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Posts tagged “still life

Charting My Year of Change

2014 has been a joyously productive beast with a tenancy to provide moments of reflection and a degree of transiency. My practice has meandered from the virtues of re-imagining still-life to exploiting the art found within video games to considering the studio space as a viable means of expression.

My identity as an artist has shifted. With a view to dismiss the problematic notion of being considered simply as ‘that guy who makes paint out of food’ I sought new ways of investigating the creative process, including looking at the nature of the idea, ways in which artists interact with their materials and their spaces and investigating the tension between the studio space and the exhibition space.

My year – in the context of my creative practice – began in February, as I threw myself into holding my first solo exhibition. Ironically, this particular endeavour provided me with a new found respect for collaborative work, as the strains of doing everything yourself left me exhausted and unfulfilled.  Though it was a valuable experience overall.

March and April saw focus shift from our group exhibition in New York. SCIBase – a collaborative I’m a part of – was to hold an exhibition spanning two galleries in Jamestown, NY during April: Though of course the organisation and cash required to get artists over the pond required a great deal of planning. I cannot take much credit for the planning myself, I was just happy to be involved in this collaborative for the first time. Hopefully I will redeem such lack of direct planning with a collaborative I am trying to arrange for next year between SCI and Yorkshire Artspace.

There was a great deal of success to be found within our exhibition in Jamestown, not least because we became an example of a crowdfunding campaign that actually worked! Though, with regard to my actual practice, one thing became clear – My food based pursuits had reached a logical conclusion.

And so, to new directions: My work has always involved looking at ways to investigate creative processes and so, whilst the idea of ‘finding art in video games’ might have appeared to have come out of nowhere,  I would suggest that the notion of taking something, removing it from it’s context and re-imagining it within another space is a subject I have always been concerned with.

From May to October I acquainted myself with the subject of video games and, through two co-devised and co-curated exhibitions at Millennuim Galleries and Access Space, met several artists who themselves are concerned with the themes found within gaming. On reflection, the exhibition at Millennuim Galleries was probably quite insular; a lot of work had to be done – from finding a place for artists to drop off work to finding exhibition walls in order to hang the stuff! – and I believe this amount of work had a negative impact on the execution. Perhaps I am being a little harsh due to the stresses of being directly involved in the organisation of it, but the exhibition on the whole seemed to lack a little atmosphere and perhaps became disconnected from its source material.

The lessons learnt during the Millenium Galleries Exhibition were applied to the exhibition at Access Space – a much more coherent, well-received, and fun celebration of what gaming can be. It’s probably the highlight of my year, and it’s success has allowed me to develop lasting relationships with artists and arts organisations – something valuable to an artist still within the relatively early stages of their career. Credit too should go to Access Space, who – as well as thinking the whole thing was a bloody good idea – were unparalleled in their support and guidance. I really hope I work with them again.

As we approached Autumn it became apparent that the transition from food-based work to something else still remained. I returned to the source of why I had been looking at food in the first place; namely, in an attempt to disrupt the process of creating works of Still Life. I began to develop work around the Physical properties of items, the materials we use and the choices we make in order to form a relationship with those materials and so, the idea of the ‘Speculative Studio Space’ was born, almost fully-formed, to act alongside my upcoming residency at Bank Street Arts as a strong springboard from which to leap into 2015.

There was other stuff too, of course, not least mine and Sharon’s ‘Reviving Leviathan’ collaboration and the exhibition I hosted at Funky Aardvark Gallery, Chester. All valuable experiences and all contributing to a fruitful and productive year overall.

Indeed, it isn’t over yet. I still have paint for sale at Cupola Gallery. Yes, the whole year has passed and I’m still ‘that guy who makes paint from food!’ I’m more than happy to make it if people enjoy it though. I just don’t want it to be all I’m known for; which hopefully I’m not anymore.

Anyway the paint, made from chocolate, retails at £5. A great gift for those chosen few who are fond of both painting and chocolate at this festive time of year. …Oh, that reminds me, happy ruddy holidays everyone 🙂

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My Chocolate Paint for sale at Cupola Gallery, Sheffield

Artists’ Paint Colour #1 – The Hotel

Taking ideas from artists and turning them into paint. Each paint is already primed with implications and preconceptions based on the artists’ ideas: This allows you to choose between using the paint as a raw medium, or exploiting the connotations found within the paint. The choice is yours.  

