Turps Art School

I’m utterly thrilled to be a part of the Turps Art School. Founded on the generous principles of the wonderful Turps Banana Magazine, written by painters for painters, the studio painting programme is for practicing artists wanting to invigorate their practice through critical debate about painting with peers and mentors.

We have excellent studio space in Elephant and Castle with a lively programme of visiting artists, mentoring sessions, crits, and studio time of course. There is the most wonderful buzz in the studios. Painters who are keen to be there, to make, to experiment, to learn, to shake themselves up and challenge themselves and each other, and mentors who are there because they love teaching, not because they are there for the money and begrudging the time they are spending away from the studio which I’ve experienced elsewhere. The atmosphere is one of progress, challenge, and excitement.

I felt it was just the right time for me to do something like this. All of the fees go to teaching and studio space. None of it goes to ridiculous levels of bureaucracy, Dean’s banquets etc. The course is run by people who are passionate about nurturing debate and encouraging burgeoning painting talent. We all feel an urgency in making work and pushing ourselves and learning from one another. Some very exciting things are happening!

Tottenham Takeover at the V&A

We had a great night at the V&A and POST Artists took over the Medieval & Renaissance Room, giving a sneak peak of Canalology in a completely different context to canalside Tottenham.

It was an extraordinary night. Many thanks to all who came.

V&A Tottenham Takeover

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the Friday Late at the V&A next Friday evening. POST Artists and artists groups and musicians from Tottenham are taking over the V&A for one evening only in their series of evening events that invite London’s creative communities to take over the museum. I will be showing some photographs of shopping trollies in canals.

The free event takes place on Friday 28 March from 6.30pm. I do hope you can join us in this precursor to Canalology where will will be showing works in progress and artworks related to our show in Tottenham in May.

Canalology Preparations

POST Artists have got Arts Council funding to put on Canalology, a one day contemporary art festival along the canal in Tottenham on the 3rd May 2014 and we can’t wait!

I’m excited by the canal in Tottenham because although Tottenham has been in the news so much over the last few years the canal is such an interesting and unknown area which people should see and experience for themselves.

Our impact on our environment at a micro and macro level is of great interest to me. I see how clogged our waterways are with algae and wonder how we react to this? I plan to make an artwork which engages passersby with the health of the canal itself, and how this relates to them, themselves.

I plan to make a pedal powered candyfloss machine! It will be used performatively to serve members of the public delicious yet sludgy green coloured candyfloss, made to resemble the algae in the canal. This project aims to encourage us to examine the relationships between food, function, our levels of consumption, art, the environment, and aesthetics.

I hope that you can join us!

Cascades: past, present and future

As part of the Art Licks Weekend POST Artists invite you to

Cascades: past, present and future

at Studio 180, 180 Lambeth Road, London SE1 7JY

Private View Thursday 3 October 18:00 – 21:00

Exhibition continues Friday 4 October – Sunday 6 October 11:00 – 18:00

Curators: Samantha Penn and Olga Koroleva

Artists: Marco Cali, Catalina Garces de los Rios, Heather Jones, Matthew Kay, Olga Koroleva, Pippa Kozserek, Rebecca Leach,ilka Leukefeld, Fiona Long, Paula Morison, John O’Hare, Samantha Penn, Matthew Roberts, Jenny Rolfe Herbert, Melanie Russell, Natasha Vicars, Mary Yacoob

A Cascade is triggered, sequential, rational and irrational. In the framework of social theory, it refers the ways in which information is spread, often like wildfire, and sometimes unwittingly. It can refer to a trending hashtag or a collapsing ceiling; subtle and sweeping, all manner of transformation is within reach of the cascade. Cascades erode a mountainside, wipe clean and redefine landscapes, synthesise separate elements or trigger social change. A starting point is determined and often accidental, results unpredictable.

Distorting perceptions of structure, situation and narrative POST will postulate futures for the space, affecting the next weave of the Cascade and enforcing an artificially incurred progression, thus bringing under scrutiny the notion of space in contemporary society. The development of online spaces and communities and the growing impact of artificial venues have triggered exponential distortions of our use of space. Disembodied communities, portable cinemas and augmented reality are now common notions; POST will investigate how these notions can be married to concrete, dust and metal.

Studio 180 is a unique and challenging space and is a perfect experimental platform for POST Artists. Originally a residential building, later the railways communication hub, and now a creative space of three years, it bears a combination of original features and an eclectic collection of vintage and contemporary objects and artworks. During the Art Licks weekend POST will respond to material and ephemeral aspect of the space with a selection of new and existing works.

