Saturday 15 December 2012

Solid Sodium

Solid bodies under soft sodium hue
Moving swiftly in shades of orange.
As fast as they can, seeming oblivious

An unnoticed shadow scurries behind
Sometimes ahead, sometimes three;
People melt past in unconscious dance

Of black, pale and paler as light's cast
Circling, stretching, gracefully arching
A spectrally synchronised pas de trois

Friday 14 December 2012

Belief suspended at the RAI

Pain. Some will go out of their way to avoid it, making use of all medical science to dull the sensations and make the feeling go away. Even the medical terms used euphemise it; a 'sharp scratch', 'mild discomfort' ensure that you are safely cocooned and protected from negativity. I don't pretend to know about chronic pain...I'm lucky, but there are migraine moments when my head, neck and eyes are clenched in stomach churning agony. It is a normal reaction for me to blindly reach for pain relief and sink into a proper sleep.

Except secretly I don't always immediately take tablets. I don't know why and I've never really questioned this but to lie there and feel the familiar ache is both comforting and oddly rhythmic. Without that monthly incredible river of brain sickness on that right hand side, I'm not sure how I'd feel. I consciously and carefully explore what is going on in my body observe the blood pumping into a furnace like head and wonder how much I can take. No, this probably isn't rational but a lecture last night gave a vague insight into what might be going on.

Friday 7 December 2012

War, memory and museums

Of all the lectures so far this one interested me the most even though some of the ideas Dr Gabriel Koureas presented I want to argue with. I remember being deeply affected by a visit to the Imperial War Museum's Holocaust galleries, as well as visiting the Wiener Archives earlier in the year, so I read the entire suggested lecture journal/book list with fascinated interest.

'Traumatic recall is full of fleeting images the percussion of blows, sounds and movement of the body' wrote Roberta Coulson in 1995. Ordinary memories are something we can recall or narrate however this is not the case with traumatic memories. There is a break in the narrative. Someone who experiences war finds it hard to construct a narrative for that event. They experience embodied flashbacks/memories.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Shhh - do not disturb

Apologies for the brief hiatus on the Utterances. I'm currently in the middle of a piece of work looking at the use of space in Chris Orr's 'Road to Damascus' and Wenceslaus Hollar's 'Long View'. It's probably one of the hardest things I've attempted to make sense of since I tried to do something clever like discuss the existence of different kinds of scientific proof (demonstration and argumentation) in Copernicus's De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. Yes I know. Remind me to put that one up here at some point.

Anyway I blogged about these two prints previously and was so taken with their connection that I decided to do my first MA course work on them. That was an easy task: writing up a lecture from notes is a straightforward proposition. For this 5000 word academic essay I'm having to actually think about complex ideas about slippery subjects. Like space, for instance.

Sunday 4 November 2012


Why do black headed gulls leave 
Me mournful? Circling clad in winter 
Plumage, rapaciously feeding
Against a heavy sky, braving the cold. 
Colours fading like their seasonal feathers
Leaving the scene melancholy flat 

An empty canal side distantly wind rippled; 
Rib-like foliage submits to inevitable fate
Whilst the still green stalks mutter, 'gloves,
Give us gloves!' How cold do the pink legs
Of the determined joggers look? Their hats
Worn, like the white fluff of the gulls.

A cloud goes bang; mistaken early firework
Too early, too grey, too chemical red.
But the group of gulls used to the quiet
Dissipate to perching safety to survey
Drear water; suddenly the air is empty
Not even a gull to enervate the gloom.

Saturday 3 November 2012


Only connect. One year ago James Burke presented examples of the most elaborate yet utterly obvious ways of looking at the connective nature of innovation and its social effects. He demonstrated the infinite number of paths of exploration among people, places, things, and events. I’m convinced this changed the way I looked at my life because since then I’ve been struck by the colliding points of interest in my life and the patterns they make. From last week’s Art/Photography/Space/Death to this week when I’ve covered Art/Neurology/Music/Memory, all is connected. My thoughts this week have come together through a lecture on neuroarthistory, a performance of Debussy’s music, and a dinner conversation about a famous neurologist.

Friday 26 October 2012


Holding hands and stepping forward
A trust in each other a trust in the sky
That the rain will stop and the love that will not
Catching a breath. Stop. Look up.

Silence as rain falls all around
Silence as moments slow motion fall

A promise in rainbow, no unweaving here
Just a presentiment felt and deeply seared
Refracting in black, illuminated in dark
Let endless drops move to our rhythms. 

Thursday 25 October 2012


On my course so far we’ve covered labels, art/space/geography and this week we are looking at the art of photography. So when I saw the title of the first incredibly timely and apposite lecture at the Inside Out festival ‘Death and Space’ my attendance was assured. ‘Death and the Contemporary’ according to the website, is a series of ‘site-specific events providing an opportunity for interdisciplinary discussions to consider issues surrounding the representation of death in contemporary culture’.