Colour #1 – The Hotel

A theatrical exploration of the properties of pigment, ‘The Hotel’ has a clean texture and smooth consistency that evokes certain nostalgia. With a strong surface sheen and stiff, glossy texture, The Hotel is able to communicate both the real and the artificial.

Idea handed to me by artist Richard Bradley

ARTISTS – If you have an idea for a painting that, for one reason or another, never reached fruition, email and I will allow your idea to be realised through the process of paint making.

Reflecting on my Latest Paint-Making Workshop

Last Wednesday I held the first of three paint making workshops to be held at The Bessemer II Gallery in Sheffield.

As ever, the paint making workshop provided me with the opportunity to engage with local artists by sharing knowledge and highlighting the possibilities of paint, including how to create paint from everyday foods and the notion that paint is able to be considered the end result of a creative process.

I hope my workshops make people think a little differently about paint, enriching their approach to the medium and perhaps allowing them to explore ways of developing a relationship with paint in a way that will directly further and develop their practice. I also cannot dismiss the importance of the social aspect of the event, which can encourage collaboration, professional development and, dare I say it, friendship!

This particular workshop went very smoothly indeed. I believe that each participant benefited from the event, learning how to make paint from food but, importantly, exploring how to apply what they’ve learnt to their own practice.

The second paint making workshop will be at Bessemer II on 8th October, and the third on on 12th November. The workshop costs £20, which includes all materials and refreshments. If they sound interesting to you, there’s still places left; so book ’em while you can!

Learning From America

Two weeks ago I embarked on a journey to Jamestown, NY, in order to install and create work for an exhibition which was to be held over two gallery spaces from 4th April until 24th April. It was a massive venture into the unknown, which removed me from familiarity and demanded that myself and my work engage with an entirely new audience.

It was a group exhibition, held by SCIBase, which saw over 20 international artists produce work loosely based on the theme of ‘Colonize’. The piece I created contained sixteen foods locally sourced from Jamestown. The intent was to create a cohesive piece of work that would pull foods originating from various corners of the world into an inclusive environment, allowing each food to correspond to each other and to an audience.

Still Life with 16 Experiences

Still Life with 16 Experiences

So, was the exhibition itself a success? Yes, it was. My work was generally very well received and attracted a lot of interest. A potent mix of providing Jamestown with something they hadn’t seen before and the excitement created by virtue of having international artists exhibiting provided all artists involved with a real satisfaction.

My work responded well both to the environment and to the other works on display. There was a coherence found within the display that was unexpected – as we did not know exactly what some of the work would look like. And, upon spending several days getting acquainted with the exhibition and allowing myself to absorb it, it struck me how effectively the work of Bruce Davies informed my piece. Both our works use memory as a device to drive evocations, and we both utilise non-visual ways of communicating. So you could engage with my piece whilst still being able to hear Bruce’s sculpture, and interact with Bruce’s piece whilst still being able to smell the food I had used in my work. A very tangible sensory assault – informed by memory and the evocations found within memory – was present.

The sound scultures of Bruce Davies were able to inform the experience of my work

The sound sculptures of Bruce Davies were able to inform the experience of my work

If I was to pull anything negative from my time at Jamestown it would be aimed squarely at the work I produced. Paint making has become part of my identity but I feel increasingly as though I am being predictable. Perhaps it was a subconscious search for familiarity in the wake of embarking on a journey to a place I have never been to, with people I didn’t know. I just feel too accustomed to the practice, and too much within my comfort zone. I need to challenge myself before I seek to create challenging work.

Upon departing, it hit me: Paint making as an avenue of enquiry has reached a logical conclusion. The piece I presented in Jamestown contained further conceptual mileage, as it considered the use of local produce against exported produce and aspired towards a cohesive and inclusive piece of work. The concept of colonisation was therefore instilled into the work successfully. But now what? Food, as a concept and paint, as a concept are rich sources of investigation and inspiration that transcend the practice of paint making.

