Tag Archives: artist

What Are You Prepared to Give in Exchange?

I Don't Suppose I'll Ever Go There, by Kate Murdoch

I Don’t Suppose I’ll Ever Go There, ©2011 Kate Murdoch

Kate’s work is a delicate balance of position, association, meaning and value – not necessarily in that order or with the usual expectations.  That is the beauty of Kate’s work; she presents slights which are out-of-joint and off-kilter familiarity which causes profound questioning of assumptions.  What you think you know is not what you knew and as a result memory slides sideways.

Jane Boyer: Tell us about the significance of memory for you and what role it plays in your artwork.

Kate Murdoch: At the heart of my work is an unravelling of memories; the desire to make sense of and preserve certain aspects of the past are a driving force behind it. I work mostly with found objects and the raw material for my artwork comes primarily from the vast collection I’ve accumulated over the years; both from my own life and from those of others. I use this vast mass of memorabilia to tease out and present my memories of childhood and family relationships, conscious of the distorted effect that time can have on real, authentic memory. I’m fascinated by what the objects we surround ourselves with say about us; steeped in social and political history they are a part of our identity, providing us with a sense of self and revealing our connections to the wider world.

JB: In your artist statement you say your practice is ‘a process of selection

Birdcage by Kate Murdoch

Birdcage, ©2009 Kate Murdoch

where you place familiar objects in an unfamiliar environment in order to challenge the viewer’s response’.  What about your own response, what is challenged for you when you reinterpret an object and change the context and significance?  Do you surprise yourself?

KM:  I think my piece Birdcage demonstrates how the placing of familiar objects in an unfamiliar environment can challenge both my own and an audience’s response to it. Though the initial placing of the brass bells within a cage was something I remember doing quite subconsciously, I was surprised retrospectively by the impact of doing so. The ‘ladies’ in the home of my Scottish aunt appealed to me very much as a child. They exuded an air of decency and femininity.  Their crinoline dresses and neat, sash-tied bonnets called to mind rather beautiful, Scarlett O’Hara kind of heroines – pretty and privileged. But there was a darker side as we know and placing these female figurines in a cage, albeit unconsciously, speaks volumes I think about the hidden aspects of these women’s lives – the repression, domination and dependency.

JB: In your blog Keeping it Going on a-n Artists Talking, you speak about value, both the perceived value of an object which you have made available for your audience to take (Going for Gold) or the associated value to exchange with something of similar value (10 x 10). It could be said the value we associate with an object is in relation to the depth of emotion we experience in any given situation.  Do you feel this to be true and what have you observed about this relationship through the interactive aspect of your work?

10 x 10 by Kate Murdoch

10 x 10, ©2008 – 2012 Kate Murdoch

KM: I’m not sure there’s a definitive answer to this question but in terms of my observations of how the majority of people have interacted with 10×10 so far, then yes, I would say it is true. The emotional attachment we make to any given object can determine its worth in emotional terms as opposed to its monetary value. The very act of bartering adds an emotional reality to the process of exchange that currency somehow lacks. ‘What is an object worth to you?’ is one of the main questions posed by 10×10. ‘How much do you want it and what are you prepared to give in exchange?’

I can give you many good examples of the varying degrees of value and worth; they are contained in the stories people leave behind when they give their objects up for exchange. The woman who gave up a genuine diamond bracelet at the launch of 10×10 for instance demonstrates a really good example of value and worth. On the face of it, the value of a real diamond was high; from her story however, it was clear that the bracelet, in spite of its monetary worth, had become of little personal value to her.

An exchange made by an international student at Lewisham College has an equally poignant ring to it. He exchanged a small candle stub for a larger, unused candle. Living on a very tight budget in order to afford college fees, this student told me that he was doing his best to avoid having to pay for electricity. It was a practical exchange, then on one level – a used-up candle for one with many burning hours – but in terms of value in this case, the new candle represented a kind of life-saver for him.

“The very act of bartering adds an emotional reality to the process of exchange that currency somehow lacks.”

Kate Murdoch

It's The Little Things by Kate Murdoch

It’s The Little Things, ©2010 Kate Murdoch, detail view

JB: Tell us about your piece It’s The Little Things.  You raise an interesting point in what you ‘think is worth preserving’, tell us about some of the things you’ve chosen to preserve in this piece and why.

KM: The things I chose for this particular piece were largely an emotional response to the clearance of my Nana’s home in which she had lived for some 70 years. The items I salvaged were reminders of the many times I’d spent with my Nana as a child and the close relationship we had. I was trying to hold onto her history as well as my own through preserving them. The pastry cutters, the icing nozzles, the embroidery cottons, thimbles, darning mushroom and tape measure are all reminders of the many domestic skills my Nana taught me. The fun side of my relationship with her is reflected in the lipstick, powder and perfume which she sometimes let me play with at her dressing table. The ancient pocket Bible and the red poppy speak of the history of a woman who lived through two world wars and would engage me with her stories about the war as she taught me the rules of a waste-not-want-not life.

JB: We’ve spoken about the personal exchange and value inherent in your work; there is a sense of nostalgia for personal communication and connections underlying your work.  What are your thoughts on digital communications and the ‘faceless’ interactions which are commonplace for us now?  In a way, written communication has been reinvigorated through digital communications, but have we lost the personal connection or have we strengthened those connections?