Paul Benney 'Pissing Death' (2012)
And where better to talk art, photography, space, contemporary cultural practices and death than in the Deadhouse under Fountain Court at Somerset House? This space resonated with all these connections; from links with the 17th century dead who were in attendance, to contemporary portrayals of powerful spirituality with the art of Paul Benney. As a brief aside, his exhibition works in perfect synchronicity with the light wells and moody, enclosed spaces of the Deadhouse. His mysterious shadowy figures beckon you, forests threaten to maroon you, saints watch over you, whilst Death in time honoured tradition simply pisses all over you.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Reflections reflected: Chris Orr at the Geological Society

Chris Orr RA. On the Road to Damascus
Heraclitus has entered into my life twice in the past week, both times relating to discussions of space, change, art and rivers. He states that “no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” He essentially believed that nature was in a state of constant flux, with things changing spontaneously without any external prompting. This is a very interesting place to start when talking about the artistic presentation of the built environment. Any landscape which has had repeated encounters with people will be undergoing constant change, both natural (through flooding/water, possible subsidence, vegetation growth etc) and unnatural (new buildings, changes in land use, pollution etc).

Friday 12 October 2012

Categorising Renaissance art: Or cavete titulos*

‘any classification or any signpost in the landscape is welcomed for its help in the mastering of an unstructured reality’ 
E. H. Gombrich, “Norm and Form: The Stylistic Categories of Art History and their Origins in Renaissance Ideals”, in his book Norm and Form: Studies in the Art of the Renaissance, I (London: Phaidon, 1966), 82–83

This lecture was the first of our term of Current Approaches to the History of Art. It’s interesting to note that it is also the earliest and first in chronological terms. Using the terms High Renaissance and Mannerism, Dr Caldwell sets out to explore the labels and divisions that, though they have their roots in the 16th century, were set in stone in the modern era. She was also to examine how we came to categorise label artistic styles and be aware of its artificial subjective disciplines.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Mother and child

With separate double golden suns
In between she sits, the untouchable
Dawnlike Mother. Her roseate cheeks
Glow whilst dusk pink gown drapes
And shrouds a graceful form.
Pale eyes cast down lost in thought,
As if, like me, searching for words.

Her slender hands shield her child
From our rapt intensity; He notices not
Her or our abstraction, he reaches out
As if to touch the curious bird tamely,
Lightly perched on that blush sleeve.
Signifying separation of his earthly care
A perpetual reaching, a never touching

Like the woman and the child. 
Like the viewer and the woman.

Inspired by Jacopo Bellini's (1396-1471) 'Madonna col Bambino'

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Art of Change: Children, perceptions and transformations

A silken thread of connected elements have woven this day together; a rich warm tapestry of friendship, laughter, thoughts and new experiences for the little ones. An earthy rattle of an underground train took us to a ride in the sky; with a glint of river and watery aquarium whilst the hot passion of London's celebrations rose up around us. 

Whilst the children descended into the London Aquarium, I took to the airy space of the Southbank Centre. The evening had witnessed some serious child's play with pretend dogs participating at a tea party. Using this as a basis of altered perception and imagination, I wondered whether 'new directions in Chinese art' would prove to be as thought provoking and inspiring as a three year old? Would ovidian transformations be made in the blank white cube space? 

Tuesday 11 September 2012

CPD: What next with webinars?

Continuing professional development has never been more important. Content remains the most serious aspect of training but in reality, providers are keen to be fully engaged with course attendees and they are constantly looking at new and better ways to deliver their CPD content. With this in mind I attended an ‘Innovation in CPD webinars’ breakfast meeting this morning as representative of the firm’s Learning & Development Committee. 

Saturday 8 September 2012

London Tonight

A gathering of excited threads
So many tendrils of glee
On the River of light, metallic drums

In other places medals are won
Cacophony chats languages many
Voices like glass happily chime 

Surrounded by people en masse
Summer feels eternally warm;
Cocooned, loved, all happy opportunities 

United in London the anticipation lives

Jury Service

I meant to post these poems ages ago. They were inspired by jury service and progress from the waiting around, to the case and finally the feelings I was left with at the end.


A boredom of faces wide in types
Some simply vacantly staring
Many in REM
Others engrossed in curly eared novels
Or Nintendo games

The silent hum of patient people
Punctuated by terse tannoy
A call to attention
Read instructions guaranteed somnambulance

Suddenly over
A shift in gear and queues form quickly
Confusion. A puzzled face
People promptly depatched
I'm still sat here waiting listening to snores
Wish I was at work!

The Case

'I didn't mean to stab him til I stabbed him'
Pronounced the irresponsible immature
Living separately together in family unit

'I did it in self defense'
Continued the gentle non aggressive
Best friend
Who shows no sign of injury

How much force to penetrate an ear?
How much force to puncture a lung?

'I remember nothing'
Announces the confused life saver life taking
With bloodstains engraved on his soul

'I don't know where I put the knife'
Evades the scared ill advised unfortunate
Young man
With the knife in his pocket

'I went downstairs to see if everything was ok'
Reflected the worried, shocked, vacant
Who knelt to breathe life into bloodied lungs

How much blood in chest cavity to kill?
How much air to escape until life extinct?

