Part 1


Yayoi Kusama

'Space Shifters', The Hayward Gallery 

'Narcissus Garden, (1966-2018)



I love the illusion of a shimmering and fluid landscape that is created by Kusama's collection of reflective orbs. The images don't compare to what it is like to observe these sculptures in the gallery, and the presence conveys a mesmerising, and quite disorientating experience for the viewer. This effect is intensified by the dramatic changes that occur to your viewing as you make even the smallest movements which stimulates a dramatic change in the shapes/ reflections on the orbs. I think this is a very successful installation that is interactive and enjoyable to view.

Richard Wilson

'Space Shifters' The Hayward Gallery

This major group exhibition brings together sculptures and installations that explore perception and space.

Featuring 20 artists and spanning a period of roughly 50 years, the exhibition includes innovative, minimalist sculpture from the 1960s as well as recent works that extend the legacy of this ‘optical’ minimalism in different ways. It also features new commissions that have been made in response to the architecture of the Hayward Gallery.

Many of the artworks in this exhibition are constructed from translucent materials such as glass, acrylic and polyester resins. Others involve the use of reflective materials, including stainless steel, polished bronze and, in one case, engine oil. Luscious and seductive – and often demonstrating huge technical accomplishment – these objects act as optical devices that enable us to see our surroundings in new and unexpected ways. In bringing together artworks that activate our perception of Hayward’s unique building, Space Shifters provides a dramatic and fitting conclusion to the gallery’s 50th anniversary year.



 Richard Wilson


 Of all of the sculptures and installations in the space shifters exhibition, Richard Wilson's engine oil installation was by far the most impressive. For me, this piece epitomises the exhibitions focus on seeing our surroundings in new and unexpected ways. 

When looking at the room, my eyes felt as though they were deceiving me, as I was convinced that the walkway protruded over a hollow and deep room. It took my brain a long time to realise and accurately observe what was actually in front of me. Therefore, this is one of the most impressive pieces I have seen in a long time. 

However, the impact of this piece did not end there. As I walked out onto the passageway, I become mesmerised by the level of the oil and how perfect this was to not spill over the edge of the walls. I became almost afraid to go too close to the edge of the passageway in case I disturbed the stillness, and became so claustrophobic that I couldn't walk right the way to the narrowest point. Therefore, it was not only the oil that works so effectively in the installation, but also the cleverly thought out structure and shape of the passageway. The perfect reflection in the completely still oil was amazing.

This was such a surreal experience. 


John Latham

'Belief System', 1959

Belief System is a wall-mounted assemblage collaged onto a painted canvas. Its main feature is a group of books and disparate metal elements embedded in plaster that was poured onto the canvas when it was in a horizontal position. Latham sprayed this composite cluster with black paint, unifying it and making it stand out from the white background. Two pairs of antique books stand face to face, their pages interleaved, blending them into single objects. The hard leather covers of the lower pair touch at the edges, resulting in an object which appears square and enclosed when seen hanging in the vertical position. The covers of the other pair of books, which is in a configuration at right angles to the first pair, are held open. Those of the lower book are folded right back revealing ripped paper and a title page bearing the words ‘The Parisians’ on one side. On the other, partially visible, a nineteenth century engraving shows a woman sitting on a grassy bank with a man at her feet. Smaller books are stuck to the covers of the four bigger books in varying positions. All the books are warped and deformed by burning and spraying. Such fragments of metal implements as a tin opener, a spring, a coil of wire, a small light bulb, sections of wire gauze, a comb and a long screw are attached to the book covers or lie in the plaster on the canvas. On the left side of the painting a length of cable, painted silver, extends out of a hole down towards the congealed assemblage into which it disappears. It is balanced in the composition by a wavy length of wire describing an arc on the right of the group of books. At the top of the canvas a solitary book is held in place with more plaster, sprayed black and silver at the base where it is wrapped with a length of wire gauze.

Belief System is one of a series of four similar works Latham made in 1959 with the same title. The works share a common structure with other paintings of the period, whose titles – The Bible and Voltaire 1959, The How and the Why 1959, Omniscientist 1963 – refer to the philosophical and scientific systems that the artist was seeking to undermine. Books have a special significance in Latham’s work as a source of knowledge as well as of error. He referred to them as ‘Skoob’, the reversal of the word representing the reversal he aimed to effect on all they represented. His use of them in his assemblages of the late 1950s and early 1960s emphasises their dual status as physical objects held in a static state, witnesses of an event taking place in the present – their visual apprehension by a viewer – and repositories of knowledge, invoking a linear temporality in the reading of them. Like human bodies, they exist concurrently as unified wholes and as the containers of a mass of information, invoking spaces or concepts far beyond the immediate matter they are composed of.



My Own Thoughts

I really love the emerging effect that Latham produces in his work. The addition of the black paint not only gives flow to the painting, but also creates the illusion of great depth within the piece. Additionally, the way in which he decided to position the books in particular is hugely effective as the focal point of the piece.

The idea is quite simple, and yet the overall effect is very successful. Whilst the concept behind Latham's work is less relevant, his working into the canvas itself is very interesting and links to what I am creating for the places project.


Staging Jackson Pollock

Whitechapel Gallery



I've never seen Pollock's legendary work in the flesh, but the sense of movement that is conveyed through his pieces when viewing it in real-life is unparalleled. 

I love the fluidity of the lines and colours within the canvas, and this the idea that the CIA was responsible for the sponsorship for the programme means that this fluidity is also reflected in the concepts that were being pushed at the time. A freedom of mind being expressed through the paintings were being used as a deterrent for the communist ideologies of the Soviet Union, and this meant that Pollock's work took on a propaganda role making it all the more powerful. Despite this, the expressive and abstract work of Pollock has clear influences in the modern abstract today and I think it's nice to consider Pollock's work as taking on a somewhat timeless piece of the past, in it's use/ involvement with the tensions surrounding the nations of the Cold War era that so many remember, and so many others learn about as a significant part of history.


Alberto Burri

'The Trauma of Painting'


An influential figure of postwar art, the Italian artist Alberto Burri made his “unpainted paintings” by creating surfaces and supports out of humble and prefabricated materials. This retrospective presents ten major series, including the well-known Sacchi (sacks), for which the artist used unpainted burlap that functions as both support and ground. Burri’s other series—Catrami (tars), Muffe (molds), Gobbi (hunchbacks), Bianchi (whites), Legni(woods), Ferri (irons), Combustioni plastiche (plastic combustions), Cretti, and Cellotex—feature various industrial and household materials that the artist cut, burned, welded, and otherwise altered to create his paintings.


My Own Thoughts

This idea of the material itself being the work is a theme I am carrying forward in my Place project.

I love the simplicity of methods within Burri's work, and yet the burning, cutting and welding create beautifully individual and intricate images in the final outcomes. I find it really interesting how the materials and canvases end up resembling natural structures and processes whilst being deliberately crafted. To me, the images created within the work reflect the textures and shapes found within tree bark which could perhaps link nicely to the idea of the constant reforming of layers despite recurring damage. Additionally, Burri's use of the materials means that his work merges between 3D and 2D, yet remaining as a piece that is hung in a frame. I think this somehow allows us to question the limitations of what we could call painting. Is it possible to paint/ draw in materials and their markings?

This is an aspect inspired by Burri's work that I would like to incorporate into my own Place project. I love this idea of combining texture within an image.

Elmgreen and Dragset

'This is how we bite our tongue', Whitechapel Gallery

“East London saw intense gentrification in the last ten years. Bars where artists used to meet closed, artists’ studios were turned into luxury loft apartments. At the same time poorer boroughs experienced the effect of austerity politics. Our derelict swimming pool relates to this metamorphosis of local communities. It is also a sentimental image of painful transitions in general – the shift of values – and how it can be difficult as a human being and as a citizen to adjust to such challenges.”


The experience of this installation is quite a unique one, and the atmosphere created in this room in particular was quite intense. There is a clear sense of loss within the commissioned 'Whitechapel Pool' which acts as a clear example of the disappointment of loss in public space. There is quite a juxtaposition between this form of the pool created by Elmgreen and Dragset, and what the pool once was. The dust and waste within it contrasts the freedom of the water that would have been present when this public amenity was running.

There is an eeriness created in this installation which is possible because of the importance of the place that this represents. The artists have successfully conveyed a sense of nostagia through there representation of a place, which is something I would like to capture in my own work. 


'Too Heavy' I found quite unusual, and yet, within the context of the Whitechapel Pool, the meteorite-like structure could convey the restriction placed upon social recreation. I quite liked the unusual appearance of this piece, with the scales of the two objects being quite incongruous and yet, somehow the piece makes perfect sense.


Angela De La Cruz


Angela de la Cruz’s practice is elegantly situated between painting and sculpture. Her work engages with the very discourse of painting by targeting its basic anatomy – the stretcher, normally left to its job of keeping the canvas smooth and pliant – often twisted and bent out of shape. By breaking its form, de la Cruz breaks convention, quite literally, by mangling the stretcher and piercing the flat edifice of the canvas to unleash it into three-dimensional space. Slashed, twisted and reformed into something approaching sculpture, there is a dark humour at play: “The moment I cut through the canvas I get rid of the grandiosity of painting”, she says. Convention punctured, her works seem to mimic aspects of both the human body and behaviour – cowering, cringing, surviving – and, more recently, this sense of human scale has been bolstered by works incorporating items of domestic furniture, such as chairs, tables and filing cabinets. Prostrate on the floor or hanging on the wall like trophies or window dressings, they are evidence of a passionate and complicated process.


De La Cruz's work has become all the more relevant for me as I have progressed with the place project.In a similar way to what Cruz achieves in her work, the main focus of my piece will be the canvas itself, as opposed to what is on it.

I love the way that Cruz's alteration of the stretcher on her work manipulates the canvas. It changes from something widely associated with 2D work, into something that is evidently three dimensional. Some seem to think that her work reflects the death of painting because of the crumpling of the canvas base. However, this work could also just reflect a new method of expression or the idea of manipulation.

I love the way that her larger scale work reminds one of natural landscapes and forms, which could transcend into something even more deep in meaning. Whether intentional or not, Cruz's manipulation of the stretchers could convey the natural process of the earth, and it's history of being able to withstand destructive forces and yet remain beautiful and functional.

Whilst my alterations to the canvas won't result in such a structural effect, there are clear links between my ideas and Cruz's pieces. 


Doh Ho Suh


Korean artist Do Ho Suh references the different places he has lived and worked with this colourful installation at London's Victoria Miro Gallery, which explores ideas about identity and migration.

 The Passage/s exhibition gives physical form to Suh's idea of life as a journey – his installation is designed as a sequence of passageways that each represent a different place he has occupied.

"I see life as a passageway, with no fixed beginning or destination," said Suh. "We tend to focus on the destination all the time and forget about the in-between spaces."


My own thoughts

I think Suh's installations beautifully reflect the concepts that inspire his work. The transparency and delicacy of the fabrics that he makes the installations from convey something quite temporary and yet, so vast and significant. From the images of the work, the installations look digital, almost surreal. This all links to his concept about life centring round the experience of the journey as opposed the the end-point. Again, this artist has captured work that represents a liminal space, and the idea of constantly being at an in-between point.

Additionally to this, Suh's concepts are reflected in the ability for the installation to be transported in a suitcase: his method of transportation when he was first starting out as an artist. This ability to create such large, intricate and significant work that simultaneously can be packaged up and carried from place to place is astounding. This idea in itself would have been beautiful enough, but Suh successfully accomplishes this theory in a mind-blowing way. 


Walead Beshty

FedEx Series, 2007-2014 (transportation)


In his FedEx series (2007 – 2014), the artist created a series of glass objects constructed to the exact dimensions of the standard FedEx shipping boxes. Beshty then used the FedEx Express service to mail his objects across the country to exhibitions and galleries. Relying on external forces to shape his final work of art, Beshty exhibited the damaged glass shapes alongside their containers upon arrival. Fuelled by his interest in how art objects acquire meaning, Beshty’s FedEx works record their movement from place to place, in both the shattering patterns left behind on the glass box, and the shipping labels on the FedEx packaging. Beshty’s motivation in this series is also a comment on the “perversity of a corporation owning a shape,” as the boxes are proprietary volumes and shapes owned by FedEx.


My own thoughts

I think Beshty's work is very helpful when considering the place project. The concept behind this series is very liminal and yet, hugely effective. It is not the place where the pieces are made, or presented at that are significant. Rather, it is the process of moving the pieces between the places which shapes the entirety of the meaning behind this artwork.

It is interesting to consider the transportation of the piece, the most integral part of it's creation. There is something so mystical about the idea of an artist relinqusihing their control over a piece and allowing external forces to influence the outcome. Thus, it becomes the damage on each box that Beshty produces that is the intriguing focus. I think this makes the work all the more exciting, to think about all of the unknown occurrences that have formed the final piece being presented to us. 


Miwon Kwon

Extract From: 'One Place After Another', page 24-28



John Divola

'Vandalism' 1974

Back in the early 1970s, the artist John Divola began wandering into abandoned houses in his native LA, doing abstract, graphic graffiti, then photographing the results. That was the beginning of a long career that saw his work appear inside the most important art institutions in the world, including MoMA, LACMA, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Divola's edgy, discomfiting style dates back to the 70s, when he was a graduate student at UCLA. His type of conceptual, inter-disciplinary practice was totally of the moment, as UCLA and CalArts were famous for encouraging non-traditonal work. 

