Saturday, 31 October 2009

I like
is very much based on real life - travelling about the country trying to keep ourselves and two wee boys amused. We end up in lots of places that are cheap and warm like old cafes and museums, and these places have real atmosphere. The overall picture is a world that isn't going to hell in a handbasket but quietly surviving. And lots of other people see life like this too and document it on sites like Flickr where there are groups for everything and people are indulging their passions.

To summarise:
  • Everything is interesting
  • Everyone has a place
  • Do something YOU like
  • Find your own voice
  • Make something that you're happy with
  • Share it
The Graffiti Project

If you haven’t heard, there’s a unique project happening right now, here in Scotland. It’s called The Graffiti Project and the idea is simple…

Take the vibrant and often transient art form of Brazilian graffiti out of its predominantly urban context and apply it to the ancient and permanent walls of an historic rural castle in Scotland.

Four of the worlds’ top graffiti artists have been commissioned to paint Kelburn Castle with vibrant colours.

The project involves the artists and organisers living together in the Castle for approximately one month. New ideas are being explored and shared, from both sides of the equator, resulting in a one-off, giant piece of collaborative art.

History of Kelburn Castle

Kelburn is thought to be the oldest castle in Scotland to have been continuously inhabited by the same family. Orginally the family name was de Boyville but this changed over the years to Boyle. The de Boyvilles from Caen in Normandy came over to Britain with William the Conqueror in 1066 and the present branch of the family settled in Kelburn in 1140.

Kelburn CastleKelburn Castle

Nobody knows for certain when a stone building was first constructed on the site, but the original Norman Keep, designed for defence rather than comfort, was probably built by 1200. The original Norman Keep is now enclosed within a grander castle, completed in 1581 by the then Laird, David Boyle, at a time when the family was emerging from relative obscurity and beginning to wield some influence within the local community.

The present tenth Earl of Glasgow and his wife, Isabel, started Kelburn Country Centre in 1977, opening most of Kelburn’s grounds and gardens to the public and introducing new attractions.

Here’s a short video, showing the first week of timelapse footage for the project:

Dalzile and Scullion

More info here

Dalziel + Scullion studio is located within the University of Dundee in Scotland. The studio creates artworks in photography, video, sound and sculpture that explore new artistic languages around the subject of ecology. The work strives to visualise aspects of our shared environment from alternative perspectives and to re-establish and re-evaluate our engagement with the non-human species we live alongside.


2008 / Catalyst is a permanent wor
k sited in the cultural quarter of Dundee in Scotland.
Catalyst takes the form of a draped life-sized car that has been cast in special catalytic cement.
This is a new type of concrete material that performs a strange alchemy, hidden within its make up
is a catalytic material (nano-crystalline grade of titanium dioxide) that reacts with light to trigger
the molecules of air borne pollutants, such as nitric oxides, carbon monoxide and sulphur monoxide
to break apart. Daylight initiates a reaction where the active concrete surface converts harmful nitrogen
oxides into harmless nitrate this in turn reacts with the calcium hydroxide of the concrete surface
and drains off with the next rainfall into soils where plants can use it.

more info here

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Stillness Speaks

''Right now a moment of time is passing by! We must become that moment.''

Cezanne, Paul

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Vija Celmins

American artist Vija Celmins makes paintings, drawings and prints. Using charcoal, graphite and erasers she produces delicate monochromatic images based on photographs of the sea, deserts, the night sky and other natural phenomena. Through her slow rigorous approach, the meticulous precision of her technique, and serial exploration of her subjects, Celmins seems to question the nature of representation.

Ocean Surface wood engraving 2000


Celmins had completed two small wood engravings of the ocean surface before making this image, which she worked on for four years. Like woodcut, wood engraving is a relief technique whereby the area around an image is carved from a block of wood, leaving only the raised surface to be inked for transfer to a sheet of paper. In wood engraving, however, a tool known as a graver rather than a knife is used to make finer lines and more detailed incisions. Here, Celmins incised the hard block with a seemingly infinite array of strokes that range from the deepest black at the lower right to white at the upper left. Each cut is skillfully placed to enhance the remarkable surface rhythm of this tightly constructed field.

Vija Celmins, "Untitled #10," 1994-95, charcoal on paper

Oil Painting

Interview with Simon Grant

SIMON GRANT: It's definitely a different feeling. You get a very good sense of intimacy with the desert and ocean works. The galaxy works are more intensely made.

VIJA CELMINS: The material, charcoal and pencil and paper are bigger players in the night sky pieces. The work is much more abstract, and even though your mind says this is a deeper space, I think the uniform nature of the graphite sitting on that surface keeps you engaged in the flat plane. There really is no depth to it.

