Monday, 6 March 2017

A rather large object

In the mid 70s I lived in a flat in Benwell - one of the poorer areas of Newcastle. It no longer exists, and somewhat in the same vein as my Hartlepool Ballroom installation, it is now a not very well cared for patch of open grassland.

There are plans for a small number of object research based artists to put together a group show and, along with my longtime friend and psychotherapist Dave Edwards, who also lived in this flat, we are planning a piece for this show which considers the flat as an object, a subject for recall and re-examination in the present day.

The area reminds me of a beach.. where all kinds of 'random' objects are deposited. These will be a starting point...

Monday, 9 January 2017

Putting 2016 to rest

Twenty sixteen was not a good year. On a whim I sent a short verse to the Independent - who published it on new year's day on the letters page.

The detail is true - the sentiment is authentically mine - but these few words could never sum up how much of a challenge the changes in this last year present to so many people for the future. My only other thought on the subject is that adversity can perhaps be the generator of positive change.

Read my poem here (it's at the foot of the page) >>

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Dementia Project (working title)

As I have recently launched a new website that profiles some of my work - from now on, this space will be used more as a true blogging update.

So... my latest project involves working with a couple of groups whose participants have varying degrees of dementia. The idea is to continue my concerns with narrative structure and what constitutes 'truth' or otherwise, but to develop this with the groups.

I am collaborating with Mike Jones, a group facilitator with a lot of experience in this field. At the moment we are trialing a few ideas and hope to secure funding for a pilot project. The participants thus far seem very keen to work in this way and feedback suggests they are getting positive effects from our work. Ultimately I want to produce a piece which is of major gallery significance - a work which will also raise the profile of people who it is very easy to forget (and I use that word consciously in this context!)

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Latest post in the Museum for Object Research - 'Tread Carefully'

Tunisian rug and my left foot
As I increasingly use spaces and objects as entry points in my work, I have also written about them. This post recounts how I came to own a rug made in Tunisia. Objects carry their history with them, which can be either appropriated and/ or reconfigured.
Composing verse allows me to speak with an obviously 'constructed' voice and I'm working on integrating this approach into other media.     read it here >>
Thanks to Sonia Boué for posting it (scroll down from the header)

Friday, 30 October 2015

glass, ether and ethanol

I was one of 5 artists and photographers recently selected by the North East Photography Network, in conjunction with Great North Run Culture, to be taken on a tour behind the scenes of the Discovery Museum’s archive in Newcastle and then to follow up a couple of weeks later with a wet-plate collodian workshop in the wonderful great hall of the museum.  It’s a long time since I got involved with chemicals, having readily gone digital many years ago, so this was quite an experience.

I’m currently developing a piece which involves Newcastle and Malmö in Sweden and, being particularly interested in object research, I already had on my 'object radar' a calculating machine that's in the museum’s collection. It was made in Malmö and is one of a very few objects I could find in the archive to connect the two places.

What interests me is to examine how the nature of the medium so very profoundly colours the way the object is considered. We lit the calculator, I took my collodian exposure (based on advice!) and a few moments later had my head in a rather cramped dark room box (not ideal - but there were issues around using chemicals in a public space). After the mini dark room experience was complete, I set up the same calculating machine on a table nearby and took some digital frames. The resulting comparison suggests so many avenues of critique...not least how we consider ‘the past’ in relation to ‘the present’...which is a central theme in much of my work.

I will be taking part in a discussion around this experience, hosted by NEPN at Sunderland Uni 2nd Dec 6.00-8pm check it out here if you would like to come along >

the actual glass plate

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Between Art & Commerce

Occasionally a project pops up that straddles the artistic and the commercial. I have been commissioned to make a series of video pieces (plus some photography) to showcase the 250 million pound development that is Newcastle’s Science Central. The client wants a number of short, social media friendly videos, which they can use to promote the ethos of the development, which is centered around developing new ways of approaching urban sustainability.
What is so appealing from my point of view is that it appears I got the job not so much because of my commercial track record, but particularly because of my art practice. It is refreshing to have a client who trusts enough to let me run with whatever direction I see open up. It fits so well with the way I work, typically letting the subject reveal itself, rather than imposing a pre-planned narrative.
It also encompasses a central concern in my work – people and the places they make and inhabit. It’s great that they want me to work in this way, and I know it can only reflect really positively back onto them.
In reality though, this project does need to act as a promotional device for them so I am aware that a different set of agendas inevitably need to be considered too. I am under no illusion. I am not making an artwork as such, but am adapting my working methods to make something that has ‘independent’ values. So I will blow the trumpet for Science Central, but I will also hopefully make them something a bit special. It may not be ‘art’ as such but it will be artfully artisan.
The video link below features artist Victoria Bradbury - I filmed her at the CORE (currently the sites flagship building) and used her piece to showcase an artist's use of the space...(be sure to click the HD icon for best playback quality)