But Divola pointedly did not make these pictures out of a desire for destruction, but rather out of a rigorous, intellectual desire to create photographs that would be the nexus of several art styles.

"Why differentiate between sculpture, painting, and performance when its all going to end up as a photograph anyway?" Divola told VICE.


My Own Thoughts on his work

Whilst Divola's work seems simplistic, the process behind each image is fascinating. For me, it is not each piece of graffiti that is interesting, rather the work's presence in it's place.

The artist's choice to work in abandoned buildings means that the graffiti itself may never have a present audience and thus, it could remain non-existent to the world who walk past it on streets unknowingly. Additionally, the use of photography to capture his pieces not only gives the evidence for the work, but portrays the places in quite a serious and sinister way. I therefore, really like the relationship between the work and it's documentation, the place where the pieces really stand and the place where the evidence is presented. This concept could be a very interesting one to explore.

Paul Noble

'Unified Nobson', 2001


Paul Noble’s Unified Nobson is an animation that ‘unifies’ the various sections that make up Nobson Newtown, the fantastical town depicted through drawings on paper. Named for its creator, Nobson Newtown comprises extremely large and meticulously crafted pencil drawings, each depicting a different building or location within Noble’s fictitious industrial town. Modelled on the new towns devised in the early 20th century to create a perfect fusion of the urban and rural, the drawings offer aerial perspectives over a fantastical cityscape in which each blocky construction is crafted out of a grouping of letters that identifies its owner or function. Representing a utopian vision gone awry, Nobson Newtown is a meditation on city planning, modernism, and the possibilities for renewal within dysfunction.


My own thoughts on his work

I think Noble's drawings are astonishingly intricate and precise, which is particularly impressive given the fictitious nature of his towns.

The implications that Noble conveys to us are of a nasty place, with a strongly dystopian nature. I think this piece portrays the difficulties of trying to produce a community whilst simultaneously mocking our own society's functionality. This is because of the implications of the deterioration of the world being shown, as well as the very lifeless and over-industrialised effect of the black and white tones. Additionally, the viewpoint is an interesting one, with the overhead angle perhaps also conveying Noble's mockery of society's actions. This could almost act as a warning to the viewer, by offering insight into what the world could be like if things carry on the way they are going.

Sally Mann

'Last Measure Series'


The earth and its relationship to mortality are Sally Mann's terrain in this series on the battlefields of the Civil War. It is a subject far removed from the lyrical landscapes of the American South and the intimate glimpses of family life that she has dealt with in previous photographic essays.

Nearly 150 years after Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner recorded the war ''live,'' Ms. Mann has visited the various fields -- Antietam, Manassas, Wilderness, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, etc. -- to capture their spirit and perhaps invoke the needless destruction of all wars, present-day included.

Her manipulation of her predecessors' cumbersome baggage -- the collodion wet-plate glass negative that had to be developed immediately -- has produced a group of retro-looking, painterly photographs whose minimal but elegiac imagery has the charge of somber poetry. As with the old, technically crude process, the prints are scratched, blurred, often hazy and streaked and spotted with points of light; some are deliberately given semi-arches at the top corners to create the look of an old album.


My own thoughts on her work

Mann's use of the 19th Century photographic techniques encompass the subject of the images. Additionally to this, there is the interest of the site which is being captured, and also the site of the piece's development. 

These traditional techniques mean that the damage-like, and blurred effects of the photograph reflect the outcomes of the civil war. I particularly like the way the light shines through the trees in the foreground because it gives an almost sinister presence to the image. The combinations of this, with the loss of detail in the lower part of the image conveys an unknown aspect to what we are looking at and thus, has a very mysterious ad somewhat haunted feel. I therefore think that Mann's work is very successful.

Gordon Matta Clark


A range of disciplines, such as his continued experimentation in photography, collages, drawings and film, provide a testament to the diverse career of a 1970s-avant-garde pioneer.

Matta-Clark’s training as an architect had a defining influence on his practice. Foundational knowledge from previous design backgrounds inspired a rethinking of space, to reflect on the perception of structure and to consider each place as an object. Building-cuts allowed a reimagining of conventional views, to question the function of the practitioner in the public sphere and ultimately to create an ephemeral piece of work without constructing or adding any elements.

Images, illustrations and investigation into film all informed by a unique conceptual vision infused with architectural notions. Meanwhile, drawing is an element of the collection that is often neglected, despite being a constant throughout his career. Notebooks recovered after his death in 1978 reveal rapidly executed sketches pursing a recurrent motif reminiscent of the Surrealist method of automatic drawings. Arrows, Energy Forms and Energy Rooms provide a unique documentation of directions, flows of energy and circulations of space.


My own thoughts on his work

I think Clark's images are hugely effective. He has achieved something very special through his work, which manages to appear ordinary, and capture very ordinary scenes, and yet the pieces themselves are so striking. There is almost a lighthearted humour to his work, with his use of collaging which completely reinvents the spaces which he has captured.  

Despite the simplicity, I really like Clark's images.

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kunama, Victoria Miro


Kusama’s radical practice began in the wake of the second world war, the trauma of which has had a huge influence on her work, as it did on her contemporaries such as Tadanori Yokoo, Tetsumi Kudo and Keiichi Tanaami. Born in 1929 in the city of Matsumoto, she survived the war and a dysfunctional family before studying painting in Kyoto. She travelled to New York in the late 1950s, on the advice of Georgia O’Keeffe. There she immersed herself in the avant garde, creating installations and happenings at a time when being a female artist was boundary breaking.

Kusama returned to Japan in 1973 and committed herself to a psychiatric hospital known for its interest in art. She still lives in this institution today, creating new work every day including sculptures, paintings, installations, poetry, performances and novels. The delicate balance between creation and mental instability is a key component of her work. She is immensely prolific. Her signature motifs – pumpkins, flowers and polka dots – are repeated to the level of obsession. Yet this constant output has positive wider implications. In the film she states, “I convert the energy of life into dots of the universe.

The show, which is sure to have lines around the block, will include paintings, painted bronze pumpkin and flower sculptures and a new take on her Infinity Mirror Rooms – mirrored installations that reflect a sea of lights into infinity – which this time features painted lanterns.


My own thoughts on her work

What I particularly love about Kusama's work, is the energy that is captured within it. The psychedelic colours within her installations and sculptures are almost larger than life, and the strength of the visuals are mesmerising. This effect is intensified in her mirror infinity rooms.

The meticulousness and precision of her dots give a flow to her work, and this repeated feature works to convey an almost futuristic world within which we, as viewers, are almost not ready to experience. Kusama's exhibitions are overwhelming to the senses which is why her pieces are so successful.

Julie Mehretu

SEXTANT, White Cube Mason's Yard




Viewing Mehretu's work in person was incredibly interesting, an my love for her pieces has grown.

Images canot compare to the effect that each piece has on you when you are viewing the painting. She really has captured 'evocative and charged emotions', with the scale of her paintings playing a vital role in the influence on the viewer. 

The combinations of colours in particular really varied in the exhibition, meaning each painting influences us as a viewer very differently, supposedly much like the events/ places inspiring the pieces themselves.

One aspect I particularly like about Mehretu's work, is her combination of textures and mark-making. The softness of the airbrushed areas underneath the more bold and graphic markings is really effective, and for me, had a very visually disorientating influence. It was as if my eyes struggled to focus on the painting as a whole, and rather, our sight is drawn to smaller, more particular areas of the pieces. I particularly found this in 'Sing, Unburied, Sing'.

However, my favourite piece at the exhibition was 'Sun Ship'. I think this was mostly due to the stunning combination of colours, as well as movement captured within the painting. I love the juxtaposition of the black and vibrant colours, as well as the circular and smooth areas within the piece behind the more short and explosive marks. Personally, this piece links to human emotion, and effectively conveys as aspect of ourselves that we cannot see.

Justin Mortimer

'Kraal', 2012



Justin Mortimer likes when people look at his paintings and get the sense that they’ve missed something that’s just happened. The London-based artist works from collaged photographs he’s found on the Internet or in second-hand books, and paints them in new contexts on large canvases. The bodies are often contorted—children with limbs bent by genetic anomaly, soldiers doing calisthenics, porn actors mid-performance—and the action of the final composition is ambiguous, implied, or partially hidden. In a recent series, bunches of balloons dominated the foreground of battlefields and operating rooms, and parts of prone bodies (possibly corpses) jutted out from behind them. For Mortimer, the balloons are intended to be both sardonically festive—one curator-critic has called them a nod to the post-recession hangover of the 1990s “Party decade”—and also a more heavily anxiety-laden image, meant to evoke pustules and whatever else might spontaneously burst forth from our skin.

Guernica: Does the historical context of the photographs you use as source material influence the themes of the final painting?

Justin Mortimer: I suppose it does because I know where the images came from. Maybe it’s an undisclosed vein that’s still there in my mind. For example, in the past I’ve painted quite explicit genocide pictures, but I’ve taken them out of context and put them into another space. But they remain genocidal paintings.

Guernica: If nudity isn’t sexual in your images, does it have another meaning?

Justin Mortimer: Yea, I think it’s vulnerability. I was using a lot of naturism photography a few years ago. Naturism is a sort of utopian idea. It was present in 1930s Germany and 1950s America. For me there was this sort of lovely freedom to it, but it also reminds me of photographs of people being stripped before they’re executed. I wanted to suggest that in the paintings: people being dragged out of their homes, humiliated, stripped, shot. We’ve all seen the photographs of 1940s Europe with the pits


My Own Thoughts On His Work

I really love the intense atmosphere that Mortimer has created in this particular piece. With the dark background contrasting the stark brightness in the foreground, it creates the sense that a spotlight is being shone onto the scene. I think this conveys an exposing sense, as if the scene is being violated by the viewer.

The nakedness implying vulnerability as opposed to sexuality is very clear in this painting. We only view legs spread apart, which again, is a very exposing position. Additionally, the figures in suits look very alien and unidentifiable, making the scene all the more terrifying.

The variety of sources from which Mortimer produces his collages from,  results in very unusual, quite disturbing final image. This does however, give his work a very strong dystopian sense as the elements work together to bring about an unfamiliar, somewhat futuristic looking world.

Nigel Cooke

'New Accursed Art Club', 2007


The canvas was initially covered with a white primer, possibly acrylic, and the scene was then executed in oil paint in many layers, during which time the composition changed considerably. Cooke worked by painting one layer, then partially removing it before applying another. In some areas paint was allowed to drip down the work’s surface. The surface contains a natural resin, which Cooke either mixed with his oils or applied in layers between coats of paint.

Explaining the subject and title of this work in 2009, Cooke stated: ‘I was trying to suggest a reactionary kind of conservative group of makers who are involved in mutual appreciation and supporting each other against the wider world, which is kind of how art often seems to work, as people kind of flock together in little teams and little groups to affirm their position, because it’s a vulnerable place to be’


My Own Thoughts on His Work

In the lecture we watched a video on Cooke's process to finally getting to this final painting. I found the amount of different layers and compositions that he went through really astounding. The video really uncovered the mystery of making, and I think the piece becomes even more special when you know how many layers are invisible underneath the final image. Perhaps this is because you can recognise the amount of work and thought that has gone into the piece itself.

Watching the piece develop inspired me to experiment with layering colours in my paint, because Cooke at one point applied  a bright yellow sun, which is almost unrecognisably in the final image which has very muted tones. It has given me the confidence to be able to be bold and yet still convey a subtlety, which is what I want to achieve in my painting..

Cooke has inspired me to try and work much less meticulously in this painting piece, and to embrace any mistakes and alterations I make as a possible way forward.

Justin Mortimer

'Depot', 2009


Justin Mortimer’s paintings address the present moment. They reflect upon a world in a state of disorder and respond to recent events in the US, Calais, the Ukraine, West Africa, Syria and Afghanistan. The paintings combine imagery sourced from the internet with archival material from old books and magazines in order to visualise a world in which nothing is stable or certain, echoing the tectonic cracks appearing in the old world order.


My Own Thoughts on His Work

I really love this piece by Mortimer because of how effective the contrast is between the skin tones and the dark crevices of the painting. We were shown this image in the lecture alongside the original collage Mortimer worked from whilst producing the piece which I found really helpful. 

Whilst it was very obvious that Mortimer had been working form that collage, the comparison conveyed how important it is to alter your piece as your instincts tell you to as you're painting, as opposed to producing a perfect copy of the image. 

Mortimer had juxtaposingly intensified the richness of the skin tones on the people whilst hugely darkening the scene around them in order to convey a sinister feel to the piece as well as creating an eery atmosphere. His decision to alter the image in this way worked so successfully to really elevate the viewer's experience of waiting itself. This was intensified by his exaggeration of sharpening the shapes above the boxes, which were house roofs in the original collage. Additionally to this, he had blurred the background into quite misty coloured greys which also adds to the intense and spooky feel of the painting.

I therefore found this comparison really helpful in reminding myself that the piece I produce does not necessarily have to be a replica of my college, and rather to use my collage as the base inspiration for the piece that I can work on top, of following my own initiative. 


