Thursday, 30 November 2017

'Chronica' Sleeve Artwork

I woke up this morning (I say 'morning' but technically I'd missed the cut-off for that time of day by about an hour) to find a note shoved through the letter box, telling me that the postman had left a parcel for me, tucked between the wheelie bins. Having a pretty good idea what the parcel contained I excitedly nipped out to retrieve it, before it could get rained on. The last time a parcel was left there, I'd been away from home for a week. And if you know anything about the British weather, then you can guess what state it was in by the time I found it.

The parcel turned out to contain exactly what I thought it would - 'Chronica', the new gatefold, double album on heavyweight vinyl, by The Scaramanga Six. Even though I completed the sleeve artwork some months ago, this was the first time that I'd got to handle a copy of either the vinyl version or the CD (digipack double-CD is on lovely reverse-board finish) version of the record. I must say that I'm very pleased with the results. The colour reproduction and sleeve design is spot on, and matt finish to the cardboard sleeve not only looks great but adds that extra tactile element. Now all I have to do is dust off my trusty gramophone and give this baby a spin...

The Scaramanga Six, for an English indie band, are pretty much in a class of their own. They're theatrical songs and flamboyantly aggressive stage presence has made them a significant band on the Leeds rock scene. Described as "the closest we'll see to a British answer to Fugazi", The Scaramanga Six exist in a Lynchian-like soundscape where the likes of Cardiacs or Tony Bennet wouldn't seem out of place.

So here's a little about the concept behind the double album (lovingly lifted from the band's own site).
The title of this work is ‘CHRONICA’ – containing an abstract story roughly hewn from a concept of a dystopian island society. A place where everything has fallen into ruin, yet people still seem to have the same preoccupation with the trivial crap they had before. The population trudge through a chaotic existence on top of each other with absolutely no hope of a better life. Society is reduced to its base behaviour yet people still crave superficial fixes. The human condition carries on regardless. There is no outcome, no lessons to be learned. Familiar?

Before I started work on the album sleeve artwork, the band sent me loads of notes on the concept and other useful information. Rather than try to tackle as many of the elements from the notes as possible (in a straightforward illustrative manner) I decided to try and produce something that engaged with feel of the run-down dystopian island society that the album describes, whilst still staying true to the aesthetic of my own work. To achieve this I started by collaging together distressed, old materials, on top of sections of antique packing crates (check out some of the gorgeously grubby old labels, still attached to the wood), sourced from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, where I used to work. Then I painted over areas of the collage with images adapted from my own drawings of found objects, morphing in and out of one another.

Creative Debuts - Haunted House of Horrors Exhibition

It would seem that I've made a bit of a blunder over my blog post scheduling for the announcement of the final days of the Creative Debuts' Haunted House of Horrors exhibition (in which I had five of my small paintings), at their Shoreditch, London exhibition space. I had thought that it was to run till the 4th of December but it would appear that the show has already ended. Oops!

However, you can still find a small selection of my artwork, available to buy, on the Creative Debuts site.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Dyslexia Amazing Art Award 2017

On Saturday I was honoured to receive the Amazing Art Award at the 2017 Dyslexia Awards ceremony, which took place at the Engenuity science museum (part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums group). Here I am, proudly receiving my award from Jill Bagnall, the designer/maker behind Fusing Ideas Glass. Not only did Jill's company sponsor the award that I won, but Jill also designed and created the wonderful glass trophies for all of this year's winners.

©Infocus Photography – Michael Wilkinson 2017

As some of you may have spotted from my ten years or so of blogging, I am dyslexic - although, through the use of spell check and laborious self-proofreading, hopefully not too much of the negative side of the condition shows through in my writing. I say negative 'side' to highlight the point that dyslexia isn't just a disabling condition. The dyslexic brain can allow, what some might actually consider, an unfair advantage when it comes to creative thinking; especially when you consider how many pioneering creative minds were themselves dyslexic. People such as Leonardo da Vinci, Agatha Christie, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Alexander Graham Bell, Walt Disney, Erin Brockovich, Richard Branson, John Lennon, and John F Kennedy, to name but a few. Not that all dyslexics can claim such talented and versatile minds - but at least it's nice to realise that you're included in the same pool of potential. And it's fantastic that we have people like Elizabeth 'Eli' Wilkinson, who set up the Dyslexia Awards organisation to help celebrate, and raise awareness of the positive aspects of Dyslexia.

