Low Relief Construction

A whole series of my work has been inspired by a drawing of my father’s from 30 years ago. His original was based on visually extracting shapes from a classic Tumbling Blocks schema used in drawing, painting, patchwork and many other formats.

This is his drawing on paper in ink and two thicknesses of line.

I have made a number of drawn versions of my own.

A sketched and cut version in heavy water-colour paper.
A sketched drawing in white crayon on water-coloured paper.
After many other versions in drawing, painting and cutting I have now embarked on a low relief version in painted plywood. The pieces were cut out usung a tiny reciprocating jig-saw that my mother owned from the mid ’80s.

Here are some of the stages I have passed through. Hopefully tomorrow it will be finished.

Drawn out with pencil and set square, then cut out with the jigsaw
The complete design incised into the backboard
Laying out the pieces and deciding how far away from the surface they should sit.
Some of the pieces with spacers glued to the back
Painted and ready for assembly

Where Light Falls – Exhibition at Pen’rallt Gallery Bookshop

Diane and Geoff of Pen’rallt Gallery Bookshop are mounting the third year of their annual open submission photography exhibition, opening on Saturday 19th October in Machynlleth, Powys until 27th November 2013.

There are 47 exhibitors altogether, Diane and Geoff chose to include “Blue Room” from the group of six photographs I submitted.

Blue Room
Blue Room

These are the others. It is a small gallery, so only one image per exhibitor is displayed on the walls but all the rest can be seen in a browser in the gallery.

The theme they proposed “Where Light Falls” could apply to any photograph in some way, it was an interesting opportunity to explore the effects of light in its own right rather than the objects or people being photographed, although the two can’t really be separated. Some of these photos were taken deliberately with the theme in mind, others simply seemed to fit, serendipity stepping in as in “That Look”.

Last Rays
Last Rays
Desk Lamp
Desk Lamp
Thames Embankment
Thames Embankment
32ºC in the Shade
32ºC in the Shade
Where Shadows Fall
Where Shadows Fall

That Look That Look

The Old House

On a cold night there is a certain pleasure in stepping out of a warm bed in bare feet onto polished oak floor-boards, feeling the contrast against my skin as I reach for the chamber pot in the darkness. The floor is uneven, sloping back from the window towards the centre of the house, a soft glow of the light below filtering through the gaps. It is an old house, built in 1530 they say, it has settled slowly onto its rocky outcrop at the top of a hill, a gentle slope on one side, a precipitous drop into the ravine on the other. The house creaks and moves, I am not alone here, there are rare bats who  flit silently through the shadows leaving only the tiniest traces of their visits. There are other diminutive  creatures sharing my little blue bedroom and its red framed window. Moths fly up when I disturb the covers, spiders extrude their sticky webs across my brushes left unused on the window sill. Now and then I think I hear scamperings, perhaps my brother’s dog or a mouse searching for spilled biscuit crumbs.

The fine white sheets feel smooth as satin, the crumbling blue plaster reminds me of half forgotten dusty corners from my childhood, I feel at peace, protected from the outside by the warnings of the quartet of geese. At last the sun edges in through the un-curtained window, filling the eaves with warmth and the raking light revealing the layers of distemper and plaster stretching back in time.


At the other end of the day as the sun is setting, the last rays snatch the chance to seep through the play of leaves and leading in the window to charm me with a display of dappled fire on the rough plaster of the living room wall. The spiders have been here too but have scurried away into the dark alcove where Puss escapes for some peace.


Filtered Light and Shade

A visit to the sculpture park at Chateau Chaumont brought about an unexpected delight, part installation, part sculpture, by a Japanese artist, sending misty vapour into the landscape and providing a mystical medium for visitors to explore. The carefully arranged square of water/mist jets, set high up in the trees, emits a continuous cloud of vapour for around 5 minutes at 5 minute intervals. Meanwhile the mist responds to whatever windy eddies may prevail and wanders off over the adjacent lake or hangs about making the unwary visitor damp and soggy but inspired by the soft light filtered by the mist.


In the mist

In the mist 2

We visited another much smaller chateau at St Aignan, where the sweeping steps leading from the church below to the chateau courtyard above provided a delightful opportunity to play with shadows and light. The balustrade of sandstone, or is it limestone, worn away by rain, catches and disperses the early evening light.

evening sun

Chateau steps

Later in the evening during a stroll through the village, we spied on people’s windows, shrouded in gaudy lace or masked by dimpled glass. We couldn’t make out whether this was a perfectly ordinary desk with its own desk-lamp in silhouette, or a more sinister creature biding its time before taking over the world.


Shadow Play on the Cher

I couldn’t resist playing shadow puppets with my friends on the old toll house at the end of the bridge over the Cher at St Aignan.
I had seen the shadow cast by a figure passing over the bridge and asked my friends to help out in recreating the same effect.  They delighted me with their amusing positioning, one of them  had been carrying a large cake box by a string handle and decided to wear it as a hat to match the other two.

Brompton Square

I have been taking photographs on the streets at night with a small group of people. I happened to capture this group of running figures and heard some shouting.  On waking the next day I found this part-story already formed in my head. I don’t know yet if there will be more to come but let me know if you find it intriguing (or daft!).

Brompton Sqaure

Brompton Square

It was a wet, cold night in February the kind of night where puddles lie full of wild reflections flickering with vivid colours. Brompton Square was a good address in a respectable area of London but if you look hard enough you’ll find something dark behind the curtains.
I waited at the Cromwell Road end of the Square the damp creeping into my shoes. I was sure that something was going to kick-off.  I knew the where and the likely when but not the what.
I had a clear view down the brightly lit terrace of stuccoed Regency houses. Rows of wrought iron railings and shiny black doors where the lions-head knockers kept their polished eyes on the street. A London cab was parked down the far end the headlights throwing everything in their path into silhouette. Two men in dark overcoats and a woman with flesh-coloured tights were strolling towards me, just as they passed under the street light, I snapped a discreet shot or two of their faces from low down by my waist hoping they wouldn’t notice. A group of dark-coated figures standing far down the street were huddled too tight to count.
The first group walked passed me disappearing into the rush hour throng on the Cromwell Road.  She gave me a bit of a sideways glance sending chills down my back, did she recognise me? Soon a car pulled up opposite No57. A middle-aged man got out, walked over to the house and with a fumbling at the lock with his key he pushed open the door. I caught him in my view finder and clicked twice, once at the fumble and then again as he slipped into the bright hallway the door closing behind him. This was the right place then, he was wearing a hat. I was expecting that.
Ten minutes later I moved out of the shadows and crossed the street to the corner, hovering for a last look, maybe this was a mistake after all. It was right then as I turned to go that it began. A figure of man with a fur-collared coat was briefly lit by the shaft of bright light as he came out into the street from the corner house. Shouts and dull thuds of punches or baseball bats on flesh came from the far end. The taxi revved and sped down the street in my direction. The huddled group had burst apart, figures were leaping the railings into the central gardens. Three more were running fast as hell towards me coats flapping in crow-like panic. It was now or never. I got just one shot but you couldn’t see their faces.  I didn’t stop for a second shot, I needed to keep out of sight. I turned quickly out of Brompton Square and up towards Harrods melting into the crowd. They’d be after me for sure if they’d seen me.

The next morning I read the newspaper version of what had gone on down there in genteel Knightsbridge and there were my photos. I had sent my three good shots to my contact and he’d passed them on.  My job had been to prove that certain people had been in that place on that night. The man in the hat from No57, the woman in the flesh-coloured tights and the running group. I didn’t ask why, the less I knew the better.  It would be a long time before the whole story came out but by then I was a long way from there.