View the events space at the CORE >

Friday, 24 April 2015

Hartlepool give my videos another outing

Hartlepool Art Gallery now have a facebook page. They are putting out a series of my videos from the Rink project on there which is nice! (One a week).
There are a few so this one will visit... here >>

Ideas in development

I have been writing verse recently. Here is a short 'sketch' where I play with a few ideas. Some of this was shot on a phone in Berlin and Poland. It's part of a longer piece - narrated by myself for now - just ideas in progress...

click here to view >>

Monday, 12 January 2015

The Museum for Object Research

This online museum is an on-going repository for object related writing. My latest post is now online. Many thanks to Sonia Boué for her introduction. Read my piece here >>

Thursday, 4 December 2014


From today until Sunday 6th December 2014 the BALTIC centre for contemporary art in Gateshead is hosting an artist book market. Two of my books GESTALT and the RINK PROJECT are included so I'm hoping if you are in that part of the country you might pop in and take a look at what's on show. This event was organised by the North East Photographers Network

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

a little job for A-N

After 15 years at the helm, Su Jones is stepping aside at AN and AIR - in my opinion the most useful artists network and on going information organisation in the UK. I was very happy to be asked to make a 3min video for her leaving do which encapsulates her time there. Not possible of course but I did my best! The video is now live on the AN YouTube channel or watch it below on my VIMEO channel >>

Monday, 28 July 2014

STEAMSONG - a commission

I was recently asked to make a photographic piece that could be used to represent the contemporary opera STEAMSONG by the composer John Kefala Kerr. Strangely it turned out that John and I actually knew each other from about 20years ago... but John hadn't realised I was the same Neil Armstrong! I had been put into the mix via the DLI museum in Durham as my piece Gestalt (which has been exhibited in the Durham Gallery) had the sort of atmospherics and approach they were looking for.

Following a trip to York Railway Museum to photograph the famous Mallard steam train that was the inspiration for the Durham Brass festival operatic commission, I then put together this image.

Hexham station features, and two of the cast are also used as models in the completed piece. Collaged into this tableau are a couple of original lead train figures from the 1930s plus a model chimney and factory. The challenge was to make it visually believable; to allow disparate elements to sit together, and also to infuse a painterly dynamic whilst grappling with matched perspectives.

I wanted to reference the political climate of the time and to imply darker elements at work - hence the use of a decoy duck bought off ebay to which I added 'real' wings... a sort of 'eugenics of speed and technology' which make an alarming and absurd vision.

The opera had its premiere at Durham Gala Theatre in July 2014

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Toffee Factory Show

Currently working on a short video based around the preview opening of my show at the Toffee Factory. It features soprano Dawn Furness performing an operatic rendition of my song 'Our Three Shilling Affair'. This followed on from an abridged reading of Jack Brunel's story by me. Hoping to put the two together very shortly.
Meanwhile an account of the show can be read here >>

Dawn Furness sings

Dawn with the crashing Hartlepool
sea behind. She is sowing coal into
an organza parcel!
video projection with
Marion Keene
doll in the foreground

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

'Send Three and Fourpence...' installation at the Toffee Factory 7- 9 Nov 2013

My show is now finished at the Hartlepool Gallery but can be seen in a new form at the lovely Toffee Factory in Newcastle upon Tyne in November.

There will be a preview event 5 - 8pm on Thursday 7th so please come down if you can. There may even be a somewhat unique performance of the song I wrote for this piece so it's not to be missed!

As usual check for project updates here>>

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

"Send Three and Fourpence..." the Rink Ballroom project - read about it on the AN website >

My latest AN mag posting...this is my main project at the moment so please keep checking this link to the AN website for regular updates.

Send Three and Fourpence - the Rink Ballroom project | Project blogs | Artists talking | a-n

You can now download the song written for this project "Our Three Shilling Affair" and have your very own Rink Ballroom experience. The song features singers Claudia Dunning and Lewis Mcbean and is played by Hartlepool based Big Band Musicians Unlimited.

DOWNLOAD the song from AMAZON here >>

You can also buy a limited edition pressing from the gallery, which includes the full music sheet and Jack Brunel's story.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Saatchi update and Lux website

Have updated my profile on Saatchi online, so it is possible to buy prints and some of my original work there at reasonable prices click here>
Also I am filling in more up to date info on the LUX website so please keep checking here>
LUX have inherited my video back-catalogue from the now defunct London Video Arts. Some of this work goes back to the late 70's - but I will also be adding more recent videos soon. You can also hire it from them.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


I have just been awarded Arts Council England grant assistance to make a video installation based around the former Queen's Rink Ballroom in the north east town of Hartlepool. To read my ongoing project blog on Artists Newsletter click here>

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Artist Newsletter project link

my ongoing project notes for 'when was NOW 2' can be found on Artists Newsletter here I will be updating this regularly as the video takes shape.