Monday, 15 January 2018

Dazzler Font by Kerim Hudson

Dazzle font - Visual Pain by Yurki

This amazing dazzle font is called Visual Pain and is by Yurki.

Sorry if your eyes hurt after seeing it!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Jacqueline Donachie - Right here among them at The Fruitmarket Gallery

I fondly remember the artist talk that Jackie Donachie delivered to the Environmental Art students at Glasgow School of Art. I was in the second year of my undergraduate degree, and was really taken by the social aspect of Jackie's work and the way in which she goes about making work.

I specifically recall her telling us about how she struggled to make work immediately after graduating. She explained that after going to Art School, she needed to earn some money and so worked in a bar. It was while working at the bar that she created Advice Bar (1995), "a makeshift bar manned by the artist, who gave out drinks in exchange for problems, for which she would offer advice." It has since existed in many versions. For the Fruitmarket exhibition the gallery has been developed into Advice Bar (Expanded for the Times) (2017), a long concrete bar which cuts intrusively through the lower gallery. I enjoy the way that Donachie adapts the work according to the context. It seems particularly relevant that we have an opportunity and space to discuss problems given the current political and social state of the world. 

Also in the downstairs gallery, Temple of Jackie (2011), is another work that I was familiar with in a previous iteration. The adapted camping trailer was used to serve soup and drinks at the opening of the Glasgow Sculpture Studios when they relocated to Kelvinhaugh Street. I was working at Glasgow Sculpture Studios at the time, and so was involved in the set-up of this installation. The trailer has also been used "to screen films, as a DJ booth (as here), as part of the impromptu, socially engaged part of her practice. The Temple will be used for several events throughout the course of the exhibition."

Upstairs, the work took a slightly different slant. Through my knowledge of Donachie's work, I was aware that she has being investigating myotonic dystrophy, an inherited muscular degenerative disorder that affects several members of Donachie’s family, but not the artist herself. "In the video, Pose Work for Sisters (2016), shown upstairs, Donachie and her sister, Susan, pose before the camera in homage to Bruce McLean’s Pose Work for Plinths (1971). The sisters interact with the props in different ways, striking complementary poses that require various amounts of flexibility, balance and strength. Though the family resemblance can be seen, a disparity in the physical capabilities of the women becomes apparent."

The monitor showing Pose Work for Sisters (2016) is placed upon In the End Times (2017), a steel ramped platform that has been powder-coated dark grey. This non-slip surface is often used for stairs, walkways and ramps, and for the floors of trucks, trailers and ferries.

In the End Times (2017) has the appearance of an item of 'urban furniture', as do other works such as Walk With Me (2017), a green line of aluminium tubing that cuts through the gallery and acts as a drawing in space. 

The large drawings of lampposts and CCTV cameras on poles belong to Glimmer (2013–), an ongoing series. In the context of the other work, I became aware of the fragility of the structures, how they lean and can take on quite human-like stances.


It was fascinating to see such a range of new and old work made by Donachie. I enjoyed the more sculptural, material-focused aspects of her work alongside the more socially engaged event-based part of her practice. At the root of all the work there is an underlying interest in how individuals exist in the world, things that unite us, and things that distance us from others. There is a sense of trying to find a way of existing within society.

Curator studio visit for Assembly House exhibition

Today Liam McCabe and Emily Garvey came for a studio visit. 

Liam McCabe is a visual artist, curator, writer and works on the Programme Team at East Street Arts based in Leeds. His artwork explores data, repetition and information overload.

Emily Garvey is a visual artist based in Newcastle. Her interests lie partially within the realm of the digital. Using 3D modelling software, she produces fantastical virtual worlds, which echo not only ideas of paradise but also well-known mundane environments, of which we are all familiar. Emily and Liam are curating BITTER SWEET, a group exhibition that will take place at Assembly House in Leeds in March this year.

We met to discuss ideas and plans for the exhibition.

This is the space

The exhibition will include the following artists

Neil Carrivine
Emily Garvey
Jawbone Jawbone
Oliver Perry
Helen Shaddock

It was really good to share my ideas with Liam and Emily and to hear about what some of the other artists are working on for the exhibition. It is shaping up nicely!

