Mirror Paintings

As a continuation of current explorations in mapping I’ve been looking at the ‘Communications’ keys on Ordnance Survey maps; considering again the nature of decision making in life, and how one picks one’s own route through life choosing either to follow specific paths, or go ‘off piste’. Similar to The Natural Course of Things, I’m attempting to highlight the ability, on inability to follow paths according to an ability to read those ‘markers’ that guide the way. In this body of work, however, I’ve chosen to paint imaginary routes, dictated by imaginary landscapes (or voids) that are filled with the viewer’s reflection, by nature of the fact that I am painting on to mirror glass, fractured mirror glass asserting an imperfection or lack of complete control in each piece of work / reflection / route.

I’ve been selected to participate in North Yorkshire Open Studios 2017, and this body of work will be shown for the first time as part of the Open Studios exhibition at my home on South Parade, Northallerton, 2/3/4 and 10/11 June 2017 (look out for the posters in the window!).

For a free NYOS 2017 catalogue, contact the NYOS team on info@nyos.org.uk  /  01756 748529 – I look forward to welcoming you in June!

Knowing Which Path to Follow

I’ve been thinking a lot about pathways through life recently – the different directions that we all take, for various reasons, through choice or otherwise, the paths these “choices” lead us down, and the way in which our movements influence the people and places that we ‘land’ in.

I’ve been thinking about infrastructure, about man-made routes designed to channel, and more natural routes, many of which become identifiable, and established (in some way, shape, or form) over time… which makes me think about sheep tracks in the moors that carve through the heather, and Richard Long’s A Line Made by Walking, 1967.

This got me looking at political maps, and the way in which boundaries have changed (largely through conflict) throughout history. In turn, leading me to think about hostility towards migrant populations. Which set me off thinking about the migratory routes of animals, and the way in which these are so often protected; from frog crossings in roads, and newt conservation areas in construction, to positioning wind turbines in locations avoiding the flight paths of migratory birds. Many UK migratory birds enjoy latitudinal migration, flying north and south between summer and winter ranges; though there are many other types of migration taking place across the globe, such as; circuits of the land and ocean that enable turtles to return to their nests, and altitudinal migration up and down mountains as seen in North American Quails, and also in Copepods, tiny sea crustaceans that migrate up and down the oceans’ water columns… all these animals crossing arbitrary boundaries, just to get by, just to survive, and we help them to do so… because they’re not humans, who we appear to take issue with all too often when they try to do the same!

Interestingly, birds are known to use different visual landmarks, such as mountains or bodies of water, along with using the sun to navigate during daylight and the stars at night for directional purposes.  More amazing still, birds can also use the Earth’s magnetic field to help them navigate, made possible using the magnetic substance magnetite (a substance that has been found in the beaks of different bird species). Magnetite reacts to the Earth’s magnetic field and allows the bird to orientate itself  accordingly.  Although each of these senses plays a big part in the ability of animals to migrate, the most vital factor is genetics.  Migration is instinctive, most migrants’ brains are programmed to tell them to set off on a specific route, in a specific direction, at a given moment of time – totally amazing, and so wonderfully intuitive.

I was watching the Disney film, Moana (based on stories from Polynesian mythology), recently with my nearly three year old daughter, and wondered what she might be thinking as she watched the Polynesian fishermen brave the high waters taking their direction from the stars… which made me think about a small body of artwork that I created recently called Shining Light.

Anyway, having studied lots of migratory maps now, having thought about the way in which animals instinctively navigate paying no attention to political boundaries, I think there’s great beauty in migrational routes, and I’m going to make a body of artwork to highlight that, in an attempt to help others identify this beauty, and the joy and richness that cross-cultural exchanges, and respectful freedom of movement can bring.

p.s. This is a very cool project – http://www.flywaysmusic.org/the-music/videos/#flywaysmusic

Tunguska Event

My mind has been blown! I’ve just been told about a colossal explosion that took place in Russia in 1908. Apparently, the explosion over the sparsely populated Eastern Siberuab Taiga flattened 2,000 km2 (770 sq mi) of forest yet caused no known human casualties. The explosion is classified as an impact event, however, no impact crater has ever been found, and it is thought that the actual impact was caused by the air burst of a meteroid that disintegrated at an altitude of a mere five to ten kilometres (rather than hit the surface of the Earth). More info about it here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event

I’m fascinated by the idea that something so epic could take place in outer space, and have an such an enormous impact on the earth and environment. I’m now VERY excited to try to watch BBC Earth’s “Best of 2016” list http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160706-in-siberia-in-1908-a-huge-explosion-came-out-of-nowhere to find out more about “the explosion that came from nowhere”.

Whispering Woods

I have this idea to create an almost hyper-real soundscape experience of the creaking sound of old trees, drawing on the folklore associated with enchanted forests, the experience of wisdom passed down by the ‘wise old woods’ that talk – all that contained knowledge. I’ve been giving thought to the kind of trees I’d like to record ‘talking’ – as so many woodland areas in the UK are managed by the Forestry Commission, who are getting rid of a lot of non-indigenous trees, I’d like to record in arboretums and old stately homes in order to capture an ‘international conversation’, as in between indigenous and non-indigenous trees – trees that bring such breadth of perspectives to the ‘conversation’. Perhaps working with arboretums / estates might open up opportunities for exhibition opportunities too, I don’t know, but it’s a thought.