried in a closed position. I will still use them but i am not sure if they will work as well. The Jay wings have incredible colours and i wonder if the final piece will be read differently to the Jackdaw sculpture.












I am not going to have time to make either the dove or jay wing sculptures before my module hand in in early January, but i feel i have a direction for the new year.

What i really want is whole taxidermied birds but they are hugely expensive and quite difficult to get hold of. Also the present a further problem in that they are dried in a position that wont be my choice.

So being a very brave vegetarian i have also purchased some Jackdaw claws with legs. I wasn't quite prepared for the size of them. I'm not sure how i am going to use them or if i can even touch them (so far   i have tipped them out on to a piece of paper and quickly put them back in the postage envelope.








I think i imagine that they will protrude from a winged cube as if the bird is coming into landing as opposed to flying.


Working in 2D

I have started to work into a screen print of my sculpture. I have found a 'beautiful'?!?! image of a dead bird and felt it would work really well with the screen prints. It was a bit of challenge for me to pick up a pencil after such a long time. I teach life drawing and therefore teach people to draw but i don't often indulge myself. 

I also have quite a few feathers hanging around my studio so added a section of feather to the birds wing. I am really pleased with the image but feel that it needs the be a diptych or a triptych. I am keen to include Freuds War and Death essay into the prints and want to use the whole essay which will not fit on to one print. Below are images of the process. Im now going to try and find another image that will work as well, or maybe two. 


Group Critiques

This morning, before we de-installed the exhibition we were asked to critique individual artists work. In small group we re-visited the exhibition and noted down the ‘strengths’ of the work as well as ‘areas for review’.

This is something I used to do quite a lot when I was working for curator Catherine Hemelryk at SmithsRow. One the tasks she set for development was to go to exhibitions and critique the work, then write a review. Quite nerve wracking, when she also had seen the exhibition; luckily we mostly agreed. However this time I knew all the artists, had spent quite a lot of time with all of the work, either physically or discussing it as an early idea during the past weeks. I thought I had professional opinion on all the work.

Re-visiting the works I realized I didn’t. It was really insightful discussing the work within our small group. Some of the work isn’t necessarily my personal taste, but all the works were executed well, however I suppose we were being asked to explore whether the work met the artists aims and whether it reflected the concept or idea. Were the materials right? was the title right? How could the artist take it further? I really enjoy the challenge and after, I looked at all of the works in a new light.

Below are the two group critiques/notes I received from the other artists:


Group 1



<!--·     Futility of wings lifting the concrete/ optimism mixed with futility of trying, not giving up

<!--·      Flying helicopters out of war zones, a wing and a prayer

<!--·      Trapped/constant fight between man and nature

<!--·      Concrete

<!--·      Wings joined to concrete rather than a bird inside, position of wings decide whether or not it is a surrealist object or an actual bird inside

<!--·      Centrality of the plinth.

     Areas for Review:


<!--·      What if – different size wings, different colour, wings were white?

<!--·      Is it builders concrete? Meant to be rough?

<!--·      What if it was smooth ie acrylic

<!--·      Is it important that the object is central on the plinth.

      My reactions to the critique:

 I am really pleased that ideas of determination, restraint were picked up on. I agree that the position of the wings determines whether the viewer believes there is a bird inside. The viewer is meant to see it as a whole bird strapped in concrete not as a bizarre object, however I am interested in Surrealism.

 I actually had already ordered different species of birds wings. I currently have a small pair of collared dove wings and a pair of beautiful Jay wings which have the most amazing colours on them. I am going to make further sculptures and position the wings differently.

 I like the rough builders cement. The wings are so delicate, fragile and beautiful; I like the contrast with the rough and unfinished cement. I will consider using other materials for the base but for now I want to explore different birds.



Group 2



<!--·      The piece communicates the idea very well

<!--·      Very thought provoking

<!--·      Reference a complicated and challenging topic in a beautiful way

<!--·      Engaging because of the irony and sarcasm yet at the same time the piece is hard, confrontational and intense.


     Areas for review:


<!--·      Would different wings or other materials drastically alter the interpretation?

<!--·      Cultural associations with black, death and crows

<!--·      Pessimistic?


My reactions to the critique:

Again I am really pleased by the comments. I do struggle with the idea that certain viewers are aware of my disability. Its something I never explain in my work or is evident during an exhibition unless they see me. I make my work from a very personal point of view and want the viewer to experience the work from their own personal point of view. I assume that’s what the “complicated and challenging topic” is referring to?

New wings

New wings are on their way!

I have got a pair of dove wings on their way to me later this week. I am hoping to make a series of cubed works with wings and explore whether the species of the wings change the viewers perception of the work. i think they probably will. I am also tempted to make very small cubes with birds feet - maybe its too novelty!?

I also think i have found a supplier for much smaller wings and still need to contact him. 