Friday, 12 January 2018

Visit to The Word to discuss forthcoming exhibition

Yesterday Jenny Richards and I went to The Word in South Shields to meet to discuss plans for my solo exhibition and to develop plans for a symposium to be held to coincide with the exhibition. I have been speaking with Jenny Richards, Joseph Cowen Professor of English Literature at Newcastle University. Her current work is focussed on the physical voice, the fifth part of rhetoric, pronuntiatio or delivery, and the history of reading aloud.

Jennifer invited me to be part of her project, Recovering the Voice.

One of the outputs of the project is to host an event that brings together eminent Voice specialists and academics in order to share research and work towards the development of a large scale funding bid to the AHRC or Wellcome Trust. It is this event that we proposed to host at the the symposium at The Word.

Richard Barber and Pauline Martin at The Word were both very encouraging about hosting the symposium at The Word, and suggested that we actually adjust the dates of my exhibition so that it corresponds with Write Festival which is happening in May, and should attracts lots of people. We looked at possible options of spaces in which the symposium could take place. I'll keep you posted with dates.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

John Akomfrah - Vertigo Sea at The Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh

The Talbot Rice Gallery is currently exhibiting two video installations by John Akomfrah, namely ‘At the Graveside of Tarkovsky’ (2012) and ‘Vertigo Sea’ (2015). Both installations "elegise the sea and use it as a metaphor for those lost to both recent and historic memory." 

The Georgian Gallery has been filled with pebbles reminiscent of being at the coast. Audience members have to walk over the pebbles in order to be able to view the work well. Having felt the smooth pebbles on the balls of my feet, and heard the sound of pebbles knocking together as people walk through the exhibition, I felt like I had been transported to the scene. I felt much more immersed ‘At The Graveside’ as a consequence.

"Created with long-time collaborator Trevor Mathison, the work builds upon extracts from various Andrei Tarkovsky films to create a tapestry of sound memories from the islands of Skye (in the Hebrides) and Maui (in Hawaii). A meditation on disappearance, memory and death, the work is at once a personal lament – Akomfrah suffering loss at this time of his first visits to the islands – and an ode to the great Russian director who inspired Akomfrah as a young filmmaker."

‘Vertigo Sea’ (2015) is a three-screen installation that highlights the beauty and danger of the sea.

"Weaving together narratives of slavery, whaling and the current refugee crisis it is comprised of new footage, archival footage – with breath-taking selections from the BBC Natural History Unit – and literary sources, including Heathcote Williams’ ‘Whale Nation’ (1988) and Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’ (1851). Initially prompted by a radio interview with a group of young Nigerian migrants, who had survived an illegal crossing of the Mediterranean, it expresses the feeling of what it is like to be at the mercy of something vast. Overwhelming, ever changing, and with unfathomable depths, the film represents both the physical and intellectual sense of ‘vertigo’ embodied by the sea."

John Akomfrah Vertigo Sea Trailer from Arnolfini on Vimeo.

This is spectacular. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to watch the footage in its entirity (it's around 50 minutes long), but it is definately something I would like to go back and see. The footage is stunning, both beautiful and haunting. The three screens are edited to correspond with each other at times, the outer two may mirror each other but on the other hand, they may operate seemingly separately, focusing on different scenes. The pace of the different types of footage on the screens is well balanced. There is footage of the whaling process which viewers could find very distressing. Despite being pretty squeemish, I was able to continue to look as it was as though the whale meat was being treated as a sculptural material, and I almost forgot that I was looking at flesh.

Monday, 8 January 2018

A weight off my shoulders

I've not been blog-posting as regularly as usual as I have been, and continue to be consumed by some pretty bog-standard 'life' duties and some that are part and parcel of being a self-employed artist.

As the end of January looms, you may notice that the self-employed become a little more weary-eyed and are buried in paperwork. Yes, the end of January is the tax-return deadline!

I am delighted to announce that today I managed to submit my records for the 2016-2017 financial year.

Here is my proof

I'd like to wish good luck to those who are going through the turmoil that is the HMRC Self-assessment tax return submission process. I'd also like to report that the internet submission was operating very efficiently today, so the process was relatively painless compared to previous years. Thanks to HMRC if you have made improvements with the website.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Elizabeth Friedlander

I was recently introduced to the work of the artist, designer and typographer, Elizabeth Friedlander.

