Sunday, 27 February 2011

At last...

Seems like ages since I had a chance to get out and actually take some new photographs. This weekend I managed it at last, with a trip into the Lancashire hills. And at last it feels like Spring is finally coming, after a long hard winter.
Springtime 1, 2011
Springtime 2, 2011
Springtime 3, 2011
Springtime 4, 2011

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Cicatrix Caementicium, 2009
Evolving from the Dis/Integration project, and serving as an adjunct to the location-specific concept of that series, I am also working on another series with a more general exploration of weathered and deteriorated surfaces away from the salt water and ozone infused air of the North Sea coastline. 
Barn Door No.2, 2011
This series also moves away (in part) from the abstraction in destruction, to examine and evoke both the geometry of the surfaces themselves, and also the interaction of the corroding surface and corrosion itself with other elements. 
The Passage of Time, 2010
Objects and symbols, in juxtaposition or in symbiosis, create a contrast or enhancement which invite us to examine the process of deterioration, and remind us of our inevitable involvement in that process. 
Turn Left, 2011
While we talk at length of how the human race is destroying the planet which is our home, these documents of decay call to our attention the inescapable fact that, in an individual sense, we are all ultimately destroyed by natural phenomena, and our unnatural obsessions only hasten that process on a personal, but also a global scale.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Light and Brilliance

What I did this gloomy February Sunday afternoon. A treasury featuring the incredible depths of talent in the UK based photographers of Etsy.
Look, click and comment here.

Actually, that's not all I did this gloomy Sunday...but the other thing is staying under wraps for now. All will be revealed in due course!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Muse in Shoes

She is a deep and powerful source of inspiration to me.
She Stumbled, He Caught Her   2011

Artistically and personally. Mind and soul. Essence.
She Jumped, She Flew   2011

She is beautiful and sublime.
She Walked Into Her Future   2011

Thursday, 17 February 2011


This ongoing photographic series evolves from an interest in surfaces under stress, weathering, deterioration and decay. Dis/Integration is an exploration and exposition of the process in which distress and decay in themselves create beauty.
Dis/Integration Series 1-6

The UK's East coast, where I live and where all these images were captured, is an area where the elements are acting dramatically on the coastline and landscape.

The sea is rarely angry here, but its formidable power is still felt, as erosion gradually but inexorably eats into the land. Whole villages have disappeared, and the predicted rise in sea levels mean large areas are expected to succumb in the future. The coast is studded with man-made attempts to hold the sea at bay, but the task is futile.

Dis/Integration Series 7-13

The weather is rarely extreme here. We are sheltered from the atlantic storms which batter the western coastline. But sometimes, when the wind swings around, the weather comes straight from the arctic circle, or the winds scream across the European continent from Siberia, turning our coast into a desolate, inhospitable, but still beautiful place.

Dis/Integration Series 14-16

And with the weather comes destruction and decay. An unstoppable decomposition of the manufactured and also the natural world, a constant reminder that everything created is ultimately destroyed, that birth is the beginning of a journey with only one possible outcome, that despite the advance of civilisation and technology the power of nature remains always outside our control.

Dis/Integration Series 17-19

So, the question becomes whether we despair at our lack of ability to control our ultimate destiny or that of our creations, or accept the transience inherent in our existence and celebrate the moments we experience and the beauty within them. The Dis/Integration series is an invitation to experience every moment as fully as we are able and focus on the things we can control instead of the things we can't, in the knowledge that our time is short. 

Find the complete portfolio here.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Heroes - Cy Twombly

CY TWOMBLY   The Rose (IV), 2008   
Acrylic on plywood   99 3/16 x 291 5/16 inches (252 x 740 cm)

While perhaps not quite deserving the title of 'greatest American artist you've never heard of', Cy Twombly is by far the lesser known of the two truly great artists to emerge from the famous Black Mountain College. There are several reasons for this, not least his decision to leave the US and settle in Italy, which made him less visible than his friend Robert Rauschenberg. Twombly's style, with intense elements of abstraction and scribbled words or sentence fragments on stark, often sparse backgrounds, is also less immediately accessible than the recognisable Americana of Rauschenberg's famous pieces. And the themes of romanticism, nature, poetry and classical mythology which have dominated Twombly's work, though obliquely treated, are more the stuff of 'old' art than the contemporary. 