I decree that it is time to explore new heights. I would suggest that my time in Jamestown affirmed my desire to research new avenues of enquiry in order to further my practice. Looking ahead, I am going to curate and organise a couple of shows around the theme of video games – something pretty removed from my current practice, though the nostalgia and evocations found within video games do resonate with the sensations of experiencing food. I am also going to collaborate with Sharon Mossbeck on a piece for the Liverpool Biennial on the theme of Leviathan. Again, whilst this is seemingly removed from the practice of re-imagining still life there are parallels to be explored.

So, I would like to thank my experience in Jamestown for providing me with the apparatus I needed to instigate furthering my practice.  Now it’s time to see what else I can do.


A chance to buy my original paintings for just £5!

Whilst ‘Shelf Life’ – My exhibition currently showing at Gage Gallery, Sheffield – covers a broad spectrum of concerns regarding food, one of its most coherent avenues of enquiry is the principle of aligning the value of art to the value of its subject: If a piece of fruit can be purchased with ease from a market stall then, in the interests of engaging an audience directly and with sincerity, a depiction of fruit should be purchased similarly.

So in that spirit, I present to you a body of work that incorporates the monetary value of painting into its conceptual grounding. In short, I have completed over 20 paintings of 7 different fruits, and I seek to sell them at the lowest price possible. The paintings are rough, honest works that will readily provide you with the same nourishment as a work that seeks perfection, only in a way that is accessible and relevant.


Each fruit painting is on sale for just £5. Or you can buy 5 fruit paintings for £20. Not only does this relate to the concept of aligning art to its subject, but it also offers you the opportunity to buy original paintings at a very reasonable price. In doing so, you’ll also be supporting art in relation to the local community, and that’s always good.

If you’d like to buy any of my fruit paintings, then come along to Gage Gallery, Kelham Island, Sheffield, where they’ll be on display until 12th March. Alternatively you can email me about them, and I’ll see if I can arrange getting them to you. My email is Come get ’em while they’re fresh!

The Pressures of an Impending Exhibition

This is more of a freak post than a new one – it is a direct result of my previous post and acts as an appendage to it. It is merely to express my sheer disbelief at the fact that it is now less than one week until my exhibition and corresponding workshop.

I still have plenty to do but I am very much on schedule. I tend to channel the feeling of pressure in a positive and productive way, and at the moment I am producing about two fully completed works a day. Though when I expect the exhibition to contain over 150 works, an indication of the amount of work I need to do in order for my exhibition to be successful is presented.

It is undoubtedly natural to feel anxious about the formalities of hanging your own exhibition – incorporating all promotional work and writing information panels – but I’ve found I’ve benefited from being so completely absorbed in the process. Hell, I’d even suggest that the process has consolidated and refined my practice, and developed my professional outlook. Indeed, as a result of regular online  networking, one establishment has even asked if I’d like to exhibit for them after my show has finished! Whilst we’ll have to wait and see the outcome of that particular folly, the fact that I have engaged people with my practice before they have even seen any artwork has got to be encouraging.

One thing I am sure of is the shape in which the exhibition will take. It will essentially focus on six avenues of enquiry, each highlighting the value and role of food within artistic practice. The principle of re-imagining still life – a fundamental part of my practice – is alive in every single piece of work that will be on display, and indeed the differing avenues of enquiry will compliment, develop and inform each other and exist relative to another.

A Hint of Lemon

‘A Hint of Lemon’ – One avenue I explore in my exhibition is the capacity still life painting has to confront language, and render ways of describing taste literal.

Naturally, the implications of this is a wholly considered body of work, that offers an audience a place to lay out their thoughts towards food – no matter how sporadic – and allow them to develop into meaningful knowledge. Well that’s the plan anyway. I should probably stop rambling on about it to be honest. The work won’t do itself!

All that’s left for me to say is that ‘Shelf Life’ – the name of my exhibition – will be held at Gage Gallery, Sheffield, and runs from 28th February ’til 12th March. There is a private view on the 28th from 7pm. My paint making workshop will also be held at Gage Gallery, and is a one day workshop, on the 1st March, from 10am ’til 3pm. If you’d like more information about my upcoming exhibition and workshop, click here.  or send me an email at Thank you.