Gentlemen by Kate Murdoch

Gentlemen, ©2009 Kate Murdoch

KM: That’s a very big question. But does it necessarily have to be face to face? Does ‘faceless’ communication lose any true sense of feeling connected with other people? I’ve certainly had a lot of face to face conversations where I’ve felt very unconnected with the person I’m speaking with – you just don’t connect with everybody – it’s a fact of life! I’ve had e-mail and twitter conversations, on the other hand where communication has been surprisingly personal and intimate when discussing certain matters.

I find forums like twitter and facebook working well for me because of my partial deafness; I find writing a more direct and clear way of communicating as it leaves less room for misinterpretation. I’m in close contact via email and twitter with a few people – mainly artists – who I’ve never actually met face to face. A lot of formality is broken down in the way people communicate via digital communications such as twitter and facebook which to my mind cuts to the chase and gets down very quickly to the core of good, open and honest communication. I know it has its critics, but I actually think you can learn a great deal about a person by the way they communicate on social media and I gravitate towards those who I believe share my own fundamental life values.

I’ve asked the artists to share a list of books they find informative for their practice. Follow the links here or visit the Bookshop to see all the books suggested so far. We hope you will see something inspiring for your own interests. Your book purchase made through This ‘Me’ of Mine will help raise funds for the project.

Kate’s suggested reading:

Evocative Objects: Things We Think with edited by Sherry Turkle
Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris by Leanne Shapton
Interpreting Objects and Collections  edited by Susan M. Pearce
Contemporary Art and Memory by Joan Gibbons
The Memory Box by Margaret Forster
Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler
The Whale’s Song by Dyan Sheldon
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks
The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

Jane’s Additions:

Color Photographs by Marie Cosindas
Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry

If you enjoyed this interview, please follow This ‘Me’ of Mine by clicking the ‘follow’ button below.  You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook, those links are also below.  Pop in and see the great work our partners are doing too! Click on the logos below to go to their sites.

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Straight from the Nerves

Untitled nude (c)2011 Shireen Qureshi

Untitled Nude, (c)2011 Shireen Qureshi, oil and charcoal on canvas

Shireen Qureshi was a studio member of Cor Blimey Arts in 2011 and it was on one of my working trips to Core Gallery when I first met Shireen.  I remember the moment so vividly, I was passing her studio and the door happened to be open; as I glanced in I was stopped in my tracks.  Sitting alone and unnoticed, as if set aside purposefully, was her untitled and unfinished nude painting.  It pulled me in emotionally and literally as I stepped into her studio, that is when I met Shireen.  We talked briefly about her work then I went on about my day, but I couldn’t get Shireen’s painting out of my mind.  Feeling a little unsure in that moment of how it would fit in overall with the exhibition, I trusted my gut instinct and invited Shireen to show the work with This ‘Me’ of Mine, asking her if she would leave the painting exactly as it was and not finish it.  She was a little nervous about my request but gave it some serious consideration and finally agreed – I’m delighted she did.

Jane Boyer: Your Untitled Nude has a very definite feeling of movement and struggle, the figure is almost writhing, but the hand is quite firmly placed and supports or propels the body’s turning.  Can you tell us more about this painting and why the hand is black?  It’s the thing that attracted me to this work.

Blue Lamp (c)2011 Shireen Qureshi

Blue Lamp, (c)2011 Shireen Qureshi, oil on canvas

Shireen Qureshi:This painting was painted very instinctively – straight from the nerves, and for me, was left at quite an early and exciting stage of its development. Within my mind this painting developed specifically from the simple action of a body turning over in bed, or getting out of bed. I wanted the body to be engulfed in a dark space. The heavy sense of contrast in this work is the result of this struggle, to create a kind of dark in which the body remains illuminated, but I like the way the attempt to achieve this has resulted in a body which has almost been doused in a liquid darkness which encircles it. I am also happy with the way certain borders and parts of the body are lost. The hand is black because I was trying to force it downwards into the darkness, and also pin the body to the canvas so that it was no longer floating in space but supported within a suggested reality. I like the way Francis Bacon used things like syringes or arrows in his work to pin his bodies down – I often try to use similar devices as I like to secure my more free flowing bodies to something. It’s like a full stop, locking the body-prisoner in place.

Fall (c)2010 Shireen Qureshi

Fall, (c)2010 Shireen Qureshi, oil on canvas

JB: You share other things with Bacon, the domestic settings, the violence, the bodily functions and the ‘body-prisoner’ as you put it; the self subjected to context in other words.  It could be argued the self in Bacon’s work exists between annihilation and the struggle in the moments just before annihilation, an idea suggested by his work with crucifixions, his screams and his interest in paintings of abattoirs, butchers and meat.[1]   How do you view this struggle and the annihilation of the self?

SQ: Bacon has been a huge influence on me and I think that this struggle is an interesting moment to paint because it captures a person perhaps at a moment when they are most present in the form of an instinctive, uncontrollable self. This moment of high drama gives passage to an altered state of being, and as Bacon stated ‘I’m just trying to make images as accurately off my nervous system as I can.’[2]  What could be more real than the presence of a body in the face of its destruction, it is in these moments that a person becomes aware, in a visceral sense, of what they are made up of – organs, blood, skin and bone.