SIMON GRANT: How are the pencil marks actually made?

VIJA CELMINS: The graphite is just laid on bit by bit, as dense as it can go. The white spaces - the stars -are patches of the paper that have been left blank; I have drawn around them.

SIMON GRANT: Some of the pencil marks are so thickly laid on, it almost looks like paint.

VIJA CELMINS: Yes. Star Field III (1983) took about a year to do. This is a terrific drawing, though I thought I would go crazy if I did another. I did do three, then I stopped drawing totally. As you can tell, even though I try to keep my brain out of things, I'm always beating up the work with a relentless criticising of it. I went back to painting, and did a series of paintings that looked very much like this drawing - dense, layered, very physical. I used to say they looked like a rubber tyre or Formica, they're so closed off and over-finished. I didn't get back to drawing for about ten years, until around 1994.

SIMON GRANT: Did your approach to the work change?

VIJA CELMINS: Yes. I started to use charcoal dust to make some pictures, and I started using an eraser, which I never used before. Some - such as Untitled no. 14 (1997) -are done with an electric eraser along with other erasers, which is why there is a slightly mechanical quality of recording the stars. I got so crazy working on these, so I relieved this by doing the very corny image of cobwebs.

SIMON GRANT: Why cobwebs?

VIJA CELMINS: Well, first, I found some scientific images of webs at the natural history museum. Very exciting. I thought these webs described the space I always wanted to describe -a surface that has small facets that rigorously account for and record every intersection; a lived on surface. Also, it was an emotional image that would draw people in, so the carefully accounted for space was contrasted with an emotional melacholic image. You know I like that combination of contrasts- a sort of double reality

Vija Celmins Web Charcoal on Paper

Monday, 19 October 2009

Jen Stark

Jen Stark draws inspiration from fractals, wormholes, and MRI scans. Oh, and dead bodies. "My sister is a doctor, and she brought home these cross- sectional anatomy textbooks," says Stark, who creates paper sculptures that are coldly mathematical yet exuberantly organic. "Seeing a body displayed like a flip book was grotesque yet mesmerizing."

Stark's pieces are indeed hypnotic: Coriolis Effect (below) is named for the force that rotates natural systems like hurricanes. Piece of an Infinite Whole (left), a 4-foot-deep backlit recess, is based on the artist's fascination with space. Very Doctor Who.

We expected Stark to reveal that she uses CAD software and some kind of tricked-out handheld laser to construct her 3-D forms, on exhibit this fall at Heaven Gallery in Chicago and in December during Art Basel Miami Beach. Nope. She just sketches a design, grabs her X-Acto knife,

Tara Donnovan

Toothpicks, 2001
Toothpicks Held Together by Friction & Gravity Only
35"(H) x 35"(W) x 35"(D)
Ace Gallery Beverly Hills, 2004

Known for utilizing common and manufactured materials as components for her installations and sculptures, Tara Donovan has been recognized for her commitment to process. The artist has earned acclaim for her ability to discover how the inherent physical characteristics of an object enable it to be transformed into art. She has explored the multiplication of these interactions, at times utilizing hundreds of thousands—or even millions—of units to generate powerful perceptual phenomenon and subtle atmospheric effects.

Untitled, 2003
Styrofoam Cups, Hot Glue
Dimensions Variable
Ace Gallery Los Angeles, 2005

Jason de Caires Taylor

Creator of the world’s first underwater sculpture park, Jason de Caires Taylor has gained international recognition for his unique work. His sculptures highlight ecological processes whilst exploring the intricate relationships between modern art and the environment. By using sculptures to create artificial reefs, the artist’s interventions promote hope and recovery, and underline our need to understand and protect the natural world.

The sculptures are sited in clear shallow waters to afford easy access by divers, snorkellers and those in glass-bottomed boats. Viewers are invited to discover the beauty of our underwater planet and to appreciate the processes of reef evolution.


Vicissitudes depicts a circle of figures, all linked through holding hands. These are life-size casts taken from a group of children of diverse ethnic background. Circular in structure and located five meters below the surface, the work both withstands strong currents and replicates one of the primary geometric shapes, evoking ideas of unity and continuum.

The underwater environment is much like that of the outdoors. An object is subject to changes in light and prevailing weather conditions. The cement finish and chemical composition of Vicissitudes actively promotes the colonisation of coral and marine life. The figures are transformed over time by their environment, and conversely as this happens so they change the shape of their habitat. This natural process echoes the changes exacted through growing up. Social interchange shapes this process, while conversely as the product of a particular society we in turn invoke change on the workings and dynamics of that environment.