Im not sure i will be able to get the dove wings in concrete before christmas as the 3D workshop closes this week - who declared that over christmas everything should shut down? We live in a world where it is possible to work 24/7 and NUCA closes for a month!

Tutorial with Artist Kelly Large

Kelly Large.


Today myself and two other MA artists had a really interesting tutorial with Artist Kelly Large.  We discussed our work that is currently on show at NUCA gallery and whether we felt it had succeeded or failed. Below are the notes from my section of the tutorial.

I began by discussed that in the past that I never have a hand in actually displaying my work. I ship it to galleries and they curate the exhibition. I have no in put in to how the work is displayed, whether it is on a plinth, in a case or on the floor. I give my work over. I went to one particular exhibition that my work had been earlier shipped to and discovered that the way they had chosen to display the work actually un-did the concept. I felt devastated and wanted to take it out of the exhibition straight away.

Kelly asked if it then became an artifact and lost its intention and its importance and I agreed.

Kelly - Is the plinth an integral element of the work? No, it was just a mode of display however I wanted to explore different ways of exhibiting the finished piece and felt that the white plinth was obtrusive.  So I suppose once I have found the right “plinth” it will become integral to the work and in the future will be exhibited on my chosen plinth.

Amy - I think I want a plinth that is Perspex/see through.

Kelly – could it be suspended? Probably not!

Kelly - Meaning of the work – is it launched is it stuck?

Amy - The wings have become a metaphor, I like things clean, beautiful, tight, finished controlled.

Kelly- although you think its finished, its not finished because its not displayed properly.

Amy - I don’t use sketch books, but I am exploring prints as work that stands on its own but are also part of the body of the work.

Kelly – reflect on the not known. Presentation is intrinsic to the way it communicates. Otherwise it makes you an illustrator – because illustrators only ever have a finished piece, artists work is forever evolving.

Kelly -  Is the work seen as a Physical freedom, how do I want the viewer to engage with the work.  What is the relationship.

Kelly - Is it about a very personal experience?

I am keen that the viewer doesn’t see the work as a visual representation of my disabilities. I never tell the galleries or the viewers that I have a disability. I want people to experience the work with their own life in mind.

I like the contrast in materials, I like the balance – balance is important.

Kelly - Think about the Relationship between it not be connected to you but having a particularity to you.

Kelly – thinks of freedom when she views the piece and not herself.

Sam (MA artist)– makes his chest feel tight – he feels like the bird and he is caught, or maybe even hiding, trying to decide what to do.

Kelly - Its universal but the viewer in some cases can connect to it personally.

Kelly - There is a glitch – which is the plinth and maybe there always needs to be a glitch for you to carry on.

I think the work captures a  moment in time, a split second of potential and failure. I looks like it could fly but it can’t – I look like I can walk but I can’t.

Kelly – knowing in your brain for the future of possibility,

Amy - Exploring new wings – maybe claws different sizes cubes and the balance between the wing size and the cube size.

Freud print – Kelly  - you are creating an environment. Archetypal forms such as the wings being a reference and the tree could represent wisdom, growth and age.

Maybe the plinth retains its heaviness, and keeps it from being too slick. To designed.

Sam – how about separating the bird from the plinth.

Kelly – isolating the wings to mean freedom and angels. Mythological.

Kelly - Does the thought that the bird is there add to the work? Should it been as just wings?

Amy - Wings make the bird – without the wings the bird isn’t a bird. Therefore do the wings need a body – I think no.

Sam – thinks the work speaks to the viewer either on a personal level or in a more universal way.

Think of the unsuccessful part – don’t see it as an end, or a finished work, think about the plinth and how it impacts on the surrounding environment.

Explore metaphors through imagery that you use.

Birdness? Wingness?

Concrete is important – It weights it down.


This is a bit of a disjointed record of our conversations but I think what I need to do is explore modes of display. I am keen to develop a series of supporting  collaged prints of the sculpture over the next few weeks and also do some more research into the metaphors and imagery I use. 

Next Thursday we will be considering the exhibition as a whole and how it works. I should be able to get some more points of view on my work, which I hope will give me further avenues of exploration.


Screen Printing

i have been screen printing an image of my sculpture but have had some problems with the printers. When i have pulled the print it seems to have faint lines running the through image. So whilst the ink cartridges are being changed i have been working into one of the screen prints exploring text and collage. 

I found some images of decaying trees and have been using india ink to paint over silhouettes of the trees. I went to my studio twice this week and have continued to work into the image and have now added torn sections of different coloured prints over the image and also added rectangle paper "gravestones" out of an old letter from the 50s which i acquired for another sculpture a while back. 

I am now handwriting Freuds War and Death essay over the top of the entire image and its really coming together. sadly the collage is on the worse type of paper so i have a feeling that i will be re-doing the entire collage - but it does allow me to experiment with different ideas. 

The collage had a really surrealist feel to it - something which i want to explore more. 

