New Blogsite

As this project draws to an end, so also will this blogsite. I am pleased that I have this comprehensive documentary of my journey over the past 10-months. But fear not, I have started another blog to document what happens from here at:

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Dome

The Dome at the University of Derby campus in Buxton.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A City Walk

It's been very grey and wet today - so here's a couple of bird photos I took a few weeks ago on a sunnier day on one of my walks through the city centre and along the river.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Lovely new stretchers

These are my lovely new professional stretcher bars - total nightmare to put together though (many thanks to Scott Green at the University - without his help I probably wouldn't have any hair left!). I have some sizing and priming to do this weekend to get these ready for next week.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


There have been blue skys above Shed 5 today and the past few days. It's getting a little bit cold down there though. However, these cold but bright days are my favourite in Autumn. Still plugging away at my first installation piece - however, 40 paintings complete and only another 14 to go! I'm looking forward to getting it finished and pushing on with the next piece.

(Play up Pompey, Pompey play up!)

Friday, October 19, 2007


Last night I went to the launch of one of the Hinterland Projects events. It was an exhibition of large-scale photography by Mark Excell exhibited at the Hinterland temporary HQ - a unit on an industrial estate, Colwick, somewhere on the outskirts of Nottingham. A free bus was laid on from Nottingham city centre - and drinks and BBQ on arrival (unusual for late October, but it helped to keep the visitors warm!). There appears to be a lot of art events and projects going on in and around Nottingham - due to what seems to be a bunch of very pro-active artists.

This is my friend Steffie above (sorry Stef just had to mention to the world! She has been inviting me places and has a brilliant handle on the regional art scene:-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

SPIKE IT (and Christmas come early!)

Image copyright Jeannie Driver 2007

This weekend I traveled back to Portsmouth. My trip included a visit to the Aspex gallery where two exhibitions were on show. The first is SPIKE IT by Jeannie Driver. This exhibition was to launch the new SPIKE IT website and celebrate the progress of the project so far though the Office Investigations. This is a project that has been running since December 2006 after Jeannie was awarded an Arts Council Investment in Individuals Award. This project has a lot to say - including environmental issues and getting people to interact with artwork concepts. Also check out the interactive ATMOSPHERE board (click question mark symbol for concepts and instructions), which collects data about the mood of the people participating. This on-going project continues at the Millais Gallery, Southampton Solent University from the 3rd November 2007.

In contrast the other exhibition was a painting show The 1000 Yard Stare by Gordon Cheung. It was good to see this work on account of Gordon Cheung's work being pretty ubiquitous at the moment. I thought that these two shows were of high quality and really complemented each other well.

PS I've just found this out:
Oh well missed it by a day!

I still get excited about materials:

One good reason to be working from home today is to take delivery of materials. This is one consignment - another is as yet unopened ... and if I'm really lucky a third will be delivered today. It really does feel like Christmas - even though I've chosen my own presents! However, look at the amount of packaging!!!!!!!!!

Six Weeks

I'm now six weeks into the project. I just wanted to flag this up as this is the same length of time I spent on my residency in Latvia last year. In Latvia I had made work for an exhibition - which was a personal achievement for me as I consider myself as a slow worker! I'm not ready for exhibition on this residency yet - but the extra time has enabled me to carry out a lot more research. However, I am well on the way to completing my first piece of work, but to put this in perspective it contains 54 small paintings.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The talk of the town

The big news this week in Derby is the opening of the new Westfield shopping centre. I've heard many mixed opinions about this new build - some for, some against. No doubt it has changed the landscape of the city centre, but obviously I have no idea how it looked before. Since I have arrived here there have been many workmen in fluorescent vests milling around. This intensified last week with yellow vests everywhere: shop fitters, store designers, builders et al.