Friedlander was a Jew, born in Germany in 1903 who studied typography and calligraphy. She designed headings and lay-outs for Die Dame that were published by Ullstein. It was this magazine work that impressed Georg Hartmann of the Bauer Type Foundry in Frankfurt and led him to invite her to design a typeface.

The typeface was initially called Friedlander-Antiqua, but became known as Elisabeth- Antiqua since Friedlander was a recognisably Jewish name, and this would be inadvisable in the current political condition as Hitler had just come to power.

The anti-Semitic laws that were introduced in Germany meant that, as a Jew, Friedlander was refused the permit required for her to continue to work in Germany. She moved to Italy where she was able to work on the condition that she was not politically active. When severe Italian Antisemitic Laws were introduced Friedlander had to flee and so she obtained a Domestic Service permit for Britain. After a period of working as a domestic servant, she got work in the design field.

"By 1942 she was in charge of design at Ellic Howe's black propaganda unit, where she produced forged Wehrmacht and Nazi rubber stamps, false ration books, and so on, while at the same time carrying out freelance commissions."

Once she had decided to settle long-term in Britain, she worked on the series Britain in Pictures, produced patterned papers for Curwen and Penguin Books, created decorative borders for Linotype and calligraphy for the Roll of Honour at Sandhurst. She was responsible for many of the designs of post-war Penguin Books.

The current exhibition at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft presents the story of the work of Friedlander. The show includes rarely-seen works from the artist’s compelling career including type design, wood engravings, decorative book papers, maps and commercial work.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Making Culture at Home - Front Row

Monday's Front Row on BBC Radio 4 looked at how arts organisations nationwide are seeking to make themselves open and relevant to their local communities. It provides a fascinating insight into what goes on behind the scenes, and highlights the positive roles that artistic institutions have within local communities. 

In Dundee, as the final preparations for the opening of the new V&A Dundee museum take place, Front Row visited the new V&A Dundee community garden. Volunteers Denis Harkins and Derek Cassie and Communities Producer Peter Nurick discussed their involvement in the garden. Sarah Saunders, Director of Learning and Engagement at V&A Dundee, and Cameron Price talked about the museum's first public engagement project - Living Room For The City. In addition, young engineers Emma Evans and Ross Tolland spoke about their contribution to V&A Dundee's most recent public engagement project - the Scottish Design Challenge.

Natalie Walton, former Head of Learning at the Hepworth Wakefield, winner of the Museum of the Year 2017 award, reflected on the actions they took in the year before it opened that helped to ensure it would be a welcome addition to the lives of local people.

Alex Clifton, the artistic director of Storyhouse - the new and long desired arts centre in Chester - and Michael Green, the executive editor of local newspaper, The Chester Chronicle, discussed why the new £37 million pounds venue has received such strong local support.

Emma Horsman, Project Director of The Cultural Spring in Sunderland and South Tyneside, revealed the work and thinking behind Creative People and Places - Arts Council England's latest approach to arts funding which puts local people first.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Self care for artists

It can be quite easy to get swept along by the (usually hectic) life of an artist. Consequently, self care may be neglected. Working as an independent artist can be emotionally, physically, mentally and financially challenging. It is important that artists working with material that is often highly emotive, sometimes raw and physically and/or psychologically exhausting, have support networks and systems in place.

In her Checklist of Self care, Sheila Ghelani sets out some things to consider:

Will engaging in this activity / event / performance / ‘act’ be nourishing and full of care towards:

Will I be looked after?

Will I get paid?

If travelling where will I sleep? What will I eat? When will I eat?

Will I be fed or is it self-catering? Will I get per diems?

Will I feel safe?

Who will I be hanging out with?

Can I bring someone with me?

If something goes wrong who do I contact and what is my exit strategy?

Do I have any special health needs at the moment and will they be catered for?

Have I informed anyone connected to the activity about these needs?

Will there be any language barriers? How can these be overcome?

Am I insured - health, belongings, public liability

Have I got a contract?

What press / PR will I be expected to do and does this feel ok?

