Altering Space

After months of development we have launched our first ®Perspex sculptures.

Although the initial design came quickly from inspiration stage to fully-formed, there were a surprising number of physical details to be tested, modified, re-tested and radically changed before we were completely satisfied with how they are to be hung and how they will move.

Simple stringing of shapes and elements together, hung in the sun or a slightly breeze position will result in slow movement overall and within each part, thus continuously altering the spaces,  colour and reflections.

Each sculpture is constructed with multiple colours, transparent, fluorescent,  matt and some two way mirror.



More Kinetic Sculptures

I have been making these things for a few years now, inspired a great deal by the exhibition on Anthony Calder at the Tate Modern two years ago and a similar exhibition in Tours, France several years before that.

But way before all of that I was inspired by my mother Rosemary who made wonderful paintings and sculptures from quite a number of different materials.

I now have her collection of Perspex® off-cuts (acrylic sheet in numerous colours), including some wonderful colours some of which are no longer available. There is a particular fluorescent orangey pink colour that I would love to be able to buy. Its possible that it was from an American source, made by a different manufacturer.

Here’s her piece made with that fluorescent pink/orange and solid sky blue Perspex® which hangs in my window and throws amazing colours and reflections around the room as the piece rotates in the heat of the sun. This photo was taken after dark, I will endeavour to replace it with a better one soon.3f77f0e8-bb32-4097-a600-c1db949adcbb

Lovely pink reflections from the sculpture above on the grey floor.


During a week’s long drawing course at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park a number of years ago, I began to make folded paper structures, I’m not sure really why I began to make them but they look so good rotating in the breeze. I made this one after the course and it still hangs in my house.

On a different track altogether I began making mobiles from card, cutting out the pieces by hand and then sticking two together with the thread sandwiched between. The designs for both of these were a kind of homage to my parents work, they are developed from a series of drawing and paintings. The first one from my mother’s work and the second from a series by my father.

My mothers paintingimg_2057.jpg And my father’s drawingIMG_2956

I find it intensely engaging thinking about how pieces can move in ambient air conditions and begin to move really quite fast in a breeze or when the sun shines directly on it.

I have used a number of different materials, some found objects, some bought, some hand-made and some laser cut. All these processes have been informed by my training as a jeweller and ability to think in three dimensions. I almost never being from a drawing, I simply start making. Of course one usually has to make a decent drawing at some point but its more of a diagram or specialist kind of drawing for laser-cutting.

Kinetic Sculptures

Exploring ways to make Kinetic sculptures has been complex, there are many types of material that can be used such as plywood, thin metal sheet or wire, plastic, card and paper. Heavier materials like cast plaster or  thicker metals make the fabrication much more complicated. Its so much easier to experiment and learn with paper and card.

One of the most useful lessons is to understand that that the balance begins at the bottom, not the top – an easy mistake to make.

Getting the separate elements to balance always requires the hanging point to be at the pivot point  but that in itself can be hard to find.

One of the early kinetic sculptures made from Colorplan® card.

I have been testing various shapes and materials, Colourplan Card is very beautiful but quite hard to cut out fast enough or accurately enough, though I made made quite a number, see previous post.

I investigated having them laser cut which does work well but then there’s the issue of how to join the various pieces. And what kind of thread to use. Are are some made in slightly different ways.

Life Drawing

I have been attending life drawing classes every two weeks for a couple of years, it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience but with very varied results.

Our tutor has been teaching us to use a variety of media, including pencil, conte, charcoal, chalk, pen and ink, felt tip pen and water and also an orange/brown wash.

Improvements in my technique have been sporadic, some days I feel as though I can  draw well, other days I despair.

You are not going to see the worst ones, mostly they are embarrassingly bad. Here is a selection of the ones I feel happiest about. Its odd how one week I can make a successful two minute sketch with my ‘wrong’ hand and the next week every thing I draw is quite awful.