The Sentence

No words to describe
The grief
Caused by that responsibility

'Take him down'

No escape
Locked together for life

Life, Death, Sex: Ovid in music

Now I am ready to to tell how bodies are changed into different bodies
So starts Ted Hughes's translation of the Metamorphoses. This great work has not been out of fashion since it was written over 2000 years ago. A perpetual reminder that we are fascinated by the stories of human passion and obsession, as well as exploring the whimsical caprice of gods and goddesses. At the heart of the poem is 250 stories of change, told with a lightness of touch and linguistic depth comparable with the parables of the bible. Stories that take difficult ideas and transform them so that anyone can understand them; human complexities distilled into perfect concentrated capsules awaiting release.

Monday 27 August 2012

Art History: Back to basics part two

Here is the second part of the test, called Approaches. I may have cried doing part of this because it made my brain hurt. I think it was ultimately rewarding though and once again I used the internet only in an emergency - rediscovering  indexes and glossaries.

Can you explain what the following terms mean: chiaroscuro, the gaze, iconography, the canon, ekphrasis, polyptych, hegemony, contrapposto, readymade, paradigm? (You should be aware that some of these terms are not narrowly art-historical but are also used in scholarship in the humanities more generally).

Chiaroscuro: Italian technical term meaning light/shade, used especially when they are strongly contrasting. Joseph Wright of Derby in his paintings of scientific experiments makes full use of the dramatic effects of light and dark. 

Sunday 26 August 2012

Art History: Back to basics part one

As preparation for further Art History study, I thought I would attempt some questions posed by the Open University. There are two parts to the test, Information and Approaches. I've started with Information. As a further challenge, only emergency Internet was used in the answering of these.

What is meant by the hierarchy of the genres? Can you give an account of its origins and development?

The hierarchy of the genres was evidence of the rationalising methods of the European fine art academies (17th century -) who taught that types or genres of paintings were arranged in a hierarchical order. 

Thursday 23 August 2012

Flexible Working = Business as Usual

At home not eating cheese
I wanted to write a short personal piece on whether my Olympic contingency plan had worked or not. Quite simply, it had. Over those two weeks I started thinking about the implications of library and information professionals working from home, such things as flexible hours, home working technologies and wondering if it would work longer term. 

As background, I am solo professional librarian in a medium sized central London law firm. My contracted hours are 9.30-5.30, 5 days a week. My firm is average in its attitude to flexible working and was happy to look at alternative ways of working during this time.

Although the Olympics was necessarily a one off event and the government were ‘"relying on businesses to plan" to keep London functioning’, my firm felt it was a good opportunity to review various other HR policies, IT back up, disaster recovery plans as a side effect. As it happens we could not have anticipated the success of the apparently indestructible London infrastructure – from transport to telecoms. The firm also stressed that this period was not a ‘license to skive’, which was reflected in our ‘business as usual’ Olympic Plan. Indeed my productivity has improved and I’ve already taken examples of improved working practices to the Partnership Director. 

Saturday 18 August 2012

Traces of London Life: Refusing to Despair

Despair in all its forms have been troubling me in the last few weeks. It's sad to see someone you care about come apart at the seams and know that you can only help by staying away. I've never suffered the true despair that comes with mental illness; my despair has been caused by very natural causes suffered in the course of life. Change. Loss of love. Death. All terrible but all possible to overcome with the right outlook, contrary indomitable spirit and very good friends to help you through the impossible times.

Friday 17 August 2012

Finding Legal CPD Courses

It's about the communication, stupid!
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an essential part of a Knowledge Management strategy. When the process is working properly it not only ensures that an individual is up to date in specialist areas of their practice but also it means that they take the information back to their departments. Whether the information is presented verbally at meetings, or written about in a piece of knowhow, incorporated into a precedent etc, it seeps into the fabric of the firm’s knowledge and is turned into profit. This is crucial given the initial expense – there has to be a return on this investment.

This process is important so to see how it works for us I went back to the beginning. How do the lawyers find out what courses are available?

Wednesday 15 August 2012

György Ligeti - Poème Symphonique For 100 Metronomes

Sounds of beating cicadas singing the day
Hammering out song brashly bright

Lying awake listening to warm rain
These machines tapping insistent patterns

Mechanical toy chattering madly until
Slowing. Lazily. Grinding. Halting

Clattering hooves of horse drawn hearse
Pulling their load into quiet distance

Final rewinding of internal clock
Gentle, with care, of old mechanism

Counting our life's minutes seconds
Dying away. Final clicks. Slowly 

Double desynchronising momentum 
Profound phasing in and out  

Single heart beating life 



Tuesday 7 August 2012

Tiny blue

Gleeful spirits sailing
Soaring and bubbling their
True delight in the air

Gravity free flying
Butterflying blue
Tiny rarity in the air

Following haphazard joy
Curiously, knowingly
Captivated by colour

Powdery hues dancing
Sparkling eyes watch
Their blurring turquoise air

For the splendid @classicpassion

Saturday 4 August 2012

Millennium Bridge Soundscape

Serenity bustles by businesslike
Water music accompanies the crowd
Discordant chords sooth the sky
Which turns from colour to silver
To match the glistening notes
All around us