Hand in Hair (c)2010 Shireen Qureshi

Hand in Hair, (c)2010 Shireen Qureshi, oil on canvas

JB: Deleuze suggests we are an event; meaning that out of a chaos in which conditions have come together to form a ‘one’ or have passed through ‘a screen’ which allows something rather than nothing to happen.[3]  There is a sense of ‘event’ in your tableaus and the figures are that ‘event’, as if we are witnessing the coalescing of a self, how do you see this?  Do you feel the passage of time is relevant to the self?

SQ: It is interesting that you suggest that we are witnessing the coalescing of a self in my work because in my mind I am more interested in breaking down the body, of rupturing boundaries. I often initiate a painting by making it look real and then trying to break it down, by overlapping bodies or breaking apart skin and bone, I suppose in that sense the aim for me is towards chaos rather than from it. But I think that this is a very interesting idea, especially the sense of an ‘event’ you describe in my work, forcing my viewers into the role of witness.

Lying Body (c)2010 Shireen Qureshi

Lying Body, (c)2010 Shireen Qureshi, oil on canvas

I think that if the paintings have created any sense of inescapable drama pinning both my figures and viewers in place, then this is an achievement in itself.

From my point of view, the passage of time is interesting because it is within a space of time that metamorphosis and transformation can occur. I would like to create a sense of movement, an undulation within each of my paintings as if they were bubbles of captured space and time. I think that time is inescapably relevant to the self because it is within time that a self is built or deconstructed, subjected to the violence of existence, and within which the self moves, inevitably, towards death.


Read Struggle in the Moment of Difference on Art Pie.

[1] ‘Francis Bacon (1910-1992) Interview with David Sylvester’, Art in Theory 1900-2000, ed. Charles Harrison & Paul Wood, p. 635-9.

“I’ve always been very moved by pictures about slaughterhouses and meat, and to me they belong very much to the whole thing of the Crucifixion.  There’ve been extraordinary photographs which have been done of animals just being taken up before they were slaughtered; and the smell of death.  We don’t know, of course, but it appears by these photographs that they’re so aware of what is going to happen to them, they do everything to attempt to escape.”

[2] Interviews with Francis Bacon, David Sylvester, London, Thames & Hudson p.82

[3] The Fold, Giles Delueze, 1st ed Athlone Press, 1993, reprinted Continuum Publishing, 2006, p.86

In an effort to raise funds for This ‘Me’ of Mine, I’ve asked the artists to share a list of books they find informative for their practice. Follow the links here or visit the BOOKSHOP to see all the books suggested so far. We hope you will see something inspiring for your own interests.

If you enjoyed this interview, be sure to participate in our This ‘Me’ of Mine Companion Book head-count, see the footer section at the bottom of the page for the sign-up form and more information.

Shireen’s Reading List:

Interviews with Francis Bacon by David Sylvester

The Eyes Mind: Bridget Riley: Collected Writings 1965-1999 by Bridget Riley and Robert Kudielka

Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes

Blue of Noon by Georges Bataille

In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki

Francesca Woodman by Chris Townsend

The Logic of Sensation by Gilles Deleuze  (note: this can be found under Aly Helyer’s suggested reading in the Bookshop)

Jane’s Additions:

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Strangers to Ourselves by Julia Kristeva

Deleuze: The Clamour of Being by Alain Badiou

If you enjoy what you see here, follow the progress of the project by clicking the ‘follow’ button at the bottom of the page and share content you really like using the ‘share this’ buttons below each article.

We would love to talk with you, feel free to leave us a comment too.

If you would like to support the project contact me at ThisMeofMine@gmail.com


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A Barely Responsive Exterior

I first saw Melanie’s work last year in the 2011 Marmite Prize exhibition at the Nunnery in Bow.  I was struck by the delicacy, fragility and the overwhelming presence in her painting Woman with Cardigan.  It was this sense of presence which confirmed for me it should be in This ‘Me’ of Mine.   How could such an overwhelming presence be perceived from a view of someone’s back rather than the face, where it would be expected, and what did this suggest for these issues of self and identity?  Were the curious mixture of pattern and texture in her clothing personal choices or were these visible clues to circumstances imposed upon this woman’s life?  These were compelling questions and the basis for my choice of Mel’s work.

Not Dead Yet (c)2012 Melanie Titmuss

Not Dead Yet (c)2010 Melanie Titmuss oil on canvas

Jane Boyer: Your subjects are often elderly, you are a young adult; what are you exploring in the topic of ageing and the elderly?

MT: People are often drawn to images that depict the appealing side of old age. I have been looking at these romantic versions as well as the social and moral [issues], particularly the care of the elderly, the sacrifice involved. Sitting in an old people’s home as a young adolescent really stuck with me. I found the banality of it really shocking. The quality of life is so diminished and yet the confirmation of life lived, so explicit, and in some cases, so contained, unreachable. What was most striking was the isolation of each person in the room. They are agonizingly remote from each other, from their visitors. There is great pathos in the discrepancy between the outward and inner life.