I'd like to end this post by saying a massive thank you to all my friends, family and colleagues, who generously sent it such heartfelt and lovingly composed supporting nominations - and to the judges who selected me for the award, based upon what they read in those nominations. Last but definitely not least, thank you Eli and the rest of the Dyslexia Award team for all your dedication and hard work.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

All Aboard The Salvator Mundi Bandwagon

Did someone shout 'bandwagon'? Well, here we go then...
AP photo/Julie Jacobson

If you were one of the many (pretty much all of us) who couldn't afford the $450M price tag for a Leonardo da Vinci (that possibly isn't actually a da Vinci anyway - yes, I'm talking about you Salvator Mundi) then don't worry - I have come to save the day. For a mere £8, plus postage, you can be the proud owner of one of my 'DaVincipus' tote bags - 100% genuinely guaranteed not to have been anywhere near a Fifteenth Century, Italian Renaissance polymath. My design is, however, based upon Leonardo's Vitruvian Man drawing - but me being me, I've replaced the limbs with tentacles and turned the square and circle line work, as depicted in his original drawing, into a frame from which my 'cephalopodised' (what do you mean, that's a made-up word? Aren't all words made-up?) man suspends himself.

My DaVincipus design is screen printed in black and white ink on cotton tote bags, in a range of 17 different colours (limited edition of around 4-5 bags per colour). The bag dimensions are 40 cm x 37 cm (not counting the handles).

I should just mention though - if you follow the link to the full range of colours, the olive green bags have now sold out. And my 'Swirly Skull' tote bags have now, all but for one pink and six unbleached, also sold out.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

New Print - 'If They Were Bunnies'

After lots of research into Fine Art giclée printing and artwork reproduction capture (with helpful tips from friend and fellow artist, James White) I am pleased to announce the arrival of my new print, 'If They Were Bunnies'. With this print I worked closely with the amazing Mark Parry, of The Artist's Print Room, whose eye for detail is spot on. I was so impressed with Mark's work that I also commissioned him to photograph the artwork that I produced for the new Scaramanga Six album, 'Chronica' (but more about that later).

Aside from Mark's unparalleled photographic and reproduction skills, one of the major selling points for me, in using The Artist's Print Room, is his use of cutting edge Epson® HDX Ultrachrome archival pigments inks, as opposed to ordinary dye-base inks, which are more prone to fading over prolonged exposure to UV light.

At this point I'd like to interject an apology for the white balance on the photograph (which you see here) that I took of the finished 'If They Were Bunnies' print. In the actual print, the bunnies and border are the pure white of the paper, as opposed to the off white that you see here. My Bad!

I created the original image for 'If They Were Bunnies' by first selecting a newspaper image of British police officers attacking demonstrators. I then placed a clear animation cell over the image, and painted out the protestors - replacing them with my own cartoon rabbits. After scanning the image I then tidied up a few bits on my laptop to heighten the contrast between the crisp graphic line work of the bunnies and the, just about perceptible, halftone modulations of the newspaper image.

As well as the archival pigment inks, that I previously mentioned, 'If They Were Buinnies' is printed on Hahnemuhle Bright White 310 gsm; an acid-free, premium heavy-weight archival paper. The image is 45.5 x 33 cm, and the paper size is 50.5 x 39.3 cm. Each print is signed and editioned (being from a limited edition of 100). The prints are also embossed with an authentication stamp (see close-up photo) in the lower left corners of the border.

For a limited period I'll be offering 'If They Were Bunnies' at the reduced price of £120 to members of my mailing list, or to anyone wishing to join the list. So, if you are interested in one of the new prints, or just in joining my mailing list, please feel free to drop me a line at

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Slave/Master at the V&A Museum

I recently had the pleasure of working with two friends, Moin Roberts-Islam and Brooke Roberts-Islam of London-based innovation studio, BR Innovation Agency (BRIA), when they called me in to help design and to build the wooden elements of the set for their latest project, Slave/Master - which runs until Saturday 24th September as part of London Design Festival at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Slave/Master combines contemporary dance, cutting-edge robotics and interactive projection graphics in a collaborative performance, with the audience able to roam freely around the installation space, viewing it from all angles.

The time allocated for the construction of the set was pretty tight but the 'innovation destination', Plexal (at Here East, on the Olympic Park site), kindly provided space for the dancers to rehearse, the robotics guys to do their thing, and for me to build the set. I build the two circular dance platforms, the framework for the 7.2 metre by 5.5 metre tall projection screen, the computer desk, and the 4.5 metre wide projectors platform at the back.

On our last day at Plexal the dancers gave a last preview of their routine with the robots (which is where I shot this little video) before we dismantled everything and shipped it all over to the V&A, ready for the following mornings' install. Unfortunately I had to head up to Shropshire straight after reconstructing the set at the V&A, so didn't get to see the performance at the V&A, and the dancers in their costumes, but from what I've seen online it looks amazing.