Freuds war and death essay is fantastic and i hope i can explore the text more, potentially makes new works. 

Excuse the awful mobile phone photo - it was very dark in my studio by the time i left!

Interim Exhibition

After seven manic weeks on my Masters Degree at Norwich art school, the full time students (thats me + 4 others) and the second year part time students have put on an interim show in the University gallery. When i first started, the thought of having something vaguely resolved and in a fit enough state to exhibit with my peers terrified me...but i did it. 


The whole process seems to have gone really well - two students took charge and have done a fantastic job of organising us all. It was a bit of a novel experience as since i left art school in 2009 i haven't had any in put into how or where my work was exhibited in an exhibition. If fact i only really find out when i go to the exhibition that my work is in and in some cases, when my work is hundreds of miles away, i never even see the exhibition. 

I had wanted my work to stay on the second floor of the student gallery space. Its much quieter, less foot fall and less chance of it being walked into, touched or broken. However my reasons where not really the strongest in terms of curating an exhibition. So down it went, carried in a students arms as i hid in the studio hoping he didn't drop it. It is now positioned right in the center of the first floor student gallery - i wish it the best of luck!

The exhibition looks good and is finished ready for the private view on 6.12.12 - we are quite an eclectic bunch of artists including: painters, digital image, moving image/film, performance/installation, sculpture/assemblage, so it had made for a really diverse exhibition. 

I felt my sculpture needed to be on a different plinth, but for an interim show it is sufferable. I had a short discussion with Paul about how my sculpture should be presented. I am in a fairly unique position being a wheelchair user as i always find work in exhibition too high and difficult to see. My sculpture is on a 120cm plinth which is almost above my eye level. Paul agreed that it was too high for a standing person too. We also discussed what sort of plinth i could use in the future. I love clear perspex plinths, i find them less obtrusive and particularly with my latest sculpture, i think a perspex plinth who be ideal. The piece looks as if it could have the potential to fly - but this is lost when sat on an oversized white plinth. I have also had several of my pieces put under a perspex cover which has worked really well. It gives it that museum/victoriana feel which my work seems to have. Paul suggested i experimented with modes of display which i hope to do. 

I also really want to make some smaller versions of the sculpture using british garden birds, but i am finding it difficult to find any - i keep following cats around in the hope! 


MA Seminar: Drawing on Failure:

Do you fail?  No, I don’t have the physical energy or time to fail – or so I thought! 

Today we had a fantastic lecture by professional artist and lecturer Stephen Felmingham.

He discussed, among many things, that his practice depends, even demands failure to keep him going, to keep striving. He even occasionally sets out to fail.

He asked us if we fail as artist.

I thought I didn’t allow myself to fail; It takes a lot of energy, time and patience for me to make work. I spend an awful lot of time thinking about the piece I want to make, how it will look, what it will say, who is it for, how will I actually make it.  99% of the time the work doesn’t fail due to this investment of time. I don’t like to fail, I don’t find it a positive thing in the way that Stephen talked about. I suppose I was adamant that I didn’t fail...but I do!

I fail in my head, I just don’t allow people to see that failure.  New ideas pop in and out of my head, I get obsessed with an idea, I research it to the nth degree and then it fails and I feel like I might fall into a black hole for several weeks. I panic that that was my last good, or so I thought, idea.

Maybe I need to embrace failure as others do in my MA class – some seem to thrive on it.  

Some times I fail due to practical issues – new ideas get put on the back burner because I can’t afford to do them, or I can’t get the co-operation I need to complete them. I didn’t really see this as failure, I still don’t see it as failure.

I don’t often draw anymore due to problems with my right arm – but I think I need to challenge myself to draw more…maybe everyday.

So yes – I FAIL regularly; I am just excellent at hiding it.   

Breaking the mould.

I had one of those truly successful days where everything i planned to do, got done and more. I don't usually make it in to Uni on a Wednesday due to work commitments but i really wanted to get my sculpture out of the mold. Being paralysed and trying to lift, turn, drag a 40kg sculpture is close to impossible but i managed to get three of the sides off before sending for help in the form of 3D technician Rachel. After releasing it from the wooden frame she lifted it on the the plinth. 

I am so pleased - it looks just as i wanted it to. I like clean lines, perfection (or close to it). A curator friend, whilst discussing my work said to me that i make work about such dark things, with such a strong concept but the outcomes always have an element of craft. I was totally mortified by this statement (nothing against craft based artists) but i saw myself and still do as a contemporary visual artist with a strong concept based practice. However i understand now what she meant. I pride myself on making work that is beautiful, that is gallery/exhibition ready. I don't like unfinished-ness. 

I am very keen to have additional supporting prints with this new sculpture. I am very clear that i am not a commercial artist but i do need to eat/pay rent so i quite often make prints, photographs or smaller piece for sale. 