I haven't visited the centre yet. However, I do wonder what will happen to the main high street - as quite a few of the larger chains have just moved into the shopping centre. Let's see what happens to those now empty shops and see if it offers opportunities for others etc. One thing for sure is that there is now plenty opportunity for shopping here.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Painting of Modern Life

The Painting of Modern Life at the Hayward Gallery

After finding out that this show opened on Thursday I made a quick decision to whiz down to London and see it. I wouldn't normally document every show I see on this blog - but in this case I feel compelled to mention it due to the close parallels to my own practice and the relationship to this residency "Sense of Place". The exhibition brings together 22 artists whose work draws upon photographic sources. This is a quote from the flysheet of the catalogue:

"The Painting of Modern Life: 1960s to Now re-examines what has been arguably the most influential development in the history of contemporary painting - the use and translation of photographic imagery ... The Painting of Modern Life explores how the significance and content of an image changes dramatically when it is translated into a different medium."

I always love the word arguably in text like this!

I also love to be impressed by painting (and that doesn't happen very often) and some paintings in this show for me were knockout! It is so important to see paintings in the flesh - and shows like this make it easy to do so. This show addresses the relationship between photography and painting head on - it seems to me that I am questioned about this frequently, so personally it couldn't be shown at a more relevant time.

Now what remains to say is, "How do I fit into this equation?".

Afterwards in contrast I went to the Turner Prize Retrospective at Tate Britain. Documenting the work of the past winners from the beginning of the prize (1984) to now. Love or hate the work, love or hate the media circus, love or hate the prize - it was evident after seeing this work en masse how much quality it contained. I wish that more people could be proud of our artists instead of being suspicious. I know that there will always be mixed opinion and you can't please everyone (and rightly so) - but this is part of our culture, so we should experience artworks to know why we DO NOT like them as well as like them. I fear most people make their decisions via the popular media rather than from their own experiences. For example, Damien Hirst's Mother and Child Divided has been ridiculed and is used as a popular example of British contemporary art, embedded in the consciousness of the pubic at large (you know that artist who cuts up animals and puts them in tanks). On reflection, I can say that this is not a 'nice' piece of art, and you can easily get carried away with the hype and common myths. However, it is not supposed to be 'nice' and personally this piece remains extremely emotional when I stand next to it - so therefore doesn't that make it a powerful work of art?

Friday, October 5, 2007

And on a lighter note...

I stumbled across this in the popular novel I'm reading at the moment, "A Spot of Bother" by Mark Haddon:

"... and one way of drawing a rubber plant would be to photograph it and project a slide onto a large piece of paper masking-taped to a wall and trace it, which some people might think of as cheating, though Rembrandt used lenses, or so they said in that article in the Sunday Times magazine, or perhaps it was Leonardo da Vinci, and no one accused them of cheating because it was what the picture looked like that mattered ... though now he came to think about it he may have thrown the slide projector out in 1985 along with the plastic bath..."

It's a witty book about family life. This paragraph made me smile. Taking it one step further what about artists' assistants?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A nice cuppa tea

Stick the kettle on and everything will be all right!

So, comfy? Good! I've been drinking lots of tea as usual, and managing to fit in some painting in between. No seriously... I've been working hard. I have already done what I said I wouldn't do and that was work all weekend (just gone) and evenings. However, I'm on one of my obsessional loops, so this is the reason. I am making a piece of work that involves a certain amount of repetitive donkey work at the moment. This just needs to be done and dusted, then the final part should be more rewarding. But I have to move fast on this one! Firstly, I have a great big bee in my bonnet and it must be made and completed at all costs! Secondly, it is one of those pieces that needs to be made quickly, as I fear that if it drags on I won't be able to keep up with the many other paintings I just NEED to make.

Whilst doing this donkey work my mind does wander a bit. Today I was thinking about 'contemporary art' (well actually contemporary anything) I was wondering what defines it or how other people perceive it. Do we all have a common knowledge and understanding of what this means? Firstly 'contemporary' means living or occurring at the same time. Secondly, it means approximately equal in age and thirdly it means following modern ideas or fashion in style or design.

So are all professional artists working today (ie alive and kicking) contemporary artists? Or does a contemporary artist make work of a certain 'type' which could be perceived as fashionable or cutting edge? Although we all know how fickle fashion is! We know who our contemporaries are - but I wonder if this is the same thing as a contemporary artist? You see my mind does wander!

Recently I was asked to go and see the MA Fine Art show at De Montfort University on behalf of Axis (artists' database) to select two graduates for the website. I was asked to write a short text about the artists' work I had chosen. The first one is now live on the website: Astrid Robinson.

Here's a little sketchbook sneaky: