2015 National Contemporary Art Award

What a great night down in Hamilton at the awards.

Here's a view of my work, 'I Found these Damn Words'.....

A great show all round!

I Found These Damn Words.

The truth of the matter
Is never black and white.
Muttered shades of oxygen
Lie suspended
In particles of light.

This relic dropped
From under a clouded sky
Into a silvered landscape
Wherein my darkened
Imagination lies.

A promissory note
Scrawled in sacrosanct
Black and white
Written by person
Or persons unknown
And trespassed against
In the deep dark of the night.

These damn words
Once lost, now found
Corner a future
In words writ profound.

“A sign of the things to come,
Coming soon.”
A prayer for lovers
Of the after-die.
The hopeful
Earthbound howlers
Bellowing at a satellite moon.







In The Light Of This

On a day that
Dark matters, mattered.
I finished painting the universe.

The cloud seeders with
Bone, skin, feathers, teeth,
Tongues and eyes.
Manifestations of matter,
Are stretched across
An infinite
Horizontal plane.

But their welcoming party
Will arrive from nowhere.

Because a man in a wheelchair
Has flattened
The Copernican centre,
With his projection
Of a holographic vision.
Escher tessellations
That frustrate
With their hint of infinity
At the edges.

We had credited a depth of field
For our certainty of reality
Instead it is a dark matter
That forms
The shadows between us.

Our seeding sculptures
Folded within the fabric
Of it’s invisible cloak

Our rottenness dissolving
On the nap of the black velvet
That skins every molecule
Of our not so solid flesh.

Our electrons entombed in
The dark spaces of
Neighbourly isolation
Deep within the suburbs
Of our atomic cores.

In the light of this,
I see my thoughts
As they appear on
A flat surface,
In front of me.

In the quiet of this,
I hear the sounds
Of anger
Raging in my head

Now in the dark of this,
I dream of bodies
Asleep in dank squalor,
And walk away from them.

And ahead of me?
I paint the universe.
Floating indigo
Actualized by time.

The cloud seeders with
Their atomized matter
Now spread silent
In my hermetic room.

Their welcoming party
Will arrive from nowhere.

Because there is nowhere
To arrive from.


Painting in the Multiverse

I had an idea:

That I would paint an image of the universe based on a paradox posed by Stephen Hawkings.

It has taken three years to finish the painting, which in so many ways remains, a flat plane thinly layered with oil.

I have decided to leave it hanging and have instead, in so many words, chosen to describe it.

Hawking’s paradox was derived from his discovery that black holes slowly radiate their mass away and, as he had also proven that the radiation carries no information, a question was raised about what happens to the information that described the original star?

This paradox disturbed one of the major tenets of physics; that information in the universe cannot be destroyed. Or to put it another way, matter that escaped its infinite compression at the singularity of the big bang, cannot be removed from the universe. It is contained within the universe.

Hawking’s paradox was solved in 1972 by Jacob Berkenstein and by later string theorists, “who showed how the original star’s information could be encoded in tiny lumps and bumps on the event horizon, which would then imprint it on the Hawking radiation departing the black hole.”    

Physicists Leonard Susskind and Gerard’t Hooft took this a step further speculating that if a three dimensional star could be encoded on a black hole’s horizon, then could it be possible that the same is true at the event horizon of the universe?

The question became, could this 2D surface, 42 billion light years away, encode the entire 3D universe that we experience and, therefore, is it possible that the life we experience is a holographic projection from this 2D surface?

They visualised this holographic universe by suggesting we picture ourselves appearing as characters in a 3D movie. The closer we move backwards towards the flat screen of the universe, the bigger pixels that make up our image, become smaller, denser, grainier, and pixelated.   At this stage, such an idea is only a hypothesis, however evidence to support it is being seriously pursued through experiments, conducted on an instrument, currently under construction in Germany.

These matters piqued my interest, as the idea of our lives being a projection from a flat surface, is a construction that, as a painter, I have to contemplate while painting. My craft exists as a 2D world trying to capture sculpted forms onto its flat plane. There seemed a correlation and a possibility that the flat painting could pose like a miniscule fractal or maquette of the macro.

That perhaps I could construct a painting as a visual metaphor for the idea Susskind and Hooft had proposed and so I commenced this work:

“Because a man in a wheelchair
Has flattened the Copernican centre,
With his projection
Of a holographic vision.
Escher tessellations
That frustrate with their
Hint of infinity at the edges.”

Philosophically this paradox has enormous consequences as it has led to physicists predicting that in a few years we may need to make an astonishing adjustment to the perception of ourselves existing as solid bodies surrounded and defined by the cast shadows of other defined solid bodies.
The certainty of our belief that we are 3d objects in a 3d universe could potentially be shattered with the same force that shocked the population of 1543. They had to digest the unthinkable idea of Copernicus’s revolutionary heliocentrism, which was evidentially proven by Galileo in 1615, thus confirming the truth of the earth’s demoted position in the universe.

‘A positive result (from experiments testing the hypothesis) would challenge every assumption we have about the world we live in. It would show that everything is a projection of something occurring on a flat surface billions of light years away from where we perceive ourselves to be. As yet we have no idea what that “something” might be, or how it could manifest itself as a world in which we do the school run or catch a movie at the cinema.”

I began the preparation of applying layers of gesso onto a 2 metre wide canvas, which was the largest I could fit on my studio wall.

I had to work with the idea that the edges of my flat canvas invoked their own impression of unbounded space within my bounded space.

The first marks of diluted indigo oil paint were brushed on in gestural sweeps that began and ended within 10cms of the boundary and were separated form each other by a small gap between each long form.

Seven of these independent areas made their way across the canvas, the two on either end, interrupted by the edge of the canvas and it’s implications that this is just a snapshot, or a frame-contained part of a larger whole that we cannot see in its entirety.

I meticulously began to fill in-between every gap left by the dribbly nature of the turps-diluted paint, inside each of the forms.

The texture was reminiscent of painting dark pores between tiny, fissures or cracks in skin.

I was painting up close in a tight space using my time over a year to fill every pore with the dark indigo.

“Fine cicatrices within
The deepest dark.
The unseeable lair
Of the dark urges
Stirring at last
In the demi-urge.”

My next layer was to animate these forms that were moving across my static base of canvas.

I chose to slightly anthropomorphise them, with bones, skin, feathers, teeth, tongues and eyes.

I supposed our mammalian vanity would be more attracted to forms that hinted at our own path through time.

The underlying forms were nebulous and cloud-like so I named them the cloud seeders, and regarded them as the seeders of matter that had been released and then expanded outwards from the initial singularity, the moment that had projected their gaseous birth.

And they in turn would on this canvas, lie behind, as a memory, or trace of the matter that has expanded ever outward.

The visible particles coalescing into forms that were always inherent in the structure of their molecules. These forms that begin to become recognisable as parts of beings, as we the viewer look back to a past, from a future that is far forward from this historic moment.

“Anonymous bodies
Build to fractal shapes
Having escaped the black ink
That infinitely,
Had always written
The equations
For their future form.”

Between the forms I again painted pure indigo to represent the deepest dark of the darkest matter that fills our space invisibly but actually.

Then I added sepia to acknowledge that time had been birthed at the same instance as the space our matter inhabits, before I started to fracture the surface with bright white, straight and curved lines of geometry.

I puzzled over whether to incorporate the elements of indigo, sepia and white all on an equal layer, but chose in the end to fuse the indigo and the sepia and layer the geometry on top, as physicists are still unclear about the universe’s relationship with mathematics.

The question is whether maths exists within the universe as an inherent law, an absolute quality that was birthed within matter, or is it a language that we have uniquely developed in order to give some transparency to the opaque black beyond our horizon of light.

We should be amazed that we can read the encoded language of the universe through mathematics, a structural language that evolved with us.  Evolutionary biologists have discovered that we inherited the use of forms of counting from our deepest mammalian history and as our equations and algorithms advance in complexity, we are able to penetrate the impenetrable history of our beginnings.

We use these numbers like a telescopic lens that interprets code, which we then point outwards to peer beyond our boundary. With such a device we can replace our blind glare into the darkness, with an image our minds can understand.

“As did the once
Trawling trilobites
Who adjusted quartz lenses
To peer
At the forms of shadows.

Pioneering sightings of
Within what had only ever been
An encasing; inky
Blinding, blackness.

Pioneer hunters of the
Newly naked visibility
“eppur si muove”
They riposte
To detractors of marvels.”

Images by their nature are full of complex dense information. Pages and pages of code can be condensed into an image that then links to other images building to more comprehensive whole views.

I am interested in the code of images, so I return to the next layer of the painting that is now cracked by the geometry that describes the space and builds the forms, with time seeping its way alongside and in-between.

“Time organic sleeps in space laid straight
 With sepia seeping
Through its geometric cracks”   

We acknowledge time by our existence, it is organic because we are organic, the ticks and tocks we measure our passing time with, are relevant only to us.

“We head towards our imminent
Heat death
Our molecules scattering
Like dispersed dye.
With a realization
That we never owned time.
We owned a watch.
Over our time.
12 numbers written on the
The infinite face of Pi.”

All other matter expands, exists within time parameters peculiar to its own matter.

The clock we have invented is a language of description peculiar to us, but we can use it to describe the life cycle of the universe and all the information contained within it and to describe the life cycle of all that we have shared our journey through the universe with, in relation to our human experience of time.

“The new Vitruvian man
 Knows he floats
In an infinite circle.
His extremities racked
By the pull of its endless edge
Amidst a finite blackness
That contains his matter.”

The next aspect of the painting, is the darkest indigo, representing the opposite of matter. Anti-matter, dark matter, the darkest art of the universe. This is a huge part of our universe and yet we can’t describe it, or visualise it, we have no knowledge yet of what antimatter can possibly have as its structure. This is information we can’t penetrate or make visible with our current technology or the enormous machine driven experiments that seek it out.

At this time, the opposite of matter, remains an unknowable void that lurks outside our consciousness.

“Our own black-mirrored lens
Hungers to see
The treacle sticking
Darkest matter
That coats our skin
As we wade through
An atmosphere we
Only half know”

Every molecule of the universe is coated by this mystery and every particle of us is independently coated by this mystery. With this thought alone our assurance that we are solid 3D impenetrable forms is compromised and starts to hint at spaces between the smallest particles of our fleshy matter.

“We had credited a depth of field
For our certainty of reality
But it is a dark matter that forms
The shadows between us.

Our seeding sculptures
Folded within the fabric
Of it’s invisible cloak

Our rottenness dissolving
On the nap of the black velvet
That skins every molecule
Of our not so solid flesh.”

At this point my interest was for the painting to retain a feeling of flattened horizontal space. To achieve this I gave the dark indigo an equal yet unnoticeable presence.

“Its own infinity
Doesn’t allow it to exist
As anything more
Than a future guardian
Of gaseous birth
And mineral hardness
Of the leeringly,
Perhaps lovingly,
Leeching matter that
Evolved to be prayed for
And preyed upon.”

The difficulty of representing the idea of a holographic space needed to be addressed and I wanted something very simple rather than a highly developed perspectival trick as I felt this would have dominated the underlying horizontal flatness.

I chose to use simple straight white lines radiating from the central point, and to the ends of these I hooked small images taken from Palaeolithic cave drawings.

These lines project from a single point to create an impression of a moment that exists behind the vaporous cloud seeders. They push the forms out towards the uppermost surface of the painting, and then hang them there in space, as representations of our first identifiable marks and the beginnings of our self awareness. These marks of representation are our initial audible shout aimed forward into a future. Their placement hidden deep in caves implies a certainty of belief that these images will remain to be seen after they themselves, have gone.

Then I buried our recognisably modern skeletons along the curved lines of geometry, laying them gently in slackened poses to rest as reminders of our finite existence amongst this immense infinity.

And lastly, I wrote my words as the final layer.  Symbolic of our vainglorious disbelief, the voices and language and tomes we entrust as proof of our contemporary existence, may not have a future in the vast time scape, in which we occupy such a minute fraction.

The fate of our language in the eons of impenetrable future time, is an untranslatable inaudible static that certainly hints at a history, but one that is indefinable amidst the clouded, grainy pixilation of the futures expanded matter.   
What I am left with, three years later, is in itself, just a canvas 2 metres wide.

It is brushed with shades of blue, brown and white oil paint.

A shiny, varnished, painted poem, hung on a nail, and spread silent, in my hermetic room.

Sometimes I look at it and think it is beautiful.

Oh well, it was only an idea.


Hanging Garden of Detachment

I Had An Idea:

For a work titled “Hanging Garden Of Detachment”
Consisting of small porcelain heads hanging from their twisted hair from the ceiling of a room.

I imagine 31 of them floating within a space, their bisque fired locks twisting around a rope that continues up through their absent spinal column, through the top of their head to the ceiling.

Below their necks would sway beautiful tassels.

Between the heads would be small pencil drawings of similar heads swaying and fluttering in their material lightness.

The unglazed heads would have their senses closed to the outside world.
Eyes shut, tongues quieted, ears blocked or folded, brows furrowed, or raised, nostrils pinched in an indrawn breath.

They would hang in silence, move in unison, defy gravity, and swing to a breath of air that circulates between them.

However the truth of their detachment, will be negated by the unlidded eyeballs teetering on scalps, eyes protruding from ears, eyes hanging from tongues, eyes shut but with eyeballs open in places they shouldn’t be.

This is a garden of cold stone heads, heavy in their material, light in their attachment.
The tassels flirt with us, seducing us with their silky beauty, swishing as we pass them by, these dresses of cold stone heads missing their cold stone hearts.

I may play them a song in the background, or recite a poem to keep them company, just to fill the air with voices they can fold their ears against.

Swishing, swaying, swinging, singing.

Let them hang those cold Theologians.

Oh well it was only an idea.


Violent Fibonacci Sequence

What Happened?
One figure stabs another figure.
What were we told?
One figure turns the other cheek.
What do we do?
One figure stabs the other in the back
What happens next?
Two figures return to stab the assailant.
What happens then?
Three figures return to assail those two.
Then what happens?
Four figures return with bigger weapons
To kill the three.
Which leads to?
Many more figures arming themselves
To kill the four
And then?
Vengeance is called
Against the many
For the killing of the four.
Which leads to?

The many being assailed by even more,
The violent math breeds to civil war.
And so on,
And so on,
One plus one minus one
And so on.
Ad infinitum…


New Scientist...

“What does it mean to say that the universe is ‘made of mathematics’? An obvious starting point is to ask what mathematics is made of. The late physicist John Wheeler said that ‘the basis of all mathematics is 0=0’. All mathematical structures can be derived from something called “the empty set”, the set that contains no elements. Say this set corresponds to zero; you can then define the number 1 as the set that contains only the empty set. 2 as the set that contains the sets corresponding to 0 and 1, and so on.

Keep nesting the nothingness like invisible Russian dolls and eventually all of mathematics appears.

Mathematician Ian Stewart of the university of Warwick UK, calls this, ‘The dreadful secret of mathematics: it’s all based on nothing.’
Reality may come down to mathematics, but mathematics comes down to nothing at all.

That may be the ultimate clue to existence-after all, a universe made of nothing doesn’t require any explanation.”


The Impossibility of Making Nothing

I Had An Idea:

To make something about: ‘The impossibility of making nothing’ because:

“One of the attractions of this idea is that it can supply an answer to the question” Why is there something rather than nothing?”

We build our ‘Something’ and view its wholeness, its 3d-ness, as a stand-alone object surrounded by ‘Nothing’. And when we swish our hands through the air we feel ‘nothing’ and so assume its non-existence.

In the sub atomic world the state of ‘nothing’ quickly becomes one of ‘something’, yet ‘nothing’ is in itself not considered to exist as an entity.
This is not surprising when we surmise what possibly occurred at the moment preceding the big bang, in that unknowable moment when the infinite compression of matter and antimatter, of something and nothing, must have been an infinitely undefended and defended, unwaged and waged, battle for supremacy.

But something must have mattered just that impossibly small amount more than nothing and the universe of matter surged into what we know as existence.

“The randomness inherent in quantum mechanics means that quantum information-and by extension, a universe-can spontaneously come into being.”

Can it be possible that a state of nothing does not actually exist?

Is it a state that matter vanquished at the singularity of the big bang that caused space, time, something, nothing, matter and anti matter to expand in an endless co-existence?

And so causes the small particle of matter that is something, to instantly reappear within what appears to be ‘nothing’, to claim its space in perpetuity, reminding us of matters ‘more’ than the ‘less’ of ‘no matter’.
Or are they equal foes fighting for dominance, with matter only the temporary vanquisher of nothing?

I have chosen to investigate this idea of the impossibility of nothing, through a common human experience that occurs within the boundaries of our own minds, prior to the making of any physically manifested object.