David Schnell




The paintings of David Schnell are unique and unmistakable. His strongly architectural and foreshortening constructions, with their rigid sense of perspective, on the one hand call to mind traditional design and shapes, but on the other they symbolize a break with typical aesthetics. Through the use of irrational elements—“floating” objects, or buildings without any apparent stability—the artist ventures beyond the limits of ordinary visual representation. Recently Schnell’s works have been going in a somewhat different direction; the architectural features are dissolved yet further, while his exploration of the theme of landscape takes precedence. By employing the central perspective prominent in Renaissance art, the horizon becomes the fundamental element of the painting, both in terms of composition and content.


My Own Thoughts on His Work

Schnell's use of bold lines at varying angles as well as vibrant colours allows him to combine abstract and landscape at the same time.

As a viewer we feel as though we are travelling into the piece at speed, with the lines all angling towards the centre conveying a movement inwards which is very effective. Not only this, but Schnell has created great depth and height with his line-work, making the scene quite grande and dramatic. I feel that, because of the varying widths of brushstrokes and the looseness of the foliage depicted, the viewer feels as though they are witnessing something that's happening, perhaps caught in time.

Despite the piece being too abstract for the viewer to relate to a specific place, the structures of the trees and the colours and movement convey a familiarity, as though we have been to the place the has been depicted. I think it's really clever how Schnell has used such vibrant colours, and yet has conveyed the scene so effectively allowing a connection between the viewer and the piece. 



Julie Mehretu

'Dispersion' 2002


Buildings, streets, and entire cities crash into one another. Countless urban details – housing block windows, city maps – overwhelm your field of vision. Black squiggles race across the surface surrounded by flashes of colour: a beam of yellow, a red parallelogram.

The world Julie Mehretu paints is bogglingly chaotic. Yet when I meet the American artist in her light-soaked workspace overlooking New York’s Hudson River (Martha Stewart has her office a few storeys below), the mood in the studio is the exact opposite: calm, collected, in total control.

“I don’t ever work in a way where something is an illustration of an event, but when something is occurring at the same time I see it as very informed by that,” Mehretu tells me. Invisible Line, first seen in Venice and now on view at White Cube in London, began in 2010 as a response to the architecture of New York – but when the Egyptian revolution began to flourish her work started to change. “I was in here working on New York, and I’m drawing, and this thing is unfolding: I have al-Jazeera on the computer livestream, I’m paying attention to NPR … So I was looking architecturally at New York, and then suddenly I’m back in Africa. And then the painting grows through drawing after drawing, layer after layer.”

My Own Thoughts on Her Work

Whilst the spaces that Mehretu depicts are not recognisable to the viewer, there is an energetic movement that we can relate to. The busy and flowing combination of colours and lines portray this movement whilst the curves towards the middle of the piece simultaneously convey a depth to the piece. 

It's almost as if it is the way that we move through a space that is being depicted in Mehretu's work as she combines abstraction and figuration. 

Additionally to this, the sketched lines still visible underneath the paint conveys the architectural concepts whilst effectively contrasting the bolder and more colourful lines.

Cui Jie

'Zhao Wei Building' 2014


Cui Jie is best known for paintings, combining architectural fragments with dusty-pastel palettes, that build on her archival research into the stylistically diverse Chinese architecture and public sculpture of the period after the 1978 economic reform, as well as her interest in the Modernism of Le Corbusier and the Japanese architectural movement known as Metabolism. Her practice is less the painting of architecture than painting as architecture: stacked, repeated and dissected images of cityscapes are complicated by Cui’s painterly textures. For example, in the background of Zhao Wei Building (2014), huoshaoyun (literally ‘fire clouds’, a term used to describe orange-coloured clouds at sunset) are produced by painting meticulously along lines marked out in masking tape. Cui’s rethinking of spaces can be traced back to her earlier series Ground Invading Figures (2012–15), paintings of stock media images that accentuate the negative space between the human figures they contain. She also cites the montage techniques of Orson Welles as an inspiration for her practice of layering spaces onto a single, flat plane.

My Own Thoughts on Her Work

Despite Jie's work referencing various architectural styles and locations around China, her piece flows really well and all of the structures combine together to create one effective image.

The combination of angles at the bottom of the image as well as the entirety of the buildings' height being portrayed in the space throws the viewer's assumptions on the scale of the architecture in the piece. 

Additionally, the fragmentation of the pathway-like structures in the piece seem to disappear/ diminish giving an almost futuristic approach to a painting that is based on real architecture. The light grey panelled area at the bottom adds to this effect, with Jie's use of white brush strokes conveying a very shiny, mirror-like surface often associated with modern and futuristic materials when applied to structures/ architecture. 

Jie herself describes her work as a montage as opposed to a collage, conveying how she successfully portrays a piece within which time is moving. This is achievable because of the combination of various buildings built in different years from across China. This manages to capture both a timelessness, and multiple decades within one image.

The very angular approach, I think, is hugely effective and Jie's choice of colour palette works really successfully combined with this. 

Kemang Wa Lehulere

'not even the departed stay grounded' (Marian Goodman Gallery)




Whilst I cannot pretend to fully understand the Dogon people of Mali and their culture which Lehulere is reflecting in his exhibition that I explored, I still found all of the pieces very intriguing.

I think the extent of the pieces made out of intricate laces to form star constellations reflecting the Dogon's beliefs, the messages in bottles, the cast hands and more, are so effective. They seem to juxtapose their surroundings and supports which perhaps conveys the conflict and racism that is a result of tradition and the stubborn modern world.

I was particularly taken with the floor-to-ceiling work consisting of hundreds of wooden disks (from bird-house entrances) suspended on white laces. The shadows created on the ceiling were simply stunning and the scale of this particular piece creates a huge impact on the viewer.

The consistency of Lehulere's pieces throughout the gallery presumably reflect his belief in the importance of culture and tradition in a rapidly developing world and I think that his artwork is a beautiful way of expressing the interesting nature of the Dogon people. 

Anselm Keifer

'For Vincente Huidobro: Life is a parachute voyage and not what you'd like to think it is' (White Cube Bermondsey)



This piece was very striking for me and somehow, it's scale and presence had a big impact on me which I found quite intriguing.

I couldn't quite grasp the exact concept behind the piece despite reading about ideas of the 'continuous cycle of human toil and endeavour'. For me, the first thought that sprung to mind was the idea of the parachute representing how out of control we often are in our lives and how we simply have to travel through life making the most of opportunities that come to us .

The title came across as quite pessimistic, which perhaps links to the very old, worn and rusty nature of the bicycle on the end of the parachute strings. Despite my slight confusion, I'm quite fond of the piece, and after researching the poet whom this piece is dedicated to and the idea of 'creationism', I realised that perhaps I am not supposed to know Keifer's complete concept and thoughts that the piece is based on. I think that what makes this piece so special, is that everyone will have a different interpretation of what it means depending on their views of life. 

Doris Salcedo

'Tabula Rasa' (White Cube Bermondsey)



After initially researching Salcedo as for part of the material news project, I then had the opportunity to view more of her pieces at the White Cube.

I am really pleased I went to this exhibition because the projects that I viewed there I was intrigued by even more than the one in my initial research. 

It was quite an intense atmosphere created by the positioning of the tables within the large room of the gallery, especially considering I was the only person in there at the time. I think these sculptures are hugely effective at conveying the message that Salcedo wanted to put across. 

I think a significant factor of the successfulness of this collection was that you had to walk right up close to each individual table in order to recognise the processes of the formation and the significance that this has on the concepts behind the work. You do not understand the extent of the damage inflicted until you move really close. I think that this reflects victims of sexual violence in a really clever way. You would never be able to tell such victims unless you developed a very close personal relationship with them.

The use of such a common and domestic object such as the tables are also very effective. Whilst every single one still serves it's practical/ domestic function, they are all permanently scarred and will never return to normal. Much like a sexual violence victim will never be the same after an ordeal despite them having to live life normally as if nothing has happened. 


'Palimpsest' (White Cube Bermondsey)



This was the most moving piece of art that I have viewed in a long time. 

The vastness of the room gave an almost clinical and eery feel to this exhibit which made the whole experience very intense. When I first entered I knew that the piece was based on Europe's migrant crisis and those that were lost in the sea whilst trying to create a better life for themselves and their families. However, I didn't know what the lettering of the names were made of, and I read about this as I was told to be careful not to tread on any of the letters.

I couldn't believe that some of the names were written in delicate droplets of water until I took a really close look at a certain angle, however, after this it was as if the entire room transformed and it was suddenly so clear and obvious that the names were written in water and sand. 

I think the water in particular works stunningly to create a juxtaposing effect. It gives the names a very real sense and allows the viewers to identify the victims more as individuals rather than just a group and yet, the delicacy created gives a very temporary feel to the names because of how easily each letter could be destroyed. It made me feel quite anxious about moving around the room so I was very hesitant to walk over the entirety of the piece.

I found it very interesting that the viewers were allowed to walk over the slabs despite the delicacy of the letters and the risk of some of the names being damaged. However, this piece would not have the same affect on people if it were simply viewed from the sides or above. The caution that the viewer has to be controlled by, forcefully conveys the fragility of the individuals and therefore, evokes the tragedy of every single loss as you read each name.

Doris Salcedo

'Untitled', 2007


Salcedo’s work functions as political and mental archaeology, using domestic materials charged with significance and suffused with meanings accumulated over years of use in everyday life. In his catalogue essay, Rod Mengham described Salcedo’s work as a ‘junction point, a crossing place for different objects, forms and meanings’. Salcedo often takes specific historical events as her point of departure, conveying burdens and conflicts with precise and economical means.
In her ongoing series of furniture sculptures – eleven, including three new works, were exhibited at White Cube – Salcedo alters found wooden objects such as beds, chairs and wardrobes, transforming them into sculptures that take on the resonance of something lost, broken or mended. Apertures are closed in – what were once drawers or glass doors are now filled with fragments of clothes and concrete – as if the objects were suffocating or suffering from an act of violence as things are forced unexpectedly, brutally together. They bring to mind loss as much as survival and, like emergency architecture, evoke a sense of making-do, a desperate reconfiguration of fragments to enable one to keep going.

Over the past three decades, Salcedo’s practice has addressed the traumatic history of modern-day Colombia, as well as wider legacies of suffering stemming from colonialism, racism, and other forms of social injustice. Originating in lengthy research processes during which the artist solicits testimonies from the victims of violent oppression, her sculptures and installations eschew the direct representation of atrocities in favor of open-ended confluences of forms that are fashioned from evocative materials and intensely laborious techniques. Many of her works transmute intimate domestic objects into subtly charged vessels freighted with memories and narratives, paradoxically conjuring that which is tragically absent.


My Own Thoughts On Her Work

I think Salcedo's work is simple, yet very effective. The meaning of the objects exhibited have been taken away which to me, conveys a helplessness and uselessness that is quite tragic. She has reinvented these pieces of furniture cleverly to represent tragic pieces of history.

I think it's interesting that, whether you know what events Salcedo aimed these sculptures at or not, every different viewer can apply the pieces to their own memories and past events.

Additionally to this, the sculptures are very satisfying because the concrete has been applied so precisely to the gaps in the furniture that it gives a very smooth and emerging effect to the pieces. I feel as though this creates an anticipation, as it looks as though the concrete is about to overflow.

I have not observed these pieces in person, but I can imagine that the collection of sculptures could give an edgy and rather empty feeling to the room.


Salvador Dalí

'Lobster Telephone' 1936


This is a classic example of a Surrealist object, made from the conjunction of items not normally associated with each other, resulting in something both playful and menacing. Dalí believed that such objects could reveal the secret desires of the unconscious. Lobsters and telephones had strong sexual connotations for Dalí. The telephone appears in certain paintings of the late 1930s such as Mountain Lake, and the lobster appears in drawings and designs, usually associated with erotic pleasure and pain. For the 1939 New York World's Fair, Dalí created a multi-media experience entitled The Dream of Venus, which consisted in part of dressing live nude models in 'costumes' made of fresh seafood, an event photographed by Horst P. Horst and George Platt Lynes. A lobster was used by the artist to cover the female sexual organs of his models. Dalí often drew a close analogy between food and sex. In Lobster Telephone, the crustacean's tail, where its sexual parts are located, is placed directly over the mouthpiece.


My Own Thoughts On His Work

This piece of Dali's links to my sculpture project quite closely. Ina similar way, my phone is covered in an object that would not usually be associated with it in order to alter the concept behind it.

Whilst my piece does not have sexual connotations, it has fairly obvious references to allergies and reactions.

Robert Rauschenberg

'Black Paintings'  1951-53

Often thought of as a series but not conceived as such by the artist, the black paintings are usually matte or glossy-black paint, sometimes on multiple panels and produced sporadically between 1951 and 1953. The black paintings are made on canvas, largely mounted on a newspaper ground that is sometimes revealed but occasionally only apparent by the activated picture surfaces.


Although the Black paintings are not a discrete series in the same sense as the artist’s White Paintings (1951) or Red Paintings (1953–54), they are all composed of layers of newspaper and dense black paint, and together they represent Rauschenberg’s extended study of the boundary between painting and collage. One the most lustrous of his Black paintings, Untitled [glossy black painting] is believed to date from the earliest phase of Rauschenberg’s involvement with this group of works, but the chronology of his production in the years 1951 to 1953 remains somewhat loosely defined. The painting reveals its complex construction and texture as light reflects off of the collaged, dipped, and painted newspaper fragments teeming on its highly articulated surface. The individual curls and ripples of paper echo the contours of traditional brushstrokes, in some passages even taking on the gestural quality of abstract expressionist paintings


My Own Thoughts On His Work

I really like Rauschenberg's 'black paintings', the texture added by the collaged newspapers under the surface of the paint gives a really nice effect to the piece. 

