Category: competition/commission


of the 4 elements for my final show this is the least developed. i knew i wanted to work with another form of direct “sun drawing”. i’m quite practised with the cyanotype process and i really wanted to bring it – and the use of textiles – into the show somehow.

having run some experiments with commercial “sun-print” paper i knew i could get some interesting results using the ball lenses. i hoped i could draw out a relation with the other pieces in terms of a) drawing with light b) repeated use of the lenses c) monochrome and d) square format.

it helped enormously in terms of preparation to have the use of the drying room in the dye workshop to coat and dry large fabric panels (these test pieces are approx. 50cm square). i achieved good coverage of the chemistry with no fogging, although the cleanup was a fair job as it dripped all over the floor… newspaper down next time!

my sample results are patchy due to limited light availability – i’m hoping that exposing the final pieces in the studio will give me more breathing room (and make the most of the sunny desk i made such a fuss about). to me they have a look of frogspawn, and the light patches where the fabric has creased add to that aquatic feel. which ties in nicely with the jellyfish light patterns i envisaged for the final piece. my intention is still to use silk for the show, which will expose quite differently to the cotton sheeting i used for the samples.

my initial plan for this piece was to include soft circuits in each panel. my experiments drew a blank however, and the revised approach was to separate the circuitry/leds from the fabric and layer them in between the panels instead.

but seeing the samples hanging did nothing to convince me that this was a viable proposition. they seemed much too small to make the impact i was after and the prospect of wiring in over a hundred individual leds gave me the heebie-jeebies.

then my partner-in-crime suggested making a box, and a light went on. i’ve made two for previous college projects – in hand-cut paper and mixed media – and i feel the form dovetails nicely into my bookmaking.

all of a sudden the panels had much more presence as part of a large cube, and the technical issues are slashed if all the electronics and lighting can be contained within it. it also means i can use strip-leds rather than having to wire each lamp individually, which will help massively with the technical side.

this mock-up is made in cardboard, but ideally the finished piece will be bounded in (narrower) aluminium frames – echoing the solar drawings and introducing structural stability.

dropping just a short string of lights into it brought it alive in a way i really hadn’t anticipated. really quite excited about the possibilities now.

the main remaining issue is how to keep the cat out…

competition or commission: next steps

the public art module really focussed my mind on getting my work “out there” as a vital next step in my professional development. i chose the live sziget brief to really challenge myself to produce a proposal in time to submit for the competition, so i counted the project as a success at that point. what i wasn’t prepared for was the email that came last week saying that the proposal had made it through to the second round \o/

sadly i’m unable to travel for the length of the festival (10 days in august) due to family commitments. ingrid suggested perhaps someone else could take it for me but the interactive nature of the proposal requires a lot of supervision and i think that would need to be me (control freak? :D). my other concern would be actually making the work. while i’d be happy to sit and crochet for a month or so to produce the tent structure the other elements – most importantly the flags – would require access to a print workshop. there’s also the small matter that the notional match funding i included in my budget is closed to applications for this year.

so it’s been a lesson for me in terms of overambitious plans – it never occurred to me for a minute that anyone would actually ask me to make the thing 😀 but more than anything it’s a huge confidence boost. my feedback this year has been really encouraging, but to hear from an actual judging panel for an actual competition that my work is interesting/appealing is a massive deal and will encourage me to keep making these applications. hopefully i should get better at identifying suitable briefs without over stretching myself.

today i hit the deadline for a call for experimental artist’s book from on the theme of “home”. when i spotted this opportunity in the book arts newsletter i knew i already had a piece that would fit perfectly with the theme – my bed as a book. an added bonus for me is that the final exhibition is online only, and wouldn’t require me to part with the book, which i made while i deferred my studies last year and is very close to my heart.

book arts are something i know that i’ll keep exploring, so i really hope that my book and this exhibition are a good match.

yorkshire sculpture park: part 1

a fabulous day out, which even yorkshire “spring” weather couldn’t put a dampener on 🙂 the only disappointment was roger hiorns’ seizure – perhaps because my expectations were too high or perhaps because it photographs better than it works irl. the bath was a nice unexpected touch though.

james turrell | deer shelter | 2006

deer shelter was one of my highlights. the impression on a cloudy day was of a fluorescent light in the ceiling, rather than an opening. it wasn’t too cold to sit on the concrete benches and really absorb the work, the lack of other visitors helped this contemplative mood. understated inside and out, apparently inaccessible, but a real immersive atmosphere inside.

we did wonder how many sheep might have fallen into it 😀

anna collette hunt | infestation | 2011

a swarm of ceramic bugs, each beautiful and jewel-like. en masse rather more unsettling.

henry moore | two forms | 1966

the lamb kept licking this for some reason. the astroturf around the base was an unexpected if practical touch.