I think the sculpture would translate really well into a screen print - i also want to experiment with working into the print with either pencil, inks or maybe other methods of printing. Now that my main piece is finished i plan to spend the rest of this module developing/making supporting work and maybe some small versions of the main piece. 

The title is definitely going to be

"Do not betray the moment for some distraction ahead". Its very poignant to me, and i hope the viewers can relate to it as well. 

Death Cafe

I forgot to blog about my first experience of a death cafe! In fact i think it was the first official death cafe in England. It was held in Woolpit, Suffolk on the 24th October. 

Have a look at the link to find out more... 

It was very interesting, i went hoping that it would inspire some new ideas. There were about 30 people that packed the small meeting room, all older than me and from a range of different background. They all had come for very different reasons. Some had experienced a recent death in the family, others were planning their own death and some like me were just curious. 

I was hoping it would be very philosophical with lots of debate but it was mostly people talking about their personal experiences. I met some really interesting people and will probably go again... if they hold it in a place that doesn't mean i need to have my chair carried up the stairs and risk my life on the dodgy stair lift. 

What a headline - Women dies at death cafe! 

Artist Statement: 200 Words

For tomorrows session we have been asked to write a 200 word artist statement. Luckily its something i do on a very regular basis for exhibitions, grants or commissions. Writing and re-writing my artist statement over the years has been of huge benefit, particularly when i have been put on the spot by a curator or collector and asked the dreaded question "So what do you ACTUALLY do?" 

So here is my updated (stab at an) artist statement. 

Amy Louise Nettleton is a professional exhibiting artist based in the East of England. Her art practice is strongly concept led and often explores themes of the ephemeral, the fleeting, life cycle, ownership and preservation.

The artist’s work has a strong narrative; working from a very personal point of view whilst engaging the public as a vehicle to develop new ideas. The Latin phrase Memento Mori (remember we must die) has become pivotal to the continuing development of her art practice. Despite dealing with dark and often uncomfortable issues surrounding the human condition, the artist employs the use of humour or light heartedness through the visual outcomes, text or when titling her work. Her art practice has a strong connection to the three-dimensional works of the surrealist movement of the 1930s. 

Exploring found objects, by-products and commonplace materials she develops sculptures, installations and assemblage works with a strong aesthetic, often being described as beautiful; despite the concept or materials.

While the majority of the artists practice is non commercial, gallery or commission based, she also develops and sells more commercial works in the form of screen prints, photographs of the original works or smaller wall based memento pieces from the original installations.


Nov 2012

how to get a 40kg sculpture to the second floor in a lift shaft that wont take 40Kg...???!!!

My sculpture survived the weekend. Its in its green phase (apparently) and will need longer to fully set. Todays task was how to get the very heavy, still wet so extra heavy, sculpture from the 3D workshops across the road up to my MA studio on the second floor. 

Rachael the technician very kindly offered to help me with it as pushing myself in my wheelchair and a sculpture that is nearly as heavy as i am was never going to end or even start well!

We got it across the road through several keycard locked doors a few dodgy ramps and cobbled street fairly well and into the service lift. I shot up in the normal lift. Thinking that the service lift would be as equally slow as my lift i wasn't surprised that it hadn't arrived before me...although after waiting 20mins it still had not appeared. It turns out the service lift wont take 40kg of weight up to the second floor and it kept breaking down. 

After another 20mins of trying and trying, the sculpture finally made it, via two different lift and about five different people. Under my table it went in the hope that my neighbouring artist will not flick it with paint as he has several (Jackson Pollock style) paintings 6 inches away from my desk that he is working on. 

I will take the mold off it on Thursday i hope - fingers crossed!

Making real life work - that scary thing artists sometimes do...

Today i headed in to NUCA's 3D workshop to start my newest piece of work. The technicians had kindly made me the mould i needed to make my concrete cube last week. 

I met up with Rachael (technician) and we wired some pieces of foam into the base of the mould to make sure that the cube would not be so heavy that it couldn't be moved. Then both Stephen and Rachael helped me to mix about 35kgs of cement in the outside work space and i filled the mould - i spent about half an hour knocking the air bubbles out of the mix and scraping the excess water off, then re-filling with concrete until i had a smooth top. I then positioned the birds wings in the cement. The cement will need about a week to set. The piece will be exhibited on a plinth for the interim exhibition, we are hanging on the 29th November so there isn't much time left...particularly if something goes wrong with this piece. 

I feel that i want to make more of these using different sized cubes and different species of birds. I am really interested in the contrast of materials and physical weight.  I want to explore ideas of restriction, preventing freedom, fragility and immortality. 

I would really like to have three supporting silk screen prints that accompany this piece. 

A while back i wrote down a sentence a man said on a television program i watched at 2am. 