In response to the issues of abuse, invisibility and poverty surrounding ageing, I painted Not Dead Yet, a vivid and joyful scene of an elderly couple dancing. There is an element of fading away, a nostalgic nod to a bygone age, living with memories – the old man is featureless and she shimmers somehow, almost stepping off the corner of the painting but the overall effect is life affirming. There is warmth and laughter and tenderness.

JB: There is a delicacy and a fragility to your painting technique, is this at all related to your subject of ageing? Did you have a sense of the boundary between your projections and perceptions of her [Woman with Cardigan] and the reality in the experience of her presence?

Woman with Cardigan (c)2010 Melanie Titmuss

Woman with Cardigan (c)2010 Melanie Titmuss oil on canvas

MT: Woman with Cardigan was painted from a sketch from life so it has this quality more so. Having to ‘fill in the gaps’, I found that I projected qualities onto her. A friend described her as ‘kind of not here, elsewhere’ but her actual presence was overwhelming. When I’d completed the sketch in her presence, I realised I’d captured something else: a frail, ethereal version of a tall, robust woman who was animated and resolved to stand for her entire conversation with somebody seated. Picking up on certain visual signs, I immediately endowed her with old age; exaggerating her ‘old lady’ characteristics to create the archetypal one, stooped and weighed down by this enormous cardigan. A mind’s picture will conjure a visceral impression, based on the physical sensation of a person nearby – the potential for interaction. To engage with another person is a process of searching and illuminating and this was the case without knowing her face, or her knowing mine.

JB: Your paintings are quite psychologically intense, not in their struggle but in their quietude.  They capture a sense of living a life and the effects of that living, the compromises, the pain, the joy.  When you connect with these individuals in that moment of observation, what passes through your mind?

MT: How people carry their lives around with them. I don’t wonder particularly what the experiences are that have bought them to this moment, just what is visible and what is not, how the body responds to the ravages of ones life’s events. How fragile and unforgiving it is. How a face at rest is open to interpretation. I want to portray them just as they appear, not to project suffering or any emotion onto them. I have painted sleeping teenagers, women talking on their mobile phones, someone stealing a microwave – I am looking across the entire spectrum of possibilities, encounters and circumstances. The pain and joy in all of it.

Bupleigh Mansions (c)2012 Melanie Titmuss

Bupleigh Mansions (c)2012 Melanie Titmuss oil on canvas

JB:  “Within a constant flow of people, anonymity and custom create a definite one of interior and exterior. So even though I observe and paint individuals, it’s the collective that I’m interested in.”  That is a really interesting statement on the source of the interior and exterior self, can you explain that further?  What is in the ‘collective’ that interests you?

MT: The connection to place, each other and ourselves; the sensations and movement that are specifically bound to transient space form an experience that is both internal and shared. I am talking mostly about non-space – i.e. mall space, suburban space, corporate space, generic or interchangeable space – the space of postmodernity. They are communal areas that stimulate a unique level of perception and consciousness, and the habitual presence of strangers can inspire a sense of participation, reassurance and continuity.  It is deceptive and the energy of it, quite seductive, ‘dwelling in the throng, in the ebb and flow, the bustle, the fleeting and the infinite.’ Though for many, these journeys take place within one’s ordinary sphere of existence, they are far from mundane.  Merging into the crowd, with all those arriving and departing, ‘you are delivered from all depth – a brilliant mobile superficial neutrality, a challenge to meaning and profundity, a challenge to nature and culture.’[1]

Man waiting for tram (c)2011 Melanie Titmuss

Man waiting for a tram (c)2011 Melanie Titmuss oil on canvas

JB: Do we see the toll taken by socialization in your paintings?

MT: All of the individuals I’ve selected to paint could only be in a metropolis. Fully contained, there is no interaction and therefore no projection at all – no awareness, no anticipation (on their part). Because of this, no decision or distinction is made regarding what to put forward, or reveal.  All that is visible is a barely responsive exterior.  The sheer volume and flow of people in the city can contribute to a sense of ‘conscious-less’, and is usually an opportunity to switch off.  This indifference, characteristic to the figures in my paintings, suggests the social is almost taken away.  You wonder what is revealed in this state of consciousness, just mindless projections on to others perhaps.


[1] Jean Baudrillard. America, Verso Books, 1989, p.124

In an effort to raise funds for This ‘Me’ of Mine, I’ve asked the artists to share a list of books they find informative for their practice. Follow the links here or visit the Bookshop to see all the books suggested so far. We hope you will see something inspiring for your own interests.

If you enjoyed this interview, be sure to participate in our This ‘Me’ of Mine Companion Book head-count, see the footer section at the bottom of the page for the sign-up form and more information.

Melanie’s Reading List:

On Photography by Susan Sontag

Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity by Marc Augé

The Future of Nostalgia by Svetlana Boym

The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies by Roland Barthes

Mythologies by Roland Barthes

London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

The Tourist Gaze by John Urry

The Letters of Van Gogh by Ronald de Leeuw & Arnold J. Pomerans

America by Jean Baudrillard

Jane’s Additions:

The Life and Death of Images by Diarmuid Costello and Dominic Willsdon

Wim Wenders: Places, Strange and Quiet by Wim Wenders

Matisse in Morocco by Jack Cowart

Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes

If you enjoy what you see here, follow the progress of the project by clicking the ‘follow’ button at the bottom of the page and share content you really like using the ‘share this’ buttons below each article.