This is the change in our cognition between describing feeling ‘nothing’, ie, a neutral state that has no description and the fast escalation of a feeling that we acknowledge as a ‘something’.

These two uncertain states no doubt arise from our physical being but have the qualities of mathematical objects in the way they appear in our minds, structured but formless, known but not seen and only recognised by their reflection in the objects in front of us.
“’Indeed mathematical structures, don’t seem to require a physical origin at all. A dodecahedron was never created’, says Max Tegmark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ‘To be created something first has to not exist in space or time and then exist.’  A dodecahedron doesn’t exist in space or time at all he says-it exists independently of them. ‘Space and time are themselves contained within larger mathematical structures’, he adds. These structures just exist, they can’t be created or destroyed.”  

The dualities within the dualities of love and no love, anger and no anger are the pressing forces that have driven our particular particles to produce words and music and visual arts throughout the eons of human intelligence and so are suitable benign states to put into an observational vacuum.

“Something may be the more natural state than nothingness. A vacuum of nothingness quickly fills with positive and negative quarks.”

Within our beings when we encounter another who causes us to feel, we can experience a sensation of transferring from our neutral state of ‘being’ (if the non-ego is feeling ‘nothing’) and our state can be radically altered to a feeling of ‘something’.

This comes about through the activation of our ego, grappling with the idea of an external something (often in the guise of ‘someone’).
We can rapidly escalate within the amorphous non- locatable area, where we internally keep our sense of ‘self’ to the generation of a feeling of ‘Something’.

The positive quark has been agitated in its vacuum.

I wonder whether ‘nothing ’had been happy with its previous non- existence before being aggravated to co-exist with a something…

And I wonder is it love or is it anger that is the catalyst for the change to this ‘somethingness’ that would no longer allow ‘nothingness’ to exist contentedly in its state of non-ego?

Creationists describe the world as being created by God’s love, not anger.

We know love as languid, egoless, dual not singular.

Nothing and something could coexist in a state of love.

So how could love have the energy to fight for itself and to rise above its contented co-existence and become the dominant, ‘something’?

It is when love splits from its reflection, when love is riled, that it recreates itself through the passionate, energetic force of anger, into tumultuous, roiling, abrupt, and decisive action.

It becomes a singular spitting spasm, ejected outwards.

The poet Baudelaire maintained, that the true pleasure of love was:

“The certainty of doing evil”. Something that “both men and women know, from birth, that nowhere but in evil do they find gratification.”  

Or in the words of Nick Cave:
“People they just ain’t no good.”

Perhaps matter evolved love for its own purposes. Matter arrived with what we have worded as ‘mathematics’ encoded within its particular particle.

The mathematical sequence of splitting and reforming into two groups and then from two to four, and so on is inherent in our cell division and in our growth.

We are an encoded mathematical sequence.

When far flung groups of cells bump into others they form a new cluster and then again.

The cooperation of these clusters to group could be called ‘love’, they seem to recognize something in each other and there is mutual advantage to the compounding.

In the computer game ‘The Game Of Life”, there is a type of ‘recognition’ between number groups that makes them inclined to reform into new shapes, in many respects the code breeds new hybrid shapes, but at a later stage of regrouping, a specific shape begins to aggressively dominate and subsume smaller groups of the forms still in the developing stage.

Perhaps love encoded in the math is at this point, lost.



Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

Anger seems to me the more plausible provoker of action as it can erupt so abruptly from a state of nothing, of non-existence, into a something that physically exists.

Anger storms from the self. It forms into a concentrated, energetic, spewing of utterances, blasting outwards in a concentrated stream.

Anger hones our concentration, it gives an unprecedented clarity, all artifice is stripped away, all is raw, simple, the solution exists in one action.

Suppression is impossible and explosion imminent. It is the raging birth of a new moment in time.

If we extrapolate from the micro to the macro, it seems plausible that the universe would have been birthed in anger. From a battle-head between matter and anti matter that did not exist but could only possibly, probably have.

Again we can only surmise that in one instance, matter dominated, exploded, banged its way out of stasis and began its time of existence.

There is no going back, it cannot un-exist now that it has become the universe of contained matter.

The matter surged forward, out toward a 360 degree, beyond-ness.  A punched through beginning to which, perhaps, we can draw a longitudinal line, now that it has begun.

But this line could never have been pinpointed before this moment and place, of time and space, because the fight itself rolled around a fuzzy curve of nothingness and never-to–be-ness.
There was no space for the dispute to rage in, the collision of the opposing forces was, an un-witness-able fight between something and nothing.

But the matter of something’s anger had more force it raged it blew apart, it became, itself.

If we return to the micro, we know this of ourselves.
For example countless young devotees of many different denominations, berate themselves for their perceived failures to control their tempers, thoughts, and impetuous and regrettable actions.

They believe themselves to be fundamentally good, yet the guilt they experience betrays them. There is evidence of a suppression of an internalized universal nature, which they view like a seam of evil, because it threatens to erupt its way to the surface of their lives.

They betray an irritation at an elemental self that is fighting its way to acknowledgement as an imperative aid in the success of the singular survival of its host body.  

We inherently know that at times, our arête of effectiveness requires truthfulness and deceptiveness to work in partnership. But we deny this, battling truth and untruth through the force of our minds, trying to subsume and deny existence to a force that is ingrained within our materiality.

It is as though the imperceptible piece of original matter that abruptly forced it’s own birth in the universe, is re-birthed anew within each living skeletal and non-skeletal being, irritating and itching in every roiling, boiling piece of matter that builds from force deep in the ground, into mountains that are then shaken away by the clash of plates or washed away by tributaries that have been eroding the hardness, for their own enlargement of fluid territory.

Love is lost deep in the compressing strata in which seams form and bodies liquefy to oil.
This immense pressure and force is locked inside elements squeezed far into rocks fusing atoms that steal each others protons until one subsumes the other and progresses as a new compound.
And so on and so on, ad infinitum.

In my universe, I created a book from the ‘something’ of anger. I let the positive and negative quarks appear and disappear, exist and not exist within my vacuum.

But at some point of time, the force of something became greater than the nothing that hadn’t been, and it’s existence had to be acknowledged, so in the light of 31 days, I leeched it out through my hand, birthed it onto paper and let the matter expand.

It exists, because I exist.

It is something, because I am something.

In a way it is about nothing, but it is not nothing.

It cannot be returned to its state of non-existence, as it has been actualized into matter, and all matter remains contained within the universe.

All matter, expands and forms and reforms on its journey through time.

This book of lines is fundamentally an object, but not a fundamental object.

It is fundamentally about an idea, but may or may not be a fundamental idea.

It was created as an answer to a distorted reality, one that reflected and refracted the world so that;
“What looked big from one perspective, looked small from another, high energy could look like low energy, 11 dimensions, like 10, particles like strings and strings like membranes.”

A string puller tugged at my membrane and an idea became an object.
Something came out of nothing.
My version of reality was fundamentally affected by an idea that I converted into particles.

Something from nothing now exists because ‘nothing’ could not exist.

Oh well it was only an idea.


Less is Less

To Whom It May Concern

I had an idea:

That less is not more, it is less, more or less.

So I decided not to make something.

Oh well. It was only an idea.

Graffiti Theology

Would you like depth with that?
Would you like tea with that?
If you can imagine something
That exists
Somewhere in the universe
It will exist.
Old sins cast long shadows.
Those who know do not say
Those who say do not know
You are a longtime dead.
Change the things you can change
And don’t change the things you can’t.
If you give more than you get
You will be blessed.
Would you like depth with that?
Do what you say
Don’t say what you do.
Less is more
More or less
Never grow a wishbone
Where a backbone ought to be.
Actions speak louder than words.
So much to do
So little time.
There will still be money
When you are dead and gone.
Life is short
And death is long.
Would you like tea with that?
Would you like depth with that?

Would you like Depth with That?

I Had An Idea:

That I wanted to make a tea set to accompany my work titled:

“Would You Like Depth With That?”

The work is to be presented in the form of a bound book containing 31 drawings completed over a month and interspersed with pieces of writing.

For the exhibition of the book I envisage a room set with two comfortable high back library chairs upholstered and buttoned, in perhaps, a mustard-coloured floral linen.

They are positioned slightly away from the fireplace and have their backs to the windows.
The book is set down in front of the reader, on a small attractive polished wood table by the gallery assistant who would then enquire of the page-turner

“Would you like tea with that?”