It was about a man that devoted his life to living with native American Turkeys. He hatched the eggs, fed and nurtured the chicks. He spoke about the change in role he had in these turkeys lives; Starting out as their mother, doing everything he could to keep them alive and how they followed him. He then said as time went by he went from being the followee to the follower, he spoke about how quickly time goes.

Almost at the end of the program he said these words:

"Don't betray the moment for some distraction ahead"

I thought they were the most profound words, a very odd man that lived with Turkeys, could ever say. I want to use these words with this new sculpture. 

I suppose i want the work to be a poignant reminder of our fragility and life cycle. Sometimes i feel like a pair of wings trapped in a block of concrete...

Masters degree Art Forum Question

As part of the Masters Degree at NUCA we are required to engage with the universities online platform in lots of different ways. One of the platforms is an Art Forum where Artist and senior lecturer, Paul Fieldsend-Danks posts questions which we can discuss and debate with the other MAFA artists. Here is my contribution and attempt to answer his first question. 

How important is an understanding of context, in the development of your practice?


Paramount - I make work from a very personal point of view (as lots of us do) but also understand that i am not the audience for my own work- i don't believe that as artists we can solely make art for ourselves. My work has to be accessible to range of people with a range of experiences. 

Ive worked as a so called professional artist for a few years now and have exhibited across the UK - i understand (i think) what the viewer is looking for in my work. This experience and knowledge has led to me making work within quite tight parameters and has forced me to challenge myself.  

I think as artists we very quickly develop the skill to realise where we "fit" in terms of exhibitions, residencies and commissions. 

Reading until my eyes hurt

Having access to Athens is both fantastic and dangerous to my optical health! 

I am trying to take in as much theory, text and imagery as possible to inform my art practice (which is also required by my masters degree) - but i do wonder how to stay on track. I love words, embarrassingly i love latin phrases, cheesy as they may be and poetic writing. i often find that i can read something or listen to something and images of new work pop into my head. 


I am just reading André Masson: Surrealism and His Discontents,  Art Journal, Vol.61, No. 4 Winter 2002. I will pick out a few sections of the text that i find interesting and possibly could inform my visual practice

Page 75
Andre Masson fought in the great war because he wanted to experience...and know the "ecstasy of death".

talking about his post war experience and institutionalism in a mental hospital leading on to his art practice...
He opened himself to the provocation of surrealist ideology and his work became a medium of poetic exploration, a realm where dark myths and mutations of the Psyche held sway over forms invented for their depiction. 

I definitely use my art practice as a medium of poetic exploration, often dealing with issues of restriction, movement and degeneration/decay. 


I am also flicking through a new book from NUCA library; Surreal objects by Hatje Cantz. 

I understand that visually my work has a strong connection to the surrealist art of the 1930s onwards but i feel i also have a deeper meaning/back story/reason for my work. It's not just made to shock, in fact i don't believe i make any work to shock, but i definitely want a reaction. I want the viewer to feel something when they look at my work. 

I am also considering more and more who my audience is and how to display my work. I personally believe that the most successful art is work that you are absolutely compelled to touch. I don't just mean three dimensional work, even paintings. I remember seeing Cy Twomblys four seasons when i was a really young child and all i wanted to do was touch them. I want to make work that people want to touch and experience and stay with. 

I was talking to a student yesterday who said she was recording sounds from the Mark Rothko permanent exhibition at Tate Modern. She said that she found it so funny that people would stand and read the blurb, turn their head, cast their eyes on the piece for a millisecond and move on. I want the viewer to be engaged in my work - but i suppose so does every artist. 


This afternoon i had a really productive tutorial with Carl Rowe. I show him a few photographs of the work i have done recently and he seemed to "get it" which is always good. Its when they don't get it i really have to start worrying.

He said he thought i was trying to engage the viewer within my work, i dont make spectator art but i use the viewer almost as a participant within my work. I need to think about this a lot more and explore whether i can capture in someway - the viewer being a participant and how i could use this in my future work.

We talked about my evolving idea of sinking the birds wings into a cube of concrete with the pocket watch and he questioned whether i actually needed the watch, does it do anything more? I think he right, the piece is more powerful and it looses that last be of cliche-ness that i was trying to get away from.

So i am currently having a  mold made for me 250x250x250mm so i can make my concrete cube. I need to probably make some sort of holding device, so whilst the concrete is setting the wings don't completely submerge.

It may be that i create a series of these cubes in different sizes. I am really looking forward to exploring ways of display and exhibition. I think lighting might be really important with this piece.

I think i sometimes feel like a bird stuck in concrete

Book hunting

Today i found the library - a momentus occassion; as since i started my Masters i have not left room SG21. (Possibly the most oppressive lecture room i have ever spent 7 hours a day in).

The library and its resources are fantastic although i am in competition for books with another student who is also interested in similar themes. Im really hoping that as we progress through the Masters that we may be able to do something; an exhibitions or maybe collaborate in some way as we seem to share common ideas within our work but employ different techniques; she is experimenting with film at the moment, which sounds really exciting.