I think it's interesting to think about the amount of stories and articles that were published and then found themselves under paint that prevents the ability for those stories to be read. 

The texture produced makes you want to feel the surface, whilst the colour produces a much more menacing and intimidating atmosphere which, I think, creates a juxtaposing feeling in the viewer. I enjoy working with paint over textures such as ripped cardboards and tissue papers, but the scale of these pieces elevate the work to a new level.

Michaelangelo Pistoletto

'Newspaper Sphere'



Sponsored by the new postwar and contemporary Italian art museum Magazzino in Cold Spring, the Saturday performance replicated an earlier run in Turin, Italy. In 1967, Pistoletto rolled a large ball or Sfere di Giornali (newspaper sphere) covered with newspaper clippings that highlighted Italy’s turmoil during the 1960s, a literal rendition of the news cycle. In the Arte Povera tradition, it used common cheap materials and attempted to move outside the gallery walls and into the city, having viewers “reflect on an all-encompassing expression of circulation, a manipulation of the passing of time.”


My Own Thoughts On His Work

I think Pistoletto's 'Newspaper Sphere' is hugely interesting. By using a cheap and readily available material such as newspaper, it is the prices that the sculpture itself goes through that becomes the significant aspect. I think it's a really nice idea, a huge amount of people have been apart of this piece which makes it all the more successful. To have the process documented on film makes it all the more special too.

Additionally, I really like the way that Pistoletto's participation in the arte povera movement challenged the financial forces in the art industry by using a resource that is quite often free, and therefore, is priceless. It is the context of this piece that adds the value.

Damian Ortega

'Rubbish Cube'



'Running Up That Hill'

DO 2.jpg


My Own Thoughts On His Work

Ortega's work is fascinating and effective. The fast-paced nature of his series in which he produced a sculpture everyday to reflect an aspect of the news is hugely impressive. Despite this, many of the pieces are large-scale and hugely effective. I like the idea that by doing this, Ortega has documented a specific year/ time in history through his work, and that others will be able to look at his work in the future and know what era and location he came from.

I particularly like 'Running Up That Hill' inspired by Kate Bush's song, as I think the illusion of the piece is very impressive. From certain angles, it looks as though t's only one image, but from other angles you can recognise that part of the image is on a separately positioned model.

Dara Birnbaum

'Technology/ Transformation; Wonder Woman', 1978


Opening with a prolonged salvo of fiery explosions accompanied by the howl of a siren, Dara Birnbaum's Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman (1978-79) shows the secretary Diana Prince changing again and again into the superhero Wonder Woman. By isolating and repeating the moment of transformation - spinning figure, arms outstretched - this landmark work in the history of video and appropriation unmasks the language of television, the mechanisms of gender representation and the technology at the heart of the metamorphosis.

T.J. Demos explores Birnbaum's pioneering development of the possibilities of video as a medium, situating it historically amidst postmodernist appropriation, media analysis and feminist politics. He proposes a fascinating shift in the positioning of Birnbaum's work, from an emphasis on her deconstruction of mass cultural ideology to an innovative and newfound consideration of her creative retooling of consumer imagery.


My own thoughts on her work

I don't really like this film by Birnbaum, whilst I do not deny that the piece exposes the mechanisms of gender representation, I find it a bit baffling that this work can be referred to as 'pioneering development'.

Whether deliberate or not, I find the film quite unpleasant to view, and perhaps I am not part of the generation that can more readily identify the success and effectiveness of the video. The repetition is quite overwhelming and I found it uprising that some of the particular clips were repeated so many times.

 This is not the sort of effect I'd like to incorporate into my Re-Edit project.

Candice Breitz

'Her', 2008


Candice Breitz’s darkly humorous films dismantle the conventions of representation to reveal the dysfunctional relationships and projected personalities that make up the idols of popular culture. Fascinated by the performative and its relation to duration as proscribed by film and pop music, Breitz uses digital editing to splice familiar footage into psychodramas, providing a linguistic and structural critique of consumerism with the enthusiasm of an adoring fan.


My own thoughts on her work

I think Breitz's piece is really clever. The simplistic clip allows the viewer to focus solely on the words of the characters.

We can recognise that a range of Meryl Streep's characters from a variety of films is being presented because of the differences in age, appearance and style, however, the words that her characters speak are surprisingly similar.

The repetition of themes in the video conveys a pattern that women and society fall into and perhaps, helps us to recognise the areas in which we unnecessarily focus on and overthink. Therefore, I think Brietz's work is effective, as it makes the audience identify an issue that they were almost certainly unaware even existed.


Pierre Bismuth

'The Jungle Book Project', 2002



The work of Pierre Bismuth consists of examining our perception of reality through our relationship with cultural productions. Bismuth attempts, with humour and a minimum of means, to destabilise our reading codes to offer the viewer a position of incredulity regarding even the most established elements in our culture. In The Jungle Book Project(2002), the adaptation of the Walt Disney film, Bismuth, by attributing one of the 19 languages of the different versions of the film to each character, updates behaviours and attitudes commonly associated with a culture, and thus offers a reflection on the perception and understanding of languages. This anti-Babel, where the protagonists seem to understand each other despite their different languages: is it the utopian ideal in Brave New World, or is it, on the contrary, the image of absolute separation from any foreigner?


My own thoughts on his work

I think what Bismuth has done with a classic children's film is very interesting, and is an effective way for people to think about cultural stereotypes that we all associate to both our own, as well as other cultures and nationalities. This idea could be applied to a  range of situations in order to produce a similarly amusing and satirical reflection of everyone's own judgements and assumptions.

Whilst this could perhaps be taken the wrong way by many viewers, I really like Bismuth's assignments of the different characters and I believe that this should be approached lightheartedly.


Douglas Gordon

'24 Hour Psycho', 1994


Scottish video and installation artist. His work is often based on a disruption of perception; by making his audience aware of their own fugitive subjectivity, he questions how we give meaning to our experience of things.

A concern with memory and perception was developed in the acclaimed video projection 24 Hour Psycho (1993; Wolfsburg, Kstmus.), a rear-projected installation of Hitchcock’s film, slowed down to last an entire day. Gordon focuses the viewer’s attention both on the intricate detail of the film in its naked state, as a progression of stills, as well as on their own recollections of a cinema classic.


My own thoughts on his work

Whilst I question whether speeding up someone else's film can really be a piece of art, I am impressed with the dramatic effect that speeding up/ slowing down can have when applied to a film/ clip.

The slowing of Hitchcock's infamous psycho removes all of the suspense and greatly reduces the tension of the film, showing that the timings an editor decides to use in his clips is vital for the overall effect he s wanting to achieve. Slowing a clip down in a similar way to what Gordon has done here could have an almost comical effect, as it prevents a true surprise and allows for minute details to be observed by the audience. 

This made me think about how speeding up/ slowing down a clip without people in it could effect a film, because this editing would be much less obvious to the viewer. Increasing speed could make a scene more dramatic for instance.

This use of speed altering is something I would like to explore in my Re-Edit video presentation.

Christian Marclay

'Telephones', 1995



A landmark in the history of video art, Christian Marclay’s Telephones (1995) is an expertly edited sequence of black-and-white and color film clips featuring people using an assortment of telephones, all from the pre-smart phone era. Telephones offers an engaging yet complex experience: while we are all familiar with watching “the movies,” Marclay’s work blends unrelated but recognizable characters and stories into a continuous stream that upends our expectations of how stories are told and meanings are created. At times humorous, startling, tense and poignant, Telephones allows us to reflect on how we immediately — and often involuntarilyprocess information and entertainment in our media-dominated world.



My own thoughts on his work

I found Marclay's 'Telephones' surprisingly amusing as well as entertaining. The repetition of various people carrying out the same actions becomes irresistibly gripping as you begin to pick out just how contrasting different people can be whilst doing the same activity. These differences as well as the different style of language that my generation especially, are not used to (in the vintage films), makes the video all the more amusing.

Barclay's close cut compilations makes the film very fast paced and thus, continually entertaining throughout and I really enjoyed watching the piece.

I would like to combine clips from different eras in order to enhance the contrast between the decades, using similar methods to Marclay. 

James Sant (1820-1916)

'Adelina Patti', 1886

I don't really know why I was drawn to this traditional 19th century portrait, but there are certain features of it that I think are particularly effective.


Celebrated soprano; the daughter of two Italian singers, she first sang at a concert in 1850, and made her operatic debut as Lucia, 1859. Thereafter she became an international opera star and enjoyed unparalleled popularity in a wide variety of roles, being admired both for her resonant singing voice and her dramatic talent. A particular favourite in Britain, she retired to a house in Wales.


My ow thoughts on his work

The colours and composition are typical of the 19th Century style, with the texture of the soft surrounding furnishings and the dress having been beautiful portrayed whilst not taking away from the focus of the piece, Patti's face and expression.



I would really like to use this traditional style, composition and tone wise, but perhaps apply it to a current individual that's integral to the 21st Century , much like Walton did in his 'The New Religion'.

I think this would be interesting, because this traditional style isn't really produced anymore, and yet, there are certainly individuals worth of this sort of piece. 


(National Portrait Gallery, Friday 21st September 2018)

Phoebe Dickinson (b1884)

'The Cholmondeley Children'



Phoebe’s painting of the Cholmondeley children, Alexander, Oliver and Iris Cholmondeley, at Houghton Hall was commissioned by their mother, Rose, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley. Phoebe told us ‘The commission at Houghton was particularly exciting for me because I was given no brief... once I had spent some time with the boys it became obvious that the house should become a part of the painting because not only is Houghton so beautiful, but it also plays a part in who the boys are and the way they live their lives’.

Dickinson’s painting was inspired by William Nicholson’s work, Hewell Grange. ‘I loved the unusual scale and how he told a story with his placement of the figures within the interior.’

My own thoughts on her work

I really loved the grand atmosphere created by Dickinson's decision to include the settings on the piece. I like the way that the interior structure of the room hasn't taken away from the children in the image.

The way that grandeur and scale of the room enhances the innocence and delicacy of the three children portrayed because it effectively conveys how small they are.


(National Portrait Gallery, Friday 21st September 2018)

Conor Walton (b1970)

'The New Religion', 2017

During my visit to the National Portrait Gallery, this was the first piece that  particularly caught my eye. 


Conor Walton says that the inspiration for this artwork was his love of Renaissance painting and his affinity for the works of Giovanni Bellini in particular. Walton appreciated the solemn tranquility and understated grandeur of Bellinni's great altarpieces. Yet he didn't feel that he good in good faith create an altarpiece in the dogma of Roman Catholicism. He felt that to do such a thing would be inauthentic and exploitative. Instead, Walton appropriates the sacra conversazione to incorporate a more scientific epistemology and still invite a metaphysical subtext to be derived from the narrative. 

The painting is quite plausibly a respectable homage to the religious aesthetic tradition and even to a spirituality of a more secular sort. The artist systematically replaced the Christian iconographic components with those of the biological sciences. Walton's saints' are the founders of modern biology: Charles Darwin, the founder of modern evolutionary theory, Gregor Mendel, whose experiments with peas laid the foundations of genetics, and James Lovelock, the father of earth-systems science or 'Gaia' theory. 

The imagery and narrative are undeniably provocative but are not intended as an assault so much as a negotiation. The apotheosis of Darwin almost begs credulity and its irony is not lost on the artist. But the invocation of Darwin is done with a sincerity rather than glib humor. Darwin had reconnected man and Nature thus reintegrating humanity into an ecological context. This was perceived as an affront to the metaphysics of humanity but could also be viewed as an extension of the metaphysical franchise to all of existence. The blue drapery indicating the sanctity of the chimpanzee Madonna is rendered with a reverence that befits the significance of shared ancestry. It is to invert the Scopes Trial meme and embrace its implications. One cannot help but speculate if the presence of the giraffe is an oblique reference to Darwin's evolutionary predecessor Jean-Baptiste Lamarck? 

The inclusion of Gregor Mendel is an olive branch to the more traditionally faithful and a reminder that science and faith are not mutually exclusive. Mendelian genetics would enable a more systematic approach to fecundity that would have far reaching implications. A scientific epistemology has an appropriate domain even within the context of spirituality. 

James Lovelock holds the Venus of Willendorf and this too is a dove of sorts as Lovelock's Gaia Theory would provide a more expansive paradigm for conceiving of the Earth as a living fecund entity and this too would have metaphysical implications. That Lovelock is shown proffering the Venus to a Neanderthal philosopher is a tongue in cheek reference to personifications of fertility. The Neanderthal looks back as if in discourse with Lovelock in an effort to explain his own fate. 