Waves of people; waves of river
In unconscious unnoticing synchronicity
Shafts of light rising and sinking
In time, out of time, eternal histories
Whispered and felt and insistent
All around us

Thursday 26 July 2012

Titian Poem

Static against the shifting;
Rippled reflections more real
Than reality. Materiality of
changes seen in glass, pearls,
Eyes belying senses choice.
All ideas, bodies, minds in flux

And this for the Twitter version

Static against shifting/Rippled reflections more real/Than reality. Materiality of/Changes seen belying senses/All ideas in flux #titianpoem

Monday 23 July 2012

Virgin Nature

You can dress it up how you like
That statute of the Virgin under
That symbolic Cross of Roman torture

They look out across the dividing strait
Overlooking the slanted rocks
Formed millennia ago long before us

That's no young Christian god for me
It's ancient, spirits of ages long since Here; as sea beds rose, so did they.

Look, listen, eyes closed, body prone
In the deafening peace of the solitude.
Feel their pulse in the waves, light, sound.

Yes the Virgin stands with flowers there
See her, admire her for her pagan past
She is timeless nature, sublime and true.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Epic Poets

Oh, you bards of old with your tales
Of changes, voyages and wars!
How easy it is to imagine you
Looking around and listening and taking
Dictation from gods direct.

The sea invites the intrepid,
Rocky inlets to shelter the brave
To moor safely and trees to shade.
Lighting fires for home hearths and gather
Telling eternal stories of might.

The hills encourage the hardy;
Neither shelter nor cave is seen
The loneliness of black speck soars.
Still, the grey scrub offers scented breeze
A perfect stage for those ancient giants

As the sky darkens and storms roll by
Violet flashes illuminate the bay
Where are you now, oh bards of old?
Spin us your threads, carve us your heros
A night like this speaks your thunder.

Saturday 21 July 2012

Encounters: Hilary Mantel at the National Gallery

It seems that the National Gallery is busily knitting threads between all the different London arts. There is the incredible Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 exhibition which is the product of a successful collaboration between the Royal Ballet, contemporary artists, poets, composers and choreographers. In addition to this, the Gallery has also been encouraging modern writers to consider how they look at and write about art in 'Encounters: Writers on Writing about Art'. The first was by Edmund de Waal, the second (which I missed) was James Elkins and the final one last night was Hilary Mantel.

Where de Waal used modern, impressionist art to provide a psychological insight into his family history, Hilary Mantel was haunted  by the lush materiality of Holbein's 'The Ambassadors'. It was an image that she and her husband took everywhere; a constant link with home and always the first thing on the wall in a new place. She liked to think of Jean de Dinteville and his friend Georges de Selve looking down at sights that they couldn't have possibly imagined and she was inspired by their vital presence and worldly sophistication.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Strange Hungers: Strange thought processes

A good exhibition should spark a thought which sets your whole mind alight, a beacon of artistic ideas, illuminating a world of experiences and memories. Today an artist set me thinking about feminism or being a feminist. It’s not a fashionable term or label but as an intelligent thoughtful human, I take it for granted that women can participate fully within society. The merest suggestion I can or can’t do something because of my sex, is for me, a ridiculous idea.

Sunday 8 July 2012

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

And now for something a little more personal again. My saintly diet went on holiday for the weekend. I shall loftily call it a religious retreat as there was a christening involved. And wine. For those interested in the state of my diet grace, we had a lovely light pasta dinner on Friday, then a Saturday Chinese, followed by a buffet lunch on Sunday with rather yummy sparking wine.

Monday 2 July 2012

Ut pictura poesis: Or, poetry in stillness

Paul Writing, c.1894 by Camille Pissarro
Forgive the Latin pretension but I'm talking about poetry and it's a licence to be pretentious, sadly. I occasionally word dabble, people I know are prone to versification and it turns out theatrical types enjoy mangling the recitation of it (more of that anon). But despite its perceived inaccessibility, for me it remains a perfect tool to try to describe art and reactions to art because 'poetry (more than anything else) resembles painting'.

My poetic weekend started Friday with Edmund de Waal, potter and author giving a lecture at the National Gallery. Ostensibly it was about how he approached the challenges of writing about art and his art collecting forebears. However given his thoughtful sensitive approach, his talk went much deeper and he shared what has happened to his art as a result of his writing and it set me thinking about poetry.

Saturday 16 June 2012


Hand prints
Evidence of touch
Yearning pale skin
Rising to meet

Mind prints
Sight of exploration
Flickering images
Lighting the eyes

Body imprints
Echo of sensation
Rhythmically moving
Swaying with lust

Tuesday 12 June 2012

'Imagine': Connections with contemporary artists

Once again the happy connections that are constantly weaving themselves around me struck this evening. I'd done a favour for one of my lawyers and I was merrily bouncing back to the office with an armful of books when the most amazing image in a local art gallery window stopped me in my tracks. Being easily distracted by an open door, sounds of a party and free champagne, I wandered in and jotted down a few thoughts.

My Great Aunty Phyllis

A lifetime away; another world.