Anyway -  After realising i have a sever lack in knowledge of 3D surrealist artists and their work i am currently borrowing: Surreal Objects, Three-Dimensional Works from Dali to Man Ray. Its has a lovely mock-velvet cover...which is as far as i have got. I only picked it up today!

I have lots on reserve but i also took out looking back to the future, essays on art, life and death by Griselda Pollock- lots of reading to be done this weekend!




Studio Practice

Studio Practice.

I have been developing a new idea using taxidermied birds wings. But after my last meeting with a group of students i really felt my initial idea was a bit cheesey/obvious/girly/pretty i could go on. I love using concrete as a medium (maybe i see it as a challenge i.e what material can i use that is so heavy i can pick up). The conotations of the matieral - permanence, particularly. I made a sculpture in 2010 called All the secrets i never told, where i embedded secrets that the public had given to me into beautifully formed cubes of concrete, metaphorically taking the secrets to the grave. I'ver been thinking that i should re-visit that idea.

So using the wings and the pocket watch (if you look at previous posts you will see the original idea and materials) i planned to embed them in another much larger concrete cube. Fixing them in time, in place, weighing down the potential freedom. 

I need to play around with idea a bit more and possibly have a series of these pieces...more thinking to be done!


Turner Prize

I made it to the Turner Prize – first time ever and it was definitely worth the £38 taxi fare and the 5 hour round trip in the rain!

The first gallery was exhibiting Paul Nobles, wacky, intricate, bizarre graphite drawings of his Nobson Newtown imagined world. His drawings were amazing; work that you could spend real time exploring. The detail was incredible and several were on a huge scale taking him two+ years to complete. Interspersed were two or three black and white ‘marble looking’ sculptures apparently of “excrement having orgies”. I actually really liked these pieces, they worked very well with the drawings and looked very tactile (although I didn’t touch). Looking around I noticed other visitors spent the most time with these works – I suppose because they were the most accessible and easiest to decipher.

The second gallery space was Luke Fowler; a film maker. All Divided Selves, 2011, was the third in a trilogy of films exploring the ideas and legacy of fellow Glaswegian, the psychiatrist RD Laing. The space also featured stills from the film. The film was captivating, at times confusing and hard to hear. Parts of it were quiet uncomfortable to watch. “Drifting in and out of several narratives, the viewer becomes an inadvertent witness to psychiatric sessions between orthodox practitioners and their patients and the radical projects of Laing and his colleagues”(Sofia Karamani).

A specially designed space had been created to solve the problem of viewing films in a gallery setting. Sadly I don’t think it solved any issues and actually I believe the space created more issues. The space was so dark that the not-so-helpful Tate staff were using a flash light to apparently guide people into the space, sadly their flash light skills left much to be desired after temporarily blinding one lady. The seating was difficult to find in the dark and at one point I had a couple making out on the floor to my left and a man that decided to lie on the floor and take his shoes off; piling his belongings against my wheelchair wheel. Sadly due to the smell of his feet I only managed 32 mins of the 93minute film. I haven’t experience much film in an art context, but I really did enjoy Fowlers work and would like to watch it again…minus the smelly feet, flash lights and snogging.

The third Artist up for the Turner Prize was Elizabeth Price who weaves together archives of text, image and sound to create video installations. I spent very little time with this video installation – I’m not great with flashing images, but I actually have a personal connection to the work so I tried to watch as much of it as I could. The work THE WOOLWORTHS CHOIR OF 1979 2012, Comprises of three parts, the video brings together distinct bodies of material into a dissonant assembly; photographs of church architecture, internet clips of pop performances and news footage of a notorious fire in a Woolworths furniture department in 1979. My grandmother was in the 1979 Woolworths fire with my uncle where 11 people died and many were injured. When Price’s work was nominated for the Turner Prize, my father told me that she had gone shopping and suddenly all the alarms started going off, the staff were asking people to leave the building and apparently people were still queuing at the cash desk to pay for their shopping. There was little initial panic and shoppers were not in any rush to vacate the building. I personally find video installations a challenge to connect with as it is so removed from the type of work I make myself.

The last gallery spaces were exhibiting a range of works by Spartacus Chetwynd. Two spaces were designated for her performance work and a smaller space exhibiting an inflatable slide, which had been turned on its side due to health and safety issues and televisions showing videoed performances of previous work. The whole event was quite disturbing and confusing at best. Chetwynd makes carnivalesque live performances featuring handmade costumes, props and set and a varying ensemble of family and friends. Several live performances take place each afternoon. I managed to watch the last performance of the day entitled Odd Man Out, 2011. Set in a space, with walls made of photocopied images handing from a structure, two performance artist/dancers dressed like possessed gnarled trees encouraged people to sit down, whilst they danced, shook, convulsed around exploring the space and throwing paper leaves around. After a few minutes they collected a quite terrifying looking puppet which became alive, confronting people in the audience. Then one of the performers picked people to go and listen to the puppet and then were shooed out of the room.  The Turner Prize guide describes it as “visitors were invited to present themselves one by one to the oracle, a deity-like puppet in the form of a mandrake root wielded by a troupe of acolytes in mandrake costumes who dished out ominous pronouncements on their past or future actions. Not being entirely wheelchair accessible I was not asked to take part in this – thank goodness! Again I find some performance art quite challenging to relate to but I really enjoyed the experience…however many did not!