Cy Twombly, Quattro Stagioni: Autunno, 1993-5, © Cy Twombly

As a huge Twombly fan, and having seen many of his major works in isolation or as part of themed shows or collections in Paris and Bilbao, I was sorely disappointed I couldn't get to 2008's Tate retrospective. So the chance the following year to see The Rose, five new multi-panel paintings, at The Gagosian Gallery's Britannia Street location, was an opportunity not to be missed. The show certainly didn't disappoint, and with the gallery almost to myself late on a Tuesday afternoon, it was wonderful to experience these spectacular works and examine them up close and personal. The evidence is that Twombly's creativity and technical brilliance burns brightly still at over 80 years of age.

CY TWOMBLY    The Rose (IV) (panel 3 of 4, detail), 2008
Acrylic on plywood    Panel: 99 3/16 x 72 13/16 inches (252 x 185 cm)

Each painting depicts three giant roses across four large panels, with the final panel containing scrawled fragments from Rilke's poem cycle The Roses. This combination of nature and poetry, painting, drawing and text, is Twombly's signature style, and in these monumental works creates an awe-inspiring and partially disconcerting effect. Simultaneously we are drawn into the abstraction of the running paint and the dynamic brushwork evoking the flower as it bursts into full bloom. Simultaneously we are drawn into the power of the vibrant tangerine, gold and crimson, while entering the internally reflective world of the poetic text.

CY TWOMBLY: The Rose    Installation view
Seen close up, the paintings are a revelation. On the last work in the series, which depicts the rose in a state of decay, almost black, the drips show black paint running through bright green, indicating that the artist was working quickly, layers of paint being applied on top of still wet layers. On other panels, the work is more careful, colour densely layered upon colour and the running paint forming distinct patterns and layers of its own. The style is perhaps more gestural than some of his earlier work, but the overall effect is powerful and evocative, and Cy Twombly is without doubt still a master of the merging of abstract and figurative, image and word.

CY TWOMBLY: The Rose    Exhibition Catalogue
The Rose is not currently being exhibited, but an intriguing exhibition setting Twombly alongside Nicolas Poussin runs at Dulwich Picture Gallery from 29 June to 25 September.

Find a fantastic resource on Twombly here,  including a gallery of over 200 works from 1951-2002.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Inspirations - The World's Mine Oyster

"Why, then, the world's mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open"
William Shakespeare

Just as the pen is mightier than the sword, so may be the camera. Whenever I point my camera at something and frame it in my viewfinder, I am trying to touch it, and feel it touch capture its essence or an aspect of its essence, but also to imbue it with my essence. This is true of all my images, but never more so than when I find myself or place myself in another country or culture, and see another world through my twisted lens.

Travelling is not only a journey of discovery, but also of self-discovery, and in this it becomes a metaphor for the journey which is life itself. To experience a world outside our own, away from the mundanity of place ourselves deliberately in the unknown, and within that to be ourselves unknown, is to create a freedom which may be simultaneously powerful, seductive, and intoxicating.

And through that freedom, we may gain new vision and new perspective, both literally and figuratively. Iconic scenes, monuments and landmarks become more vital and significant when experienced directly instead of vicariously...and the intensity of experience which comes from discovering or immersing oneself in something or somewhere genuinely and completely alien, is such that we are often changed utterly and irrevocably through it. 