The concept, costumes and production were devised by BRIA, with projection graphic technology and creative support from Holition and dancers and choreography from the London Contemporary Ballet Theatre. Robotic arms, software, engineering support and sponsorship were provided by KUKA Robotics UK Ltd, Autodesk, Adelphi Automation and SCM Handling.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Two Days Left of Toy Box Exhibition

I thought that I'd just post a quick reminder that there are now just two days left (Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd) to see the art exhibition, 'The Toy Box: From Pop to Present' (curated by Jason White), in which I am showing two of my early sculptures, 'Magnet' and 'Baby Kit', at the Civic in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the show looks at contemporary artists and designers who use toys as a theme. My work will feature alongside that of Eduardo Paolozzi, KAWS, Jimmy Cauty (English artist and musician, best known as one half of the duo The KLF, co-founder of The Orb, and as the man who burnt one million pounds.), Ron English, Jason Freeny, Sarah Graham, Joe Simpson, Laura Keeble, Campana Brothers, Fyodor Golan, Freya Jobbins, Fabric Lenny, Steve Lovatt, and Julie Newton.

Open Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm (last admission 4.45pm)

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

RCA Secret 2017 - The Reveal

The Royal College of Art's annual fundraising postcard-sized art sale, RCA Secret 2017, has finally come to an end, so it's now safe to reveal which of the two mini paintings were my contribution to the show. So here you go -

This year's RCA's postcard sale was smaller than in previous years but still featured over 2,000 postcard-sized drawings, collages, photographs and sculptures by some of the world’s most celebrated artists and designers, as well as by promising students from the College.

Every year the RCA Secret attracts high-profile art collectors and passionate art lovers. Each of the postcards on display were sold anonymously for £55, with the identity of the maker revealed only after the purchase was completed, and on the day of collection (this Saturday just gone). All profits from the sale go towards the RCA Student Award Fund, which helps emerging artists at a formative stage in their careers by funding scholarships to the College.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I created four other mini paintings at the same time as this year's two RCA Secret entries, which I revealed online as a slight clue to the identity if my postcards. One of which being the last piece that you see here.

Monday, 11 September 2017

New 'Improved' RCA Secret 2017

The start of the RCA Secret show seems to have crept up on me this year, which is probably something to do with the fact that I finished and sent off my entries for the exhibition so far in advance. It wasn't until I started seeing tweets about the chaos of the new queuing and entry system to the show, which opened on the 9th September, that I realised it had already started.

I can't remember exactly how many RCA Secret shows I've donated work to but it's definitely been all of the last ones for well over a decade. So here are a few of my entries from years gone by.

In previous years, potential purchasers of the postcard-sized artworks from this annual sale at London's Royal College of Art (where all the artwork, donated by artists, designers and students, is displayed anonymously, until the point of sale) would queue up outside the gallery space for hours, if not days, in order to be one of the first through the doors when they opened on the morning of the sale. And all the postcards would be for sale on that day only. In later years a raffle was introduced, that enabled a few lucky people to jump to the front of the queue, but even so, most of the people who queued early still managed to get some pieces from their list of favourites. 

However, this year a new system was put in place that saw an end to people camping out in front of the gallery, nights in advance, and that spread the sale over several days (from 9-15th September). Also, the purchased cards will not be available for collection until the 16th September, at which point the buyers will be able to find out the names of the creators of said cards. Ooh, the suspense! I suppose it's only fair that I wait until then to reveal which are my two cards from this year's show.

As you can see from the unofficial RCA Secret Blog Twitter page, a lot of people were not happy with this new incarnation of the college's secret postcard sale, and with the chaos of the queuing system once they got into the exhibition space itself. But hopefully all these issues will be ironed out ready for next year's show.

Dyson Gallery

Royal College of Art
Dyson Building
1 Hester Road
London SW11 4AN

Exhibition and Sale

9–15 September
9am – 6pm

Late Opening

11 and 15 September, until 8pm

Collection Day

16 April, 9am


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Toy Box Exhibition - on till 23rd September

The latest contemporary art exhibition, 'The Toy Box: From Pop to Present' (curated by Jason White), in which I am showing two of my early sculptures, 'Magnet' and 'Baby Kit', is now up and running at the Civic in Barnsley. The show is on till Saturday 23rd September. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, the show looks at contemporary artists and designers who use toys as a theme (at least I now have some images from the exhibition to show you), and my work will feature alongside that of Eduardo Paolozzi, KAWS, Jimmy Cauty (English artist and musician, best known as one half of the duo The KLF, co-founder of The Orb, and as the man who burnt one million pounds), Ron English, Jason Freeny, Sarah Graham, Joe Simpson, Laura Keeble, Campana Brothers, Fyodor Golan, Freya Jobbins, Fabric Lenny, Steve Lovatt, and Julie Newton.

The Civic is a gallery and theatre space in South Yorkshire, which hosts touring exhibitions from regular partners such as V&A, Hayward Gallery, Royal Photographic Society and Fashion & Textiles Museum, as well as their own curated exhibitions. 

Here's a bit more info about the show, that I shamelessly lifted direct from the gallery's website, and also featured in my earlier post about the exhibition (double shame!) -

" A well-crafted toy can be a conduit for learning and for nurturing creativity. A toy can also inspire feelings of nostalgia or recall memories of a childhood long gone.

In The Toy Box we will introduce to you artists and designers that have all used or have been inspired by toys in their own professions, either through a sentimental affection for the past or as a medium for telling stories about the present. The exhibition will explore the ways in which Pop Art informed movements such as Photorealism, Pop Surrealism and Street Art, and will showcase artists that have turned the notion of what is collectable art on its head by creating designer ‘art toys’.

Families will be invited to contribute to an art installation that evolves throughout the length of the exhibition. Aided by the help of artist Fabric Lenny, they will be inspired to design and create their own toy robots. Empty plinths and building blocks will be available for young children to build and display their own creations. As will bespoke gallery trails and worksheets, created especially for the exhibition.
National Curriculum Art & Design Key Stages 1 and 2, and elements of Key Stage 3 will explored throughout the exhibition’s engagement programme." 

Open Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm (last admission 4.45pm)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Artwork Destroyed

Hopefully this blog post will act as a cautionary tale to any artists out there, intending to lending their work to an exhibition. Some years ago, when exhibiting in a show organised by Charlie Levine and Minnie Weisz, I made what I soon realised to be one of the most basic errors of exhibiting artwork.

Even if the institution or curator that you are working with sounds professional, never just presume that they are. Check with them beforehand that they have people that know how to handle artwork, will have insurance that covers your work whilst it is in their possession (and if they don't, which may be a bit of a warning sign, take out your own insurance), and that they are using transporters who know how to handle artwork - not just the transporter who collects it from you, but also the transport agent who is returning the work to you.

Obviously, for any artist just starting out you're more likely to be dealing with smaller and less experienced people and venues, but even so, you've put a lot of hard work into what you're exhibiting so don't under value it. Do everything you can to ensure that you are compensated should it get damaged or stolen (which is a lot more likely to happen when dealing with new, small venues or spaces where the exhibition of art is not their main activity).

So, back to my big art blunder. About six years ago I was asked by Charlie Levine (then curating for a gallery called Trove in Birmingham) and the photographer, MinnieWeisz, to take part in the group exhibition, The Event 2011, that they were both curating at the magnificent Curzon Street Station building in Birmingham. The piece that they wanted from me was my sculpture, 'The City'. As this was my favourite piece (although my giant model kit sculpture, 'And When I'm a Man', seems to get slightly more internet coverage), and the sculpture that has influenced the main direction of my sculptural work since its creation it in 1999, I was happy have it exhibited to the public.

Don't get me wrong it was a fantastic exhibition and it, and my piece, were both featured on BBC2's arts program, The Culture Show - but I failed to ask Charlie or Minnie if they had insurance to cover the artworks in the show.

After the exhibition came down my sculpture was transported to Minnie's studio in London where I went to collect it. The day that I went to pick up my sculpture was the day before I had to head out to Miami for Art Basel, so what I saw when I got to Minnie's studio kinda put a downer on what should have been a fun time in Miami. Minnie wasn't at her studio when I arrived to pick up the sculpture - she'd left an assistant there, to not explain what had happened. Apparently Charlie, rather than use an art transport company to deliver my sculpture to London, had used her dad's furniture removal company to do it, as they were passing that way anyway. I don't know exactly what happened to my work as Charlie and Minnie refused to tell me, but when I got to Minnie's studio I was greeted with the sight of 'The City', smashed to pieces. From the degree of damage I can only surmise that if it wasn't done deliberately then it was probably dropped from a considerable height - most likely off the back of a lorry.

Initially Minnie told me that it would be covered by Michael Levine's (Charlie's dad's) company's insurance - which was a small consolation as it would at least allow me time off work (I was then working at the Victoria and Albert Museum) to build a new version of the sculpture. However, Minnie later contacted me to say that as Michael's company was a furniture removal company and not an art transportation company, it wasn't covered for any damage that they did to artwork.

