Archives for the month of: September, 2011


Grayson Perry: How I went behind the scenes at the British Museum | Art and design | The Observer.

Grayson Perry writing about putting together his forthcoming show at the British Museum.

Official Website of Bob and Roberta Smith Brit artists, performers and sculptors.

I spent the day out on Orford Ness. I have long meant out there but I have never managed the trip. You do have to prepare for it as there aren’t any facilities out there and it is quite a long walk round. I took a sketchbook of course and I made a lot of drawings of the pagodas and the other bunkers from as many angles as I could. It was pretty hard work and the weather did everything during the day.

Part of the point was to work in the landscape and to give myself something to work with in the Denes whilst not doing anything picturesque at all. The buildings are eery and strange. Brutal architecture designed to withstand massive blasts, apparently built with vast walls and flimsy roofs. The pagodas were made as an experiment to redirect the blast and drop the roof down on the blast. Fortunately no experiments went that wrong and now the buildings are being left to slowly and evocatively ruinate. The fact that all Britain’s twentieth century wars are represented here in some scattered shard of an explosion or the spent rounds of a lethality test or the tracks of a tank put me very much in mind of Kiefer and other painters of bunkers and history. The MOD shot things across the site from 1913 to the eighties.

On top of the control tower out on the windswept shingle with the wind humming and moaning around the building it wasn’t difficult to imagine the Sopwith Pups and Wellington bombers and Meteor jets sweeping across the shingle whilst necks craned for the splash test. Fantastic stuff. I drew a wobbly panorama on cards peering through the field glasses on top of the building whilst the wind whipped around me. Extreme sketching.

I don’t know if I shall use the drawings but it was quite an experience anyway. As we weren’t allowed to get too close to the atomic blast buildings in case we fell in or something fell on us I had to work from a distance with squinting and binoculars which was a bit like being a spy in itself. I was last one off the site at the end of the day.

Provisional Painting – Features – Art in America.

1975 – 2005 – Google Books.

Things Written on the Wall





Mark making


Not craft/not art





creativity etc’

Where do ‘ideas’ come from?


Drawing – how you learn to draw etc


Compulsion to draw

Walls – wall display, cave walls etc



Making is Thinking


Relationship between preparatory work and ‘final piece’

Sketches etc



Personal museums


Questions of Storage? What do you keep and what to lose?


Transparent referencing

Combining influences

Copying – meaning of copies

Process and reprocess


Drawing on old ideas

Personal art history

Tacit knowledge

Working as an ‘artist’ in a school


Demonstrating a way of working

Learning journals

Sketchbooks etc

Found imagery

Colour as a found material


Grayson Perry

Tracey Emin




Fabian Peake

Tal R.



Rose Wylie

Dom Theobald

Lily Van Der Stokker

Alan Davie


Lost meanings


Cave Painting

Thomas Nozkowski


Teaching Artist Journal.

Second day of work on the wall drawing.

Second day of work on the wall drawing.

Panorama of the wall drawing

Second day on the big wall drawing. What did I do? I put up some more card and took some of the drawing down from yesterday. I painted two pieces of paper with yellow acrylic. I painted a canvas out with yellow acrylic. I painted a big book on the card with yellow acrylic. I added some bits here and there with yellow acrylic. I rolled out some water based ink on a piece of perspex and I made five mono-prints fairly rapidly. I made two of these onto the primed yellow papers.

I did this with every sign of knowing what I was doing and I suppose I sort of do. I found the diagram of what I had intended in the space. It had been photocopied and then forgotten so I pinned it up on the wall. Despite expecting to do some ceramics I am pretty much doing what I intended. I do know what I am doing in that I am guying my creative process into action by throwing a lot of stuff at the wall, fairly literally. There is a degree of arrangement going on, following on from some things I have seen recently so the roll of card and the blank yellow canvas and the green rectangle of plastic are in the right places. There’s a palette knife taped on which is an ironic comment on the work I saw in Outpost yesterday. There were three big constructions on the wall with very careful arrangements of stuff on them. This was very carefully done and initially quite startling. They had the look of some sort of point of sale display done by someone who didn’t know what they were selling exactly and had probably taken some drugs. The arrangements were ‘fetishising the aesthetic’ apparently so I was fetishising the aesthetic of the palette knife by careful taping on. These works weren’t as good as they thought they were, really. Thinking about it. The paint handling on the copies of the photographs was quite poor and whilst it is always difficult in this sort of work to tell if that is ‘deliberate’ or not it really needed to be as slick as the rest of the presentation. And the drawings weren’t very interesting. So, despite the strategies involved I was unconvinced by the work this morning. Int he notes the artist also referred to thinking that one can make work about identity or a self-portrait in a traditional sense to be absurd and shameful, in some sense. Well, that’s me told anyway. I am still trying to work out what he means by this piece of weapons grade rhetoric but I am still not sure. Especially as I have to go into a school in a couple of months and do a project of self-portraits with year nine. It’ll do them until they learn better, no doubt.

What I do this afternoon is go back to the Cut and spend half an hour having a closer look at the Fabian Peake show. The thing that I like about the work here is the mark making and the energy in it. It has a strategy and quite a sophisticated one at that and it celebrates imagination and expression and mark making and touch. In a slightly ironic way, with a tongue in the cheek. It reminds me of the work of some of my lecturers from the olden days and Peake is about the right age for that. His arrangements and studio photographs are a reference for the wall drawing.

What sort of artist do you want to be when you grow up? What style of artist are you? So many things guide one towards being a certain sort of artist rather than another sort. One’s ‘sensibility’ being one. I think I have to own up to being a basically expressive sort of artist. This is not cool, grown up, clever or fashionable. I like artists like Peake because he gives a permission to have ideas and not be fashionable and to make marks and express. The other ‘fetishising of the aesthetics’ guy is more about things you can’t do until you’ve read all the same books as he has so you can understand what ‘fetishising of the aesthetic’ might possibly mean.

So I am clearly referencing Peake in the mono-prints. He has some drawings of houses on his website and I am borrowing from those as part of the strategy of demonstrating transparently ‘influence’ and ‘borrowing’. I am doing the shed though as I have just built  a shed and questions of storage loom large in my life. What to keep and what to throw away? So I am personalising the idea. Some of the other images come out of a red drawing book so they appear to be pretty improvised but they are drawn from these images made when thinking about drawing and how you learn to draw.

What does an artist do in a studio? Going in to make work. Kinda odd. Would I do this if I didn’t have the space? Possibly not. Doing it in a school makes sense. I am demonstrating something so that justifies it for me. I’m still not really making work for myself entirely. It is freed of direct teaching points. I am trying to show a process rather than a technique. I am trying to think about the process whilst demonstrating it. There is a degree of publicness to it in this context.


First part of the wall drawing made this morning.

School has gone back only without me as I don’t have a school anymore. What to do? Having focussed on surviving the demise of GMS I now need to think again. I hadn’t really thought about what it would be like for everyone else to go back to school and not take me with them.

Yesterday I pottered about Norwich and didn’t get very far. Today I have been into the school in Lowestoft where I am going to be a volunteer artist in residence for half a term or so. I had sketched out a plan to make a large wall drawing/learning journal/art work/painting/sketchbook and when I last went there I had assumed that I would want to carry on making plates. This doesn’t seem such a good idea just at the moment. The plates were supposed to be commemorative and, of course, there is much less to commemorate now. It is all over.

The same themes of looking back and of recycling past art learning seems appropriate but now the work has to be about change and transition. Relocating myself and the work in a slightly new place. I realised the other day when I introduced myself at the MA shows that my usual ‘handle’ isn’t there anymore. A part of my identity for 16 years has gone with the school. I have others, of course. I could try on ‘artist’ for a bit, for instance.

I started mark making on cardboard on the wall this morning. I was thinking about Fabian Peake‘s work. I met him at the Cut on Saturday at the PV for his show there. I liked the work a lot. Especially the drawings in big plastic bags. Very imaginative and acceptably expressive, quite funny and witty. Quite boldly and straightforwardly worked. The constructions looked very different but the more I looked at them the more I could see the constructional aspects of the drawing and the more drawing I could see in the constructions.

As I have to ‘be an artist’ for a bit then I have to decide what sort of artist I want to be (again). What does my work look like if I’m not being a teacher at the same time? I’m not sure I can remember. This work is still in a school and there is still a public aspect to it. It is still a demonstration of something.

What I want to do is use the wall as a sketchbook/accumulator and work it over and over and see what happens. I need to bring some ideas into my head, I need some stimulus after the break and after using all of my head up on the plates; very focussed stuff. It is receding into the past though, which was the idea to make the plates so that they were connected to the school forever and not transferable in some ways. We’ll see. I could get fed up with painting and want to go back to ceramics in a bit.

What I want to do is some printing, mono-printing and some painting, probably all at the same time. I want the work to be blank and expressive at the same time and to be both abstract and depictive. At the moment I am referencing Lasker, Perry, Peake and Noskowski. We’ll see how it goes.