Studio 180

POST Artists Network

Curators’ full statement and exhibition image can be downloaded from our Art Licks Weekend page

Private tours can be booked via http://artlicksweekend.com/tours

I do hope you can make it along to see this extraordinary place and our show of course! I’ll be there on the Sunday.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Urban Fox/Rural Fox

I’m currently exhibiting some of my ‘Concrete Poetry’ series of paintings, including some that I’ve never shown before. They are on display at Broadway Studios in Tooting, just a 1 minute walk away from Tooting Broadway station. The exhibition is there to compliment Tooting Arts Club’s latest wonderful theatrical offering. Their current show is ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and although I haven’t seen it yet, it’s likely to be immersive with some sort of contemporary twist. Their shows are always brilliant and I can’t wait to see this one myself. So if you fancy a truly unique night out, then get yourself a ticket, and you can look at some of my paintings whilst drinking wine in the interval! It runs from Wednesdays to Sundays until Saturday September 7.

Cordoba Residency

I had a truly incredible time on my residency in Cordoba, Spain. ‘Orange and Green II: Skills for Sustainable Futures’ was organised by Beam in Wakefield and funded by the Leonardo Da Vinci lifelong learning programme. We were hosted by Academia Cordoba and my host organisation was Escuela De Arte Dionisio Ortiz, Cordoba. Cordoba has to be one of my favourite places in the world now and I feel I’ve made some life-long friends. I loved experimenting with ceramics, exploring Cordoba, experiencing Spanish culture, and meeting great people. It actually was a life changing experience.

I began my work wondering how I could explore sustainability through making ceramics. I have always been interested in bushcraft and have recently returned to my fascination with shelters. During our ‘wave’ there were seven participants in Seville and seven of us in Cordoba, four artists and three architects. Spending time with architects also made me keen to explore built structures further. I love anachronisms so thought it would be fun to make something that was in some way modern and in some way primitive. This brought me back to my fascination of the imagined puzzles that an archaeology of the future could provide.

Using the geodesic dome as a starting point seemed the obvious choice since it is almost a symbol of sustainable living with its minimalist design and the social, environmental, and political ideals attached to its philosophy. My plan was to make the structure from natural timber and cordage and to suspend ceramic tiles within the triangular gaps. Whilst I wanted to make it large enough to crawl into, so as to explore it from the outside and experience being inside it, this design was never intended to be a solution, but a work of art. I have difficulty with the pressures of art and activism. Whilst I would love to promote sustainable living, I don’t personally think it’s the artist’s responsibility to do so. I find art made to directly try to influence people can be preachy and unconvincing. Some people differentiate art from craft as art having no use value. I do like to challenge that notion but I wanted to make something poetic and beautiful, a site for experience and exploration.

Unfortunately I immediately hit a stumbling block. Whilst I’ve frequently made sculptures in parks and woodland in Britain with natural abundant timber, in Cordoba, at that time of year, all the pruning had been done and the wood had been disposed of. My mentor Valle kindly offered to bring me bamboo from her garden since the bamboo in the art school’s grounds was protected. Before I was permitted to make the large structure anyway, I had to make a scale maquette. The teaching system is very different in Spain. They teach craft techniques strictly and properly. It is a long apprenticeship and both learning art history and learning your craft come above self-expression or contemporary approaches. As such, the students make technically excellent work but the conceptual side can be lacking at times. In Britain we have more freedom and contemporary contextual knowledge but very little teaching, especially of technique, and little knowledge of old art history. If only there could be some compromise between the two!

On my first day I was given some cardboard, a ruler, a craft knife and tape to make my first rough maquette from. It was fortunate that I had sketched a geodesic dome the night before since I had none of the complex mathematical angles and measurements to hand, no internet, and no protractor. I love a good spatial logic problem though and managed to work it all out by cutting and folding circles. My cardboard structure was not proof enough, however, and I was still encouraged to make a ceramic version. I was happy to do this so that I would have a smaller sculpture too.


Things happen slowly in the south of Spain. Work began at 9.30am and at 11.30 we could have a half hour break for second breakfast (bliss) before then finishing the working day at 2.30pm when the seven of us would reunite for lunch. Add to that all the delays of waiting for kilns and despite my manic productivity (except for post fiesta days) progress was a little slow. It became clear to me that my plans of making the larger shelter were looking a little unrealistic in the 10 week time frame. I made the decision not to pursue this initial plan. I loved the idea of leaving the structure in the grounds of the art school but I also knew that I could make the wooden structure anywhere and having made the small tiles, the process would have become somewhat routine. I had more exploring to do!