Leave us a comment too, we would love to talk with you.

If you would like to support the project contact me at ThisMeofMine@gmail.com


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Lineup Change

Archive 1 (c)2010 Julie Cockburn

Archive 1 (c)2010 Julie Cockburn

This news is bittersweet.  Julie Cockburn is doing so well in her practice and her calendar is so jam-packed with exhibitions,  she has had to make the decision to leave This ‘Me’ of Mine.  It is with joy for her and sadness for me that we say good-bye.  However, the short time we have worked together on this project has been wonderful.  I have been delighted to announce her on-going exhibition activity here on the blogsite and have been amazed by each successive opportunity which came Julie’s way.  She is on her way to the top and I wish her all the best!

Untitled 30-5-11, (c)2011 Darren Nixon

Untitled 30/5/11, (c)2011 Darren Nixon, oil on canvas

As sorry as I am to see Julie go, I am equally pleased to welcome Darren Nixon to the project.  Darren is based in Manchester  and has a studio full of smashing work!  His paintings are dreamlike in their delicacy and deliver a punch to the solar-plexus in their poignancy.  His figures don’t quite inhabit their skin yet their body-language reveals how they sense themselves in their off-kilter world; I deliberately don’t use the words ‘find themselves’ because Darren’s characters aren’t supported by a history which allows them ‘to find’, they’ve been dropped in situ and react.  They both meld with and impose themselves on their environment in a full force sensory experience similar to a lucid dream.  It’s an awkward existence, much like many of our own.  You can see more of Darren’s work on Axis.

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Living in the Constant

Film still from 'Nightfall', (c)2011 Anthony Boswell

Film still from ‘Nightfall’, (c)2011 Anthony Boswell

Anthony Boswell is an active blogger on Artists Talking, the a-n blogging platform for artists.  I’ve had the pleasure of watching Anthony’s practice unfold and last year I was struck by seeing his work ‘Time Box’ pictured in an essay written by my colleague and friend Becky Huff Hunter.  I went back to Anthony’s work and had a closer look.  I hadn’t actually met Anthony and our connection through Artists Talking had been brief and intermittent with only occasional comments to each other on our respective blogs.  Anthony’s blog posts often deal with issues of time spent waiting and the effects this kind of relationship with time can have on creativity and one’s emotional and mental states.  In his ‘Time Box’, I saw an interesting statement on the influence of memory and time, and the transformation that takes place in time and us as a result.

Jane Boyer: ‘Place’ is of major importance to your work.  You have achieved an interesting merging of identity and context through ‘place’; it’s as if ‘place’ represents both an identity and a context simultaneously.  Can you tell us more about the significance this has for you and your work?

Painting 'D' (c)2012 Anthony Boswell

Painting ‘D’, (c)2012 Anthony Boswell, acrylic on canvas, 23.5 x 29.5cm

Anthony Boswell: The real basis for my paintings is the home, specifically my own home, because what I want to achieve is capturing ideas of intimacy.  Also the effects of time on place, so thinking about my own life within the home and how time affects the fears, doubts, hopes and wishes as well as daily activities.  I feel it’s a place where I can try to exercise some control over the environment by controlling time within that environment.  The idea of the clock running forwards but appearing to run backwards in ‘Time Box’ is about being stuck in the middle of that, about freezing time.  I don’t think I could achieve that anywhere outside of the home, because the home is such an intimate place.  The subject I deal with is about intimate things.  You can also get the feelings of loss, because of the things that aren’t there as much as they are there; this creates an air of melancholy in the work.

JB: Becky Huff Hunter refers to the temporal loop and the endlessly returning of ‘something missing’ in the melancholic state in the essay, ‘On Time, Repetition and Melancholia’, she wrote about your work.  Is there ‘something missing’ or has the loop replayed itself so often it has become an entity of its own for you?

“The ticking clock in the mirror runs backwards, indicating disorder. Its face points up, directing one’s gaze perpetually back and forth between the real and the reflected scene. This doubled stage disrupts the completeness of conventional viewing, fixing instead a boxed-in, spatial and temporal loop…[i]n a psychoanalytic account, the painful, desiring state of melancholia is full of such returns, endlessly
circling in one’s mind something perceived to be missing.”

from ‘On Time, Repetition and Melancholia’

AB: I think the loop has become an actual entity of itself.  The subject does repeat itself very often.  I find myself working within the framework of the loop.  My very self is stuck within the loop; melancholy comes because I am stuck in the loop.  Perhaps what’s missing is what’s outside that loop or the fear of its ceasing to be a loop and become something that runs forward in time.  All those fears and hopes, everything the intimacy within the home brings, begins to open up to a greater loss and eventually time will bring the loss of things because of the infinite nature of time; everything outside of time is infinite.  As Becky says, there is always a longing with melancholy.