Gradually I have come to realise that my drawings are always better when I concentrate on the head and shoulders of the models.

One of the earliest from 2016, on coloured paper with white chalk and charcoal.

Our tutor suggested using blue chalk for the half tones but I changed my mind after making a couple of marks.



It’s not really come as a surprise to me as I have heard so many people’s stories of how  Japan is marvellous.

So I am really pleased to report that I totally concur, in fact there is so much I like about Japan, I’m not sure where to start.

I was there for just  two weeks and every moment of every day was a joy, from the most mundane things right through to the most important and significant are just so good.

In corner shops you can withdraw money, buy socks, or a white shirt, delicious tangy sweets, or chocolate coated macadamia nuts.  Half a bottle of white wine in a bottle-shaped can for £1.95! All manner of snacks, treats and drinks all new and wonderfully surprising.

I am glad to have experienced the calm meditative space of a Buddhist temple prayer led by a monk, whilst sitting on tatami mats. Even for non-believers it’s a deeply moving experience, a chance to meditate and understand how lucky we are.

Japan  – for a visitor, is an incredible safe place, I have wandered the streets at night with my camera, taking photos and not once felt in the slightest bit anxious or out of place.

I have travelled here with a group of amateur photographers, guided by two tutors who are ready and willing and expert at advising on settings and opportunities. As well as leading us to the most amazing places, organising transport, tickets, hotels, everything.

We visited a tiny family run Sake factory to taste their wares and see the extraordinary equipment dating from more than 50 years ago. And we’ve been to the tech area of Tokyo to buy the latest gadgets. We’ve had hot baths in the open, with expansive views, eaten banquets whilst seated cross legged on tatami mats and sipped cocktails in a bar on the 34th floor overlooking Tokyo.

The food is extraordinary and of such incredibly good quality and freshness, lots of raw fish and pickled plums and rare beef, bean curd, edible flowers, all sorts of new flavours. And plenty of Japanese beer and Sake.

So much more to tell but here are some photos to suggest some of the wonder of Japan.

Makers marks in the huge stones of the ramparts in the Imperial Palace Garden

A screen in a first floor dining room in Kyoto, bamboo mesh with a delicate carved wood surround

Noren were originally used to protect a house from wind, dust, and rain, as well as to keep a house warm on cold days and to provide shade on hot summer days.They can also be used for decorative purposes or for dividing a room into two separate spaces.

Ancient pine woods in the mountains near Hakone

Dining rooms in Kyoto are often protected by wood and paper screens. So tempting to peek in!

Bamboo woods outside the perimeter of an elaborate garden full of bonsai, streams, raked gravel and perfect traditional wooden houses.

A great exanmple of a wood panel on an old house in the Edo district of Tokyo, the wood would have been flamed to remove the softer less waterproof areas, leaving a long lasting weatherproof finish. Traditionally called Shou-sugi-ban

I came across a carpenter working on some large trunks of wood, I asked him what he was makig, he took some spare wood and a red felt-tipped pen and drew this, its a traditional temple gateway.

Exterior walls of traditional houses are often covered with split bamboo panelling as a way of weatherproofing.Take a large diameter bamboo pole and split it in many sections along its length, flatten it out and nail it to a wall, so simple but probably requires great skill.

The inclined roadway outside our hotel in Shibuya district in Tokyo, I think it is concrete poured in situ and moulded with these indented circles to afford grip in icy or wet weather.

Bamboo fencing around an ornamental garden

Narrow lengths of bamboo latticed together to form a screen within a restaurant.

The oldest temple in Kyoto dates back to the Chinese influenced style. This wooden handrail has been worn away by the people coming to pray.

Everyone lights a length of incense to leave in the sand tray outside the main entrance to the temple.

We visited a great many stations in transit during our time in Tokyo, so I can’t recall which one this is but it perfectly captures the speed of commuters and great design so often seen in the vast transport network.