Skip navigation


When I commenced the Wimbledon MA Fine Art course I had planned to produce paintings using scuba diving photographs as visual reference. Concerned about my lack of ideas beyond producing ‘pretty pictures’ I stopped painting.

Reconnecting with my interest in ‘time’, I started drawing daily self-portraits. ‘20454 days’ was developed by counting how many portraits I would have if I had drawn one every day of my life. Applying the ‘wrong’ scale created a number more geological than human.


20454 Days, A4 Inkjet Print

Artists referenced:
1. On Kawara – One Million Years
2. Tatsuo Miyajima – Keep changing, Connect with all, Goes on forever.
3. Peter Dreher – Tag um Tag ist guter Tag (Day by Day is a Good Day),
4. Katsura Funakoshi & Ernst Barlach: A Map Of The Time

Funakoshi’s human sculptures, described as capturing the moment between an in breath and an out breath, returned me to human time scales and I then thought about the human body’s own internal clocks, using myself to explore ideas around time and measurement. The Breathing Portraits were the result but I then realized that vast time scales, beyond the human, are my main area of interest.

Artist Vija Celmins’ detailed night sky and ocean serial drawings (some are graphite and some are charcoal) explore vast areas of time and space with a sense of loss and alienation. Utilizing graphite I produced several, underwater drawings looking up at the sea’s surface but these seemed to invoke the sublime rather than the vastness of reality.


Graphite drawing on Fabriano Accademia paper with gesso ground. 27cm x 35 cm

Realizing that I needed a different approach I started to examine the boundary between art and science. I read an essay by Speculative Realist Philosopher, Quentin Meillassoux.
Quintin Meillassoux, (2008) After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, London: Continuum International Publishing Group Limited.

Meillassoux argues for a return to the ‘absolute’ by way of mathematics using deep time science such as geology and cosmology in his ‘proofs’. This led me to a major reassessment of my practice.

I continued to work using graphite, becoming interested in the material qualities of the surface – sometimes opaque and dense at other times shiny and reflective. With mathematics as a theme I started to work with French curves, laying down a graphite ground and mapping the curve by piercing the paper at regular intervals then pushing acrylic paint through from the back to mark the curve.


Graphite drawing on Fabriano Accademia paper with acrylic paint. 27cm x 35 cm

I had intended using these drawings for the diploma stage. Actually being in the space led me to produce site specific work. Located where the old building and extension were joined I made drawings reflecting the join but still felt I could make better use of the space.

Situated under a skylight I was keen to utilise the skylight itself, so I produced an ice core sculpture which reached up into the skylight. This was a direct result of visiting the GSK exhibition and studying Shiro Takatani’s Ice Core, 2005.
This years GSK Contemporary sets out to consider the impact of climate change, and our transition to a new world, on the practice of a broad range of contemporary artists, working in a wide-variety of media.


Ice Core Drawing, 12 foot long in foyer

Geologist Ian Plimer criticises climate change science. There was much controversy about climate change science around this time. As a critique of the University of the Arts stance on climate change (where is the questioning, why is there such passive acceptance of the ‘facts’?, I decided to opt out of the Interim show and produce some guerrilla art instead. The stickers were noticed and I was pleased with the outcome.
1. Ian Plimer, Heaven & Earth, 2009, Quartet Books
2. Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll – “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story” Ian Drury – 10 minutes into film.


Why let the truth get in the way of good science? 63.5 mm x 38.1 mm transparent sticker.


Sticker gets noticed. at the Interim Show, still from video.

I am finding political art is of increasingly interesting, probably due to our Critical Theory Lectures and visits to the Richard Hamilton Exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery & Superflex,Flooded McDonalds at the South London Gallery. I do not want to pursue this at present but hope to resume following these ideas in due course.
1 Richard Hamilton: Modern Moral Matters, Serpentine Gallery, 3rd March-25th April 2010.
2 Flooded McDonald’s is a film work by Superflex in which a convincing life-size replica of the interior of a McDonald’s burger bar, without any customers or staff present, gradually floods with water. Furniture is lifted up by the water, trays of food and drinks start to float around, electrics short circuit and eventually the space becomes completely submerged (2009).

Returning to Meillassoux’s ideas I was thinking about cosmology and fossils. I considered how to research these two ideas and how they may be juxtaposed. I started by visiting several local fossil collecting locations.

On the lowest spring tides I visited the London Clay exposures at Bracklesham Bay to collect some Eocene fossils. Despite the covering of sand I managed to collect a good selection of fossils, many in situ. Galaxy information was originally collected from the internet, followed by a visit to the Greenwich Observatory.