Coign of Vantage (c)2012 Anthony Boswell

Coign of Vantage, (c)2012 Anthony Boswell, acrylic on canvas, 50 x 20cm

JB: Your latest work is a series of paintings in your house, however the house is not the subject of these paintings; the emotional translation of a life lived, light, shadow and time is the subject.  It is a context but in your work it is less a context than an identity.  It is not wholly your identity because the place & space influences how you feel.  Have the dissolutions of these boundaries given you freedom or are you contained and confined, captured like the light sources in your paintings?

AB: It’s quite an interesting way of looking at it.  The subject is as you say.  The light starts to reveal something that is always slightly out of reach.  I’ve never thought of it from that point of view, but it’s interesting to think about how much of the control is being forced upon me rather than the other way around and maybe that’s why there is always such a sense of melancholy longing because I’m never satisfying what I’m trying to achieve.  Maybe I’m not actually in control.  For what I’m trying to achieve in my paintings, life outside of the house is quite insignificant in a way.  But thinking about the fact I’m not able to make a painting unless I feel comfortable with the situation in the house, the light or a certain part of the room and how it all fits in together; that is actually out of my control.  I can’t control the light, how it comes into the house or what type of light.  There are boundaries being put on my creating of the paintings.  Until the light reveals itself in a certain way and shadows are made in a certain way, I don’t witness anything and I can’t make the artwork until that situation arises.  Waiting for it to come along is quite a powerful thing because I never know when it’s going to happen, sometimes it comes quite quickly and spontaneously and sometimes you have to wait.

Time Box (c)2010 Anthony Boswell

Time Box, (c)2010 Anthony Boswell, mixed media construction, 20.3 x 27.9 x 20.3cm

JB: ‘Time Box’ is a surreal statement on time, memory and recall in the sense of ‘knowing’ the truth of something rather than simply remembering the specific details of it.  This knowing and memory can be at odds sometimes and time can be the disrupter between the two.  Is this the message of ‘Time Box’ for you?  What do you see in ‘Time Box’?

AB: The message of Time Box for me is being contained.  It’s about being inside an environment that is really familiar and trying to stay in the present; you don’t want to necessarily go back to the past but you definitely don’t want to run into the future, so it’s trying to keep within the loop, trying to be completely stationary in the present.  But also apart from being something familiar, it’s a space which can be quite intense as well.  You can’t sit comfortably within it.  It gives a sense that you’re looking down on a life which isn’t your own.  There is an unfamiliarity amongst the familiar within it.

JB: How does this reflect on your view of self and identity?

AB: Identity is quite a difficult thing for me because my own view of identity is a unique personal view rather than understanding things as cultural identity.  I mean obviously I understand cultural identity and identity in a wider scope, but my own view of identity is to think of everyone as an individual.  Though I’m really aware of everyone else in the world, I’m not aware of people being part of a culture or a wider context of things.  When I think about it, I just think of all these people with their own unique personal identities.  I think I’ve just imagined them in their space in their privacy grappling with the same things I’m grappling with, you know with the fears, the longing and the doubts.  I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  It’s just wrapped up with self isn’t it?  I suppose I want everyone to deal with the bigger questions by coming to know themselves.  I find if you know yourself you come to know a lot more about the wider context of things.

In an effort to raise funds for This ‘Me’ of Mine, I’ve asked the artists to share a list of books they find informative for their practice.  Follow the links here or visit the Bookshop to see all the books suggested so far.  We hope you will see something inspiring for your own interests.

Anthony’s Reading List:

Art? No Thing! By Fré Ilgen

Paths to the Absolute by John Golding

Peter Lanyon: Modernism and the Land by Andrew Causey

Jane’s Additions:

Mark Rothko by David Anfam

Francesca Woodman Photography by Julia Bryan-Wilson & Corey Keller

The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

If you enjoy what you see here, follow the progress of the project by clicking the ‘follow’ button at the bottom of the page and share content you really like using the ‘share this’ buttons below each article.

Leave us a comment too, we would love to talk with you.

If you would like to support the project contact me at ThisMeofMine@gmail.com


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‘Beyond Painting – The Dream of Arcadia’ by Anthony Boswell is Choice Blog on a-n Artists Talking

I’m very pleased to announce Anthony Boswell’s blog, Beyond Painting – The Dream of Arcadia has been chosen by Andrew Bryant, editor of Artists Talking, as Choice Blog for April 2012.

Painting G (c) 2012 Anthony Boswell

Painting G, (c)2012 Anthony Boswell, acrylic on canvas

Bryant says, “I like a man who sticks to his guns, who knows himself well enough to know what matters to him and what doesn’t. To arrive at a place like this and stay put takes time, close attention and a strong will – to resist the empty promise of the always new…Like Morandi, he pursues one thing and keeps pursuing it, until what remains is the pursuit itself, in the form of longing. And what attends longing, of course, is loss. Morandi, maybe, was no stranger to loss, to disappointment, and I would hazard a guess Boswell is likewise acquainted with that Master.”