hemall bhuta | speed breakers | 2012

on our walk up through the woods towards the longside gallery we both remarked on the beauty of the roots stretching across the path. this cast bronze piece melds into the surroundings almost too much – even having read the signs we  nearly missed it.

andy goldsworthy | hanging trees | 2007

total fangirl moment for me, seeing my first goldsworthys in the wild.

julian opie | galloping horse | 2012

it was magical to glimpse this piece at a distance, galloping through the trees.

peter liversidge | everything is connected | 2012

i was heartened to discover the use of unexpected/nontraditional materials given the setting.

sophie ryder | sitting | 2007

i found sophie rider’s work immensely appealing yet disconcerting, sorry i missed crawling, which looks even more extraordinary.

barbara hepworth | the family of man | 1970

love the texture.

commemorative bench

i’m with duncan cook on ysp.

experiment in land art

on our recent holiday to devon i couldn’t resist trying my hand at a small homage to goldsworthy.


the large branch was already in place, i added the vertical pieces. my intention was to fill the entire space below the branch (leaving a gap for an animal trail which runs through the fence) but time and weather didn’t allow. but it was fun to make an intervention using the materials around me and my hope is that following visitors to the site (a private woodland) might fill in the gaps.

andy goldsworthy | dirty grapes

we have a week’s camping in pembrokeshire over the summer and i’ll be doing more experiments along these lines using materials from the beach and hopefully the abundant willow grown on the campsite. inspired by the work of roger ackling i’d also like to investigate drawing using sunlight.

roger ackling | weybourne |1992


dear budapest – health and safety

a few points along risk-assessment lines i’ve considered during the project.

structure of the tent is based around a dutch “storm tent”, designed to withstand wind. the open structure will allow high winds to pass through. the tent may not provide much in the way of rain resistance but the materials used (mostly cotton) will not deteriorate in wet conditions for the length of the festival.

there may be risk of tripping due to the pegs/guy ropes, as with any tent, but the configuration of many pegs close to the base of the tent minimises the problems of long guy lines. damage to the person or structure from such accidents should be minimal, due to the elastic nature of the tent structure.

while i’ve modelled the tent with a central pole, ideally it would be supported from above, meaning there would be no hard materials used apart from the tent pegs and mirror .

i’ve sourced a polycarbonate mirror that is “virtually indestructible” and recommended for use in such environments as prisons. it will need to be firmly sited on a flat base to prevent danger of cracking from being walked on.

if the whole tent were to be pulled down there should be minimal impact due to its light weight and open structure.

the structure will need to be lit at night to prevent falling/tripping incidents.

the project will require public liability insurance for a one-off event that includes cover for the european union.

dear budapest loose ends

there are some aspects of the proposal i probably won’t have time to address before our deadline. the main one is lighting.

being a festival proposal, from the outset i felt it was important for the structure to function at night as well as in the day. my initial plan included illuminated balloons for the final release. while this would have added to the spectacle i was adamant that i wanted all materials released to biodegrade, which ruled out the inclusion of leds. this decision also reflected budget constraints.

i’m still intending for the structure to be lit at night. after speaking to a friend who works in theatre i was quite excited about the possibilities for lighting using projected images or shapes, introducing another layer of playing with light. however the cost of such equipment would require hiring and i wouldn’t be confident leaving it to fend for itself over the time when the structure would be unattended. the simplest/cheapest option would be to attach solar-powered net or string lights to the inside of the structure. while the provision of some ambient lighting would be better than none it does lack drama.

other aspects i’ve yet to cover include contextual material and signage. i intend to screen print fabric panels using larger/more detailed examples of hungarian textile design, and including historical information about those traditions. another panel would explain the project and provide information about participation sessions and the date/time of the balloon release.

i was hoping to set up an example website, i should at least be able to mock up some screen shots to give a idea of the site structure in the time remaining.

i’ve also yet to finalise the plan for the balloon release, or determine the number of balloons that could actually fit inside the structure. from working with my scale model i’ve discovered that my working estimate of 700 messages (100 per day of the festival) would not cover the structure entirely. where the flags are most densely packed towards the top there will be more cover than lower down the structure. there may be a possibility to produce more flags, but there may not be enough room in the structure to contain the additional balloons. it might be possible to extend the area of the structure with some kind of attached netting, but i’d need to find a method that would reliably release them in one single event.

dear budapest scale model shoot

i’ve been waiting forever for a clear day to shoot the model.

crochet structure side view

pattern scale is 1:1 – i’d continue with this sample until it was tent-sized. structure scale is 1:10. of everything that i’ve made for the model i’m most excited about the little tent pegs i carved from lolly sticks 😀

crochet structure top view

this is the first time i’ve seen the sample in 3 dimensions. i like the way the “arms” of the structure wrap around to the front. the shape reflects very nicely my beloved de waard that served as inspiration for the overall shape of the tent. central areas are large enough to stand upright, and you can sit or lie comfortably further out around the edges..