The challenge, then, is to capture and record this intensity and iconography in a form or concept which creates a vicarious experience with a power of its own, which makes the record and enhancement of a journey taken into a journey itself for those who cannot and will not travel the same path. Through this connection and inspiration of memory and imagination, and in a physical or a mental sense, the image may become a starting point, a waymarker, or a destination. 

Monday, 14 February 2011

Steel at a Steal

Following my recent solo exhibition at Ipswich's Samford Gallery, which was a qualified success, I have a few canvas prints for sale at just £45 each, which is a considerable reduction on the gallery price. My canvas prints are on 100% cotton canvas, stretched on a Scandinavian Pine box frame. 
350 Hardened, 2009, 20x15 inches

350 Hardened, 2009   Detail

Find this and several others at the usual place. Type 'Seen on Blog' in the message to seller box and I'll take another £5 off (via Paypal refund). Now that really is a steal!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Inspirations - This Sceptred Isle

"This precious stone set in the silver sea"
William Shakespeare

Like the documents of decay which make up my Dis/Integration and Surface projects, many of the  other photographs I take in this country are studies in the power of nature, its capacity both to create and destroy, and through either process create a purity of beauty which is at once definitely aesthetic and indefinably metaphysical.  

Each image a captured moment, an experience, and each immediately lost in time, the record merely a substitute, a cipher for the experience. The moment becomes the stuff of memory, and imagination, without the possibility of empirical verification...the time and space changed irrevocably even as the shutter closes. 

And so the image becomes what it evokes. Recognition, recollection, inspiration, contemplation. The viewer experiences not the moment which was captured, but their own response to the record. The empty beach becomes their personal environment, the flower blooms in an imagined garden, the landscape creates a landscape of the mind. 

The captured moment is just the starting point, the catalyst for a reaction and the beginning of a journey. The image may be manipulated and distorted to create a more concentrated, distilled version of the moment, into which  we pour the water of our own emotion and experience. Every image is an imperfect representation of a perfect moment, and from every image, we create or recreate our own. 

The coast, landscape, urbanisation and countryside of this land, the power of nature shaping and changing them moment by moment, subtly and violently, creating images of beauty and evoking memory and emotion which at times are also awesome in their affective power, delivers constant ever changing inspiration for the mind and soul.

My photographs of 'this sceptred isle' are humble attempts to convey and catalyse that power. See the results at my portfolio site.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

New Work - Weathered Wood and Panoramic Beachscapes

January was good for creativity, if not so much financially. Added three new works to my ongoing Dis/Integration series, which centres on the abstract aesthetics of decay and deterioration in our coastal features and sea defences. 
Dis/Integration 17

And also began a new series of panoramic beachscapes, under the title of Convergence, emphasising the amazing beauty of empty and desolate expanses of sand contrasted against huge and dramatic skies.

Convergence 3

As always, more to be found, and prints for sale, at Etsy.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Yes, I have a shop at Etsy, and also one at Folksy.

Yes, I would love you to buy my stuff.

But that's not the sole purpose of this blog. Really.

Of course, I will be promoting my work here, especially new work as it is created, but there will be plenty of other content too. I intend to post on a variety of subjects, and feature many things which inspire me, excite me, and move me to comment, ramble and wax lyrical.

My world is diverse and multi-faceted, and as much as possible self-created. I invite you to come into my world and into my mind. Inside the Atelier.

I will expose and espouse my heroes and influences, the strange and wonderful things I have discovered and love, the people and places that generate and propagate my creative energies, and the cool stuff which has that indefinable ability to hit my solar plexus. 

And maybe, just maybe, I'll tell you how to make the perfect Bloody Mary.

In other words, I won't just be shouting about my own talents. In fact, I would love to shout about yours too, so don't hesitate to get in touch and let me know who you are and what you do. In time, I hope enough people will come this way to make it all worthwhile, for all of us.

So, self-promotion, yes.....but not just self-promotion.

Atelier Photosynthetic

"We begin with the possibilities of the materials"
Robert Rauschenberg 1925-2008