All four artists work was really interesting, but challenging and sometimes on the edge of what could be argued as art. I’m not sure “it went down” as well as it could have being in the Tate Britain, it certainly wasn’t as busy as I had expected it to be. At the end was a comment board, quite a mix of ideas and feelings about the exhibition but generally quite negative. If it was nearer I would definitely pay another visit as the experience was quite intense and I needed more time to understand some of the nominations; Particularly Elisabeth Price and Spartacus Chetwynd.

Tempus Fugit

After Thursdays session at Uni,   where we were given the opportunity to discuss current work we are developing, i have really struggled. I'm not a prolific artist,   my work takes time and i don't have an art practice that involves a large amount   experiementataion. This is mostly due to the type of materials i use. The other artists in my group, seemed to have lots of experimental work and their work developed really interesting discussion and potential avenue for new direct. Not feeling very well; i found this session almost distructive. I feel what i lack, is the ability to talk on the spot in a very eloquent way about my work. In my opinion i can write very well about my work, but when asked to discuss a new idea/piece of work i am left with a lots of "umms" "i thinks" and general silence. I feel i am at a disadvantage at the moment because i was   one of only two   full time Masters Degree students in this group. The other artists are all in their second year of their part time masters. I need to recognise this and realise that they know the "rules" and it will take me a little while to get into the swing of it all.

Almost all of my work has come from a well thought through idea that often has no   physical results, in terms of art work. I feel this also causes me some problems.

I have been thinking for the past week about developing a small sculpture/assemblage that explores the latin phrase Tempus Fugit/Time Flies. I have purchased a pair of beautiful black birds wings. After a day at my studio on Tuesday (before my session on Thursday) i developed this:

I didn't feel that is that a finished piece and felt that it needed something more. During the very short discussion i had with my group and tutor/artist Paul Fieldsen-Danks i was thinking that it was too simple, too pretty and far to obvious. I want my work to be beautiful to look at but i also want to make sure that there is a deeper meaning. i dont necessarily want to give all the answers to the viewer. They must come to their own conclusion to develop a connection with the work. I had a horrible feeling it was just far too cheesy.

I spent some time this weekend looking at Surrealist sculpture and paintings. I dont feel that i have a connection to the surrealist style but from an outsider view it is very obvious.

Discourse and Exposition

Discourse and Exposition:

This morning we had a really interesting group discussion. Each week we are set tasks and this weeks task was to come to the session with five artists, five exhibitions, five texts and five research questions that interested us, inspired us or that we felt connected to our work.  

See below for my lovely spider diagram. I suppose my choices should connect more - maybe they do and i haven't yet understood it all yet. Secretly i am writing this blog a bit belatedly and since this spider diagram i have been thinking about other issues and much better research questions...but you will have to read on to see this.

Listening to the other artists in the group made me realise there maybe opportunities for collaboration. Two other artists deal with similar issues in their work, although their practice leaned more towards memory and their visual outcomes appear to be very different to mine..  

melanie Carvalho in conversation

Today i went to Smiths Row in Bury St Edmunds. Smiths Row is a public contemporary art gallery with a 6-8 week turn over of fine art and contemporary craft and design exhibitions. It is also the place i spent a year working as Curatorial Intern over 2009/10.

Current Exhibition - Eastern Vistas

Melanie Carvalho is one of seven artists currently in the show Eastern Vistas curated by the fabulose Rosie Grieve.

The blurb reads: East Anglia has been a point of arrival and departure for human communitities over the centuries. There are layers of evidence from afar in local street names, colloquial language and villages, towns and cities. With the subject of migration as relevant globally today as ever, this exhibition explores themes of travel, cultural and national indentity and a 'sense of belonging' through the work of a diverse group of artists.

A small group turned up for the talk, which was really interesting. Carvalho explained that her current work, Wot I, came about from a artists retreat at Wysing arts centre near cambridge, where she met curator Rosie Grieve. She began inserting a small black (humanised) blob into World of Interiors magazine photos. This object inhabited the space but shouldnt or didnt fit. It was almost the un-said. After spending some time doing this, and conversations during the artist retreat Carvalho applied for Arts Council funding to develop this 'character' into a stop motion animation. The form both experiences and is a manifestation of a sense of alienation of which he attempts to escape. Carvalho spent a huge amount of time learning the process of stop motion animation and said that it was more involved and time consuming that she had ever imagined. In the end she worked with a young animator who did much of the intense process.

She also worked with a friend who went to Scotland to record natural sounds from the environment which are played throughout the animation along with a song from a a band in America.

Carvelho said she feels like an explorer she "conjures worlds that drift between the experience and the imagined" and has spent much of her working life as an artist experienceing and working in the Scotish Jungle.


Melanie Carvalho, image from Wot I 


Read out is a Manifesto. Not a patch on Mary Schmich, but a declaration of personal belief, opinion and intentions. Written after three years of recovery from an under-graduate degree where all enthusiasm was drained out of us to tick the boxes of conformity.

·         I make work about death whilst trying to stay alive.

·         Rightly or wrongly I occasionally post rationalise my work, I will continue to do this without embarrassment.

·         I am driven by competition and other peoples doubts in my abilities,

·         My practice is inspired by a combination of Arte Povera, conceptual art, installation and occasionally Stephan Fry’s QI.

·         I will only create work that needs to be made.

·         I will strive to create polished beautiful works, whilst ensuring that the concept is not lost in the aesthetic.

·         I am determined that I will not slide on to the slippery slope of commercialism, enforcing that my work will never be brought to match someone’s curtains or sofa.

·         I will stop being an artist when there is no longer a point.

Amy Louise Nettleton aged 26 years, 5 months, 2 weeks and 5 days.

This manifesto is a light hearted series of statements or rules that I have never written down before but carry with me in my consciousness; however they don’t define or limit my work.



What is a water bottle?!

Discourse and Exposition:

After the introduction talk and the embarrassing but inevitable introduction of who we are and why we think we might be there, we were set a task to discuss a bottle of water...hard than it sounds.

There were the philosophical, the practical, the ethical, the visual, the poetic...i could go on.  

See the expertly designed/collated spider diagram that my partner Richard and i created

There was of course a reason for this (other than making us all feel thirsty). After sharing our thoughts, Paul Fieldsend Danks discussed how...TBC

Masters Degree 2012/13 the beginning...

Yesterday   I started my Master Degree and due to my ridiculously awful memory I have planned to remind myself what on earth   I am doing by writing a blog on my website so both my website visitors and I can keep up with what I am doing and why on earth I am doing it!

My masters degree is full time and split into two modules that run co-currently, those being (for the next 14 weeks):

Discourse and Exposition

Description (if you really want to read but this part is for me!)

This unit will focus on the production of new studio practice that extends or challenges your existing knowledge or methodologies, employed in previous work. In particular, the unit will examine different approaches and contexts for your practice, and will enable you to consider potential methods of dissemination to an audience.

This unit is practice-based and places an emphasis on studio-based activity. It will encourage you to broaden the breadth and depth of your research, through an investigation of a range of concepts, issues, materials and processes relevant to your enquiry. The consideration of appropriate methods for both display and wider dissemination will form part of group discourse, with an opportunity to exhibit work (or work in progress) as a group in the student gallery. You will be required to consider your work both in relation to that of your peer group, and to the broader context in which your practice might be positioned.

Through tutorials and seminars you will negotiate your individual approach to the assessment requirements and develop a Learning Agreement indicating your intended submission. It should also outline the methods you will employ to meet the stated Learning Outcomes for the unit.

Where appropriate, relevant workshop inductions and Health and Safety training may be provided, according to student needs.

You will contribute to a reflective journal throughout the unit to record your learning and development, using written and visual reference as appropriate.

Research into Practice (which doesnt yet have a description but a delightful list of tasks instead)

Week 1

Consider your own practice (either from a studio or curatorial perspective) and

determine the model(s) of research that are appropriate to you. Formulate this into a

short text (maximum of 50 words) and bring this with you to the week 2 session on

11th October.

Week 2

Research examples of ‘collaboration’ within the context of contemporary fine art and

curatorial practice. Choose one example of collaboration that particularly interests

you and produce an A4 sheet with a short text (a maximum of 50 words) and 1 image.

We will discuss these at the seminar in week 3 18th October.

Week 3

Prepare for your tutorial in week 4.

Week 4-5

Prepare a 10-minute presentation on your own practice/research to be delivered in

weeks 6 and 9. You can adopt any method of presentation but we will need to stick

rigidly to 10 minutes. The presentation should be based on one example from your

own practice (object, image, text, performance, video). This will provide the basis

from which you can describe your work and appropriate research method.

Week 9

Prepare for your tutorial in week 10.

Week 10

Read reviews of exhibitions in the various journals and periodicals available in the

library. Consider the methods, structures and styles of reviews across different

publications. This research will support the Reviewing and Exhibition course

workshop in week 11.

Week 11

Prepare for your Poster Display and Presentations.

Week 12

Prepare for assessment submission.

I hope that all subsequent blog posts will be much more interesting and enlightening but you have to start some where!

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