How does this activity / event / performance / ‘act’ align with my politics & beliefs?

Where is the funding coming from?

What’s the overall environmental cost?

What do I know about the location / area in terms of human rights / politics?

What do I know about the organisation?

After the event:

Has this activity had an impact on my politics & beliefs?

Do I feel ok about the parts of myself I've revealed during the course of the activity? And if not, what do I need to do to make this ok again?

Have I learnt anything new about the common themes of my practice (e.g. Visibility/Invisibility)

How does this align with my overall life?

Where am I 'at' at the moment?

Will this activity be helpful in terms of my overall life aims (whatever these happen to be at any given moment and if such 'aims' are actually achievable in the first place)?

Or will this be a distraction?


Who will my audience be?

Is what I’m doing accessible (in terms of language, non-arts audiences, for those who are visually impaired, are wheelchair users / have limited mobility, are D/deaf or hard of hearing)?

If not, why not? And how can I overcome this.

How can I be a good guest (reciprocity)?

What will I be leaving behind afterwards, both literally and in terms of legacy?

Are those I’m working with being looked after too (pay, accommodation, per diems, well being).

Do they have any special needs?

Could I employ local people instead of bringing others with me?

Who should I try to make contact with whilst I am in the area and what’s the mutual benefit?

Flora & Fauna:

Are the materials I’m using good for the environment?

What about after I’ve left? What will I be leaving behind?

What about the travel? Is the environmental cost worth it?

Society in General:

What is the long-term message of what I’m conveying?

Have I checked all of my language and actions to ensure I’m being inclusive?

Am I reaching outside of my everyday circle of peers/friends? If not, why not?

If conflict/debate is impossible to avoid, what is the best way to deal with this?

Am I self-censoring my own practice to fit in? And if so, why? Is this the right thing to do in the particular context I'm working in? If not, what should I do?

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Alfredo Jaar - The Garden of Good and Evil at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Having studied Architecture, Alfredo Jaar turned to social engaged art as he enjoyed the freedom it gave him. “I am free to speculate, I am free to dream a better world, and I can only do that in the art world”.

Jaar's work questions humanitarian issues such as the refugee crisis and grief. His exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park spans the Underground Gallery and the open air space in front of the gallery.

Outside, in the gravel path leading up to the Underground Gallery, Jaar has installed 101 trees in a grid with walkable passageways between. Masked by, and positioned within the grid of trees there are nine stainless steel frames structures. These are said to reference ‘black sites’, the secret detention facilities operated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) around the world where human beings are being tortured and killed.

"I will not act on the world if I do not understand the world." ALFREDO JAAR

In the first room in the gallery the audience meets a wall of bright light forming one of the sides of an installation booth in which visitors are invited to sit and watch a film. The film, The Sound of Silence (2005), reveals the story of a young victim of the 1993 Sudanese famine. Nearing the end of the film, a sudden flash of light reinforces the drama within the narrative.

Jaar's play on light and dark is continued in another room in which a full colour image taken by photographer Koen Wessing of two grieving daughters morph into black and white silhouettes. Shadows (2014) continues in the adjacent space where six additional images taken on the same day show the family's trauma after the murder of a farmer.

"Generally we are taught how to read, but we are not taught how to look." ALFREDO JAAR

A Hundred Times Nguyen (1994) is a work that is based on an experience that Jaar had when he was visiting ‘refugee detention centres’ in Hong Kong in 1991. In the centre of the gallery there is a vitrine containing the story that lead to the work. Jaar had requested permission to photograph a girl, Nguyen Thi Thuy, who later became emotionally attached to him. Jaar photographed her five times at five-second intervals. Out of the hundreds of images he took while he was in Hong Kong, it was these five images that Jaar was most drawn to. It is these that he has replicated and displayed in various orders in A Hundred Times Nguyen. Personally, I do not think that the images need to be shown 100 times for it to be powerful. It was actually the story that I was moved by, and I felt that the images were unnecessary.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

My Mind and Me on Radio 1

BBC Radio 1 have a programme called My Mind and Me which covers topics relating to mental health. 

Episodes include:

Dealing with depression

Tips to beat stress

What is mental health?

