Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Return of Spiky

Tomorrow I should finally be able to finish my Frankenstein’s Orifice Box sculpture when I install the internal Stilted Nail Cube piece. Even though I completed the main, outer shell some time ago, it has been sat in the workshop at the Victoria and Albert Museum (where I’ve been working and where I also collected the scraps of old wood to construct the sculpture) waiting for me to complete the internal structure. So now that both sections are complete I’ll have the outer shell delivered to my studio and hopefully they should fit together – fingers crossed.

The inner section is inspired by my earlier Nail Box sculpture which in-turn is heavily influenced by the Minkisi totems of the Congo (and possibly by an image I once saw of one of Eduardo Paolozzi’s early sculptures in an old catalogue – but I might have just dreamed that bit because I haven’t since been able to find any reference to it).
Although you can’t clearly see it from this image, the front and the back of the cube have windows of splintered wood ‘exploding’ outwards (so that you can look straight through the box). When I was constructing the piece I wanted the splintering to look quite spontaneous and not too contrived but in order to get the exact random quality that I was looking for I had to do quite a few controlled experiments first. This involved me sandwiching pieces of old wood between two thick pieces of plywood with holes cut out of the middles of them and clamping the lot firmly to a sturdy vice. I would then run at the vice, swinging a claw hammer like a maniac, and try and hit the sandwich dead in the centre of the cut-out holes (needless to say, there were a few near misses). At first I just tried hitting the centre of the holes from a non-maniacal, standing position but for some reason the screaming nutter approach achieved the best results.

As is the way with most of my projects – as soon as I start making one thing I get loads of ideas for similar or spin-off pieces. And when I was making the inner cube section of the Frankenstein Orifice Box I began to wonder what a whole cluster of stilted cube sculptures would look like if I lengthened the stilts so that the cubes were viewable at head height. Needless to say – I now want to make a cluster of long stilted cube sculptures (oh, where will I find the time?).
Incidentally, this sketch was made during a practice shoot for a filmed, 24 hour drawing project that I’m thinking of doing along with film makers, Oliver Goodrich and Mike Taylor at Big Face Art. The project will involve me sitting at desk and trying to draw solidly for 24 hours. I know that 24 hours doesn’t sound like a mammoth amount of time to do anything as an endurance task but it’s amazing how mentally tiring it can be if you just sit for six or seven hours and try to fill sketchbooks with drawings from the top of your head. Anyway – we’ll see how it goes.

While I was going through some of my old sketchbooks I came across this one from 2008 which also plays with the idea of raising up small box structures to head height via the use of spindly stick structures. So I must have these little themes running through my head and they just resurface every now and again when they spot a project that suits them. A lot of these drawings tend to be nothing more than thumbnail sketches accompanied by lots of scrawled instructions (normally about construction methods or suggested materials) to my future self - although this one doesn't seem too scribbly.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Sketchbook Tour Hits Texas This Week

On Saturday 12th March the Art House Co-op’s Sketchbook Project starts its tour proper as it leaves its base, the Brooklyn Art Library, and heads off to the Austin Museum of Art, Texas. And the following day it will be stopping off at the 29th St Ballroom at Spider House.

So if you happen to be in Austin, Texas this weekend feel free to pop along to either venue and see if you can find my sketchbook (here’s one of the pages from my contribution to the project) amongst the 10,000 other books that make up the tour. The next leg of the tour will be at the Space Gallery in Portland, Maine but I’ll tell you about that one when it comes up at the end of the month.

And if you would like to see what I did for the project but can’t make it all the way to the US to visit the tour then by all means check out my Oodles of Doodles blog where I’ve been uploading pages from my sketchbook along with my other drawings, sketches, doodles and scribbles.

March 12, 2011 / 12:00-6:00pm
Austin Museum of Art
823 Congress Ave
Austin, TX

March 13th, 2011 / 12:00-6:00pm
29th St Ballroom at Spider House
2906 Fruth St
Austin, TX

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

New Prints at Beyond the Valley

I’m pleased to announce that my latest screen prints, ‘Swirly Skulls’ and ‘Swirly Skulls on Pink’ (my particular favourite) are now available at the very fabulous Beyond the Valley concept store located at 2 Newburgh street, London W1F 7RD - off Carnaby Street.

Since its launch five years ago Beyond the Valley has gone from being a springboard for designers to one of London’s leading destinations for fashion and innovation. As well collaborating with up and coming artists and designers the store and label showcase products by well respected brands and this year’s names include Vivienne Westwood, Aveda, Nokia and Aston Martin. Beyond the Valley has been voted one of the top 100 Coolbrands of 2007/08/09 and 2010.

As well as ‘Swirly Skulls on Pink’ (above) and ‘Swirly Skulls’ (the black on white version) the store also stocks my older and more recognised screen print, Spidey Pods. Unfortunately the image above doesn't totally do the work justice. If you call into the shop and check out the print you'll see that the pink is much more vibrant in the flesh (or on paper rather).

So if you are in the vicinity of Carnaby Street then I thoroughly recommend you to pop into this lovely little store. Every time I nip in there I always find something new and peculiar that I want – which is why I have to restrict my visits.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Opening Night Footage

I've just found this piece of footage from the opening night of the recent States of Reverie show at Scream Gallery in Mayfair. I've managed to spot my work and a few friends in amongst the crowd but even though I was there right from the opening I seem to have managed to evade the camera's lens – unless you count the split second that you see the back of my head whilst I’m talking to fellow artist and exhibitor, LG White.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Horned God Orifice Box

Months ago I showed you some images of my Horned God Orifice Box (yes, I’ve still not come up with a snappier title for it yet) whilst it was under construction and even though I finished it soon after I forgot to post any images of it in its finished state. So here it is, along with a few related sketches.

Here it is sitting on one of the work benches in my studio. The Horned God part of its title comes from the branches coming out of either side of it. And the Orifice bit – well that’s probably quite obvious.

This small drawing from my pocket sketchbook was made early on when I first thought about starting the Orifice Box series. Unlike the Horned God and Frankenstein’s Orifice Boxes this is to be left plain except for an external drawing decoration. I have yet to start this one though.

In this image you can see that, in-keeping with my love of using found materials, I have used the backboards from some old paintings. They came from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and you can clearly see one of the original labels and some of the remnants of gum tape. Although you can’t see it from the two photos, the inside of the Horned God Orifice Box is lined with a collage of bits of early 20th Century newspaper and over-drawn in a similar style to the external pattern on the small drawing above.

One thing that I want to get back into the habit of doing is the quick-fire drawing sessions that I used to do every night before I went to bed. I particularly enjoy the very fast sketches that only take a few seconds to execute. What you loose in accuracy you tend to gain in vibrancy. This one was made after I’d started the new series of Orifice Box sculptures and is a kind of cross between them and my earlier wall-mounted Orifice sculpture.