So there you have it! Hopefully this cautionary tale will help others avoid the same mistake that I made.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Website Under Development

As my website,, is in the process of being redeveloped, it is currently rerouting viewers here to my blog. So, for the benefit of those trying to find out about my work through my site, now seems as good a time as any to have a mini retrospective on my blog. What follows is a small section of my work in roughly reverse chronological order (there are a few time jumps here and there), highlighting various themes, motifs, and developments in my work. To help keep it short I've chosen to focus predominantly on my sculptural work.

'Tattooed Tumour Box'

This sculpture evolved from my interest in applying organic-looking structural developments (that have gone awry) to very geometric forms. In this case I have taken as my inspiration the mechanism of a cancer cell, where growth has gone unchecked and produced an unstable-looking, asymmetrical form. The 'tattooed' element of the piece harks back to growing up with a tattooist father but the style of the drawings relate more to my early career as a technical illustrator. As for the subject of the drawings - the starting point was based upon found materials that I had collected for use in future sculptures, but which I chose to morph together or exaggerate beyond recognition.

Initially, I started off the drawing process by rendering elements of miscellaneous found objects, and morphing them together but once I got into the flow of it, and started to really develop a feel for the world that my drawings evolved from, I mostly abandoned the use of existing source materials, and opted for the freedom of simply making it all up.

There are lots of drawn elements of the piece that I've especially enjoyed creating, and one of them is the underside of the base section of the sculpture, and therefore probably the part that is least likely to be seen. So I thought that I'd give it an airing here. As the circular hole in the centre is for the insertion of the pole that makes up part of the work's metal stand, I thought that I'd make it a feature of the overall design, and incorporated a sphincter element to the drawing. The sigils which appear within to outer ring reference occult interests as well as being a tribute to the flamboyantly entertaining comic book writer, Grant Morrison.

'Crutch And Tumour Box'

With ‘Crutch & Tumour Box’ I was trying to apply organic principles to something that is obviously man-made and rectilinear. Taking the construct of the box as a starting point, this piece, like tattooed Tumour Box, pursues the biological anomaly of the cancerous cell as a mode of enquiry. Teetering like a top-heavy fraction, ‘Crutch & Tumour Box’s’ comical appearance is further heightened by the necessitation of its crutch section - a support that is deliberately undermined by the application of a wheel.

'Planetoid 210'

'Planetoid 210' is a realisation of one of a series of sketches that I've been working on for some time. These sketches all involve architectural structures or towers sitting atop planetoids or spherical bodies that are obviously too small to realistically support them. The original drawing was inspired by something that happened to me whilst I was in Goa, India. I was swimming in the sea and noticed an interesting seed pod floating towards me. And as I picked it up to investigate further a small colony of tiny crabs decided that they must have hit dry land and disembarked onto my hand.

'Orifice Tower'

Orifice Tower started out as a quick thumbnail sketch that I drew whilst waiting for a talk to commence at the Jerwood Space in Bankside. I can't remember now what the talk was about but at that time I was working on some small sculptures that were basically wooden boxes that incorporated carved apertures or orifices. By this stage I'd become aware of the fact that much of my work was getting smaller and smaller so I decided to remedy this by creating elevated versions of these new Orifice Box sculptures. This also tied in with my love of tower structures.

'Frankenstein's Orifice Box'

As well as the obvious sexual interpretation of the orifice element that has emerged in many of my recent works, my main interest in the device, lies in it being the portal between the internal and the external. My 'Frankenstein's Orifice Box' piece also incorporates another motif that has run through much of my work - that of the nail box (more on the this element further on in this blog post). If you peer in through the sculpture's orifice you will see an internal, illuminated, nail-encrusted wooden box on stilts.

'Horned God Orifice Box'

Evolving out of a long series of small, wheeled box sculptures (that were themselves a progression from my earlier box tower sculpture, The City), Horned Orifice God Box is the first of these small box pieces that dispensed with the magnified glass window, and adopted the carved wooden orifice.

'RCA Secret Postcards'

For the last fifteen years or so I've been taking part in the Royal College of Art's secret postcard exhibition that raises money to help support the college's students. The idea behind the annual event is that the college invites students and well known selected artists to contribute postcard-sized artworks to the sale, and all works remain anonymous until the point of sale.

Most exhibited postcards are two dimensional but on occasion I like to go that bit extra and produce sculptural postcards.

This long, thin, wall-mounted sculpture, simply titled 'Orifice', was the first of my orifice pieces, and there was quite a gap in time between this and the emergence of the later ones. Regardless of the obvious sexual connotations, as previously mentioned, the orifice form actually came about through a chance observation. Some years ago I had a small oval-shaped cut on my hand that had become slightly red and swollen. I hadn't paid it much attention until I noticed a large van that had some slight damage where something had pierced it's metal side, causing a similar curvature to the edge of the puncture's surface as to that of my own puncture. It was only a small observation but sometimes that's all it takes to trigger a train of creative thought.