Dealing with abuse

The latest set of episodes is all about hearing voices. Over 10 episodes the story of Alice is told.

"Imagine hearing voices in your head. Alice does. She’s a 27-year-old mum who’s had different characters in her mind since she was about 15. They all have names and personalities and they can be hard to ignore. Alice wants to tell you about them so you can understand what it's like to live with schizophrenia."

- Donna - Join Alice as she invites you to meet the very first voice she ever heard, Donna. Welcome to her inner world.

- Rose and Rachel - Join Alice as she gets her revenge on a couple of voices in her head. They're a tricky pair, Rose and Rachel, but Alice has worked out how she can get her own back.

- Michael - This is a love story between Alice and someone very special to her. You'll find out what happened when the voice she loved the most in the world turned into one of her most frightening.

- Mum and Dad - As if things weren't confusing enough for Alice, she started hearing her mum and dad's voices in her head. But, they weren't exactly like her parents in real life.

- Celebrity voices - Alice's voices are often frightening, but in this episode she reveals how she hears celebrity voices which lighten the mood. She even has a bit of a crush on one of them.

- Tony - Leaving the house can be hard sometimes for Alice because that's when she'll hear muffled voices from crowds in the street or supermarket. It's confusing and makes her feel paranoid, but she's learnt over the years how to cope with it.

- Ricky - Alice talks about how sometimes when she's feeling low, she self-harms. But there's a voice which can lift her mood and sometimes she pines to hear from Ricky.

- Joshua - Alice's positivity oozes through this episode. She's in a good place in her life right now and she talks about the voice which reflects this and that's Joshua. She also reveals her plans for the future, which include maths... and bras. Prepare to be inspired.

- Stigma - We're nearing the end of Alice's story and she wants to deal with some of the stigma surrounding schizophrenia. Some people assume those with the illness are deluded all the time and that they never have any sense of reality. In this episode Alice explains why that's actually far from the truth.

- Last voice - Over the years Alice has experienced positive and negative voices, in this final episode she reveals whether she'd get rid of them if she could. It's a difficult question and her answer might surprise you.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas Greetings

Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and hoping that 2018 is filled with happiness, good health and creativity.

As I reflect on what has been a challenging but exciting year, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and interest in what I am doing in the studio.

Here are some of my highlights from 2017


I collaborated with NewBridge studio holder Holly Wheeler to make an artwork celebrating the relocation of The NewBridge Project from NewBridge Street West to Carliol House.

The stress and hassle of the move has been worthwhile as I now enjoy working in my wonderful studio.

After devoting the initial few months of the year to writing proposals and submitting applications, the work paid off as I was awarded funding from Arts Council to support my year-long project, Voices : Within and Without.

In April I was fortunate enough to participate in the one-of-a-kind Spoken Word residency at The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Canada. It was an amazing experience where I learned a great deal and made some incredible friends.

My four-channel audio installation, Everything Will Be Alright, was exhibited in the Stables Gallery at Cheeseburn Sculpture during the May Open Weekend.

Artist Melinda McGarry invited me to work towards an exhibition to take place in her barn in Hexham next year.

In July I delivered 'A lot can happen in a day', a day-long writing and performance workshop, which culminated in hosted a performance evening at Turf Projects in London.

I was asked by Juliet Fleming to write about her solo exhibition Something Coquettish at The House of Blah Blah in Middlesbrough.

I exhibited in Reality Check, the inaugural exhibition at The NewBridge Project:Gateshead.

The Drone Ensemble, the 'group' that I perform with, have had a number of gigs, one of which was at The Sage as part of TUSK music festival.

I have enjoyed increasing my skills through a risograph and a camera-less film workshop.

I also enjoyed developing a Spoken Word and performance workshop which I delivered at Newcastle University. It was a huge success with the students, and I intend to deliver more of these workshops at other educational establishments.

2018 is set to be a busy year as I already have a number of exhibitions lined up:* March 2018 - Bitter Sweet Group Exhibition - Assembly House, Leeds* April 2018 - Voices: Within and Without Solo Exhibition - The Word, South Shields* TBA shortly - Top secret for now! Press announcement expected in January

Hope you enjoy the festive period and that 2018 is a cracking good one for all.