The tea set I have made, in my mind’s eye, would arrive on a silver salver, and consist of a porcelain teapot with an ornate pouring spout, that bulges as it leaves the pot at the mid area, but tapers to a fine thin elegance as it reaches the end that dispenses the tea into the cup in a fine amber arc.

“If you can imagine something then somewhere in the universe it will exist.”

The pot itself would visibly be an upside down skull. The sunken eyes gently punched into depressions, by thumbs that have applied equal pressure to the clay.

The spout issuing forth from the triangular hole under the nasal bone and following the highest point, would arch elegantly away from the prominent jaw, turning upwards after curving out from the nose bone that juts from between the eyes.

“Old sins cast long shadows.”

At the base of the skull, behind the underside of the chin that now faces upwards, a 6 cm hole would have been neatly incised, in which to nestle the lid.
This is slightly wider than the 2.5 cm hole, which accommodates the spinal cord, but seems more generous for dropping in spoonfuls of tea.

The lid with its circular diameter, would peak in a gentle rise narrowing to a 2.5cm circular platform on top of which would perch a miniaturised vertebrae.
This would enable the lid to be lifted with ease and boiling water to be poured into the skull.

“Those who know do not say
Those who say do not know”

The handle which rises from the back of the skull should incorporate both a Victorian elegance in the finesse of its sweep, but a strength of purpose in the amount of fired clay grasped by the hand of the pourer.

Two cups would be enough to complete the set, again these would be upside down heads but now missing the lower jaw.

The cheekbones flaring out to the side should add a dainty elegance to the shape and would be the best point from which to sip.

The handle in that case would issue from the back of the skull and would start to unfurl from the small point at its base. The handle would then open into a high circle before sweeping down to a few mms from the cranium.  I envisage the cup will rest on the table without a saucer.

“You are a long time dead.”

A sugar bowl and milk jug would be nice.  
The sugar bowl would be a miniature of the teapot but without a spout and with two handles. These would be placed at the sides of the head in the position of the ears.

The cranium hole again serving as a focal point in which to incise the enlarged hole for the lid, which again would be 6 cm tapering to its miniature spinal knob.

“Change the things you can change and don’t change the things you can’t.”

The milk jug would be a thing of beauty, as the upside down skull with its prow-like jaw, needs minimal reshaping to make a perfect pouring spout.

With the teeth flattened to a plane that sits over the interior, and a gap left between the front teeth, the nasal bone with its sweet curve would pour milk very well.

As it would be a smaller vessel than the teapot, a handle would be superfluous.

Instead the hand can come around the outside of the cranium from the rear and rest under the flared cheekbones with the fingers finding extra grip where the bone continues down towards the rims of the eye sockets.

“If you give more than you get, you will be blessed”

As the tea set would be made of porcelain, it can be glazed in bright white and painted with fine cobalt blue decorations in the style of majolica.

The teapot’s dented eyes would be darkened to shadows while around them would be patterns of petals and dots.
Between the eyes and at the centre of the forehead would be a painted iris, un-lidded, round and blue.

Around this would be a ribbon line that starts at one side and loops at five points before trailing off, as though a never ending knot is now unraveled.

“Would You Like Depth With That?

Around the lip that will hold the lid, I envisage a simple blue line, repeated also down each side of the handle.

This line would also decorate the base of the lid, and encircle the base of the platform on which rests the shrunken spine.

At the top of the vertebrae a small round yet flattened dome would be gilded with dark shiny gold.

The same cobalt would delineate the prominent exposed grinning teeth of the rictus jaw, with small triangles linked side by side, encircling the gums like a necklace of pointed shark teeth.

 “Do what you say
Don’t say what you do.”

It is difficult to describe further painted decoration as from here it would be a matter of adding balance to the whole form, by adding extra patterning where needed.

A line defining the temple and following the undulations down to the position of the ear hole would be the starting point.

Perhaps a flower with a dark pollen centre

“Less is more”
“More or less”


The cups deserve a simpler scheme, with their depressed eyes merely outlined with cobalt and then an encircling outer line of petals with dots between.

Again the handles edges would have a simple fine line of blue. Perhaps the interior of the triangular nasal bone could be painted dark blue?

I would need to see it.

The sugar bowls patterning would match the teapot.

Around the milk jug, a fine line of blue would trace the shape at the rim, from the skull base to the nose bone pourer.

The mouth would be outlined with the triangles side by side forming a chain, and the teeth lightly delineated.

Both the sugar bowl and the milk jug would sit on a small rectangular porcelain serving tray, down the middle of which would be handwritten, the words;

“Would You Like Depth With That?”

The assistant would offer Orange Pekoe tea or Earl Grey, the sugar bowl would hold sugar cubes with small silver tongs hanging from its gilded knob and the milk would be fresh and cold.  

“Never grow a wishbone where a backbone ought to be.”

A fine phrase, as I cannot wish this tea set into existence.

In order to make it I will have to learn the skills of porcelain throwing on a potter’s wheel.

I will have to make molds for the spout and for the handles, large and small.

I will have to perfect the recipe for a pure white glaze suitable for majolica painting and I will have to test and retest my technique of application on test pieces that I make.

To fire the pieces without breakage is yet another area of difficulty and requires I learn about kiln temperatures for bisque and glazing.

My brushwork with the cobalt is the only existing skill I can bring straight to the tea set.

“So much to do, so little time.”

Although I have begun, these are matters that will take some time to accomplish to the standard that would illustrate the idea of the tea set that is so clearly visible inside my head.

“If you always do what you have always done,
You will always get what you have always got.”

Instead I will have to find something.

An object someone else has made. No doubt imbued with ideas that suited their purpose, but perhaps only superficially pertaining to mine.

“There will still be money when you are dead and gone.”

Functionally I can find objects whose purpose is to pour the tea and milk, and hold the sugar.

I can curate them into the structured exhibition of my book, and in a way, subsume the presence of any previous ownership by my will-full inclusion of them within the formal space.

They can be listed on the manifest of objects I am exhibiting, my name now next to their material presence as an owner of the object.

A title that dematerializes, decommissions, deconstructs, destroys, debates, the fact that someone else, once made the object.

“Life is short and death is long.”

Their name would be beyond forgotten, and the materiality of their objects, reclaimed by ‘I’ the colonizer of these clustered things in a room.

I haven’t yet seen these found objects that I will replace my unmade tea set with, I will have to go out from my studio and find them.

Meanwhile my tea set remains unmade until I have the skills to make these imagined objects, which continue to exist in a super position of certainly uncertain and possibly probable.

Oh well, it was only an idea.

“Would you like tea with that?”


Tell Me Exactly Where You Are

“Tell me exactly
Where you are!”
Yelled the man
Down the phone
To someone else
Standing alone

In a place, in a space,
He’s speaking
To an unseen face
With a conviction
That he will placate
Whoever it is,
Once he can locate them.

I am standing exactly
On Ponsonby road
On spat gum, on melted load
Of tarmac and shingle.

Unseen to the man, I mingle
On the crusted street
Below which clay and rock
And molten core meet.

I am not exactly here.
I am near to the man
With his ear to the phone
And his mouth a drone

But I’m only approximately near
I am more to the rear
Of what is considered the real.
The belief in the feel
Of substance on top of substance

Rather than the trance
That was replaced by a glance
At the extortion of exactitude,
Latitude and longitude
By the man on the phone,

He wouldn’t have found me here.
He couldn’t have known precisely where.
To find my seeping ether.
I couldn’t have found me either

Because I wasn’t exactly there
Barely even aware
Of my physical walk
Towards a projection
That could talk
Into a case
And demand
The fettered physicality
Of someone else’s place

The eye of my face
Had a place in my skull
But the ‘I’ of my mind
Was adrift in a lull
And I could barely feel

The neutronic nest
Of my mind’s creature
Hidden safely,
Behind bone and feature.

The ‘I’ of me was a spatial reader
Containing no matter
And requiring none either.
My body just a portal
located in a place
Supporting the vertical
Physical trace

Of a head on a neck
With holes now attuned
To the seep of another,
The osmosis of the crude.

Demander of exactness,
Of feet nailed to the ground

And of that someone,
Who must wait
To be impossibly
Exactly found


The Homunculus with the Pearl Necklace


I Had An Idea:

That I had become nostalgic, for the simplicity of forming an idea and then turning the idea into a form.

I had been missing the moment when the process of physically working on the form bred its own expansive ideas.

As though the work itself was now doing the thinking and going beyond my starting idea’s iterating conceptual mantra of ‘one idea per work’.

The material itself as I worked with it, would inevitably force me into collaboration with the work itself.