Walton's saints are seekers of greater truths but his martyrs are the victims of ecocide and extinction. The dodo is a not so subtle reference to ecological oblivion. The rhino bleeds from the mortal wound it has suffered, ironically because of a superstitious belief that its horn will provide human vitality. The highland gorilla hangs its head as if in mourning with awareness that its species teeters on the precipice. This ongoing mass extinction is catastrophic on a cosmological scale. The angels are the artist's own children whose beautiful music may one day be silenced as a result of a lack of sustainability. For the artist, the gravity of the situation is dire and the stakes are evidently high in terms of their ecological, ethical and metaphysical consequences. 

While the painting reflects a pathos befitting tragedy, like all devotionals, it provides a blessing of hope. The chimpanzee Madonna and her progeny imply an overcoming optimism that life itself will prevail

my own thoughts on his work


The piece was obviously biblical in reference, and yet what I loved was that Walton had modernised a traditional style making it relevant to the 21st Century. Not only this, but the inclusion of the individuals so groundbreaking in their scientific discoveries, not only links the past to the present and reminds us of how far out knowledge has came, but additionally, it conveys how religion and science are present in the world together.

 I love this idea of taking tradition and modernising it in order to reflect today's issues.


(National Portrait Gallery, Friday 21st September 2018)

Roland Barthes

' The Language Of Fashion', 1967

Roland Barthes, widely regarded as one of the most subtle and perceptive critics of the 20th Century, was particularly fascinated by fashion and clothing. The Language of Fashion brings together all Barthes' untranslated writings on fashion. The Language of Fashion presents a set of remarkable essays, revealing the breadth and insight of Barthes' long engagement with the history of clothes.

The essays range from closely argued essays laying down the foundations for a structural and semiological analysis of clothing to a critical analysis of the significance of gemstones and jewellery, from an exploration of how the contrasting styles of Courrges and Chanel replayed the clash between ancient and modern to a discussion of the meaning of hippy style in Morocco, and from the nature of desire to the role of the dandy and colour in fashion. Constantly questioning, always changing, Barthes' ideas about clothes and fashion remain to provoke another generation of readers seeking to understand not only the culture of fashion but the fashion of culture.


My own thoughts on his work

Whilst my collection project presentation will not directly link to Barthe's ideologies and beliefs regarding clothing, my piece reflects the idea of different styles conveying what sort of person you are. Therefore, the main concepts behind my collection project ideas link significantly to this connection between the clothes you wear and the person you are.

Carolina Meyer

'C*** Quilts', 2017



Send her your old drawers, and Coralina Meyer will sew them into one of her “Cunt Quilts".

As a racist, misogynist, possibly treasonous, and definitely unqualified non-politician approaches his inauguration as president of the United States, artists are scrambling for political leverage by any means available. According to artist Coralina Meyer, to find material for political action, women need look no farther than our own drawers.

Under the moniker Lambastic — the name she uses when working collaboratively, in a satirical style — Meyer has issued a call on Facebook and via word of mouth, seeking contributions of used women’s underwear. This is the Old Glory Underwear Audit: the artist and her collaborators will sew all the submissions into a series of “Cunt Quilts,” which she plans to continue assembling on a quarterly basis for at least four years, or until a woman is elected to the country’s highest office. The first of these works will be flown on the National Mall at the Women’s March on Washington this Saturday, January 21; it will be part of a mass-scale protest against a President-elect who is openly dismissive of and hostile towards women (among many other members of the citizenry).

“My artwork is a ménage a trois between public trauma, intimate memory, and consumer history,” Meyer told Hyperallergic. “Our generation is uniquely positioned as consumers whose political exhaustion from tactical trauma can be transgressed with matrilineal armor. As an artist, it is my job to make hidden histories accessible. The project has multiple phases: the Underwear Audit accounts for our bodies, the Stitch ‘n’ Bitch airs our grievances, and the Cunt Quilt is an association formed.”


My own thoughts on her work

Whilst's Meyer's concepts using underwear is more politically focussed as opposed to my idea being based solely on sexism and the judgement women receive for different styles, it's interesting to find another artist using a collection of pants to convey a belief or idea.

Whilst I wouldn't want to touch other people's used underwear, I think Meyer's 'C*** quilts' is an imaginative and almost lighthearted approach to a very serious issue, which is similar to what I wanted to achieve with my ideas.


Tim Hawkinson (b1960)

'Bird', 1997

Tim Hawkinson, 46, who has become renowned over the last decade for works that push the ideas of personal industry and invention to fantastic and often absurd conclusions: a crude machine that endlessly signs his signature; a bird skeleton made from his fingernail clippings; a contraption that simulates Siberian throat-singing by using plastic soda bottles.



My own thoughts on his work

When I first viewed an image of this piece, I really liked it. I had no idea of scale and I didn't initially consider the materials used to create it.

However, once I learned that this minute sculpture was made out of fingernails I didn't like it so much, regardless of the intricacy of work needed to go into it's formation.

Despite my somewhat queasy thoughts surrounding the piece, I find it quite interesting that by viewing Hawkinson's piece in a photograph, the experience becomes comical when you realise what the bird has been made out of. If I were to have viewed this piece first in person, whilst the impressive formation of the sculpture would have come across instantly, the experience of the viewing would be completely different and less shocking.

I like the way in which this piece took me by surprise, due to the seemingly incongruous link between fingernails and birds. However, once you consider the idea of your nails being made out of the same materials as bones, Hawkinson's model becomes all the more interesting. 

Hans Eijkelboom (b1949)

'The Street and Modern Life', 2015


The process is simply that I walk to the centre of the city where many people are. Then I walk around for 10 to 15 minutes. When something in the crowd intrigues me or touches me, I decide that will be the theme of the day. Then I start photographing …

Hans Eijkelboom

For his Multistory commission, The Street and Modern Life, Hans Eijkelboom turned his lens to the area surrounding the Bull Ring shopping centre in Birmingham, between July 2013 and September 2014.

Hans’ photographic work explores the construction of identity through clothing and personal appearance and, in turn, the relationship between individual and social identities in an increasingly globalised culture.


My on thoughts on his work

By collecting multiple images of people wearing similar clothing, Eijkelboom is exposing an irony within society and the way in which we believe we can express ourselves as individuals through our clothing.

The final images are humorous to the viewer, but there is no avoiding the truth that everything we wear, unless we make it ourselves, is mass produced and bought by hundreds, thousands of people around us everyday.

Whilst I don't particularly like the style and finish of the photographs as an art to look at, I love the way that this artist is exposing such  a comical irony within everyone's everyday lives.


Via Celmins (b1938)

'To Fix the Image in Memory', 1977-82

VC 2.jpg

The inexplicable thereness of a Vija Celmins–rendered image or object is difficult to parse. Be it via a drawing of rippling waters or a scrupulously crafted replica of a stone, she has the preternatural ability to turn the most common of vistas and subjects into moments of divine strangeness.

Artist, Vija Celmins: I had gone to New Mexico, where I often went and walked around picking up stuff, and I picked up a series of stones that were quite beautiful, most of them from around the Rio Grande near Taos, where the river had thrown them up over many, many probably centuries.

So I brought them back, and I was seeing how fantastic they were and how much detail they had, and I had this desire to make them over. So I thought, well, maybe I'll put them in an art context. I'll make them in bronze, and then, I'm going to paint them. And usually I talk about it as re-describing them, which is a term that really tells you what is going on. It's like a record of concentrated looking or maybe a record of a long relationship that I had with this piece of nature that was found. Each part of the surface has been observed and noted with a brush.

I decided as I was working on it that I would leave the found piece with the re-described piece, so that a viewer can have a sense of discovery and hopefully a little sense of delight when you see that one is found and quite natural, and another one has been seen, and made. Over the long run, it made me feel kind of happy. It woke me up to painting and to using color, which I had not been doing.

The work does have a sort of hiding of skill and craft, a kind of a closed off quality. Sometimes I thought of it like a work that's over-imagined on my part, (Laughs) because it's so thorough. I was going to put the rocks back in the desert. But then the piece went on so long that idea (Laughs) faded. So I did the next thing: I arrange the work every time differently. It's basically a piece about looking and making and a meditation on that.


My own thoughts on her work

I'm not certain why I love this piece as much as I do, but it's definitely got something to do with the way in which Clemins has taken very ordinary objects and made them beautiful. Not only are Celmins' replica's of the stone's almost identical to the original, but within the two objects which you cannot identify as the real and the produced, one is simply rock, and the other is made of bronze.

I think it's really interesting that the artist decided to use bronze which would be painted over, there's an element of mystery there. Additionally, I think it's amazing to consider that two identical rocks can not only be composed of very contrasting materials, but also that they were formed in completely different processes in different centuries altogether. In a way, Celmins is linking the past to the present in a  very subtle, yet beautiful way.

I would love to see this piece in person, and observe how close the detail is within the individual rocks because I don't think an image of the piece does it justice. I also love the artists other works of the natural environment in which she, again, takes a very ordinary scene and makes it mesmerising and beautiful. 


Idris Khan

'Homage to Bernd Becher', 2007 (overlayering)


Khan has repeatedly turned to the work of 20th-century photographers who have themselves explored the notion of the archive, including Bernd and Hilla Becher, a husband-and-wife team known for their decades-long project of documenting various industrial structures, such as water towers and blast furnaces. Khan’s condensation of whole bodies of the Bechers’ work into single images underscores its obsessive, serial nature. The resulting ghostly palimpsests also suggest a melancholy reminder of the passage of time—one which is especially suitable in this context, given that most of the industrial-era structures the Bechers catalogued were on the brink of extinction. This particular work was made shortly after Bernd Becher’s death in 2007.

Each art form has its own advantages and limitations. Words and music unfold successively, through time. Photography is about an instant. By analogy it can ask the impossible: in this case, what if you could hear every note of Beethoven's sonatas in an instant? What would that look like? And when we think of a piece of music that we know well, don't we sometimes remember it, not phrase by phrase, but in its amorphous entirety?

It is often said that photographers freeze time, but Khan does the opposite.


My own thoughts on his work

I am intrigued by the effect of Khan's overlayered collection of all of the Bechers' 'gastanks' photographs. Thanks to the original artists' precise arrangement of the tanks in the photographs, the result of Khan's piece is atmospheric, eery and expressive/ abstract, something which photographs rarely are.

By making the decades long collection a single experience, Khan is almost impossibly capturing a huge period of time within one photo and experience.

The sketch-like final effect could, in my opinion, only ever be seen as a huge success and achievement in art despite the original photographs not being by Khan himself. I cannot decide whether the image is like something of the past with connotations of the darkness yet structural focus of the industrial revolution, or something very futuristic. It would not look out of place in a 'sci-fi' scene. 

Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher

'Gastanks' (Stanadardization)


Hilla Becher was a German artist born in 1931 in Siegen, Germany. She was one half of a photography duo with her husband Bernd Becher. For forty years, they photographed disappearing industrial architecture around Europe and North America.

The photographed Industrial structures including water towers, coal bunkers, gas tanks and factories. Their work had a documentary style as their images were always taken in black and white. Their photographs never included people.

They exhibited their work in sets or typologies, grouping of several photographs of the same type of structure. The are well known for presenting their images in grid formations. 

Their first photobook Anonymous Sculptures was published in 1970 and is their most well-known body of work. The title is a nod to Marcel Duchamp’s readymades and indicates that the Becher’s referred to industrial buildings as found objects.

The book consisted of an encyclopaedic inventory of industrial structures including kilns, blast furnaces and gas-holders categorised into sections (the pot, the oven, the chimney, the winch, the pump, and the laboratory.)

Gas Tanks 1965−2009 comprises nine gelatin silver print photographs taken by Bernd and Hilla Becher over a period of more than thirty years and printed in 2013 under the supervision of Hilla Becher. The prints are arranged in three rows of three. Although they exist in an edition of five, the grouping and sequencing of the images in this particular work is unique, determined by Hilla Becher. Typical of the Bechers’ work, the photographs show different examples of a specific type of industrial architecture, in this case gas tanks.

My own thoughts on their work

When I first saw an image of this piece, and before I knew anything about it I found it quite uninspiring to look at. However, the time and dedication put into this work needs to be acknowledged, as this information makes the viewer interpret the piece in a completely new way.

Each of the photographs of the same gas tank is the same size and ratio within the image, as well as being taken on the same sort of day; a grey and dreary one. By documenting the photos in black and white, as well as in this standardised presentation, it highlights the differences within the images which is a clever way of focussing the viewer's attention onto the tanks themselves.

After considering these differences, the nature of the structure becomes more apparent as a harsh, polluting and quite environmentally scarring which is evoked in the atmosphere created by the presentation of the images. 

I really like the effect of the artists' simplistic presentation of these images which were clearly vital in order to achieve the final piece in such a successful way. This standardised format also manages to capture and freeze time, as the drastic changes in the structured have occurred over several decades.


Francis Alys (b1959)

'Fabiola Project' 1990 ongoing



Francis Alÿs: The Fabiola Project consists of more than 450 reproductions of a lost 1885 painting of 4th-century Roman Saint Fabiola by French artist Jean-Jacques Henner. The project was initiated by Belgian artist Francis Alÿs in the early 1990s, shortly after he moved to Mexico City, his current home. Fascinated by the artisanal culture of the city and short on funds, he decided to build an art collection for himself by combing the city’s flea markets and antique and junk shops. He expected to find copies of masterpieces by painters like Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and Jean-François Millet. Instead, he found and bought versions of Henner’s Fabiola, depicted in left-facing profile wearing a red headscarf. Gradually, Alÿs’s casual collecting project gathered steam as he and his friends discovered new images of the saint during their travels around the world.