I love the aesthetic of decay and was massively inspired by the wonderful peeling and crumbling walls all over Cordoba. I was really enjoying experimenting with ceramics and to my delight, I was allowed to just play and make mistakes in my making of these ‘ceramic paintings’. I think that making mistakes is just as important a part in the creative process as the successes.

Embracing mistake making, process, material, and my new surroundings led to more creative discoveries. At one point, it was suggested that I make my geodesic sculpture entirely from ceramics, since I was there in the ceramics department and had the facilities and technical guidance to do so. The string element was important to the aesthetic but I liked the idea of making the structure from bone-like ceramic pieces along with the ceramic tiles as originally planned. This would make the structure both more rigid, and ridiculously fragile, and I enjoyed the poetry of that.

I made these ‘huesos’ (bones) from a ‘paperclay’ cocktail of paper mulch and porcelain. Of course they were much more difficult to fit together than wood, would have been. The lashing techniques I used to fit all the structural lengths together required a calculated excess at each end. In natural timber, these lengths could have been forced and bent into shape. It took some calculation to fit the porcelain hexagons and pentagons together. I had always intended for there to be gaps to create a shadow pattern inside the structure. The brittleness of the porcelain just added to this. The sculpture did not come together as the perfect, strong, geodesic dome but I was no longer intending this anyway. It looked vulnerable, natural and primitive, despite its mathematical beginnings. I was very pleased with the hauntingness of this outcome.

Upon making the huesos, I discovered that one of their most beautiful qualities was the sound they made as they rattled together. Another of my recent artistic obsessions has been pigeon scaring. I like the make-do-and-mend aesthetic of the weird pigeon scaring contraptions in cities, the countryside and particularly on allotments. In Cordoba, however, where nearly everything is ornately crafted and there seems to be no such thing as too much pattern, I wondered if I could make a beautiful bird scarer.

I had been keen to make sculptures which somehow used the elements, so using the wind and light to play off the porcelain seemed perfect. I set to work making hundreds of ridiculously fragile clay sausages which would form my ‘tree necklace’. I planned to tie them together and form a crazy wind-chime like piece to hang from the bottom of a branch. Many of them broke in the first firing, many more in the second, and more in the assembly of the sculpture. I enjoyed this fragility and the idea of these delicate white spear-like fragments falling to the ground when the wind blew in Spain’s bright sunshine. I enjoyed playing with the material and testing it to its limits, and beyond.

The by-product of this, of course, was hundreds of porcelain shards that didn’t make it into the pigeon scaring sculpture. Thinking again of fragile environments, both cosy and threatened, I was reminded of all the incredible stork’s nests I’d seen in the area. I wondered if a human could make one from tension and balance alone from such a delicate and rigid material. It turns out that I could! It felt like a performance just making it and I was pleased with how it looked. There was talk of glue, glazes, or just firing it to make it more permanent but in the end, I just left it on a wall in the school grounds, abandoned to the elements. I prefer the honesty of that.

I enjoy this process of not being too rigid about my ideas in order for new discoveries to be made. When I was about to photograph my bird scarer in one of the trees in the school grounds, I saw the stone sculpture of a female bather in the old empty swimming pool and thought I’d try it on her first. It felt so perfect, there it stayed. And I did get to leave a legacy in the school’s grounds after all.



I’m currently away from the UK on a ten week residency in Cordoba in Spain among a group of seven artists and architects. There are a further seven in Seville.

We’re here as part of the Orange and Green II project – Skills for Sustainable Futures managed by Beam in Wakefield, and partner organisations here in Spain. It’s all funded by the Leonardo Da Vinci Programme.

My work placement is at the Cordoba School of Art “Dionisio Ortiz” in the Ceramics department. I have a lovely mentor who is helping me to realise my project and teaching me loads about ceramics.

I have been asked to create and album of photographs for the School, of the workshops, final pieces, and documentation of trips we take around the region, visiting ceramics workshops.

The overwhelming things I notice about Cordoba are the beautiful aromas of orange blossom, the labyrinthine streets, geometric patterns everywhere both ancient and modern, and the sense of contentment of the people.