This would lead me into the realm of the infinity of ideas that can be reached within the finite constraints of one idea.

Paralleling the un-recognised endless numbers that lie between the more commonly known numerals of everyday math.

The idea that begins the work is often given all the credit for the value inherent in the end result, but in my practice the finished representation of the idea has had more to do with the physical collaborative labour, between the material of the form and myself.

And the initial idea becomes the more minimalist title that later accompanies the work.

The idea in this way becomes a one line worded abstraction of an idea and the paintings presentation of its smooth plane contains the layers, one on top of the other, either obscured or visible through the layer on top, that make up the depth of the idea, constructed in real time by a physical process of thought to hand to material.
I wondered how ‘the idea’ had gained such an eminent value within the market in which I present my forms.

In my research I discovered that the online Oxford Dictionary uses the following sentence to describe the word commodification:

“Art has become commodified”

This propelled me on a pursuit of a material object that could perhaps reflect,

 “The Commodification of Immateriality.”

The seeming impossibility of locating the physical matter of an idea, led me to begin with the boney carapace of the skull and a consideration of what is outside and inside this material cabinet in which we manufacture and store our immaterial thoughts.

The skull is the underlying foundation that determines the external fleshy physiology of the presentation mask constructed by the muscle and skin that we then manipulate, to articulate our thoughts.

Those pristine and certain ideas that we believe we have, uniquely manufactured behind the barrier of its calcified closed door.
I had an idea to make new masks that would suit the Meta ideas that our lives are perhaps unconsciously constructed within and under.

These masks would not need to mould and encase a recognisable biology, as they would be designed to fit the unseeable physiognomy of the face of an idea.

I called them:

“Masks Of Self-Construction”

My initial research sought to gain an understanding of what are the thought processes that give us our unshakeable and peculiarly human, ‘self-awareness’ known as Meta cognition.

This is a subject investigated by Philosophers, Psychologists and Neuroscientists, who in their separate fields have endeavored to pinpoint the location of what we identify as our ‘self’ which we perceive to be the place from where we generate ‘ideas’ we feel certain we have ownership over.

Cognition as a subject requires insight from both the speculative thinkers of philosophy and the evidence driven world of science, because when asked to describe consciousness, our answers reflect both a feeling of knowing it emanates from inside us, but also an existential feeling of it being somehow outside our bodies.  

Aristotle was the earliest philosopher to write about the thought beyond thought that is the realm of ‘Meta’, an area of research that has continued to inspire.

In recent times investigations have uncovered some incredible ways our brains construct what we believe to be the external reality that then influences our consciousness to formulate ideas, about which we become certain.

Investigations and experiments in all three fields of expertise have discovered how in many ways our core beliefs about the ‘self’ that we project do not hold up under the scrutiny of tests that unnerve the subject’s belief in their sole responsibility for their actions.

This then raises many puzzling questions about what it is that our eyes and therefore our brain, is processing as information and relaying to us as a unified experience.

An example of this is the conundrum that although we know light travels faster than sound, visual information takes longer to process than noise.

The consequence of the differing speeds comes together when we watch someone speak and watch their lips moving. The sound seems to be coming to us at the same time from that action, but this is a construction of the brain, as the event is only ‘apparently’ simultaneous. We ‘know’ but unconsciously ignore the fact that the sound and the visual information must have arrived in the brain at different times.

We also have to ask whether we directly perceive an object, and are we receiving the information about the object, directly and in the same instant that our eyes are ‘looking’ at the object?

And is our cognition of the events still in the same order as the sequence of events we have watched?

There is a great deal of uncertainty and debate about whether the brain replays received information in the same time frame or order and how much information is constructed from events that were not directly ‘seen’.

Where is my ‘self’, my factory of ideas?

Neuroscientists and Philosophers have sought the location of thought, by looking at both the physical source and the non-locatable physical feeling of its existence outside our bodies.

The Neuro-scientists can at least be sure that our brain and in particular three regions of it, is necessary for the fast recognition of composite ideas that we recognize as conscious thought.

These are, the lateral prefrontal cortex, the posterior parietal cortex and the internal thalamus.

Their activities best described in the words of a scientist:

“The signature of consciousness seems to be an ultrafast form of these brainwaves originating in the thalamus and spreading across the cortex. One of the most prominent attempts to turn this experimental data into a theory of consciousness is known as the “global neuronal workspace model”. This suggests that input from our eyes, ears and so on, is first processed unconsciously…It emerges into our conscious awareness only when it ignites activity in the prefrontal and parietal cortices, with these regions connecting through ultrafast brainwaves.”

As specific as this system appears, neurologists are nevertheless aware that although they have made large inroads into explaining how something so complex could be explained physically, the way we subjectively believe our mind works, is nothing like the actuality of the resulting ‘thought’.

Naive or direct realism is the term for describing our direct perception of an object and our belief that this simple process is our sensory perception relaying a truth back to us about the reality in front of us.

However it is not physically possible for our eyes to work in such a simple fashion and as is explained in the preceding paragraph, we forget that sight has more to do with our brain than our eyeballs, and consequently we are usually unaware of our brains involvement.

This can be illustrated by the fact that our visual perception is known to be a composite of the seen with the unseen, cleverly reconstructed by our brain.

The physiology of our eyes and their specific parts use light as a source of information for our brains to translate into something useful.

The millions of light sensors in our retina come in two shapes, cones and rods, with the rods needed to detect shades and forms and the cones detecting bright details and colours.

The optic nerve streams the information from the retina to the brain except for one small part where the nerve joins the retina. At this junction we have a blind spot in our vision and yet we are unaware of this, our brains use the information from both eyes to blend a seamless translation of perception.

There are numerous tests that illustrate some of the peculiar abilities our mind has to reconstruct what is occurring in front of us into something more palatable.

One is called the ‘Flash-lag illusion’ in which a disc is set with a spinning arrow that when passing a particular point is programmed to set off a flash at that precise moment. Yet this is not what the viewer sees, instead;

“The flash lags behind, apparently occurring after the arrow has passed…The explanation is that rather than extrapolating into the future, our brain is interpolating events in the past, assembling a story of what happened retrospectively.”

All of these curiosities make our ‘self-awareness’ difficult to locate physically as the sequence of events recorded by our eyes and reordered by our brains, occurs in a time frame we have no words to explain, in a place we can not yet find, and contains information we did not see at that instant.

And as science can only offer the brain as a location to probe but with inconclusive results, the investigations
are broadened by Philosophers who are less certain about the physicality of our consciousness, many referring to it as ‘seeping ether’ suggesting a miasma of feeling that surrounds and inhabits our physical body.

Both disciplines have potentially diluted Descartes well known philosophical dictum, ‘I think therefore I am’ to the less certain, ‘How I think I exist’.

These questions are important because our mind, our brain, our consciousness… are the locations of our beliefs, the big ideas that we ascribe to and the certainty of these beliefs in the light of these investigations starts to look less like a moral endowment birthed in our core, and instead a post-hoc, retrospectively constructed ‘something,’ cobbled together from ‘nothing’.

Yet this is the same ‘self’ that we intuitively feel is our innate cognitive being.

The quest for the source of meta-consciousness at this juncture segues into analogies.

Currently popular in the expertise of science are the analogies of a string of pearls or a twisted yarn of rope. These are used to signify a way of describing the inner feeling of believing we know, that we are who we think we are.

The string in the bead analogy represents the original simple beginning of a conscious realization of ‘self’ one that we are born with, and the pearls are the experiences and actions, and ideals, the matters and values that we master, and then thread onto the string as we grow.

The rope analogy differs, in that it allows for more complexity right from birth and a continual feeling of consciousness as the yarns of the many varied experiences are added and twisted together to constantly form one continual core rope of self.

This allows the separate talents we have progressed with to feel integral to the original ‘self’ as they cannot be easily viewed as separate add-ons. We feel as though we have always been the ‘one’ person we believe we are.

As social creatures we have amassed Meta constructions of consciousness that help us to elucidate common values to the wider group in which we consider ourselves members.

In the analogy of strung beads we string on physical accomplishments and amorphous ideals such as:
Magnanimity…selflessness…forgiveness…thou shalt not…etc
As representing pearl shaped values and abilities that can be acquired and strung on to the string of rope that is ‘your self’.

Presuming that when you have mastered your behaviour and modified it according to the requirements of the ‘pearl’ then you feel as if you have earned it and can therefore thread on the bead of accomplishment.