A memory of farm, warm kitchen
A basket of kittens, a new pet
A whisking of eggs, dessert made
A multitude of people, friends all
A tree of cherries, pink tongues
A Victorian loo, too high for me
A white garden gate, coming home

All images to carry, she's there still
A loved lady, a precious aunt. 

Phyllis Mary Boulcott (nee Jones) of Much Cowarne, (formerly of Home House, Bringsty). Died peacefully at Hereford County Hospital on June 5th, 2012 aged 89 years. Much loved wife of Percy, mother of Jean, Pam and the late John.

Monday 11 June 2012

Bomarzo and Ariosto: Moon, Madness and Hippogriffs

It occurred to me the other day that there was no renaissance material on this blog, which given my background, is a travesty! So I was looking around my archives and I found this little something on topics very close to my heart;  poetry, gardens and intellectual endeavour. Using a sixteenth century epic poem called Orlando furioso I explore how it influenced key aspects and themes of the so-called Parco dei Mostri, a fabulous Italian renaissance garden. 

Thursday 7 June 2012

Rothko and the Late Series: A very late review...from 2009

This review has been sitting on my bookshelf for a few years but I still think it has something of value to say about Mark Rothko. Revisiting the Tate rooms a short while back, his Murals remain some of the most monumental pieces of art I've ever seen. For me, a backdrop for contemplation and dreaming, self examination and inspiration. For others, something darker and more terrifying.

Tuesday 5 June 2012


My eyes drawn upwards,
Bright lights direct
Destination moonlight;
Hematite heaven draped
With dainty weblike clouds.
Artificial vented wisps
Compete to clothe the sky.
Yet moments romantic,
Illuminated by silvery sky,
Between my soul's windows
And the unattainable moon
Reflect veiled drifting
Dreams of longing love.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Sea Sky Earth

Sea stripes
Turquoise slices
Pebbly froth
Flinty golds
Rhythmic diamonds
Across the bay

Trees tower
Malachite fibrous
Leafy frills
Wispy verdure
Still dewy pearls
Across the sky

Fields enclosed
Emerald facets
Grassy fronds
Tamed nature
Scatters floral gems
Across the earth

Friday 1 June 2012

Reigning on One's Parade?: Diamond Geezer at the William Wilson Gallery

I’m so underwhelmed by the whole Jubilee jamboree that I’m planning on disappearing this weekend and avoiding my beloved London for the entire flag waving four days. So anything which pokes fun and subverts this Establishment show is absolutely welcome, which is why I found myself in Hatton Garden, EC1 twice this week heading towards the Wilson Williams gallery. The irony begins before you even get to the curious little gallery, with the gorgeous windows of many jewellery shops having a queenly theme; emphasising the diamond, in diamond Jubilee.

Sensory Idyll

Scents of childhood return;
Retreated ignored to hidden spaces
Winter is a dusty attic; yet in
Summer thoughts come out to play

Smells so vivid, arresting
Cut grass, staining so stubborn
Throwing off clothes encumbrant
To lie, face down, in the green

Sights to unfurl the heart
Honeysuckle pinkly glowing
Intoxicating iridescent flies
To watch, to dream, take flight

Water with magnetic attraction
River's forbidden, dangerous allure
Caress my fingers, lap at my toes
To tingle, to entwine, with icy foam

Stealthy plucking of stolen herbs
Youthful exploratory palate
Bitter sorrel, warm sage, fennel chewed
To taste, to experience, all is new

Mind excludes all external sounds
The background clamour drowned out
My humming company of voices
To listen, to question, noise unceasing

My young senses are all still here:
Tuned, acknowledged and vital
Constantly quickening because
If forgotten, summer's over, dead. 

Sunday 27 May 2012


Take me I'm yours
Look at the sky
Endlessly dark
Pierce me with light

Have me I'm free
Listen to waves
Repeatedly hard
Openly there's no fight

Make me I'm yours
Touch the stones
Caress the velvet
With only pure delight

Sunday 20 May 2012

Skin Deep at Hay Hill Gallery

Artist Jamie McCartney(left)

As I get older and wiser experience confirms that judging by appearances is never a good idea. One of the benefits of social media is swapping ideas and inner most thoughts, getting to know people from the inside first, allowing inner beauty to shine through. Then should you meet, you already know the mind of the person, if not the superficial flesh. And their looks, really, does it matter? Why are people so judgemental regarding what is on the surface? 

Skin Deep explores ‘notions of beauty and society’s obsession with the physical self’. The artist Jamie McCartney ‘depicts his models in their natural state without recourse to the scourge of image manipulation …they celebrate the human body and human condition.’ The exhibition contains over forty large photographs, bronzes, and plaster casts and is deeply intimate in subject; the human form is stripped bare leaving skin and personality exposed.

Thursday 10 May 2012

Sound Art Again: John Wynne

Communal city living is a trial if you’re a light sleeper. If you’ve experienced the deep booming noises coming from the building around you as your neighbours move around, shut doors, have the TV on, do the washing it is extremely disrupting.