I’ve started a project blog on a-n to provide a self-contained story of the trip. To see more pictures, videos and hear stories of the parties and misunderstandings, please click here to check it out.

Apart from getting to know Cordoba, we’ve been getting to know each other. The seven of us are staying in a couple of apartments close to Academia Cordoba who are organising our meals, trips, and activities. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of a really lovely group of people. We’ve had an awful lot of laughter already and have a surprising bond after only 6 days!

We all seem to be Instagram addicts and are enjoying our #cordobananza hashtag. It’s a fun way to capture our experience of the place.

Whilst not expected to collaborate, we’ve already generated a couple of pages of collaboration ideas and below is a video of our first playful little intervention whist visiting the Alcazar. I’m sure there are many more to come!

Open Shelter

As you’ve seen from other posts, I’ve been having great fun taking part in the OPEN PLAN residency at 55 Gracechurch Street the altMFA and RCA Sculpture project coordinated by Louise Ashcroft of Departure Foundation.

The almost overwhelming number of grey squares and facets in the space led me to consider responding to this in some way. When the title of the following event was announced as Nomadologies, it became clear what my next artwork should become. I have long been obsessed with survival, bushcraft, and dens, so the idea of making a den in the vast empty office space appealed. It seems a rather peculiar pursuit making art in an office so I thought that a playful use of art material tropes would work well.

Years ago, I was browsing in Cass Art on Kensington High Street. They had recently suffered a flood in their basement and were throwing away huge amounts of stock. Hating seeing anything go to waste (and liking stuff for free), I asked if I could have a couple of the canvasses they were throwing away which had barely been touched by the flood. Sadly there was no way they were going to allow this and proceeded to slash the big white surfaces. Even after this violent act, I then asked if I could have them regardless and they explained that they were coming to be collected and taken to the dump. What a waste! I waited until the refuse collectors arrived and bribed them to take everything around to my flat! They were happy to do this and apart from dozens and dozens of canvasses, I also got easels, paints, foam board etc etc. What a haul! My flat then flooded a couple of days later. Not sure what the universe was telling me there!

I’ve been making work with these slashed canvasses for ages now but still have a garage full of them so I decided to use them to construct my new sculpture. These ready made Fontanas made for an excellent den making material since I could slide the corner of one through the slash of the next. In the first piece: “Office Survival” I painted each canvas a different shade of grey. I initially intended to make the surfaces a plain flat colour but was enjoying making marks and just left it as the quickest possible way to cover each one. The result made a sort of fake rock stage set aesthetic which I found quite amusing.

I was pleased with the dome like shape. I had the flu when I made it so was able to sleep inside once I’d finished! It gave it a bit of a performative element.

For the next event, I needed to move the work upstairs to the alternative exhibition/archive space on the fourth floor. I saw this as an opportunity to reconfigure it completely since it needed to be entirely dismantled anyway. I’d really liked the honesty of the inside of the previous piece so I decided to basically turn the previous incarnation inside out.

One of the best things about the fourth floor is the view. I managed to find the perfect spot where both The Monument and The Shard can be seen. I capitalised on this by constructing the new sculpture so that both of these could be visible at the same time as seeing the work. I preferred the honesty of this new ‘Precarious City’ sculpture since it seemed more honest with the structure of the back of the canvasses visible and the grey cave like interiors.

At our altMFA crit the following Monday, the group also preferred this second version of the sculpture. I had preferred the shape of the previous one but this one somehow felt more inviting. I was surprised that more people wanted to climb inside this one as the internal spaces were smaller but perhaps the gap between the structures made it more approachable?

altMFA crit

I also showed my ‘Office Portraits’ at ‘Ordinary’ the third event in the OPEN PLAN series. The idea for this piece came to me when I first entered the space with the residency in mind. It was between Christmas and New Year when The City is always pretty ghostly. The space was big and empty and the light flicked on as I walked around the space. It felt lonely and alienating so it occurred to me to revisit my pareidolia painting and find some things that looked like faces in the office to make paintings of.

altMFA crit

I presented them on four small plinths to echo the columns in the office and to provide a body like base for the surface planes to sit on at an angle. I propped them up with screwed up balls of paper. Perhaps the plinths I’d acquired were too low to suggest figuration and made them feel more like lecterns at this haptic level. I think that using the space itself for painting worked better than propping them up on a windowsill however. We can’t screw into the walls and the vast expanses of space encourage exploration away from the walls when people enter the space.

Thanks to Annamaria Kardos for the crit photos.