It is a description of a very measured and deliberate construction of a self-belief that this is who you are and desire to be, and will continue to be in your life. You could extrapolate from this that we culture a  ‘societal’ necklace by threading on the same or similar beads as our co-inhabitants.

However it could be counter argued that our cultural history is so entangled into our beings that it is questionable whether it is possible to consciously view these values and freely choose from a selection of pearls that we then obey with a delusion that we can both choose them and can also choose to dispose of them.

The myths we inherit are deeply integral to the physical lives we live that it is probably not possible to recognise the fragility of these pearly beliefs.

We may think we thread them on a single strand but more likely it is the complex twisted rope that they are joined into, threaded between the hardened stones of our quick responses that are likewise threaded and twisted through the strands of the same fibrous rope, onto which we have deliberately slid these shiny beads of our desired self.

The masks that I, and the clay finally collaborated on are representations of ideas around ideal consciousness.

Masks of self-construction that may perhaps prove useful to cover our pixilated ‘Selfies’, the digitized stream of consciousness images we share as if to prove the adage:

“I am here therefore I am really here”

The masks evolved a form that reflects the physical shape of attempting to fit around ‘nothingness’.

So here are these white-washed clay masks with their shiny eyes that relay the external into the internal:

“The Masks Of Self-Construction”

“Plato’s Insight”

Plato defined knowledge as “justified true belief” but when we test our justifications of our beliefs by questioning whether our perceptions were ‘true’ perceptions, we now know that we can be deceived about that ‘truth’ which has been relayed by our eyes, but replayed under the control of our brains and our unconscious minds.

This mask plays with the idea of the external self and the internal self. One side is convex the other concave.
The eyes are set either side of a stalk, but one set dwells in the shadow world of the internal cave and at the other end, piercing the boney hemisphere, are the stereoscopic eyes looking out to the heavens and the lair of the Demi-urge and the mathematical objects that defy materiality.

Importantly the wearer of the mask owns both sets of eyes. The eyes that can see externally, can peer beyond the cave and therefore can seek to understand the matter of the perfect forms that they can merely see reflections of internally.

A fifth eye peers out of the cave mouth as a protective watchdog against intruders to the ‘self’.

Ergo ate some for Descartes.

This mask is shaped with the eyes like a sight on a gun. They can turn into three positions, up, down, or straight ahead.

Heaven, Earth or You.

There is no available internal space for any other matter as this has been pressed away by the flattening sides.

The remaining eyes are in the mouth.

These masks couldn’t fit a human face. They are not shaped to fit a physiognomy they are made to fit an idea espoused by philosophy or science. ‘Ergo Ate Sum’ is formed around Descartes dictum ‘I think therefore I am’, in the mask, the eyes, the windows of Descartes’ Homunculus soul, are in the mouth as though we eat up our experiences and swallow them into ourselves, ready to dredge up and disgorge out in our poetry and artworks and makings and writings.

This is Descartes theorem that we can only taste our own
reality; we cannot prove that anything else exists.

In the world of physics including the quantum world this is potentially very apt as this is the reality of information science.  

For example, we can agree the physical cones and rods of our eyes have evolved to see the information of the atoms on a surface, the arrangement of which reflects back what we discern as ‘red’ in the colour spectrum, so yes we can all agree that we are seeing the information that we have agreed to call ‘red’ but we have to accept that each of our experiences of that colour can not be compared as an objective sensation.

Dark Matter Wimp Hunter.

This mask is fashioned after a huge piece of equipment called ‘Dark Side 50’ that contains highly sensitive lights containing argon gas.

These are aimed at each other inside a steel hemisphere situated deep under an Italian mountain.

The machine’s raison d’être is to catch a trace of a W.I.M.P. falling through the steel shell, piercing through many layers of what we perceive to be solid matter.

This is similar to the way we describe the feeling of consciousness. Yes we can see areas light up on a brain scan, but the thoughts we have are acknowledged as fleeting and varied and have no known physicality to them.

The particles of our brain matter are perhaps the conductors of our thoughts, but the thoughts themselves are not particulate.

Consequently we have a sense of thought being both inside and outside our boney hemisphere and we are heard to say that we are trying to ‘capture our thoughts’.

This would be a mask for hunters of ideas, intellect seekers who sit and scan the surrounding ether from within their dark hide, hoping their fluorescent lure will attract a wimp and that the invisible will become visible.

(W.I.M.P. = Weakly Interactive massive particles.)

Archimedes’ Tears And Giving The Glad Eye.

A mask that plays on the ancient Greek scientist and philosopher’s invention of a spring shaped pump known as ‘Archimedes’ screw’ that circulated water around the mechanism and drew it up the hill.

The eyes in this mask are located unhinged in the socket and can look up to the heavens or down to earth or to the side, behind or in front, but never together in one direction.
The eyes are controlled consciously and deliberately by manual manipulation that allows them a ‘one-eyed’ focus.

The tears are screwed around, down and through the eyeholes, to draw water upwards from a wellspring of emotional thought, which has been flooded by the Amagladae.

Giving the Glad Eye.

‘Giving the glad eye’ is an old fashioned phrase, a jokey familiarity from one to another about flirtation which may lead to mating, which certainly feels like existing with its emotive fluctuations between desire, love, empathy, manipulation, maliciousness and self interested control.

The Amagladae are two small almond shaped areas in the
Limbic system of the brain that is reputedly responsible for our neurotic self-awareness expressed through the emotions of fear and aggression.

The Amagladae is the rapid response trigger to these emotional states that so often end in tears.

Archimedes’ screw would offer some relief as it reticulates the water back up towards the eyes, which can be refreshed, before being manually focused towards a new one-eyed direction.

Bone Drone Ether Reader.

This mask reflects on our biological pride and reliance on the form that carries our senses and the credit we bestow on the skull for being the perceived carrier of our possibly unique conscious condition we know as ‘Theory of mind’.

In this mask, the bone continues through the bone of the skull, the hard materiality of our matter to which we have given a credence we feel is indisputable but physics can prove disputable.

The eyes are located around the outside of the familiar shape which has here lost it’s commodious capacity, and instead the eyes look out in all directions from their static placement and in doing so, transfer a combined holographic sight directly into the material of the flattened bony matter.

It is an intriguing fact that the order of the information gathered by our eyes, can be reordered by our brains into sequences that we mistake as being true and indisputable conceptions of an actuality that we convince ourselves must have happened.

This is the perplexing area known as the Beta phenomenon, for example:

“For us to experience events as happening in a specific order, it is not necessary that information about those events enters our brain in that same order.”
Eg ‘The man ran out of the house after he kissed his wife.’ So the given sequence is, running –kissing, but we understand it as kissing – running.”

Psychologists have observed subjects participating in what is known as ‘the beta phenomenon test’, in which a red dot appearing and then disappearing in one corner of a screen is followed by a green dot appearing almost instantly in the other corner.

Subjects watching the sequence report that they see a change over from red to green in the middle section of the screen as a sequential change over, but this is not possible as they cannot know that the second dot will be green so it is not possible to see it prior to the event.

An even more astonishing test is ‘the manipulated cursor test’, where the subject listening to instructions coming through headphones is asked to point at images using a cursor.

Unbeknown to the subject, the researcher is the speaker and has dual control and they occasionally move the cursor towards a picture and if the subject has heard the word that describes the image just prior to seeing the cursor move, they insist that it was them that moved it there.

This is a fascinating insight into our ability to form a belief that we intended actions we claim to be ours, but we never actually performed those actions.

“The test reveals one way that the brain does not always display its actual operations to us, instead it produces a post hoc ‘ I did this’ narrative lacking any factual basis for it.”

This same delusion appears in our dislocation from responsibility for our actions and is aptly evidenced in an anecdote from a headmaster.
He relayed to me his observation of young teens being held to account for their actions in a misdemeanor, who were adamant that they didn’t do the actions and subsequently astonished when shown video evidence of them doing the act they believed they had not committed.

The lack of memory and the need for evidence to show them what they actually did, was still not enough to remove the feeling of dislocation from what they had clearly actually done.

Is Someone Watching Us From Inside Our Skull?    

One answering theory to the phenomenon of the Beta test, and other perplexing questions, is the idea of the little autonomous homunculus sitting inside our heads and watching all events as though everything is appearing on a theatre in our brain and the ‘little man’ the only viewer.

His unrelenting job is to reorder everything the senses play him, into something that is more efficiently comprehensible and he then replays this reordered information back to us as an instant ‘truth’ of what we believe we have seen.