News About My Upcoming Exhibition and Paint Making Workshop.

Over the last month I have been feverishly painting as many pictures of fruit as I can; applying paint directly to loaves of bread; wrapping apples in modroc; painting works of still life; looking long and hard at pictures of burgers and applying thirty-two homemade egg tempera paints to a board.

So, why the hell am I doing all this? Well, because each of these endeavours form some part of my upcoming solo exhibition – named ‘Shelf Life’ – which will be held at Gage Gallery: A gallery space that forms part of Kelham Island Arts Co-Operative (or KIAC,) in Sheffield.

  Shelf Life

‘Shelf Life’ seeks to question the role of food in art. This includes questioning our perception of value, re-imagining the genre of still life, an enquiry into how emotion can be attached to disposable produce, and a documentation of the trials of trying to render the invisible sensations of taste and smell visible, with coherence.

Food is, of course, a massive topic, and will undoubtedly become a lifelong investigation. What I hope an audience can gain from this exhibition is an informed and clearer understanding of their own thoughts towards the nature and properties of food, and a place for which such thoughts to coalesce and crystallise. Further, I wish to question pre-conceptions towards the value of art, and attempt to ground it within the identifiable realities of purchasing consumable products. I believe that art should relate to the subject it is rendering as seamlessly as possible, and aligning the status of art to the status of food allows my work to become direct, accessible and relevant.

The exhibition runs from 28/02/14 until 14/03/14. There is also a private viewing of the show on 28/02/14 from 7pm. I hope you can make it.

In addition to my exhibition, and coinciding with it, comes my Paint Making Workshop, due to be held at KIAC’s Education Space on 1st March:

Paint making workshop

Participants of this workshop will be shown a working demonstration of the paint making process, before having a go at creating paints for themselves, and applying them to a surface. Participants will gain valuable experience in developing an affinity with their materials, which I believe is integral to producing coherent works of art.

The workshop takes place from 10am til 3pm on 1st March, and costs £20 (or £15 for students) and promises to be a fun and worthwhile day.

I hope that something within these events is intriguing and I hope for as many of you to attend as possible. You can find more information about these events on my Facebook events. Just click here. Or feel free to send me an email at

Thank you.

Fourteen for 2014

A happy and prosperous New Year to you all. I thought I’d better say that now, as the date is unnervingly on the cusp of being regarded as the ‘New’ year and is hurtling headlong into the realms of being regarded as merely the year. Indeed, I intended to write this blog a few days earlier, whereby it would have been readily acceptable to wish you all a Happy New Year. Now, I am in the danger zone of being exposed as a socially redundant and cretinous human being, due to ill-conceived and inappropriate wishes of happiness that are misplaced against our relentless and ruthlessly organised Gregorian calendar. However, I think I have got away with it. Just.

Anyway, seeing as the last one-hundred words are largely irrelevant, I would like to swiftly introduce you to fourteen things I wish to do in order to develop my career in 2014:

1. Produce a quality body of work. The nature of my work is temporary, subject to mould, decomposition and rotting. Whilst I wish to retain this, I also wish to create a disciplined and permanent body of work, which will be informed by my previous endeavours. I wish to expand on the theme of subverting the genre of still life by focussing on specific avenue of empirical enquiry.

2. Sell my paints. I’m not talking about a few one-off sales. I’m talking about marketing my paints as a product: Available through an online shop, through independent shops, through shops in art establishments, and through my upcoming exhibitions. I wish to establish these products as part of my identity, and if the product is unique and of good quality then my identity will be enhanced.

3. Go to more exhibitions. This is a simple one and probably something that all artists wish they did more. Intrigue, inspiration, networking and the possible instigation of collaboration can all derive from going to more exhibitions and workshops.

4. Go to more restaurants. As an artist directly involving food, and the experience of eating food, into my work, I think it is appropriate to eat at as many restaurants as possible – not to mention a good excuse.

5. Carry out my upcoming exhibitions with success. Bit of an obvious one this, but worth pointing out nevertheless. I want my work to be well received, to make a bit of money and for it to lead to other endeavours.

6. Look for opportunities. Kind of obvious, again. But any opportunity that grabs me should be applied for. I want to get involved with as much stuff as I can.