'War of The Rosies'

I'm not sure that my sculptural work qualifies 100% as assemblage. It's true that most of my three dimensional pieces employ the use of found materials, but unlike traditional assemblage, where found objects are often merely stuck together (I'm in no way deriding assemblage – in fact many of my favourite sculptures are assemblages), in my work I feel the need to manipulate the materials to a certain degree, in order to make them my own. Even with my box/tower structures, I find it hard to just take existing boxes and use them as they are. I still feel the need to create them from scratch; from bits of old wood – which ironically makes it look like I've just used pre-existing boxes.

One of the problems with using found objects in artwork is that sometimes one comes across a piece of material that is just perfect as it is, and altering it in any way might even go as far as to lessen its artistic merit. And as an avid collector (read 'hoarder') of materials I often find bits of flotsam and jetsam that fit just this criteria.

One such piece, where I've hardly intervened is 'War of The Rosies', which I prefer to refer to as a Minimal Intervention Piece, rather than a sculpture proper. The work is composed of two separate elements; a vintage, leather and steel, child's baseball mask, and a pair of old horns – probably antelope. I'm not sure why I originally put the two items together, but to my mind, they produce something greater than the sum of their parts. And isn't that what art is about? (so maybe they are artworks after all). And the reason for the title you ask? Well, the horns and mask combo remind me of some bizarre warrior mask, and both elements were gifted to me by ex-girlfriends, Rose and Rosie.

‘The Pharos Cyclopes’

Although I have always had a love of fables and mythology, my recent interest in Cyclopes stems from a re-evaluation of my Box Sculpture series. Originally I saw the lone magnified lenses set into each of these box pieces as a window into an artificially constructed world – a world where the lens acts as a fairy tale or dream-like filter.
However, after being surrounded by these works for some time I started to get an uneasy feeling of being watched. And rather than just being things into which one could peer, I was starting to see the lens as a two-way device, with it also acting as an eye - allowing the internal narrative of the boxes to view the world outside. It is through this altered perception of the work that I started to imagine the collective resonances of certain gathered materials generating a subtle form of awareness of their own
One of the reasons that I love working in assemblage is that the more you work on a project, the more you see in it. Although you always start off with a set idea and plan, it is often through the construction process that other influences emerge and you become aware of underlying themes and thoughts that have been milling around in your head. Sometimes it is not until the work is finished that these aspects reveal themselves, or until someone points them out to you.

And it is through this fluid mix of ideas that I came to produce these two chimerical figures – appearing part Victorian robot, part CCTV camera and part Cyclops. The materials that I chose to use exerted an influence of their own, giving the finished piece a naive retro-cybernetic feel as I try to integrate the organic and the mechanical.
The Pharos part of name is a reference to the great lighthouse of Pharos. I see the light that emanates from the heads of these sculptures as representing both an internal consciousness seeking to understand an external world and as the illumination by which to view this dark strange world.

'Nail Box'
‘Nail Box’ is a sculpture greatly indebted to and influenced by the minkisi artefacts of central Africa. Many of these ritualistic objects are carved wooden totems that have had nails and other metal items hammered into them. However, whereas the minkisi derive their power from their contents, with ‘Nail Box’ I was trying to create something that had a powerful presence derived purely from its adornment of carefully selected nails, screws and other various metal implements.
Whilst most of the nails and screws used in this piece were found in London, (anywhere from the streets of Hackney to the inside of the Dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral) much of it was collected from the my travels around Britain and abroad, including Europe, Mexico, Cambodia, Thailand, Tunisia and India.

'Mutant Nail Heart'

As is the case with many of my sculptures, the found materials used in the construction of these three nail pieces were selected for their ‘resonance’ and collected over several years. By using so many metal items that had interacted with the elements and their specific environments I hoped to create pieces whose elements would cumulatively generate a magnified resonance.

'Nail Heart'
Considering the obsessive nature behind the way I collect and hoard the materials that I use in my work, I see these sculptures as totems of the ritualistic side of everyday life - as physical embodiments of the personal belief systems we all create around us.

  'The City'

While much of my work centres on the theme of memory or its fallibility (this is more strongly evident in my pieces that incorporate or recreate childhood artefacts and toys) a continually re-occurring theme or motif that runs through much of the work is that of the wheeled box or tower. This theme developed through concerns with notions on containment and the urge to possess, and with the lack of mobility or freedom that material possessions bring.