for the model I’ve used a central pole for support. ideally the structure would be supported by guy lines to the top, leaving a clear central area and less risk of people hurting themselves walking into the structure when under the influence.

this view shows the central mirror – to add an extra dimension , reflecting the light and patterns from above. the idea was drawn from islamic architecture and the use of a central pool or pond in a courtyard. i’d like to extend the textiles influence to the mirror so i plan to mimic a shisha embroidery stitch around the edge, using the same dyed cotton string as used for the crochet structure. i’ve source a virtually unbreakable polycarbonate mirror (on a slightly smaller scale – 1m diameter) as used in prisons 😀

as the structure becomes covered in flags the quality of the light inside will change.

message flags displayed on structure

i was imagining a spiral of flags covering the structure from the top, but having experimented with the model i think stringing them vertically may turn out to be most practical/effective. i’m happy with the play of light inside, and excited to see how the techniques and materials could translate into a final large piece.


i took these pictures in a busy local park, away from the paths. i wasn’t expecting to draw any attention, but i got a compliment from a passer-by which was a real boost. i’ve never exhibited or really put my work “out there” except online before. so to get unexpected feedback about it, to interact with someone because of it, well, that was pretty cool 🙂

land artists

an unexpected result of the public art module for me has been my growing fascination with land art. i admire the scale, the vision, the selection and use of materials, the geometric simplicity of many of the forms. my interest surely derives in part from my experience and interests as an archaeology student, the impact and significance of ritual landscapes (especially in the neolithic and bronze ages), the experience of immersing yourself in the monuments.

robert smithson | spiral jetty | 1970
richard long | a line in scotland |1981
andy goldsworthy
james turrell | revised outlook | 2005

i briefly considered the possibility of carving out a kind of stepped structure for seating inside my festival tent. i liked the idea of using the ground as one of my materials, given i have such size/weight constraints and a very small budget. it was also inspired by the knowledge that part of the festival site includes a beach – i figured that sculpting sand would be a less labour intensive and permanent process than using soil.

i found out that the beach is composed mostly of shell which i don’t imagine would sculpt as well or withstand much use. overall i decided the idea was too labour intensive and i was unlikely to receive permission to excavate on the festival site.

dear budapest sketches

after an inspiring presentation by charlie from architecture this morning i decided to tidy up my project sketches. i’m working on a scale model, but the thought of modelling even a fraction of the hundreds of balloons to be released brings me out in a cold sweat 😀 what really struck me today was how a mixture of 2d and 3d visualisations can really bring a project presentation to life.

dear budapest | basic crochet tent structure

the tent pattern is an abstraction of a scan of my crochet sample, so the balance of colours is pretty accurate. i didn’t want to use the scan straight as it would give a misleading idea of the pattern scale.

dear budapest | message flags displayed on outside of structure

the flags are also scanned scale model samples, dyed in the same colours as the crochet structure. the flags were cut from larger dyed sheets and each one contains subtle colour variations and blends.

dear budapest | message balloons tethered within structure

balloon images are the stripy ones i’ve budgeted for 🙂

dear budapest | balloon release

i haven’t included the message flags tied to the balloons as i thought they’d be more confusing than illuminating on this scale.

dear budapest cyanotype flag

the flags for the final project will be made with a resist print onto cotton fabric, referencing  hungarian indigo dyeing traditions, but using silkscreen rather than block printing. i was unable to get into the workshop to screen print any samples so i used cyanotyping as the results are similar (white pattern/text on coloured ground) and i can do it at home. the main difference is the colour – cyanotyping produces a range of mid-dark blues (and can be toned to sepia) whereas the flags for the final project will be a multicolour mixture of pink/purple/red/yellow. the cyanotype only registers on the front of the fabric – final flags will be dyed front and back, increasing the colourful effect inside the tent.

there are some technical errors in the printing – mostly due to light-fogging of the emulsion, reducing colour contrast in the right hand corners. a screen print should be more uniformly contrasty.

i was pleased with the level of detail i managed to achieve in the ornamentation and text, although this degree of definition may not be possible with silkscreen techniques. the patterns are derived from c19 hungarian pattern books – i could choose less intricate patterns and/or font if needed. especially when combined with brighter dye colours i hope i’ve managed to produce something that would catch the eye and be picked up, rather than disregarded as rubbish.

the size is a5 – aiming for a balance of enough writing space with being light enough to be lifted with a balloon. while i wanted to emphasise the lace-like patterns i’m not sure whether i’ve left enough writing space for the message – which is the heart of the project. the cyanotype is too dark for writing to be easily legible, this shouldn’t be a problem with the multi-coloured flags.

the weight of the flags is of some concern, as they may prevent the balloons rising to full height and shattering into tiny pieces. i intend source a lightweight but firmly woven cotton fabric, possibly cotton lawn, to mitigate this.