7. Become better at networking. This is something I need to work on: Whilst I am ok at online networking, networking in the real world is something that I still shy away from: Probably due to my lack of experience. Well, this year I want to change that.

8. Do more workshops. One big revelation of 2013 for me was the value of workshops. Not just to the participants but to your own practice. I already have two paint making workshops lined up next year. But the more of them I do, the better.

9. Make a book. I’ve wanted to make an art book in the style of a recipe book for years. This year I’m ditching all the excuses and going for it.

10. Link my practice to a strand of the local community. Or rather, I wish for my work to be relevant outside the art world. Food, of course, will forever be an essential part of human endeavour. I would think that linking my practice directly to an organisation that deals with food in some way to be mutually beneficial and could develop my practice in a way that corresponds to the local community.

11. Improve my website. Actually, I wish to improve my online presence in general. Stuff like this is always in a state of flux, as the relevance and ever-changing nature of social networking is always assessed. But simply put, I’d like my online presence to work for me a little more – engaging people with my practice and producing opportunities to collaborate.

12. Hire a venue for a call for submission. I have wanted to instigate a call-out to artists to submit work under the theme of ‘Video Games’ for ages. This year I hope I can achieve this, or at least move several steps towards it.

13. Find relevant part-time work. Something that I can use to inform and develop my practice whilst receiving a consistent monthly wage would be lovely.

14. Make money. Experience has taught me of the stigma attached to appropriating yourself as an artist who actually wants to make money. Experience has also taught me to disregard these stigmas and seek to achieve your own goals.

I think these goals are relatively modest, and can help lay a foundation for an established career as an artist. I am still very much at the beginning of my career, but am taking steps to become more prolific and more successful.

I would like to think that the above list resonated with you in some way. And I would observe that my overarching goal, like the goal of every professional artist for this year, is clear: Do more.

Biscuits With a Hint of Emotion

The next piece of work I wish to put on virtual display for you all to gaze upon is this thing:

‘4 Biscuits’ (2013)

Four digestive biscuits, coated with four different colours of acrylic paint and present framed and mounded on a canvas board. Here, attempts have been made to allow the audience to respond to this piece directly and with with immediacy. Block colours are able to highlight in a base, almost binary way, emotion. This corresponds with the accessible nature of the digestive biscuit. The basic nature of the piece calls into question the how we respond to our most instinctive emotions, and any action carried out in relation to them.

When rooted within a culture that exploits the nature of consumption, emotions too become a consumable item. Dismissed or glibly accepted, before being forgotten in the wake of another, equally disposable end. This piece seeks to highlight and describe this notion, and suggests that emotion can become a consumable product. Anyway, enough babbling. What do you think?

Wednesday is ‘Studio Day’

Wednesday is a good time for me to blog. It is the one day of the week at I can always entirely dedicate to artistic practice. For some parts of the week I have to be a librarian in order to pay the bills, other parts I must adhere to the trivial humane necessities such as ‘socialising’ and ‘shopping for clothes so that I don’t look like a tramp’. But Wednesday is very much ‘Studio Day’ and as such, a whole wealth of creative development needs to be documented, analysed and reflected upon. So let’s get going.


Chicken and Mayo Sandwich

Chicken and Mayo Sandwich (2013) Nutmeg on canvas. A visual depiction of the sensation of eating.  

Nutmeg, again, takes precedence over my empirical exploration.  I am beginning to develop the idea of merely visually translating sound into an emerging investigation regarding how memory, and the connotations surrounding memory, can be rendered visual. I want these works to be poised on the axis of a reality that can be remembered and a reality that never existed. It intrigues me that there are similarities between imagination and memory, for neither of them presently physically exist.

My work seeks to create discourse between the audience and the audience’s perception of eating. For although the work is a description of the tactile and aural sensation of eating, grounded in memory, the work itself is created using nutmeg, known for its hallucinogenic qualities. This allows the audience to call into question what is being viewed. Is it rooted in reality, or fantasy? It exposes the idea that memory can be unreliable, tentative and sometimes based on nostalgia. It also suggests that the senses can be fooled, and that what is being seen doesn’t necessarily reflect what is being experienced by other sensory outputs.