There is plenty of reasoned opposition to the Homunculus theory, but if we decide to follow it as an idea and the ‘little man’ is pulled out from the skull and exposed as a manufacturer of thought, it allows the misty immateriality of cognition, to be artificially created in a material.

Because of this I have decided that perhaps the simplest constructed form of my starting idea is in the end, not a range of Meta-masks, but rather a small white clay Homunculus figure I had made in the years before I had made the question, the true sequence being:
“She made the work then she had an idea about the work.”

It is titled:

The Homunculus With The Pearl Necklace.

The lumpen clay figure can see her ‘self’ in a little hand mirror, reflecting back a pink-flesh coloured mammalian mask and thus attests to her-self that she exists in this form.

She can transcribe with the white quill in her other hand, her ethereal thoughts transmuted into concretised words that externalize her beliefs of what it is that she idealises as reality.

She can now export those beliefs to others.    

She wears a string of pearls embedded in her skin. Each one a talisman of her favoured acquired features, her abilities, her beliefs, her self-constructions.

She can export her written pearls to be threaded onto the strings of others who have bought the bead of her ideas.

She has commodified her immateriality and…

She can be bought.

Oh well it was only an idea.


The Pointing Finger of Transmogrification

I Had An Idea:

To stitch and sculpt an art ‘relic’ titled:  
‘The pointing finger of transmogrification.’

Because I had begun to ask:

Are objects showing signs of depression?
Does the creation of objects need to go to therapy?

Is there perhaps a buried relic from the mystic ages of art history that can be excavated, to restore potency to my own flaccid skins of canvas and crumpled clay?”

Which leads me to:

Could the confusion of so much analysis, so much introspection, be slumping the forms, hesitating the hands from making objects.

And hindering our ability to solve insights through the making of objects?

Which leads me to:

Are we taking our confusion out on our objects?

Which leads me to:

I am not certain whether we create art using both insight and introspection.

And in that case is it an equal split or does one dominate because one of these methods is more influenced by external factors to dominate.

And therefore it swerves the artwork towards a certain direction?

Which leads me to:

But then again the question could be, do we create work using introspection or insight?

And are the works created using either one or the other manifestly different works?

Which leads me to:

Do works created using introspection currently have more ‘value’ that those that rely on insight to be created?

Which leads me to:

Do the insight works currently have to explain themselves using introspection and analysis, the answers to which then dominate the work so it retreats to the background becoming a victim of analysis?

Which leads me to:

Is this over analysis both before and after the creating of work, exhausting the artist, and therefore manifesting in installations that mimic poverty, paucity, slumped shoulders, lowered eyes, quietness and scarcity?

Are these hobo artworks a reflection of our loss of self-belief reformed into humble, hiding objects with a barely-there, presence.

Which leads me to:

How can it be possible for the blue space of the mind to float in its ether of wonderment and have an insight to answer the puzzle of a creation, amidst an endless critical chatter that leeches into the same space?

Which leads me to:

So many questions an artwork has to answer for.

Which leads me to:

Presently you would think that artists have an unprecedented freedom to make, find, appropriate, destroy, imagine, or physically do, pretty much anything and claim it as art.

But we do this within an economic and academic context that exerts an imperceptible judgmental control over those actions.

In an era where the idea of the idea is given supremacy over the object of an idea, the minds producing the ‘ideas’ would be challenged to say that they had been free of any voice other than their own, during the creation of their work.

Which leads me to:

More than ever the introspection part of our minds is taken up with questions about the audience we are trying to reach, the criticism we are likely to receive, the way we can fit our work into the currently favoured academic zeitgeist.

And whether we should even make an object, let alone how we would make it.

The simplicity of forming an idea and then forming the idea into a form is lost inside an intellectual and overly analytical, psycho-babble.

There are many questions that eat away at our self-confidence and at the personal integrity of our work.

The insight within the work, that you could argue, gives a piece it’s punctum, its arête, its point of difference, is ebbed of its steadfastness and surety.
It is as though the biological punctum in the eye has become physically blocked and a haze covers all that it attempts to scan.

Which leads me to:

We are often as an audience viewing works that metaphorically have their shoulders hunched, their forms melted and installations that are dashed together to illustrate that it doesn’t matter.

My own drawings have become twisted figures battling each other as mirrored twins in a Rorschach drama on paper.

Thin lines on thin paper, now stacked in a box as though it is of no matter.

But it must have mattered, these physical things were still being made or collected, they were chosen to ‘BE’ a participant in an artist’s visualized idea.
Art reflects someone wanting to reflect an idea or value back to someone else.

Made on their behalf (the audience), and also made on their behalf (the artists). The artists existing state of mind is the only available material with which to start the work, and this mind-material works in tandem and with equality, with the concept of ‘why’ they wanted to do the work.

Which leads me to:

I wonder if in order to make these slouched works of art: did magnificence need to die?  

It is not an offensive question, it is relevant because one could say magnificence is an ideal of the old order and no longer reflects our understanding of the cosmos that we are such a barely distinguishable part of.

It is possible that such ideals are now confined to history, and instead we must resign ourselves to a reality that reflects our understanding of the disheveled brutality and uncertainty that we now recognize as the chaos of existence.

Not only, are we no longer worshipped by the Heliocentric sun, our uniqueness is further diminished by growing knowledge of how many millions of potential ‘earths’ orbit stars in our universe.

Our physical beings now seem to carry a heaviness that is beyond gravity, as though the warped fields of string theory have fallen from the sky and are pressing on our puny forms with a net of immense weight.

We know ourselves now as insignificant insects in a web of heavy nothingness and this diminished self-importance perhaps restricts our stretching upright into the creatures of backbone that once pulled geometry out of our bone hard skulls.

Which leads me to:

Perhaps unconsciously our bones and therefore our minds are weighted by the grave heaviness of the space known and unknown that surrounds us.

The knowledge overwhelming our physicality and represented in the physical forms we exhibit.

We now have no reason to believe in an external figure of ‘glory’ that sits outside our own egos, and correspondingly we no longer suppress our ego to create treasures for this imagined magnificence.

Which leads me to:

But glory as an ideal still appeals to us, we seek others who have been anointed with it and it would be a positive admission to acknowledge we wish glory for ourselves as through it we confirm our worthiness and give our fragile feeling of self, solace, by confirmation of our existence through the accepting eyes of others.

We wish the same glory to transfer to and from our creations and for them to be held and treasured in the safety and bestowed longevity of, adoration.

All around us the publicity of others challenges us to seek fame for our work and the thing that hinders these aspirations that we unconsciously harbor, is our self.

Not long after beginning a new work, we start to analyse our beliefs and thus begins the slow corrosion of our insight.

Which leads me to:

This rusting analysis starts to corrupt almost instantaneously following the initial big bang that initiates the transforming of a piece of matter into ‘something’ that matters.

Questions come almost unbidden into the pristine vacuum of ‘nothing’ in which we have incubated our idea for a body of work.

We start to evaluate the idea and its worthiness next to work made by others whom we admire or others that someone else admires.

Or we study the current art philosophies and twist ourselves to fit the words of someone else.

We begin to alter our work, transforming it in light of the influences of the market and the voices we have let into our heads.

Which leads me to:

We do this analysis because it is a difficult battle we have inside our heads as we endeavor to reflect by a physical external form, the glory of ourselves transmogrified into our work in order to attain glory for ourselves for our work in order that a form of our work survives and in order that we survive in a form.

Which leads me to:

At its worst this is the psychological death spiral of narcissism.

At its best it is a psychological appreciation of the wonderment of our consciousness of our existence.

It is though we form both, an internal monologue and exhibit an externalized form that mimics the double helix of our DNA.

And within that monologue it is as though we can particulate the strands of our thoughts into a twisting, long spiral with connecting pathways between the two sides of introspection and insight, the pathways allowing updates back and forth as the internal debate queries the worthiness and unworthiness of our ponderings, and of our decisions.

Meanwhile our perception moves endlessly up and down the length, back and forth as if watching a spinning helix in the light of day,

Which leads me to:

It is mentally very difficult to control the forces that have begun the spin of the double helix in your mind.

It requires stillness to quiet the two sides so that we can choose some certainty of direction.

If we have stopped increasing the length of the strand by not adding any more arguments to the rope, and we have found a method to remove any more external voices asking to be ‘liked’, and we have evolved a way to hold the twist steady so it no longer dazzles us by its flashy spiraling, then we can perhaps as artists, regain a balance between introspection and insight into what it is we value to express in our work.