Today, The Fabiola Project consists primarily of paintings, but also includes bas-relief wood carvings and images in needlepoint, painted ceramics, jewelry, and in one case a mosaic made of rice and beans. On view in the Menil’s Byzantine Fresco Chapel, where slower and deeper reflection is encouraged, the exhibition is curated by Toby Kamps, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.


Which is to say that the Alÿs show at the Hispanic Society, while not permanent, does feel something like a pilgrimage, but to a mahogany-paneled space that has a dark and slightly sepulchral atmosphere. All this is intensified by the religious subject: St. Fabiola, a fourth-century Roman aristocrat from the Fabia family who is supposed to have been an early Mother Teresa.

Her story became popular in the late 19th century, and an 1885 portrait of her by a French academician, Jean-Jacques Henner, that is now lost, has since been endlessly copied around the world. Appearing on postcards, posters and religious trinkets, Fabiola has been a beloved subject for countless painters, most of them amateurs.

My own thoughts on his work

Whilst I'm not sure that Alys should be taking so much credit for his collection 'Fabiola', I love the idea of bringing together so many almost identical examples of the same painting from a variety of areas across the world. Not only does this artist, again, make the viewer search for the differences between the individual paintings, but it's an amazing thought to imagine all of the individuals that have attempted this piece.  It's almost comical. 

There is an irony in this collection of paintings of the somewhat iconic Fabiola character. Despite all of the paintings being the 'same', Alys' presentation of the collection reminds us of the individuality that's gone into the pieces. I think this is very clever.


Peter Dreher (b1932)

'Day by Day, Good Day'

The painter himself states, “for me, the deliberate restriction to the same motif is not a sacrifice, neither is it based on the idea of creating a particularly crazy concept to increase my recognisability or to distinguish myself from my colleagues. I chose what is deemed to be a restriction in order to focus all my energy on what is really important and crucial for me: painting.”

 Consequently, painting for him is not a means to an end, aimed at reproducing reality or an interpretation of reality or reacting to it in a kind of relation between artist and world. Painting is the purpose itself. Our visible reality is the cause for painting, or the catalyst, with the subject being of minor importance. Despite its minor significance, the decision for the empty glass was not a random one. Peter Dreher was so fascinated by the matter of the object that he was tempted to paint something that, strictly speaking, was not visible, but still an object – to be seen only by the reflection of light.

 Peter Dreher’s work demonstrates what Aristotle described as praxis – performing an activity for its own sake. The ancient Greek philosopher distinguished praxis from so-called poiesis or poetic activity that, as opposed to praxis, serves a purpose and is aimed at a goal. As this goal can be achieved, the activity can be considered complete. Peter Dreher’s painting is praxis in the sense that his goal is performing the activity itself. His series is not aimed at a certain number. He plans to continue painting the glass as long as he enjoys doing it. His opus is the process leading to an indefinite goal. In this process, forty years have materialized.


Measuring 10 inches by 8 inches, the glass paintings all are similar, but each is singular. Moving from one to another, you notice differences of light, shadow, reflection, transparency and painterly touch. In most cases, Mr. Dreher inscribed into the paint near the picture’s upper edge its number in the series.

At Koenig & Clinton, the paintings are grouped according to whether they were made in the day or at night. In the daytime ones, you see in the lower third of the glass a gridded trapezoid: the reflection of a studio window. In some of these you can see that the window frames a bit of blue sky and some white clouds. You see a piece of the greater world in microcosmic miniature.

Morandi comes to mind, but Mr. Dreher is more attentive to the visual facts; he’s closer to Chardin. He’s not just a realist, though. He’s like a Zen monk trying to see the same thing over and over each time, as if he’d never seen it before. That he evidently succeeded in that effort makes his deceptively modest paintings spiritually inspiring.


My own thoughts on his work

I really like this collection idea from Dreher. By isolating the object to the same one each day, it has allowed the artist to focus purely on his painting skills. I like the idea of, by controlling the collection object, you can experiment with different aspects of how you are going to present the work. 

Not only this, but Dreher is controlling the viewers of his art in a way. By painting exactly the same object every day, it forces the observer to look for the variation within all the paintings. This is an idea I would like to carry into my collection project. 

Lisa Milroy (b1959)

'Greek Vases' 1989

In all her object paintings, Milroy presents things in their most characteristic profile, side on or from above, depending on the objects concerned. They are alienated from any context, set against a neutral, most frequently white ground. This absorbs the shadows and contrasts with the objects' three-dimensionality, allowing an ambiguity in the viewer's relation to the object. They can be seen equally as placed on the floor or hung vertically on a wall. Our perception of them as objects diminishes as our appreciation of their abstract qualities and their serial ordering increases.

Gallery label, September 2004



We are surrounded with painterly, bold images of objects. Light bulbs, all shapes, sizes, and colors, broken shards of Greek pottery, tires that seem to speed toward us through the endless white spaces of a large canvas, shoes, door handles, postage stamps, sailor's caps, melons, and a host of other things, always painted on a white ground.

She paints objects. Or more accurately, she paints paintings of objects. The way she paints them - bold, accurate but not too specific, not minutely detailed - uses the objects for the paintings' own ends. These are, a little surprisingly, ``abstract'' paintings, as well as pictures of objects. ``I think the division between `abstract' and `figurative' is probably not quite as clear as we thought,'' she tells me.




My own thoughts on her work

I really like the way that Milroy's isolation of the everyday objects she paints onto a plain white canvas allows the viewer a new perspective on the object and almost reinvents it. 

The graphic style and boldness of her paintings evokes  simplicity which is hugely effective. I think for the collection project, retaining a simplicity with a focus on the collection object itself is the most important thing.

I really like Milroy's paintings because they are very pleasing to the eye, probably because of the crisp background combined with the gaps between the objects. This makes the objects stand out  and whilst all of the images contain a 'collection', I feel as though each piece of the painting can also be viewed as in individual in it's own beauty.

Pierre Hughe and Phillipe Parreno

'I Am Dreaming About A Reality' 2002

Film production.



(my own photos)

Before I read about this film I was the most puzzled I'd been throughout our whole visit to the Tate. I had absolutely no clue what the film was about, just that I was quite certain the focus was on a  single animated character. Therefore, I couldn't really relate the work to the title.



I Am Dreaming About A Reality' 2002

Video, single channel, colour and sound

Running time: 4min, 7sec

Ghanaian was one of several artists invited by Phillipe Parreno and Pierre Hughe to make a short film featuring Annlee, a manga character whose copyright they purchased in 1999. Ghanaian's film opens in a command-line interface in which a game is generated combining this figure, theme music by composer Jan Varou and a narrative titled 'Representation'. In the resulting game, Annlee is split into two characters by a change if electricity. The first chases the other as it dances and morphs between 2D and 3D planes before being restored to a single body.



After reading about the film, I was still quite confused about the point of the piece and whether it was used as advertising for the manga character. 

The idea of Annlee being split into two could reflect the internal conflicts within people with regard to decisions that we all have to make everyday. Whilst the title of the video still doesn't make complete sense to me, the word 'dreaming' conveys that the character is yearning for a change in her life, perhaps for the conflict to end?



(my own photo)


The artists' collection consisted of various pieces in a range of different media surrounding this single character. I think this makes her a representative character for people to watch and see. However, my understanding of this collection remained very weak and I found it difficult to reflect on.



(Tate visit, Friday 14th September 2018)

Marina Abramovic

'Rhythm 0' 1974

Abramovic has collected a huge variety of objects as well as footage in order to arrange the installation and produce a film documenting the basis of the artwork. 


(my own photo)


Before reading the information given or paying attention to the film being played above the table, the objects seemed very random and varied and I couldn't distinguish a theme running through them all. 

 Additionally, at this point I couldn't make a clear connection between the title and the work itself. 



Rhythm 0 by the Serbian artist Marina Abramovic comprises seventy-two objects set out on a long table covered with a white tablecloth, as well as sixty-nine slides. The slides are projected onto the gallery wall above the table from a projector which sits on a stand. Among the objects on the table is a framed description of a performance piece of the same name that took place at Studio Morra in Naples in 1974. The slides document this performance and the objects replicate the original props used. Many are perishable items, such as foodstuffs and flowers, which need to be replaced each time the work is displayed. The work was remade for exhibition purposes in 2009 as part of the Abramovic’s retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. It exists in an edition of three plus two artist’s proofs, and Tate’s copy is number one in the edition.

Abramovic’s original intention for the piece is explained by her written instructions which accompanied the work:


There are 72 objects on the table that one can use on me as desired.


I am the object.
During this period I take full responsibility.


Duration: 6 hours (8pm–2am.)
Studio Morra, Naples
(Reproduced in Biesenbach 2009, p.74.)

Thus, for a period of six hours, visitors were invited to use any of the objects on the table on the artist, who subjected herself to their treatment. The artist has stated, ‘the experience I drew from this work was that in your own performances you can go very far, but if you leave decisions to the public, you can be killed’ (quoted in Ward 2009, p.132). It is important to note that for the purpose of museum display, the gun has been deactivated and, together with other dangerous items, secured to the table. It is not the artist’s intention that the performance should be repeated. Instead, while many performance works rely on photographic or video documentation only, this work physically incorporates the ‘instruments’ used as props in the performance (or their replicas), so that the mechanics of threat and seduction played out in the original work are palpable to the viewer, especially when seen in combination with the slides documenting the event.

As with many of Abramovic’s works, themes surrounding the physicality of the body, endurance, pain and the staging of authentic live actions are dealt with in an experimental way, incurring a degree of personal risk and suffering. The objects that could be ‘used on her’ were chosen to represent both pain and pleasure. Through the risk to her own person in this work, and her acceptance of that risk, Abramovic also explored collective action and responsibility.



After reading the information about the installation I had great respect for Abramovic's dedication of a six-hour long exposure to other people's decisions. She put herself at risk for her art. 

I think this collection is very interesting, as participants' choice of object could reveal a lot about them without it being expressed in words.

The artist has exposed herself to the possibility of physical pain, and in a way, must put her faith in strangers which is something very few people can say they have done. 

The title could perhaps be referencing the repetition as a large number of people all took turns during the six hour performance, or the ability of the body to endure pain and unease over and over again.



(Tate visit, Friday 14th September 2018)

Ana Lupas

'The Solemn Process' 1964-2008

Lupas has collected various materials such as metals and wheat, as well as images all through photography and sculpture.

Before reading about Lupas' exhibition I was confused and had no idea about hat the sculptures were about. I didn't know what the link was between the sculptures and the photographs as the materials were so contrasting.

However, the sculptures were a variety of shapes and sizes and I had no idea about what this represented. 


(my own photo)



The Solemn Process 1964–2008 is a large-scale installation comprising twenty-one unique metal sculptures of varying dimensions and forms, as well as two large wall vinyls, each displaying a grid of forty sepia-toned images. It was created over a period of five decades by Romanian artist Ana Lupas. The photographs feature a series of straw objects in rural, agricultural settlements. Some of the images are also populated by people who interact or pose with them. The objects in the photographs are the same shape as the metal sculptures, suggesting that there is a direct relationship between them despite the different materials and their presence in the gallery. Indeed, the two vinyl panels and the sculptural objects can be seen as discrete elements that directly relate to the three phases in which the work was made: the first between 1964 and 1974 and into 1976, the second between 1980 and 1985 and the third between 1985 and 2008. These three phases relate to the changing social and political situation in Romania.

For the first phase Lupas collaborated with villagers in rural Transylvania to produce cylindrical and circular shaped wreaths. The wreaths were made using traditional rural techniques and materials such as straw and clay, usually employed for the construction of houses and fencing. The objects were created without any practical function, with the tall cylindrical columns varying in height from just under one-and-a-half metres to over eight metres high and the largest circular form measuring over two metres. Local participants were invited to display the structures in the environment, installing and arranging them both in the landscape and in their homes. The arrangements were then documented photographically. The work was supposed to develop over time, involving more participants who would make more objects, expanding the artwork as a collective.

By the early to mid-1970s the restrictive political climate and worsening economic situation in communist Romania made it difficult for rural participants to continue engaging in the process and the production of new sculptures ceased. Lupas also realised that objects left in situ were gradually decaying. As such during the second phase, from 1980 to 1985, she attempted to restore the original wreaths. The artist commented that: ‘This period could be considered as a distressing and dramatic one, but it enriched a failed concept and led to finding new ways to get back to the original concept’ (Lupas in email correspondence with Tate curator Juliet Bingham, 19 January 2015). Finding the restoration process unsatisfactory in relation to the original concept of the ‘infinite dimension of the installation’ (Lupas to Bingham, 19 January 2015), Lupas sought an alternative method of extending the life of the work. In the third and final phase, from 1985 to 2008, the ephemeral objects were ‘preserved’ by encasing them in metal forms. Hungarian craftsmen were commissioned to fabricate the metal containers using traditional metalwork techniques, mirroring the individual shapes of each original wreath. For the artist this transformation, or ‘re-making’, was a deliberate process of re-evaluating the work.



After realising that this installation was about preservation it made much more sense to me. I loved the idea that memories from decades ago were trapped within the sculptures around the room, and it makes you think about all of the lives, not just Lupas', that were involved in this collection. 