'The City' (detail)
Being the most architectural and theatrical piece in a series of four tower sculptures, all of them on wheels, 'The City' is predominantly made up of fragments of found objects and curios. Yet through the use of tiny display cases and cabinets (themselves made from found materials) I intended to elevate these oddities to the status of artefacts, giving the sculpture the overall appearance of a nightmarish, mobile museum. The sculpture's title derives from the fact that in it, each compartmentalised environment plays out its own narrative, seemingly oblivious to that of its neighbour (much like the inhabitants of a real city).


Fetish is the last piece in a series of four wheeled sculptures that came about through my interest in our obsessions with materials and material possessions. After a friend commented upon how much my love of certain materials was similar to the intensity of feeling that a fetishist has for whatever it is that they fetishize, I decided to make a piece that represented that side of human nature. So I decided to use hair as it was one of the less clichéd of the fetish materials and also because it can also trigger the opposite response in some people – that of revulsion.

'Book Tower'

‘Book Tower’ is the smallest piece in a series of four wheeled tower sculptures. The series draws attention to our attitudes towards objects and materials – addressing our need to possess and how this can impact upon our sense of freedom and mobility. The disproportionately large wheels were originally intended to serve as a reminder of our overall loss of mobility and earlier nomadic life style. Although sadly, regarding the current state of refugee migrations, the wheels now act as a reminder of the opposite.
Being made of books, ‘Book Tower’ is already loaded with multiple readings. Especially when one realises that many of the books used are very old, beautifully leather bound bibles.
As well as being necessary for the construction of the sculpture, the deliberate (almost taboo) cutting up of these books provokes us to consider the relationship we have with them. Whether we regard books as sacred because of the knowledge they contain, the holiness of their religious text or because of the rarity and antiquity of old editions, there is little doubting the hold they have over us.


Magnet is the largest piece in this first series of tower sculptures (the others being The City, Book Tower, and Fetish) - a series that relates to our obsession with objects and material possessions. All four sculptures have aesthetically over-sized wheels, intended as a comment on the mobility restrictions that having so many possessions places upon us as a species.
Whereas the other works in the series dealt with revered or fetish materials, Magnet (being made of thousands of plastic toys) was initially supposed to represent the disposable and worthless aspect of consumer society. Yet, knowing the quirks of human nature, I turned this notion of worthlessness on its head by incorporating several prized and sort after ‘collectables’. Originally named Toy Tower the piece was re-named Magnet after its first public showing, when it became apparent that young children, and older toy enthusiasts, found it difficult to resist physically interacting with the sculpture. At its first exhibition four young boys actually managed to wheel Magnet out of the gallery before the invigilator spotted the piece was missing and hurriedly managed to retrieved it before it got too far down the street.

'Book Tower II (Nostalgia For a Childhood That Wasn't Mine)'

Book Tower II came about many years after my original Book Tower sculpture, and is constructed in a very different way. With this piece all the books sections have slits cut into them that match the exact thickness of the partner book that they slot into. This might not sound difficult but the problem with constructing the piece (working from the bottom up) is that in order to processed up the various levels, and to cut the dust jackets to match the slits,  is that the work needs to be constantly assembled, unassembled, and then reassembled. And it quickly becomes very easy to lose track of which book is supposed to slot into which.

'And When I'm a Man, I'll Think as a Man'

Much of my work centres on the theme of memory and its fallibility. This is more strongly evident in pieces that incorporate or recreate childhood artefacts and toys. A prime example of this is ‘And When I’m a Man, I'll Think as a Man’, the life size sculpture of myself as a twelve piece, pre-assembly, model kit. An important aspect of the piece is its bright green colour, which was chosen to match my memory of that of a cheap, plastic, childhood toy - realizing that the memory would have mutated, and exaggerated the luridness of the colour.
As well as being made from 12 separate body casts of myself (a self portrait, I suppose) 'And When I'm A Man' is based on the type of model kit that I used to buy as a child. When creating the piece I was interested in childhood perceptions of adulthood and the role that toys played in this - realising that many figurative toys were that of adult characters, and therefore tools for adult role-play.

'Baby Kit'

I created Baby Kit immediately after finishing my life-sized human model kit sculpture, 'And When I'm a Man' back in 1998. The piece was partly a reaction against the idea that all the parts of a standard model kit assembly should make a unified whole (if put together the components of Baby Kit would actually create two impossibly weird-limbed deformities). But in selecting the right dolls for the sculpture I soon realised that the doll makers themselves had also been creating disturbing hybrids. The largest doll that I used for the construction was actually a composite of different human developmental stages. The limbs and torso were a mixture of post and prepubescent, whilst the face was mostly that of a young child.