You then start noticing other noises like the continual traffic, rumble of buses, trucks and trains as you lie there. Then early morning rolls around and you get the chirruping of birds, regular pulse of the tube and sudden sirens from emergency vehicles which startle you into wakefulness.

Which is what makes John Wynne’s Installation no 2 for high and low frequency so enthralling; the first sounds as you enter the space are intriguing, then troubling as you realise the gallery building is heavy with the sounds of itself and there is no escape from the noise.

Monday 7 May 2012

Love pain

Pain intentional
Quickening nothing
Making heart wrench

Deep slicing
Hurt darkening
Not finding a way

Blissful emptiness
Longing for releases
Deafening capsules

Not going away
Intentional harm
Droplets ooze

Screaming ache
Of darkness calling
Pain intended

Thursday 3 May 2012


An introspective greyness
Bodies hunched
Wading through damp air

Daytime misery of society
Brought unwillingly
Into reluctant light

Concrete ribbons leading
To serene glass heights
Contents marching emptily

Those who haven't, gaze
Seeing or unseeing
Eyes unreadable souls detached

Those who have, gaze
And don't see purposefully
Willing slaves to this dank world

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Losing My Focus: Thomas Ruff's ma.r.s photographs

The geometric serenity of Ben Nicholson’s white 3D sculpture pictures have been haunting me since I saw them yesterday lunchtime. The clever formation of shadowed curves and lines in his pieces are subtle and ever changing depending on the direction of the light. We constantly have a need for perceptions to be challenged, viewpoints shifted and the unexpected to be just around the curve, hidden from sight. 

Monday 16 April 2012

Unlocking the Universe: Off prints and scientific publishing

I’ve been following the arguments surrounding the publishing of scientific research with interest; what the Guardian are calling an ‘Academic Spring’. Since the Wellcome Trust, in conjunction with The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Max Planck Society ‘announced they are to support a new, top-tier, open access journal for biomedical and life sciences research’, various academics have come out very much in favour of freely accessible research papers. Recently mathematicians have taken matters into their own hands and thrown down the gauntlet in front of Elsevier publishing. This has major implications for academic libraries and the renegotiation of journals contracts. I will continue to monitor this from a professional stand point.

Serenity, Or On Ben Nicholson's 1935 (white relief)

Simplicity of whites
Circles encircle
Lines divide

Perfection of balance
Attention held
Quiet abstraction

Moment of time
Storm clouds gather
Friends harmonious

Expanse of space
Moons and suns
Shadows cast

Held in thrall
Geometric precision
Monumental comforting

On Ben Nicholson 1935 (white relief)
And a reminder of a serene Saturday.

Friday 6 April 2012

Thank you!

I am moved by the generosity of the Twitterers I know. Even left me a little tearful which if you know me, is very unlike me.

I first found out about Kids Company in 2002 when I stopped sending Christmas cards and started giving money to charity - they were the first and I've never looked back.

It's not just kids in London that need a bit of a leg up, I also have a friend in Ghana. He sees me as adoptive mum/sister and we've known each other years. I'm paying for his university education which if you're a parent, you'll know it's not just the fees but all the other bits that go with it. Not to mention finding books and case law for him! I hope one day he will be a VIP person in Ghana and I'm able to say, 'I helped a bit'. That he is brilliantly clever, utterly motivated and has a thirst for knowledge with which I can sympathise, assists enormously.

The running started as a whim to get fit this year. Get this, I'm thinking of a half marathon next and definitely staying on the 10K training because I'm feeling ultra fit and can eat many bacon and fried bread sarnies. You can tell by the picture how much I'm loving it.

If anyone else wants to make me run faster, please feel free to donate. Or don't donate and send a nice encouraging message instead. Much appreciated.

So yes, if we all do our little bit it might make things better. I don't do it to make myself feel good, I do it because I love people. And you're all pretty fab too. *sends kisses to all*


As of 12 April I have one more training session to go according to micoach. Apparently I'm ready to go and all I have to do is turn up at West Ham Park at ridiculous o' clock on Sunday morning.

Thursday 5 April 2012

Looking and Listening: Contemporary Rwandan Art

Sometimes I will look for art and sometimes art will find me. Yesterday was the former (yes I know, I need to write it up) and today was the latter. I was going to my usual lunch place and the small gallery nearby  caught my eye. So I went in to investigate.

The name of the show is ‘Rwanda: A group show by 8contemporary Rwandan artists’ at the Charlie Dutton Gallery. According to the notes, this is the first occasion that Rwandan art has been shown in the UK. They continue, saying that 'in the context of the pressures that the country has faced, the formal teaching of visual art has taken a back seat so it is extraordinary that artists are working and practising to produce art that challenges their understood conventions, represents their own expression and that of their countrymen’.

A long winded way of saying that heartfelt, honest art flourishes regardless of schools. 