The sculpture proposes growth, chance, and natural transformation. It shows how time and environment impact on and shape the physical body. Children by nature are adaptive to their surroundings. Their use within the work highlights the importance of creating a sustainable and well-managed environment, a space for future generations. Taylor notes that close to forty percent of coral reefs worldwide has been destroyed and that this figure is set to increase. His work reminds us that the marine environment is in a constant state of flux, and that this in turn reflects poignantly the vicissitudes, changing landscapes, of our own lives.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Light Pollution and Stargazing

From Wikipedia:

Light pollution

''Light pollution, also known as photopollution or luminous pollution, is excessive or obtrusive artificial light. The International Dark-Sky Association[1] defines light pollution as: (IDA), "The Light Pollution Authority,"

''Any adverse effect of artificial light including sky glow, glare, light trespass, light clutter, decreased visibility at night, and energywaste.''

It obscures the stars in the night sky for city dwellers, interferes with astronomical observatories, and, like any other form of pollution, disrupts ecosystems and has adverse health effects. Light pollution can be divided into two main types: 1) annoying light that intrudes on an otherwise natural or low-light setting and 2) excessive light (generally indoors) that leads to discomfort and adverse health effects. Since the early 1980s, a global dark-sky movement has emerged, with concerned people campaigning to reduce the amount of light pollution.

Light pollution is a side effect of industrial civilization. Its sources include building exterior and interior lighting, advertising, commercial properties, offices, factories, streetlights, and illuminated sporting venues. It is most severe in highly industrialized, densely populated areas of North America, Europe, and Japan and in major cities in the Middle East and North Africa like Cairo, but even relatively small amounts of light can be noticed and create problems. Like other forms of pollution (such as air, water, and noise pollution) light pollution causes damage to the environment.

Effects on human health and psychology

Medical research on the effects of excessive light on the human body suggests that a variety of adverse health effects may be caused by light pollution or excessive light exposure, and some lighting design textbooks use human health as an explicit criterion for proper interior lighting. Health effects of over-illumination or improper spectral composition of light may include: increased headache incidence, worker fatigue, medically defined stress, decrease in sexual function and increase in anxiety.

Common levels of fluorescent lighting in offices are sufficient to elevate blood pressure by about eight points. There is some evidence that lengthy daily exposure to moderately high lighting leads to diminished sexual performance. Specifically within the USA, there is evidence that levels of light in most office environments lead to increased stress as well as increased worker errors.

Several published studies also suggest a link between exposure to light at night and risk of breast cancer, due to suppression of the normal nocturnal production of melatonin.

In 1978 Cohen et al. proposed that reduced production of the hormone melatonin might increase the risk of breast cancer and citing "environmental lighting" as a possible causal factor.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have concluded a study that suggests that artificial light during the night can be a factor for breast cancer.

In 2007, "shiftwork that involves circadian disruption" was listed as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer. (IARC Press release No. 180). Multiple studies have documented a link between night shift work and the increased incidence of breast cancer.

A good review of current knowledge of the health consequences of exposure to artificial light at night and an explanation of the causal mechanisms has been published in the Journal of Pineal Research in 2007.

A more recent discussion (2009), written by Professor Steven Lockley, Harvard Medical School, can be found in the CfDS handbook "Blinded by the Light?". Chapter 4, "Human health implications of light pollution" states that "... light intrusion, even if dim, is likely to have measurable effects on sleep disruption and melatonin suppression. Even if these effects are relatively small from night to night, continuous chronic circadian, sleep and hormonal disruption may have longer-term health risks". The New York Academy of Sciences is hosting a 1 day meeting, 19 June, 2009 titled Circadian Disruption and Cancer. Moreover remember that 40 Danish women shift workers have this year(2009) been awarded compensation for breast cancer "caused" by shift work made possible by light at night - the most common cause of light pollution.

In June, 2009, the American Medical Association developed a policy in support of control of light pollution. News about the decision emphasized glare as a public health hazard leading to unsafe driving conditions. Especially in the elderly, glare produces loss of contrast, obscuring night vision.

And at the other end of the scale Scotland prepares to host scotlands first 'dark sky park'

Know Your Materials

Koichi Ebizuka from 'A Primal Spirit':

''Over the past few years I have become increasingly aware of how great the differences
are between various types of wood. Most Japanese artists working today don't think about why they are using a particular material. Without attempting any dialogue with
the material, they use it because its available. I feel that its important to think about and understand the history of a material, how one was taught about it and how one uses it. It is only at this point that artists can have a true encounter with there materials. I can only use a material when I have stripped away the various levels of meaning and found its original form''

Mario Merz Edinburgh Visit

''Like an enchanted violin, nature discloses herself to those
who draw close, seeking to capture and understand her hidden notes
which reveal themselves as the fundamental elements of existence itself''

Friday, 16 October 2009

Imagination Continued

, act of imagining: the artists creative power

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Imagination Activation

i·mag·ine (-mjn)
v. i·mag·ined, i·mag·in·ing, i·mag·ines
1. To form a mental picture or image of.
2. To employ the imagination.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

Imagination is the living power and prime agent of all human perception.

