Friday, October 30, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sketch work...playing with new ideas.

Here are some snaps of my recent studio work, which is mainly taking place in the sketchbook at the moment. I haven't worked in a sketchbook for a long time , its nice to have a place to collect ideas and thoughts , though I do find i still have bits of paper with notes and drawings all over the place,  I'm enjoying reconnecting with the sketchbook as a testing ground.

I have been working with a continuing idea of using instructions and systems to generate drawings. The instructions are becoming more coded,  and the results of new experiments  are more generative in form than previous works.
The instruction sets, or codes, provide a platform for other form growing concepts to be realised, one idea always has an important connection to the next and I see this as an integral part of my practice.

I find that I learn a lot about drawing from using codes, the more I exploit a particular code, repeating it over and over again, new discoveries are made throughout the whole process. My work is completely transformative,  from what you start out with to how its end up as a 'finished' piece. I tend to draw in series, using the same code throughout, and each drawing will be different in form. Using algorithms creates new ideas and informs my technical ability to make a drawing - in composition and spacial forms, and in manipulating the media.

I quite often explore the graphical qualities of the hand drawn line, both in free hand and by using a measuring device. I like to combine this with patterns and repetitive marks, and how i interfere and react to the process is sometimes exploited to the point of chaos. There is a strong element of play and of trial and error in my work and I enjoy discovering imperfections and become inspired by unexpected occurrences that happen as a result of following and exploiting such a rigid format.

Playing with traditional ideas of balance and symmetry is something i'm currently interested in, pushing and subverting classical forms into new directions. I often create a simple field for the drawings to take place - a masked off area on a paper surface, or an X, Y axis to plot randomly generated or found numbers.

Hand drawn pen lines, generated by a plotting area to place the marks, and using found numbers to rotate the page using a protractor.

Hand drawn pencil lines, erased and re drawn, using an x,y axis. Numbers are generated by an online number generator for the purpose of trying the idea out.

And now some of the ideas are being tried and tested on a larger scale, on a separate paper surface.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rochdale Park - Bielefeld

I finally got around to visiting Ravensberger / Rochdale Park, where i learned to ride a bike!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Balkan Art festival Bielefeld

The Balkan Art Festival kicked off here in Bielefeld at Artists Unlimited this evening with a photography exhibition by Armin Smailović and Alen Hebilovic.
The show runs until 23rd October 09 and there are various events through out the city for The Balkan Arts Festival throughout October 09.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back in the studio,,

I'm very settled in the studio now and I've been getting down to some serious drawing business.
Actually, it's not all that serious! - I've been having great fun!

Lately my ideas about using some form of systematic approach to composing a drawing have felt like some what of a burden. This is mainly the reason why I decided to bring an empty portfolio with me.
My drawings have recently started to get quite complex, mainly working with collected and self generated drawing instructions.

One of the things that I decided before I came on this residency is that I would of course carry on with using rules and systems, as these are the things that underpin my whole practice, but instead of using hundreds of instructions (which have been collated in books for the past few years) I would strip things right back and start pulling out the instructions which most interest me.

1) blind drawing
2) plotting polygons from randomly generated and found numbers *
3) repetitive hand drawn lines

I've come to learn that with these combined instructions alone lies enough scope for  lots more interesting and versatile outcomes.

First and foremost though... my work is playful and whimsical and to put it into a few words, my drawings are about investigating the process of drawing.
Some would say they aren't about anything at all - and i may just agree on this.

Plotted polygons and hand drawn stacked lines (graphite) (15.10.09)

Studio wall with drawings and new instruction sets (15.10.09)

Small drawings involving blind drawing processes, plotting randomly generated numbers and repetitive hand drawn lines (15.10.09)

Close up (15.10.09)

3 completed small drawings (15.10.09)

* a closed plane figure bounded by straight sides

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The very, very nice thing about this residency is that I am given a very generous monthly grant to be able to not only fund my social and daily living activities, but there is also plenty spare to be able to buy in new art materials,  and to really invest in some decent quality drawing materials in my case.

First on my list - a high quality drawing compass, clicker pencil and specialist rulers. Simple though it may seem, i'm really happy to now have these drawing instruments to add to my stock of materials out here to make my new drawing projects.