A number of works immediately grabbed me and others made me think. The first was Innocent Nkuruinziza’s Untitled (Stripes and Circles) which is a striking piece, with paint thickly rendered in bright exuberant colours in a pattern. It made my eyes dance with the rhythm of the pattern and is just the thing for warming up a cold grey day.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

On Gorecki's 'Three Pieces in Old Style'

Building swelling notes,
Gentle discordant constraint
With excursions
Bursting into pure
Unrestrained spine tingling joy.
A final flourishing,
Belated bass

Exuberant see-sawing
Hipswaying rhythm;  
Giddy chords giggling
Persistent pleasure dancing.
Final consuming crescendo
Over too quick,  
Breathless bass

Slow languidity snaking
Through warm vitulic wood; 
Constant sad strings eking out sound
Pitch changing mood switching
Arabesquing bows
Depth resolving, resolved.
Bowing bass

A word sketch of the 3 parts. A beautiful piece, thank you City of London Sinfonia - and their bass player.

Monday 26 March 2012

Me and bees

Gentle hum
A traffic of bees
Sweet silence

Greening shoots
Bright like suns
But nectar free

Endless blue
A swirling of bees
Dizzying heights

Golden smears
A frenzy of bees
Frantic foraging

Quiet haze
The city is distant
Just me and bees

For the Museum of London bees (Spring 2012). I hope their colony gets stronger.

And then someone responded to my word of the day 'bugonia' on 29 Oct 2012 and I giggled:

Ruminating in fields of mines
Hazardous to the herd
Blissfull grazing grass

The cow explodes

A swarm of yellow and black
Bee gone with you
Be gone with ya

Wednesday 21 March 2012

'We Need To Talk': Conversations and KM

Barriers to communication

My first post was about jargon, which is a very effective barrier to communication within an organisation. In this post I want to discuss the importance of face to face communication. If knowledge management is all about capturing the personal experiences of people, then I would suggest that one good way of extracting it is through human interaction – that is to say an old fashioned conversation. But first we need to overcome some problems.

Virtual Distrust?

Electronic methods of communication (inclusive of emails, texts, DMs, any other social media, LinkedIn etc, blog messages) are necessary in a global business environment. When used effectively to link people around the globe, you wonder how we managed without them.

'Jarring Jargon and Squirrel Initiatives': Making sense of KM language

This is the first in a series of blog postings which I hope will explore knowledge management (KM) from a practical no nonsense point of view. I begin with the language barrier.

Library and information professionals have been doing the ‘information thing’ for years but frankly not making enough noise about our skills. So when your organisation demands implementation of a knowledge management strategy based on information they obtained from conferences, journal articles, consultants, and because ‘everyone else is doing it’, we must take the lead and become the link between theory and practice.

We may not be KM theory experts but our practical skills, knowledge of the organisation and accompanying culture/values and mental flexibility means we are ideally placed to help them make sense of the information world. As it has been said, ‘the only thing that matters in the workplace is how it works in practice’.[1]

Friday 16 March 2012

On Turner's 'Rain, Steam, and Speed' (1844)

Amongst the insipidity of ships, sunsets,
Empty skies, and atmospheric beaches
A screaming black train hurtles
Across a bridge headlong into view.

The gentle mist mingles with the daubs of steam
Overpowered natural water obscure the light
The river vapours rising from dark depths
To enshroud the transformed landscape

Muted bird calls and whispering grasses all
Sounds dampened; making way for clamour
Metallic hammering modern rhythm
Filling the valley with repeated echoing futures

A new tang filling the senses, excited quivering
Sweet sulphur assaulting country nostrils
Leaving lives breathless for the modern way
Scattering all before, Vulcan's relentless demon

Rain, Steam and Speed at the National Gallery

Thursday 15 March 2012


Frenetic challenging intense
A room of competing voices
Leaving mind numbly racing
Ideas demanding attention

Yes I'll deal with you later

Fragrant beguiling twilight
A day easing by the scents
Making sense of a change in pace
Ideas forming through anticipation
Yes these thoughts suit me fine

Fanciful meaningful philosophy
Contrasting connections with  glee
Scribbling still enjoying the thrill
Preferring the challenge of something new 

Monday 12 March 2012

Exuberant and Orgiastic: Wyndham Lewis and his 'Kermesse'

This is a follow on from the Modernism posting and is also inspired by the current exhibition at Tate Britain on Picasso (and I may even have the Damien Hirst retrospective in mind too). It concerns an anti establishment figure from the British avant-garde. Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) was a controversial cosmopolitan figure, frequently at loggerheads with fellow artists, friends, critics, gallery owners, patrons and the public. What I wanted to focus on here was the decoration of London’s so called first modern night club and the creation of his influential Kermesse in 1912.

He recognised the potential of any kind of publicity very early on in his artistic and career. Though his background and education was already unconventional he cultivated an exotic appearance, with the writer Ford Maddox Ford describing his appearance in 1909 as Russian, Polish or Spanish, looking ‘every inch the genius’, ‘tall, swarthy…with romantically disordered hair, wearing a long black coat buttoned up to his chin’. Hemingway described him as ‘the nastiest man he has ever seen, looked like a frog and had the eyes of a frustrated rapist’.