This is Anthony’s post #29 from his blog, it is a particularly poignant description of his point of view:

# 29 [23 March 2012]
Thanks to Sam Bell once again for the comments on my work. Yes, it is important that art comes first, finding that visual correlation between life and the work is what allows the process to bridge that gap and allows for the ambiguity to exist, further enhancing the possibilities of the paintings to take one into personal places by way of actual experience.This week, taking time to be calm in the house, to wander through the incoming and transient light, has allowed me to find a place that can work in painting. It is the result of days of waiting and looking, sometimes listening, that makes it possible to suddenly see something that has potential, that speaks to me. Often, this happens in the most exact of places, this time I was required to lower my eye level to see what was being revealed in a mirror that had been placed against the wall. It was going back to that place at different times of the day, in different light, that reveals a general emotion of experiences that are hidden there. I have been able to make just three quick visual notes of the spot to help give me a feel of what is going on there. The time is now here when I can keep going back, look at the empty space of the small canvas, and feel my way into the visual correlative that Sam talks about. It is moving from the life witnessed to the art, for the painting to take over, for the conversation between canvas and myself to take place, and in doing so, in letting this process happen naturally, the experience I had as I knelt in the room, everything I felt, saw and heard will be translated into an experience that can be felt by the viewer via the ambiguity set up in the paint and on its surface.
'Out of Ennui' sketch 1 (c)2012 Anthony Boswell

'Out of Ennui' sketch 1 (c)2012 Anthony Boswell, Pencil on paper

'Out of Ennui' sketch 2 (c)2012 Anthony Boswell

'Out of Ennui' sketch 2 (c)2012 Anthony Boswell, Ink on paper

'Out of Ennui' sketch 3 (c)2012 Anthony Boswell

'Out of Ennui' sketch 3 (c)2012 Anthony Boswell, Ink and pencil on paper

Out of Ennui (c)2012 Anthony Boswell

Out of Ennui (c)2012 Anthony Boswell, Acrylic on canvas

Read more of Anthony’s blog and visit his website.

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“Whilst I Breathe, I Hope” by Edd Pearman chosen for Per Annum 12

Be sure to catch these exciting exhibitions!  I’m so pleased to see Edd’s Whilst I Breathe, I Hope chosen for Per Annum 12 – a curator’s dream (well this curator’s dream, at least)!

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David Minton exhibits in Sevenoaks Visual Arts Forum

David Minton has three works in the Sevenoaks Visual Arts Forum at Kaleidoscope Gallery, see details below.  He also has a recently published review on a-n Interface of Plastic Propaganda at the Grange Tower Hill Hotel.

And if you’re browsing through This ‘Me’ of Mine, be sure to see the recent comments on the Artworks page, they’re well worth a read!  We would love to talk to you.  Leave us a comment and be sure to check ‘Notify me of follow-up comments by email’  below the area where you write your comment so you can see the responses.  Follow this blog to keep up with developments and more great artist interviews to come.  We appreciate all our followers!  Thank you!

Sevenoaks Visual Arts Forum Exhibition 22 Mar – 12 May

20th March 2012
Mixed show at the Kaleidoscope Gallery Sevenoaks
Pigeon and Line (detail) (c)2011 David Minton
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I Am a Black Box

David Riley is an artist’s artist – he works with raw ideas and even when these concepts have attained a ‘result’, as David calls them, they are still wide open for interpretation, further development and wide ranging tangential possibilities.  His work could be seen as a springboard to so many other ideas in so many possible media.  I continue to be amazed by his output and the sheer magnitude of his inspiration pool.

David also is a keen blogger and has written several blogs on a-n Artists Talking.  Two of his blogs have been chosen as ‘Choice Blog’, the most recent by Linda Stupart.  FORMAT is an artwork and a unique blog, as Stupart points out in her article; it is uniquely David Riley.    It uses the a-n blogging platform to explore the “facilities and limits within the context of an a-n blog,” as David writes in his intro.  He explains, “this should not, in any way, be taken as criticism. The intent is to explore the limit of the facilities offered by an a-n blog (implied and actual) as a form of visual enquiry”.

Stupart says, “Riley’s collapsing of form and content then is notable within the collective blog imaginary, which often fails to be critical of its own formal structure in a way that other types of practice could never get away with.  Through an explication of limitation FORMAT also reminds us of the incredible potential of blogs as medium, as well as making visible the otherwise invisible restrictions of the institutionalized blog – a very big, fairly convoluted white cube, but a container nonetheless.”

See what I mean – a springboard wide open for possibilities.

Jane Boyer: The statement on each of your blogs reads, “I am a black box, an abstract device evolved to hide the complexities within. Given the appropriate stimulus, I can be triggered to display a transient pop-up model of my inner self and disclose a little of what would otherwise remain secret.” 

Beyond the stated reason ‘to hide the complexities within’, why do you present yourself as an object and your inner self as a ‘transient pop-up model’?

David Riley: I don’t intend to ‘present myself as an object’; a black box is a system metaphor so I use it to present myself as a system, a complex system that no one can fully understand (not even me).

The ‘pop-up model’ idea was planted by Richard Taylor when he interviewed me for an a-n Degrees Unedited Blogger Profile back in 2010. The idea meshed quite naturally with my experience as an engineer, where I often analysed systems that were new to me by treating them as a black box in order to understand their true function.  At art college we were encouraged to self-analyse our output and I found myself not fully understanding how I travelled from initial concept to final outcome. So, now I find it useful to think of myself as a black box where every new line of enquiry has the potential to reveal more of my inner (often hidden) self and my motivations for doing what I do.