I also made a quick visit to the Tourist Information Centre today to buy a few postcards to make a start on the project for Touchstones Rochdale Art Gallery. Here i found a really nice selection of postcards from the 60's and 70's as well as contemporary and traditional postcard imagery of Bielefeld.

Selection of postcards (12.10.09)

And today I started making my first postcard to send to Touchstones Rochdale. I wont give too much away, as you should go and see the postcards on display at the gallery if your back in the North West UK, but here is a glimps of the first one being made...

Postcard No.1 - Rochdale Park. (13.10.09)

I will archive the postcards and put them on this blog eventually once the gallery have recieved each postcard.
I think one of the nice aspects of this postcard correspondence project is to be able to share some information about Rochdale's twin town, not just through a pretty postcard image, but also to be able to find out some other local history facts and to share it in a personal way. Though the postcards don;t completely reflect the way i make my drawing work, they do offer an insight into what interests and inspires me and how I go about researching and reflecting on my experiences. I also like the fact that it is another way of making a blog.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sparrenburg Castle, Bielefeld

A very short car ride away from the Artists Unlimited house is the beautiful Sparrenburg castle.

(image taken from

Constructed in the mid 13th century by the Counts of Ravensberg, the castle was administrative centre and residence of the county sovereign, and protected the town and trade routes through the Bielefeld pass. It was rebuilt many times. Sparrenburg Castle gained its present outline in the middle of the 16th century. A vast 300m system of underground passages can be explored from April to October, and visitors can enjoy panoramic views over the town Panorama and surrounding countryside.

View from the castle grounds over the city of Bielefeld  (11.10.09)

My most favorite picture of the day, another view point from one of the outcrops of the castle - the beautiful autumnal colours and architecture are stunning. (11.10.09)

I wasnt expecting to be able to see the Dr Oetker factory from the castle!! (more to come on DR Oetker very soon) It's worth mentioning that the Dr. Oekter sign you see here spins round - I was very impressed! (11.10.09)

View across the city of Bielefeld (11.10.09)

This afternoon I was very much looking forward to another walk to check out Rochdale Park, but the heavens opened, again!, and it hasn't stopped raining since. So the afternoon was spent reading and researching contemporary drawing works and arists whos work especially rely on algorithms* to create new forms.  I'll be post more about this during the week along with the first few drawings i have been working on over the past few days.

*Algorithm: a formal set of instructions that can be followed to perform a specific task

Friday, October 9, 2009

Home sweet home (for the next few months)

I thought it would be interesting to share a few pictures of the flat and studio I have kindly been given to live and work in for the duration of my residency. It illustrates just how privileged I am to have been selected to come here as the working and living conditions are first class.

The Studio is extremely spacious , with wi-fi and lots of workstations... (9.10.09)

My drawing table (9.10.09)

Drawing table and computer desk (9.10.09)

A cosy area to make knit and crochet work (9.10.09)

The lovely apartment - my home for the next few months.

Tomorrow I'm taking some time to visit Sparrenburg Castle - a 13th century landmark built by the Ravensburg Counts, and then a walk to Rochdale Park.
Over the next few weeks I also plan to visit Ravensburg Spinning Mill, Bielefeld University Art and Design dept. and the City Art Gallery.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

From Salford to Bielefeld, via Rotterdam.

So the journey begins. Setting of to Hull from Salford, Lancashire the first leg of the journey is relatively easy - a 90 mile drive to the Port of Hull to board the Pride of Rotterdam Ferry.

The Port of Hull (6.10.09)

On the deck of the Pride of Rotterdam (6.10.09)

Once on board I had 14 hours to relax and enjoy the scenery!

A ship in the distance (6.10.09)

And for those who know me all too well I did manage to get in a little crochet action to pass the time..(6.10.09)

Then an overnight sail across the North Sea into the Port of Rotterdam gets me safely onto the continent.

Good morning Rotterdam! (7.10.09)

Sunrise over Rotterdam as we sail into the Port (7.10.09)

A little weary and tired I set of driving again - 219 miles through The Netherlands and over into Germany straight to Bielefeld, my new home for the next three months.

On the final stretch of the Autobahn as I approach the city of Bielefeld (7.10.09)

As each week passes by I will continue to share with you my experiences of living and making new art works at Artists Unlimited.