‘Utopian Realism’ is an exploration of rural utopianism, idealism and industrialism in the North East of England and Mid Wales by the artists Mair Hughes and Bridget Kennedy.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


This is a little maquette I've been working on in relation to the labour notes we saw in the Robert Owen Museum. I was drawn to the image of the word 'hours' with a chunk cut out of the middle of it and wondered how it might translate into a sculptural object. This is a very basic little 3 D sketch but it has given me some idea of how I might move forwards with the imagery.

green wheat

One of the images that occurs on the labour notes that Robert Owen devised is a sheaf of wheat, it is one of the symbols used by the Co operative Society. Mair used stalks of wheat in the Happy Yesterday exhibition in reference to this. When I was sitting out in my garden the other day I noticed that there was a small stand of wheat growing in one corner. This has self seeded from kernels of wheat in the bird food we put out. I quite like having this mini crop, it put me in mind of a work by Agnes Denes called "Wheatfield - A Confrontation". In 1982 Agnes Denes planted wheat in a 2 acre plot of disused land in downtown Manhattan.

My little patch isn't quite so impressive, but I think I'll try to do something with it.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Physical Photoshop


Recently I’ve been experimenting with what my studio mate Ryan has coined ‘physical photoshop’. Above is the first in a series of actions that mimic digital manipulation but are resolutely material in execution. I used the beautifully faceted surface of an old plastic Modernist doorbell as a starting point to make a ‘Pixel Mask’. The mask mimics the way identity-revealing detail is abstracted in news reports. I made a mould and filled it with slightly cooled, pigmented wax to create the sense of fleshy substance being pressed into geometric shapes. However, in choosing to photograph the mask and wearer using a digital camera, in a portrait pose, the entire action is ‘repixellated'.