The work can contain glory within itself quietly, made, found, structured, unstructured, perfect, imperfect, just because it exists and was made consciously from within the reality we uniquely inhabit.

The objects themselves could then physically stand and bear the pressing heaviness of the forces that weigh so heavily on the shoulders and suffocate the air from the mere mortal who made them or anointed them as artworks.

Which leads me to:

Breathe in breathe out.

There is something to be gained from making artifacts that celebrate the oxygen in our blood, the rigidity of our skeleton, the blood that circulates our brains and the backbone that holds it erect.

To celebrate the conversions of gases and cosmic dust, the particles, the atoms, the molecules that cluster, the dark matter that hides, the light waves that we can see, the radioactive hiss that we can hear, the endlessness of space now that we know it is with us and we within it.

It is magnificent to be alive for such a brief moment of time and this is a something that we can still hold as valuable, in a reflection returning to us from objects that introspection and insight fought to bring into existence.

Which leads me to:

The skeletons of artists are bearing the weighty science of art. The words are suffocating us, clotting our arteries, entangling lines around our heads.
An inquisition by scholars and economists has pushed mysticism underground to lonely lairs.

And the inquisition that is our own relentless inner monologue of self-justification and self-correction, keeps us in there.

Which leads me to:

Breathe in, breathe out, inhale, and exhale…

I suggest we keep searching for and keep working for the elusive pointing finger of transmogrification.

Severed from some magnificent being in a time of glory, it is rumoured that when held in any mere mortal’s hand its crag skinned withered bone and keratin nail can point and claim beauty to be beheld in any object whatsoever.

Cut off your own blood engorged finger at the knuckle and prepare the torn surface to attach this immortalized detector of beauty and point, point, point at your work.

Glory be, glory be, glory be.

But alas, I fear this marvelous relic is a long buried fossil with its empowering flesh transformed to cold hard stone, and I have found I cannot stitch myself an effective replacement from the lowly materials at hand…

Woe is me, woe is me, woe is me.

Oh well it as only an idea


To Object or not to Object

I Had An Idea:

To answer a question;
To object or not to object, that is the question.

I object!
You object!

I, an object too,
You, an object too.

I object to…?
You object to…?

I the object
I object to.

You the object
You object to.
I the object
You object to

You the object
I object to.

I the object
You the object

We are both
Objects, of objections.

I the subject
You the subject

I, a subject, too and
You, a subject too,

I am subject to…?
You are subject to…?

I the subject
I am subjected to

You the subject
You are subjected to.

I the subject
Of your subjection!

You the subject
Of my subjection!

I the subject
I object to

You the subject
You object to.

I the subject
You object to

You the subject
I object to.

You the subject
I the subject

You the object
I the object

We are both
Subjects of objections

We are both
Objects of subjections

Subjects of objects

Objects of subjects

Objects of objects

Subjects, of subjects.

We are both.

Oh well, it was only an idea.


The Unobserved and the Unfound

I Had An Idea:

To paint an imagined image;

Starting from two recorded dreams, ‘The Unfound’ and ‘The Unobserved’.

They were imagined while I was in the unconscious state of sleep and were perfectly clear on waking before being imperfectly recorded.

I am uncertain whether I can re conjure them from a conscious state and I am uncertain whether I can access my memory of the unconscious state?
The dreams were never really an idea so I have no idea.

The Unobserved

I dreamt of pestilence, pests infesting deep into the dark of my sleep wherein I was happy hosting friends and preparing to feed them more from the remains of a feast. We were outdoors; someone brought my attention to a turkey that we had cooked a few days before. It had plenty of white meat on it.

The turkey was inside a cotton cover but when we removed it, I could see an oily fizzing spout coming through from just beneath the browned skin, near the top of a bone.

This mound was hissing with small amounts of fizzing liquid.

I recognised it was going to erupt and tried to re-cover the meat with the cloth, but was too late as breaking through the skin, blue bottle flies flew out in hoards and then from another site and another… hoards and hoards of buzzing bluebottles.

Disgustingly unstoppable and the noise a frightening penetrating hum.

We run.

The Unfound

In a later dream I am in a shabby bathroom with bluish green-gray darkness.

I hear a noise I shouldn’t hear and bend down to move a box to peer behind it. A rat leaps out and runs off.

I think to myself that I can live with this one rat loose somewhere in my house but then see another smaller rat run out, and then another and then another…

I am overwhelmed by the realisation that I can’t live with so many rats as they are going to take over the house. I will have to act, so I look behind the bath for the source.

Here I find a small grey lead metal pipe that comes through the wall from the dark and it is from this opening that another rat appears.

I grab a towel to block the hole – but even more rats are trying to pour through, one behind the other. The one at the front of the queue, now blocked by my hand in the towel, bites my finger.

I can feel his toothy grip through the towel so with my finger I push downwards pressing hard against his lower jaw and feel the bones disconnect as I break it downwards. But still he persists.

The rats queuing behind now begin to pour through the hole pushing the biting rat and my towel and hand, out of their determined path. Pushing past my resistance. Pouring into the room. So many…

I ask myself why is there pestilence in my dreams, why are eaters of decaying flesh pouring into my dream life?

Finding the Observable

In order to convert the dream into an image, I will need to be conscious.

I will need to look for images of the particular components of the dreams so that I can record the details visually in a recognisable way and I will need to convert my reference materials into a 2d format line by line.

Drawing becomes maths when drawing from the real. It involves calculations and measurements and the tricks of transcribing geometric shapes that change a 3D object into a 2D representation.

If not directly copying an object but instead the drawing seems to come directly from the head to hand to paper, you are nevertheless still a mathematician pulling out the free flowing forms that then coalesce into recognisable patterns.

These may come from a memory of geometric shapes that you have studied in the past, or memories of the forms you are wanting to reference and record, the maths encoded in the scales of lines that build the recognisable shape in front of us.

Finding the Unfound

I will need to choose a scene, which will come about by running as much as I can remember from the dream, through my head, until I can frame a part of it to stand for the narrative of the whole.

I am certain I will paint in oils but…

I am uncertain about the size of the painting.

I am certain of the colours as I can recall the muddied greys of the dimly lit bathroom, the muted blue grey painted wall, and the lead grey pipe.
Or the shiny glistening burnt sienna of the turkey, the blue blackness of the flies.

I am uncertain how well I can depict the rushing rats and will need to look at reference images.

I am uncertain how to paint the sound of the flies.

I am uncertain how to convey the fear.

I am certain the preparation of the canvas will require a week of layering white gesso and then sanding.

I am certain that the first coat of oil paint will be a dirty umber.

I am uncertain what forms I will first sketch on.

I am uncertain how many times I will paint over the images I have laid down, repainting and starting again.

I am certain that I won’t recognise the painting at some stage.

I am certain that the painting will reach a point where it becomes itself, separate from the dream and separate from any slavish plan to copy the dream.

I am not certain what the painting will look like at this stage.

I am certain that from this point the painting will lead me to finish it.

I am certain it will have become a puzzle with its own solution encoded within the geometry of the canvas.

I am not certain who would be the audience for this painting.

I am not certain what it will be about.

I am certain I will recognise it as finished.

I am not certain anyone else will want the painting.

Finding Certainty

As I am conscious, I have to wonder why I would go to the trouble of illustrating and making publically visible these unconscious images.

As I am conscious, I suppose it would be more worthy to consciously cognate a more certain idea.

As I am conscious in that case the idea could be expressed as an object or in an object that would no longer necessarily need to be a painting.

I am conscious that a painting is a peculiarly uncertain medium that keeps changing its idea.

I am conscious “One idea per work” would encourage one idea per audience, which would lead one audience to one idea.

I am certain that would work.

I am certainly conscious that would work.

I am uncertain whether that is what I want to do.

I am uncertain.

I am certain I am uncertain.

Oh well it was only an idea.


Today's thoughts

“His method consists in sanctifying mistakes. It is through mistakes that man escapes from idle obedience to a code. If he is strong enough, the mistake will cease to be a mistake and will become an example. Hence the revulsion of the many who would rather recognise than know. To recognise is easy. To know demands an effort of the eyes and the mind, a long effort of study.

Few people will admit that what a Realist picture represents is as strange to see as a Cubist picture, or that it presupposes an ancestral habit of which the organism is not aware.
That is what made Picasso say to a visitor who had confessed that he ‘did not understand him’ and who later showed him a photograph of his wife: ‘ Oh how small she is! I suppose it’s so that she can fit into your pocket.’”

Jean Cocteau.

“At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.”