I think that's one aspect of collection artwork that is beautiful; whatever it is that you collect, the objects, words, ideas have been touched by so many people and there is an element of mystery and wonder in that which is incomparable.

I think perhaps the title refers to the sadness of decay and the inevitability of it.

Lupas has cleverly managed to bridge ancestral and cultural pasts with the future/ modern day, which is incredible.  



(Tate visit, Friday 14th September 2018)

Jenny Holzer


(my own photo)


Holzer has collected hundreds of statements and quotes and presented them in a very intense and quite disorientating room. 


(my own photo)


Before I'd read about Holzer's exhibition I found the interactive experience quite interesting. I like the way that you can't really read all of the information on the walls because the quantity is so large. Therefore, in a similar way to Meirelles radio installation, every time you enter the room/ every person who enters it has a completely different experience depending on which statements you read. 



American artist Jenny Holzer presents statements that can provoke strong responses. Whether encountered on city streets or in art galleries, Holzer's work asks us to consider the words and messages that surround us. Her art takes many forms, including stone benches, projections, signs, posters, paintings, plaques and textiles. Words are central to her work, whether pasted on a wall, flickering from an electronic sign, carved in granite or stitched in wool.

Her texts can be forceful and apparently simple, but may contradict one another. They are not necessarily straightforward expressions of the artist’s views. Truisms, Holzer’s first text series, is a survey of belief.

Holzer has described her aims:

I wanted a lot simultaneously: to leave art outside for the public, to be a painter of mysterious yet ordered works, to be explicit but not didactic, to find the right subjects, to transform spaces, to disorient and transfix people, to offer up beauty, to be funny and never lie.

Early in her career, Holzer delivered messages on posters and T-shirts so they would be seen in everyday places rather than in museums and galleries. Her work addresses the information overload and multiple perspectives we read daily. Eye-catching or quiet and lyrical, Holzer's art invites us to read and interpret for ourselves.




I like the way that Holzer's work makes you think about the world. All of the statements can be interpreted in a different way by different individuals, making the exhibition relevant for everyone.

The possibilities for an exhibition like this is endless, as the statements could be sourced from anywhere and presented in any way.



(Tate visit, Friday 14th September 2018)  

Martin Parr

'Common Sense' series, 1995-9


Parr has collected a series of images through photography for this exhibition in the Tate.


(my own photo)


Before I'd read about Parr's collection of photographs, whilst I thought the images were very striking and enjoyable to study, I had absolutely no clue about what the focus/ subject of the series was.

I love how colourful the images are, and despite their varying subject matter they all seemed to work well together on the wall. However, I couldn't see a link between the photographs.



The British photographer has spent the past four decades exploring themes of class, leisure and consumer culture at home and abroad. Parr’s work illustrates his ongoing curiosity about our cultural peculiarities and the choices we make: what we buy, wear and eat, and where we go on holiday. ‘I’m a nosy person,’ Parr states, and ‘there’s no better way of finding out about something than going to photograph it.’

Parr is a collector as well as a photographer. His interests range from photobooks to souvenirs and memorabilia. For Parr ‘taking photographs is a form of collecting’. Each of his photographic series is a collection of faces, places and objects that reveals different aspects of his chosen subject.

In 2017 Tate acquired more than 12,000 of Parr’s photobooks. Collected over 35 years, these publications from around the world cover a broad range of subjects and types of photographic practice. This significant acquisition provides Tate with the opportunity to tell new stories about photography and its role in recording the culture and politics of its time.



After reading the information given, I realised I wasn't really meant to be trying to find a link between the images, because the series explores a huge variety of societal factors. The title, I think, reflects the regularity of the subject of the photographs which is almost juxtaposed by the striking colours within them.

I find it very interesting how a collection such as this can convey life so effortlessly. I think Par's collection of photos effectively captures familiar life but in a very exciting and refreshing way, which is why they are so enjoyable to observe.



(Tate visit, Friday 14th September 2018)





Barbara Kruger

Who Owns What?' 2012

Kruger has collected screens and quotes from various artists to create her installation. 



(my own photo)


Before I read about Kruger's piece I determined that the arrangement of screens with quotes appearing on them was representing the issue/ idea of the development of technology and the effect that this has on art today.

I found the arrangement of the screens, as well as the different timings of the quotes appearing very disorientating to look at, which perhaps deliberately conveys how confusing the rapid development of new technology can be on people. 



Kruger combines a dynamic visual style with texts that are often ironic, accusatory or confrontational. Direct addressing the viewer, her works challenge us to think about society inequality, gender  politics and the false promises of capitalism. The question that she poses here is only three words long, but can be interpreted and answered in many ways. As statistics reveal that wealth is concentrated in ever fewer hands, Kruger's work remains powerfully relevant.


The projection brings together quotations from artists and other thinkers about the impact of the mass media and digital technology on the way we make and look at art.


 The title of the piece explores the idea of who art is owned by. Is it the artist that created the piece? Or the people that interpret it? I personally think it is a significant combination of the two, and it is important that everyone who views a piece will 'own' it in a different way because of their interpretation of it.

Kruger's installation challenges the viewer's thoughts and what I find particularly amazing about this piece, is that it will always be relevant because technology is always continuing to develop. There are very few pieces that could do the same.



(Tate visit, Friday 14th September 2018)





Cildo Meireles

'Babel' 2001

Babel has collected radios ranging from the large old-fashioned models to the much smaller modern ones today and created a huge, tall tower-like sculpture with every individual radio playing a different station.



(my own photo)


Before I read the information on Meireles' piece I found the sculpture almost comical, yet fascinating.

Every radio was playing a different station which meant that I couldn't hear any individual words, just a constant noise of different voices. I thought that this could reflect society. This is in the way that every society or community is made up of a large number of individuals, who are all unique and yet, together, they act as one being. 

The lighting in the room was very dark with blue hues. This meant that the lights on the radio's seemed brighter, all though I wasn't sure if/ what this was meant to reflect tor represent. 



Babel 2001 is a large-scale sculptural installation that takes the form of a circular tower made from hundreds of second-hand analogue radios that the artist has stacked in layers. The radios are tuned to a multitude of different stations and are adjusted to the minimum volume at which they are audible. Nevertheless, they compete with each other and create a cacophony of low, continuous sound, resulting in inaccessible information, voices or music.

In describing this work, Meireles refers to a ‘tower of incomprehension’ (quoted in Tate Modern 2008, p.168). The installation manifests, quite literally, a Tower of Babel, relating it to the biblical story of a tower tall enough to reach the heavens, which, offending God, caused him to make the builders speak in different tongues. Their inability to communicate with one another caused them to become divided and scatter across the earth and, moreover, became the source of all of mankind’s conflicts. The room in which the tower is installed is bathed in an indigo blue light that, together with the sound, gives the whole structure an eerie effect and adds to the sense of phenomenological and perceptual confusion. The radios are all of different dates, the lower layers nearest the floor being composed of older radios, larger in scale and closer in kind to pieces of furniture, while the upper layers are assembled from more recent, mass-produced and smaller radios. This arrangement emphasises the sense of perspectival foreshortening and thus the impression of the tower’s height, which, like its biblical counterpart, might continue into the heavens.



After reading the information on Meireles' piece the tower of 'incomprehension' became all the more meaningful. I'd never heard the biblical story before which was informative and interesting. I found the artists' idea, of every individual witness of his piece being completely unique, very fascinating.  I think there's something very special about that. 



(Tate visit, Friday 14th September 2018)



Gordon Bennett

'Possession Island' 1991

Whilst Bennett's piece is not relevant to the 'collection' project brief, it was a piece that I was taken with in the Tate.



(my own photo)


The painting shows British explorer Captain James Cook claiming the eastern coast of Australia for the British Crown in 1770. Bennett painted it following Australia's bicentennial celebrations in 1988, which for many Aboriginal Australians was a time to mourn and remember the devastating consequences of the colonisation. The painting is based on the nineteenth-century engraving which includes an Aboriginal servant holding a drinks tray. Here the figure is concealed under blocks of colour, the black, red and yellow of the Aboriginal flag. Bennett explained that he wanted to make people 're-read the image and the mythology' of Australian colonial history.



I found this canvas very striking, especially the striking contrast created between the old-fashioned figures and scene with the bold Aboriginal colours blocking out the figure in the middle. I would like to experiment with this style in the future. Perhaps I could recreate a similar piece with other historically significant scenes and events.

Additionally to this, the title of the piece is very significant. 'Possession' refers to the objectification of the native Australians once they became the property of the English crown. 

I think this piece effectively links history to modern day in a way that is unique and I have not seen before. 



(The visit, Friday 14th September 2018)




Mark Ruwedel

Ruwedel has used photography to capture a collection of images in black and white of the North American landscape.



(my own photos)



Before reading about Ruwedel's collection of photographs of the landscapes, I thought they were beautiful and striking and somehow conveyed a delicacy of what is actually a very harsh landscape. I thought that presenting the photographs in black and white somehow created an atmospheric and eery tone in the work.

As for the subject pattern in all of the photos, I guessed that the images had something to do with capturing the development of civilisation within the abandoned landscape but was overall, quite unsure. 

I also noticed a juxtaposition (whether this was intentional or not) between the beauty of the landscape in the image of the location named 'hell gate'. How could such beautiful location be named after the most awful place?



Mark Ruwedel's work shows how geological, historical and political events have left their mark on the landscape.

Ruwedel has spent many years photographing the North American landscape. The world in this display span 1995-2012 and includes images of abandoned railways, nuclear testing sites and empty desert homes.

Each series explores how past events have been inscribed onto the earth's surface, reflecting the artist's belief that 'at this point in history, pure nature is no longer a viable subject'. He explains: 'I have come to think of the land as being an enormous historical archive. I am interested in revealing the narratives contained within the landscape, especially those places where the land reveals itself as being both an agent of change and a field of human endeavour'.




After reading the information on Ruwedel's collection of photographs I became all the more intrigued by the images, and the artist's thoughts made me think very differently about the earth  that we live on. The eeriness of the images now made sense to me and by surrounding the entire room with similar images this feeling was heightened. 

There was a great sense of desolation within the many images which acts as a way of conveying the vastness of the landscapes Ruwedel captures. 



(Tate visit, Friday 14th September 2018)




Theaster Gates

'Civil Tapestry 4' 2011




(My own photo)


Gates has collected decommissioned firehoses to create this tapestry.

Before I read the information given on Gates' piece I found it quite difficult to predict what the tapestry was about and made from. Despite this, the large scale piece was very intriguing . After a close inspection all i could come up with for a guess was that the writing on the material looked much like old wartime text often found on WW2 supplies and weaponry. Additionally, the material looked very think and sturdy so i assumed the piece had something to do with the war.

Although Gates' tapestry is quite plain, it evoked a curiosity in me and no doubt everyone else, which in itself is a successful trait for any artwork.



Civil Tapestry 4 2011 is a large wall-based work by the American artist Theaster Gates. It is made from strips of decommissioned fire hoses that Gates sourced in Chicago, his home town, and fixed to a wooden support. The hoses vary in tone between white, beige and brown, with three prominent red strips. Some have printed lettering (giving details of the manufacturer) but most are blank. Civil Tapestry 4 is one of a number of works that Gates made using fire hoses, and at almost two metres high and five metres wide, it is one of the largest.

The work’s title points to its political and social content. In May 1963 a group of black children and students in Birmingham, Alabama, embarked on a peaceful march as part of the struggle for equal rights for black people in America. The Birmingham Commissioner for Public Safety, Eugene ‘Bull’ Connor, ordered the police to use fire hoses to spray the crowd with water in order to break up the march and force the demonstrators into submission. The force of the blasts of water was immense, and many of the children and students were injured. Gates has written, ‘For days, fire hoses and canons were used to intimidate America’s wrongly served.’ (Theaster Gates, press release for An Epitaph for Civil Rights and Other Domesticated Structures, Kavi Gupta, Chicago 2011) The police brutality was widely condemned, and with President Kennedy criticising the Birmingham police, these events were seen as a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement. Gates commented, ‘The event led to immediate shifts in the American South and created opportunity for Black people to integrate.’ (Gates 2011, accessed August 2012.)



After reading about Gates' work I realised I'd misinterpreted the piece., with the title referring to the civil rights era that the event being represented was encompassed in.

Made of decommissioned fire hoses reflecting on the civil rights movement. It is interesting to think that a simple object such as  a hose can play such an integral role in events that altered history. It is sad to think that something so ironically soft, was used as a tool for harmful power and pain. 

Gates' piece also helps us to realise how much society has developed and changed since the event occurred.



(Tate visit, Friday 14th September 2018)





Carrie Mae Weems


'From Here I Saw What Happened And I Cried' 1995-6


(my own image)



Weems has collected images and texts, using photography, photo editing and text-work to present her piece.

Before I read any information on Weems' presentation I was instantly impressed with the work and, despite the solemn nature of the images, I thought the work was beautiful.

It became apparent that this series of images was capturing historic issues of racism and slavery through photography and text. As I followed the order of the photographs around the room, I realised that the text over the photographs was quite difficult to read. I don't know whether this was deliberate of the artist or not, but perhaps this difficulty leads to the viewer subconsciously focussing on the writing of the piece instead of the face behind it and thus, perhaps belittling the individuals? Just as people have done throughout the past.