And the story of how I came across this larger doll is probably my most extreme case of serendipity to date (but I do generally seem to live a life of weird coincidences). At the planning stage for Baby Kit I'd been collecting second-hand dolls for a while and made an actual sized, rough charcoal drawing of how I envisaged the eventual sculpture. And that's where the project ground to a halt. For I quickly realised that I didn't have a doll big enough to provide three of the elements that I needed to make the sculpture. So, I decided to put the project on the back burner until something presented itself. Fortunately I didn't have to wait long. Within a few days I was walking back from college, and mulling the problem over in my head, when I had a sudden urge to change my route, and walk a different way home. As I did so I came across a black plastic bin bag at the side of the road, and sticking out of it was the lower half of a large plastic doll's leg. So I pulled on it and out came the whole doll, exactly the size that I needed to complete my sculpture. 'The Universe provides', as our hippier selves might say.

'Dreams of Being Batman'

Dreams of Being Batman is part of a small body of work that came about through an interest in childhood perceptions of adulthood.
The fibreglass head is made from a cast of my own head. The colour of the piece, and the way that the steel armature gives it the appearance of floating in mid air is intended to suggest the insubstantial nature of dreams and fantasies. The elongated ears (or horns) in the sculpture are a reference to Batman, one of my favourite super heroes from childhood. The fact that the head looks nothing like the actual costumed head of the Batman can be seen either as a celebration of the fact that imagination (especially the imagination of a child) is not held back by the obstacles of reality, or as a reminder of the chasm that exists between what we once wanted to be and what we eventually became.

I said that I was going to mostly concentrate on my sculptural work in this blog post but considering that drawing and painting is also an important part of my practice I've decided to add a few examples at the end here, just to give a taste of some of the stages in the course of my painterly pursuits.

'Kitchen Blue'

Kitchen Blue and The Ambassadors are both from a series of paintings that play with the graphic line or with notions of the term ‘graphic’. Whereas the figures in The Ambassadors are all reduced down to the bare minimum needed to accurately convey the visual message of the drawing (a skill that was honed during my earlier career as a technical illustrator), The figure in Kitchen Blue is painted in a more realistic yet visceral manner – contrasting with the cold, clinical lines of the background.
Other pieces in the series are derived from acts that are often deemed graphic. With violence being one such act, The Ambassadors takes its figurative element from a photograph that appeared in many of the British tabloids some years ago. It shows a fight between some English and Turkish 'football fans'.

'The Ambassadors'
This photo of The Ambassadors shows the side view of the painting where you can see how the lines sheer off over the edge. The white line of the drawing is actually the primed surface showing through, so when you actually view the piece in the flesh, so to speak, your eye fluctuates slightly between the painted surface and the line drawing below. This can give the impression that the line of the drawing vibrates slightly.

'Spidey Pods'

The Spidey Pods piece came about through the merging of a few different ideas and interests. Part of it was to do with my interest in nostalgia, childhood perceptions of adulthood and childhood heroes (hence the elements of the 70s style Spiderman costume that cloth the pod sections). The work was also influenced by an interest in forms that reoccur within larger forms. Just prior to making the preparatory drawing for the Spidey Pods piece I had been peeling back the skin of a segment of orange and marvelling at the mass of smaller, tapered pod-like segments that it was made up of.
It was whilst sketching out the initial drawing that I also remembered a scene from the original 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers', in which the main character from the movie finds himself in the back of a truck, on top of a pile of giant pods. So again, there is this reworking of elements from my childhood - with films having been another big influence on my early life.


This is an acrylic painting on a section of early/mid-20th Century plywood packing crate, sourced from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. I chose to paint it in a flat Pop Art/cartoon style to heighten the contrast between the paint and the plywood's naturally aged surface. It is intended as a contemporary take on the traditional Shunga prints of Japan. In keeping with the Japanese theme, I incorporated the octopus tentacle (a heavily eroticised image in much of the material that comes out of Japan). However, here I've reversed the power balance of the usually dominant phallus metaphor by having the woman take control of the tentacle, and use it for her own sexual gratification.

'Sun Worshippers #1'

The Sun Worshippers series is taken a collection of fast drawings that I made of people viewing Eliasson's Weather Project when it featured in the Tate Modern's great Turbine Hall in 2003. Whereas these first draughts where all completed in under 10 or 20 seconds, the Sun Worshippers paintings (enamel on spray painted aluminium) were laboriously scaled up and painted to give the illusion of the same flow and immediacy of line that is evident in the original thumb nail sketches.