Crossing the Greenwich Meridain - photograph


This is the oldest thing you will ever touch, a 4.55 billion year old meteorite - photograph

Utilising fossils collected and images from the Greenwich observatory I made some double drawings but quickly decided that they appeared to be an exercise in graphic design. They did not express Meillassoux’s concept of dia-chronicity nor any of his other ideas so I needed to reassess.

I have been extending my reading to other Speculative Realist philosophers, especially Ray Brassier who says:
“Nihilism is not an existential quandary but a speculative opportunity.”
Brassier (2010)
Brassier R. (2007) Nihil Unbound Enlightenment and Extinction, Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan

Permission to visit Tate Store to view Vija Celmins Prints finally arrived, inspecting Celmins’ prints closely revealed subtle details which were reflected in my next set of drawings.


Vija Celmins Galaxy 1975, print detail

My graphite drawings, using fossils and galaxy imagery now developed using more ‘geological’ processes, lots of layers of graphite were deposited and polished (eroded). I also tried imprint and emboss with varying degrees of sucess. Experiments with raw graphite, seems to give a softer more ‘metallic finish to ground.


NGC7814 Embossed Graphite Drawing, 10 cm x13.75 cm

Looking for a more authentic source of galaxy imagery, I emailed several astrophysicists for further information. The galaxy images widely available on the internet are usually composites of digital data from the total spectrum, including the visible. A few objects are visible to the naked eye but most require telescopes.

Realising that the light from distant galaxies could be millions of years old I considered linking specific fossils to galaxies an equivalent number of light years away.

Having identified galaxy NGC7814 as being a suitable distance away, I checked the identity and age of the Bracklesham Bay fossils with Professor Andy Gale then revisited Bracklesham Bay with a fossil ‘shopping list’.
The light from galaxy NGC7814, emanated when the, now extinct, Venericardita planacosta was alive, approximately 47 million years ago.

I then scaled up and combined different graphite drawings reflecting how various datasets are combined to produce familiar cosmological imagery. Having tried many methods of drawing the fossils, I decided that it would be better to utilise the actual object in the final artwork.


Venericardia planicosta 8cm x 7.5 cm x 5cm

Artists, Russell Crotty, Ilana Halperin and Anna Barriball, whilst referencing similar ideas these artists seem to be asking a different set of questions,

1. Russell Crotty- explores the very things he loves most: amateur astronomy, the natural world and surfing. His body of art work is manifested in globes, drawings and books. (
2. Ilana Halperin – “My work explores the relationship between geological phenomena and daily life.” (
3. Anna Barriball “Much of her practice explores and depicts the accretion of time – from the length of time it takes for a candle to burn down to the repetitious activity of taking graphite rubbings from objects that bare the traces of their use or function.” (

John Latham, Flat Time House seems to work in similar territory though he’s a very difficult artist to understand.


One of John Latham’s Time Based Rollers at Flat Time House.

1. John Latham – “Latham saw the ills and conflicts that beset mankind as the result of differences in ideology. He attributed these differences to the absence of a single theory capable of explaining the universe and man’s position within it. The theoretical framework he evolved sought to provide a unified explanation of existence.” and “Bridging artistic, philosophical and scientific ideas, Latham’s theory of ‘event structure’ challenges the views of scientists and cosmologists. According to the theory everything that exists can be explained, not as atomic particles and waves, but as recurring time-based ‘events’ of finite duration. A ‘least event’ – the shortest departure from a state of nothingness – is, in the theory, the fundamental unit of existence. The recurrence of such events establishes a ‘habit’ and forms the basis for structures in reality. Recurring events of longer duration result in more complex phenomena such as objects, mental images and, ultimately, the cosmos.” (

My studio space is split, with a walkway through the middle, which reminds me of a church with side-chapels. I was thinking about religious display but discounted this idea after experimenting with the space and drawings. This space lends itself to duality. I have been considering making a physical link between each end but this is probably unnecessary. Using the side walls is a distraction.

I have made a plinth for the fossil and placed it centrally. The title can be sited to make the connection between the drawing and the fossil. I’m wondering why I’m using drawings and have started to experiment with laser jet collages of galaxy NGC7814. I have been scaling up the large galaxy drawing but as they get larger they loose shiny graphite quality which I was hoping to utilize.

Image led or materials led? I’m still having a big problem with this and flip from one to the other repeatedly.

My space is having a big influence on my work and I’m spending a lot of time calculating dimensions and angles.

I am also investigating two artists who work on the boundary between art and science, Hamad Butt and Ansuman Biswas.
1. Hamad Butt, The Familiars
2. Ansuman Biswas,


MA Installation


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s