Additionally to this, All of the images with the exception of the first and last, were edited to be a bright red colour. I questioned whether this was to convey an anger and hatred felt by the artist towards the way black people were labelled, treated and abused. Furthermore, the red could also have represented the bloodshed of these people. 

I thought that the photographs/ portraits of the individuals around the room made the series all the more moving, as it allows us to relate the harsh labelling and words, to specific faces. I wondered whether the repetition of 'Ha' coveys the mocking of the victims. 

Perhaps the circular framing of the photos, as well as the circular act of the viewer to move the complete way around the edge of the room conveys a lack of hope in a never ending cycle?


The images were chosen by the artist from a number of archives, including daguerrotypes of slaves taken in the 1850s, and extending to the 1950s and the Civil Rights era. The sequence begins and ends with an image of the wife of a Mangbetu chief, taken in the 1920s in the Belgian Congo, creating the impression that she is bearing witness to this tragic history.

Weems rephotographed and enlarged the images, overlaying them with a red tint and mounting them behind glass. A series of texts were etched onto the glass to form a powerful, poetic commentary. Text and image show African Americans being forced into servile roles, such as cooks, maidservants or sexual objects. They are presented as evidence to prove dubious scientific theories, and as stereotypical characters in novels.

With the image of a man’s brutally whipped back, Weems does not shy away from the violence underlying slavery. She is also willing to confront the complexity of this history, showing that some Black women were forced to give birth to their masters’ children, while another is accused of being an ‘accomplice’. Above all, by addressing the subjects of the photographs as ‘you’, the text encourages the viewer to recognise each face as an individual rather than as an ethnographic or historical type.



After reading the information given on Weems' series, I was even more moved by the exhibition. I also got the sense that these people who are no longer around, have been recognised as victims of one of the greatest injustices and tragedies of modern history, as well as given significance thanks to Weems' powerful work. 

It also makes the viewer feel the urge to recognise that this history was made up of individuals, thanks to the photographs, and therefore magnifies the tragedy of slavery. 

I think every person who views Weems' piece experiences a range of emotions, and that, to me, makes this series of photographs powerful, and hugely successful.

This was my favourite piece that I viewed at the Tate today.


(Tate visit, Friday 14th September 2018)


Andy Warhol (b1928-1987)

In 1983, Andy Warhol created his Love series, which includes a portfolio of three screenprints on Rives BFK paper. Each screen print depicts a nude couple embracing one another in a different position. The sequence of images seemingly implies a narrative, as if each image represents a different movement leading up to sexual intercourse. While the images are characterized by passion, lust and sexuality, they are not as much pornographic as they are romantic. There are explicit sexual acts depicted nor is an emphasis of naked sexual parts, as there is in Warhol’s 1978 Sex Parts series, which includes prints focalizing on sexual acts and male sex organs. His naming of this collection of prints as his Love series and his depiction of the couple’s full bodies rather than their body parts, also imply deeper meaning beyond sexual intercourse.

More than twenty years after his death, Andy Warhol remains one of the most influential figures in contemporary art and culture. Warhol’s life and work inspires creative thinkers worldwide thanks to his enduring imagery, his artfully cultivated celebrity, and the ongoing research of dedicated scholars. His impact as an artist is far deeper and greater than his one prescient observation that “everyone will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” His omnivorous curiosity resulted in an enormous body of work that spanned every available medium and most importantly contributed to the collapse of boundaries between high and low culture.





My own thoughts on his work

I researched Warhol's love series whilst developing my installation presentation. Whilst his work did not have a significant effect on this project I really like the simplicity of the lines and colours merging together to give a clear yet powerful final image.

The luminosity of the colours Warhol uses gives an electric vibe to the pieces which reflects the excitement and emotions of that occurs in the scene being depicted. I think this would be interesting to explore myself, linking the colours of a piece to the image being depicted and how this alters the overall effect of final work. 




Georgia O'Keeffe (b1887-1986)

But a new Tate Modern retrospective of Georgia O’Keeffe, a giant of American 20th-century modernism, is to challenge the “conservative male” – and widely accepted – assumptions that her famous flowers paintings are depictions of female genitalia.

She is best known for her large-scale studies of flowers, painted as if looking at them through a magnifying glass. However, since the early 1920s the vast oil works have been dogged by erotic interpretations and, despite O’Keeffe’s six decades of vigorous denial that her paintings were in any way sexual, it remains a commonly held assumption to this day




My own thoughts on her work

I really like the way O'Keeffe's view of the insides of the flowers allow her to symbolise different objects and concepts within her paintings. It would be interesting to explore how different perspectives of an object could effect the overall look of the piece and what it could represent.

O'Keeffe's work really helped me with the ideas factory project presentation, as the colours and shapes within her paintings linked to the feminism and sensualism that I wanted to reflect on the inside of the installation.


Albert Hadley (b1920-2012)

“Decorating is not about lace curtains and carpets from Paris!” Hadley told Architectural Digest last year in his smoky drawl. No amount of aesthetic folderol, he observed, could make a poorly architected room palatable. “I start with the hammer and the saw—moving doors to line up with windows, straightening out the floor plan, that kind of thing. Once the dust has settled, then you can start thinking about fabrics and paint.”

 Refining imperfect envelopes was one of the signature skills that Hadley, a onetime instructor at Parsons School of Design, brought to the decorating firm founded by society figure Parish when he joined in 1962, following a stint at its rival McMillen. “Mrs. Parish couldn’t draw or do a floor plan, but she had a knack for finding the right pieces of furniture to create a look. Albert always thought rooms out intellectually,” recalls designer Bunny Williams, a Parish-Hadley alumna. “And his incredible working drawings were pretty close to how the projects were carried out.” The disparate pair’s respectful if periodically trying partnership—which lasted until Parish’s death in 1994—proved to be surprisingly influential, a collaboration that Hadley biographer Adam Lewis compares to “two flints striking against each other and starting a fire.”





My own thoughts on his work

Hadley's architectural and interior design drawings are a style that I would like to experiment with further. I partly incorporated this type of drawing into my ideas project presentation and I enjoyed the satisfaction of more precise drawing techniques alongside development of colours and texture.


Ellen Gallagher (b1965)

Ellen Gallagher is one of the most acclaimed contemporary artists to have emerged from North America since the mid-1990s. Her gorgeously intricate and highly imaginative works are realised with a wealth of virtuoso detail and wit. 

Gallagher brings together imagery from myth, nature, art and social history to create complex works in a wide variety of media including painting, drawing, relief, collage, print, sculpture, film and animation.




From the outset of her career, Ellen Gallagher has brought together non-representational formal concerns and charged figuration in paintings, drawings, collages, and films that reveal themselves slowly, first as intricate abstractions, then later as unnerving stories. The tension sustained between minimalist abstraction and image-based narratives deriving from her use of found materials gives rise to a dynamic that posits the historical constructions of the “New Negro”—a central development of the Harlem Renaissance—with concurrent developments in modernist abstraction. In doing so, she points to the artificiality of the perceived schism between figuration and abstraction in art. Selecting from a wealth of popular ephemera—lined penmanship paper, magazine pages, journals, and advertising—as support for her paintings and drawings, Gallagher subjects the original elements and motifs to intense and laborious processes of transformation: accumulation, erasure, interruption, and interference. Like forensic evidence, only traces of their original state remain, veiled by inky saturation, smudges, staining, perforations, punctures, spills, abrasions, printed lettering and marking—all potent evocations and emanations of time and its materiality. This attained state of “un–knowing” fascinates Gallagher and is one of the primary themes in her work.


Harlem Renaissance 

The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual, social, and artistic explosion that took place in Harlem, New York, spanning the 1920s. During the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke. The Movement also included the new African-American cultural expressions across the urban areas in the Northeast and Midwest United States affected by the African-American Great Migration, of which Harlem was the largest. The Harlem Renaissance was considered to be a rebirth of African-American arts. 


My thoughts on her work

I love the contrast of colours and textures within Gallagher's pieces and her ability to convey cultural, social and political issues  and movements within her work whilst simultaneuously producing clean and aesthetically pleasing images to view.

I would love to experiment with Gallagher's style in the future as her work is the one I have enjoyed the most so far, both to view and read about. I could perhaps explore new and varying societal issues within my own experimentations inspired by Gallagher.  

I would like to combine drawings, collage, painting and ink work to try and reflect the style of Gallagher but conveying my own researched societal issues and movements within the pieces. 


Sol LeWitt (b1928-2007)

Most of us only see Sol LeWitt‘s precise, light wall drawings once they’ve already made their mark on the walls, but for the artist, the process of execution was just as, if not more, important. Indeed, each of LeWitt’s drawings comes with a meticulous set of instructions, which can be carried out by anyone.

“Looking again at LeWitt’s wittily concise instructions, I realized they read, without modification, as movement directives,” says Levine, who has been interpreting modern and postmodern visual artworks as scores in her series Re-stagings

LeWitt's refined vocabulary of visual art consisted of lines, basic colors and simplified shapes. He applied them according to formulae of his own invention, which hinted at mathematical equations and architectural specifications, but were neither predictable nor necessarily logical. For LeWitt, the directions for producing a work of art became the work itself.


SL 2.jpg

My own thoughts on his work

LeWitt's instructional pieces have helped me with the development of my installation piece for the ideas factory project. I wanted my installation to be interactive but was specific about the way in which the participants should be acting. Therefore, on my A1 presentation sheet I included a set of instructions much like LeWitt's pieces. Similarly to LeWitt's line works, the actions of the participants are integral to my installation. 



Tacita Dean (b1965)

The series of blackboard immediately appear as familiar objects to us, as a surface upon which information is recorded and displayed. Dean uses them, however, to create an atmospheric and fluid surface. She has worked with blackboards before, an unusual choice of materials by an artist. Teamed with traditional drawing methods, that of mark making and tonal relationships to build volume and forms in space, the results are unique. The images are transient and fragile. This is heightened by the qualities of the materials, especially when we remember that the drawings can be wiped over at any moment and forgotten. White chalk marks are set against the deep negative space of the blackboard, creating dramatic effects.





My own thoughts on her work

I am really interested in the atmospheric sense that is captured in Dean's landscapes in particular. By inverting the light and dark in these images, Dean manages to invoke a delicacy and subtlety to the pieces creating an imposing atmosphere whilst still retaining the photographic-like image of the scene. 

Dean's work has inspired me to experiment with light and dark in my drawings. I think it would be interesting to play with the light and dark in the same image to evaluate the effects that this has on the style and atmosphere of the piece. I think this should be done with chalks or pencils to retain the simplicity needed for the light effects.



Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Both born 1935. Jeanne-Claude died 2009.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude's interventions in the natural world and the built environment altered both the physical form and the visual experience of the sites, thereby allowing viewers to perceive and understand the locations with a new appreciation of their formal, energetic, and volumetric qualities.

The artists' choice to remain intermittently inside and outside the frameworks of legality lends much of their work a built-in aspect of dissent and resistance. It also expands upon and emboldens a long legacy of quasi-legality in art, where art exists in a realm somewhere between the "real" world and fantasy, and affords the art world with distinct privileges as well as restrictions.




Although their work is visually impressive and often controversial as a result of its scale, the artists have repeatedly denied that their projects contain any deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic impact. The purpose of their art, they contend, is simply to create works of art for joy and beauty and to create new ways of seeing familiar landscapes. Art critic David Bourdon has described Christo's wrappings as a "revelation through concealment." To his critics Christo replies, "I am an artist, and I have to have courage ... Do you know that I don't have any artworks that exist? They all go away when they're finished. Only the preparatory drawings, and collages are left, giving my works an almost legendary character. I think it takes much greater courage to create things to be gone than to create things that will remain."

My own thoughts on their work

Despite the artists' own denial that their work has deeper meaning, their drawings are so aesthetically pleasing to me. The combination of pencil work and bright, bold colours links to the idea of their work representing a place between the real world and the fantasy. I love the way that addition of the bright orange structures acts as the focus of the piece, bringing more energy and life to the simple black and white background. Additionally, this contrast is achieved by the juxtaposition between the curves and soft style of the added structures against the rigid and straight buildings behind. 

I was really taken with these drawings because I am definitely interested in exploring design-like work further, not only combining it with colour to add another dimension and focal point, such as Christo, but additionally this style could be recreated with mixed media or collage which would be enjoyable to experiment with.



Zaha Hadid (b1950-2016)

To say she divides opinion is to put it mildly. To some, including several fellow architects that I spoke to, she is a tyrant; her work is "unbelievably arrogant" and "oppressive; I don't believe she cares what it's like actually to be in one of her buildings". To others she's a genius, and a hero, the only ground common to all these views being a remark once made by her mentor, Rem Koolhaas, that she is "a planet in her own inimitable orbit". The truth is that she is all these things, and more. She tests everyone – her staff, her clients, the users of her buildings, and herself – and offers an unspoken deal. If you survive all this, I will make something fantastic, and you could be part of it, is roughly how it goes, and people's view of her will depend on which part of the deal they experience most.




My own thoughts on her work

What I love about Hadid's work is her apparent ability to combine seemingly juxtaposing styles. She accomplished the combination of precise and accurate architectural drawings with bold colour, shapes and ideas. This all merges to form somewhat futuristic looking drawings, which are plausible and possible today. Surely that's as innovative as it can get?