Carl Sagan:

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.

The world is but a canvas to the imagination.

Albert Einstein:

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Andy Goldsworthy

Nature- Infinite source of inspiration.

Selected writtings from 'Andy Goldsworthy 1990'

For me, looking, touching, material, place and form are all inseparable from the resulting work. It is difficult to say where one stops and another begins. Place is found by walking, direction determined by weather and season. I take the opportunities each day offers: if it is snowing, I work with snow, at leaf fall it will be with leave; a blown over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches.

I stop at a place or pick up a material because I feel that there is something to be discovered. Here is where I can learn. I might have walked past or worked there many times. Some places I return to over and over again, going deeper- a relationship made in layers over a long time. Staying in one place makes me more aware of change. I might give up after a while. My perception of a place is often so frustratingly limited. The best of my work, sometimes the result of much struggle when made, appears so obvious that it is incredible that I didn't see it before. It was there all the time.

Movement, change, light, growth and decay are the lifeblood of nature, the energy that I try to tap through my work. I need the shock of touch, the resistance of place, materials and weather, the earth as my source. I want to get under the surface. When I work with a leaf, rock, stick, it is not just that material in itself, it is an opening into the processes of life within and around it. When I leave it these processes continue...........

Each work concentrates on a particular aspect of material and place. The grass stalk is hard, brittle,hollow and fractures at angles; the seed-head is supple, thin, whippy. It takes many works to come to some understanding of 'stalk', let alone 'grass', and the process never stops. Should I ignore the geometry in grass stalks fractured by the wind.

All forms are to be found in nature, and there are many qualities within any material. By exploring them I hope to understand the whole. My work needs to include the loose and disordered within the nature of material as well as the tight and regular.....

At its most successful, my 'touch' looks into the heart of nature; most days i don't even get close. These things are all part of a transient process that I cannot understand unless my touch is also transient- only in this way can the cycle remain unbroken and the process be complete. ....

Nature goes beyond what is called countryside-everything comes from the earth. My work made indoors or with urban and industrial materials is an attempt to discover nature in these things also. It is more difficult to find nature in materials so far removed from there source, and I cannot go for long before I need to work with the earth direct- hand to earth. What is important to me is that at the heart of whatever I do are a growing understanding and a sharpening perception of the land.

Sunday, 11 October 2009


Possibly the best film I have ever seen. Available in the art school library.

'Baraka is an ancient Sufi word, translated as a blessing or as the essence of life from which the evolutionary process unfolds. With the theme of man's diversity and his impact upon the environment, Baraka is a documentary photographed on six continents in 24 countries including Tanzania, China, Brazil, Japan, Nepal, the U.S. and Europe. It has no story and no dialogue, yet transcends geography and language to provide a sensual and spiritual experience that enables the viewer to look at the world in a totally different way.

Friday, 9 October 2009

The Man Who Planted Trees

Beautiful animation, beautiful story.

If you enjoy this then check out

If a tree dies, plant another in its place.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Mario Merz

Mario Merz is an Italian artist who came to prominence in the 'Arte Povera' movement of the 1960's and 70's. The name 'Arte Povera', which translates roughly as 'poor art', came from the artists use of everyday humble materials and there goal to highlight the dehumanizing nature of industrialisation and consumer capitalism.

Merz's work, in the main talks about nature, energy and the passing of time.Best known for his igloos and neon Fibonacci sequences, Mario Merz’s shamanistic installations become spaces both primal and technological, where the scientific basis of organic life confronts the roaming imagination of man. The igloo which began to appear in Merz’s work in 1967 and continued throughout his life was a metaphor for both mans harmony and disharmony with nature. The igloo a home built by native Eskimos keeps in mind nature, blurring the line between interior and exterior. Modern homes on the other hand shut us out and alienate us from nature and Merz in using the igloo is asking us to question our current relationship with the natural world.

Many of his works refer to the principles of the Fibonacci series, an exponential mathematical sequence that underlies the growth patterns of natural life. The pattern when traced out in nature forms a logarithmic spiral found in the plant and animal kingdom. Merz's use of this spiral in his work highlights the idea of continual growth on our planet and the idea that nothing comes from nothing, without the past there is no future.