679-607-700 (c)2012 David Riley

679-607-700 (c)2012 David Riley, post-it note and ink

JB: Your blog REMNANTS could be seen as a companion piece to FORMAT in its use of the blogging platform limitations.  Your introduction statement is a philosophical one and reminds me of Deleuze’s observation “Underneath all reason lies delirium, and drift.”[1]  You state:

“Everything is T R A N S I E N T.

Although the tools here at a-n (and in general on the world wide web) try very hard to make everything permanent, this is not the natural order.  Any impression of permanence is illusionary. The nature of the universe is for everything to return to the universe for reuse.  I have removed (from this blog) everything the a-n system allows me to delete. I could hide the rest by unpublishing it, but this does not release the storage space for reuse.

So here we have a new outcome based on everything that has gone before: the R E M N A N T S.”

Can you comment on that existential triumvirate – memory, transience and reason, in relation to your enquiries and do you feel they are as present in your work as for someone who is working in more traditional media?

DR: If memory is knowledge and experience; if transience is the coming and going of a new influence or a loss of knowledge through lack of use; and if reason is the use of knowledge and experience to filter the infinite possibility into a manageable focus; then yes these factors are most definitely present in my work.

JB: You have two works in This ‘Me’ of Mine, twitter user names: coded (follow the link on David’s page to see the virtual version of twitter names) and bar EP blues (kinetatic), tell us what is behind the further coding of what is often already a code name in the twitter piece.

DR: I chose to translate the twitter user name into a different form, a form that would retain the full meaning but hide it in plain sight. As I wanted to use twitter, this had to be in a form that would still fit within the limitation of a tweet. If you can read my code then you can read the name, the meaning hasn’t changed. But even this is little more than a side-effect. My concept was to take the names and present them in what is to me a visually interesting way while at the same time engaging new people who might interact with me and stimulate new paths of exploration.

stringing code triptych (c)2012 David Riley

stringing code triptych (c)2012 David Riley, wood, steel angle brackets, screws, steel hooks, bungee cord and nylon bungee hooks, editable wall mountable sculpture/ re-mountable installation; 144cm x 144cm x 4cm

JB: I admire the ease with which you move between codes and systems.  Your latest enquiries, stringing words, involve stringing bungee cords which represent the alphabet, short phrases and now names.  You mentioned earlier that you see text as code and so all language is code to you, does this affect your notions of communication and how you relate to others?

DR: My life has been riddled with codes, as a systems engineer I see them everywhere; consequently I am very comfortable with codes. On reflection, using codes may be a strategy, being an artist is relatively new and I prefer to keep an aspect of the process familiar while I explore other aspects for the first time. Changing one variable at a time is a familiar strategy for experimentation, working with the familiarity of codes allows me to handle the unfamiliarity of materials and reactions to my work. It helps me focus on the new connections I make with people and ideas through sharing my output.  I am always absorbing new things and this feedback can influence and encourage something new further down the line. It is rare for this process to change my own perspective on the work, but it does happen on occasion, when it does this can lead to a new line of enquiry or a variation on an old one.

Maybe there will come a time when I move on and explore a different aspect, one that takes a step away from code into a less familiar territory. Although experience suggests codes will always be there somewhere.

In an effort to raise funds for This ‘Me’ of Mine, I’ve asked the artists to share a list of books they find informative for their practice.  Follow the links here or visit the Bookshop to see all the books suggested so far.  We hope you will see something inspiring for your own interests.

David’s Reading List:
The Janus Aspect: Artists in the Twenty-first Century by John Tusa

The Infinite Line: Re-making Art After Modernism by Briony Fer

Lines: A Brief History by Tim Ingold

Cryptography (Very Short Introductions) by Fred C. Piper and Sean Murphy

You’ll Never Know: Drawing and Random Interference by Henry Krokatsis, Jeni Walwin and James Flint

The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

UML Distilled: A Brief Guide to the Standard Object Modeling Language by Martin Fowler and Kendall Scott

Use Your Head: How to Unleash the Power of Your Mind by Tony Buzan

Jane’s Additions:

The Ghost in the Machine by Arthur Koestler

Phenomenology of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty

If you enjoy what you see here, follow the progress of the project by clicking the ‘follow’ button at the bottom of the page and share content you really like using the ‘share this’ buttons below each article.

Leave us a comment too, we would love to talk with you.

If you would like to support the project contact me at ThisMeofMine@gmail.com


[1] L’île déserte et autres textes (2002). Trans. Desert Islands and Other Texts 1953-1974 (2003). p. 262.

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Edd Pearman at John Jones

John Jones and Rise Art are pleased to present ‘Lágrima’, a series of prints by British contemporary artist Edd Pearman at John Jones Front of House space throughout March 2012.

Edd has previously exhibited his work at the Royal Academy, RCA Secret Event, and the John Jones Project Space in 2009. His latest series of work has recently been published by Rise Art.

Lágrima IV, part of a series of works focusing on bullfighters, captures a moment in time in which these grand, decorated men are left vulnerable. There is a sensitivity to the images which focuses on the flow of the materials, the detail of the uniforms and the gently falling bodies while neglecting to show the violence of their injuries.

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