Everything Wyndham Lewis said and did was designed to fight against the conservative reaction against modern radical art, Robert Chapman writes ‘Augustus John in Chiaroscuro presents Lewis as a wild mysterious figure, playing the part of an incarnate Loki, bearing the news and sowing discord with it’. Indeed, ‘harsh, sardonic and hard hitting, Lewis and his associates struck out against one and all and everyone they considered atrophied and outworn, not sparing the Cubists, Futurists or Expressionists from the ‘blast’’. His odd behaviours, sexual liaisons, uncompromising and confrontational attitude and his determination to blast the artistic and literary establishment in London guaranteed public interest and press controversy.

Wednesday 29 February 2012

Hope Lost

The seductive embrace of the abyss beckons
Looking up shows the fallen depths
Paradise receding. That's not coming back.
The macabre dance of a skeletal soul

Bones picked bare, stripped of humanity
The pain all but invisible;
The sockets of insanity dulled
By persistent unconscious torture

An explorative embrace of the abyss inevitable
How far can brittle mind be pushed?
Paradise undeserved. With soul already gone
Hollowness remains to mock fake pretence

Monday 27 February 2012

'Overcoming Hurdles’: Photos at the London School of Economics

The LSE is providing a wealth of entertainment this week with the Space for Thought Literary Festival (probably more on that to follow) and the LSE Photo Prize exhibition: Overcoming Hurdles which opened today. The website describes it as ‘the 6th LSE Photo Prize Exhibition 2012 showcases a wide range of photography by LSE students and staff. Photos have been selected by a judging panel of art professionals and LSE staff.’

Friday 24 February 2012

Strange Creatures at UCL

Yesterday took me to my first pop up art exhibition. And it’s going to take some beating in terms of both the art and the venue. Far away from the commercial luxury of the west end and the soulless white cube spaces of east London, there is nothing ordinary about the Grant Museum of Zoology.

The website tells us that it is the ‘only remaining university zoological museum in London [and] houses around 67,000 specimens, covering the whole animal kingdom. Founded in 1828 as a teaching collection, the Museum is packed full of skeletons, mounted animals and specimens preserved in fluid. Many of the species are now endangered or extinct including the Tasmanian Tiger or Thylacine, the Quagga, and the Dodo.’ It isn’t a large space but even without the non permanent art, there is more than enough to keep the non biologist enthralled. They have embraced interactive displays and social media so that visitors can get involved about the role of science in society and how museums should be run. The highlights of the collection for me were the skeleton of the dugong, the video of the artistic bowerbird, skeletons in the gallery and the brain coral (helpfully tagged with ‘not a brain’). The whole galleried space is crammed with curios and reminiscent of a renaissance cabinet of curiosities.

Thursday 23 February 2012

City Business Library: Can you afford not to know them?

You may recall that I spent a happy evening in the London Metropolitan Archives looking at their photographs. So when I had the opportunity to go to an ASLIB event at the City Business Library (CBL), one of their sister organisations, I couldn't resist putting a few notes down about them.

© City of London
Since 2010 the CBL has been part of the Guildhall complex, sharing the refurbished space with the Guildhall Library, Art Gallery and the general administration of the Corporation of London (CofL). It is hard to believe that it was once housed in a separate building, though the nine ways of accessing the Guildhall can make the entrance to the library quite hard to find (opposite the public loo and Boris bike rack...).

About the CBL

The CBL is a publically funded free library service which has been open to all individuals and companies in the area for the past 30 years. As the name implies, its focus is provision of information on all aspects of business - whether you are global conglomerate or small and medium enterprise (SME), start up or sole trader. This information could be economic statistics, market research reports, law, tax, international markets, director/company information or business2business marketing opportunities. Though a large amount of information is available online, they also keep a small collection of books, journals, newspapers available to browse. They also run seminars, clinics, and organise network events which I shall come on to shortly.

Sunday 19 February 2012

On Epstein's 'Rock Drill'

Supercilious creature looks on
With eyeless disinterested stare.
Refusing to meet the viewer's gaze

Artificial muscles threaten space
Black bronze sheen pure machine
Contrasting with viewer's living warmth

Potent snout under curved skull
No vulnerability in this metal shell
Existing only to intimidate viewer's mind

Once looming over all it surveyed
Proud to rape and plunder, with efficient virility
Demonstrating earth and human fragility

Now left castrated by artist's horror of war
Itself caught in the destruction torn limb from drill
Left impotent for the viewer's judgement

Hard torso emphasises open curved chest cavity walls
Emphasising soft shaped tiny humanity within
Proudly, gently, cupping viewer's subservience

On Wyndham Lewis's 'Smiling Woman Ascending a Stair' (c.1911)

A dark derangement of lines
Leering out in masked smile.
Angular triangulation bursting
Moving pointedly, awkwardly.

Daring us
Fascinating us
Challenging us

To follow her up the stairs
Despite illumination demonic
Soft warm shades are found within
To drag us down with blind assent.

What's it worth? : Sounding out art

A few years ago I wrote a piece about the commoditisation of art and then this week an article in the Independent rekindled my interest. The story is nothing new – people have always spent large amounts of money on big name paintings. I don’t have a problem with that because it’s their money, their investment and keeps the art market interesting. Currently London’s commercial galleries can afford to experiment and are putting on some seriously thought provoking stuff, e.g., Lazarides and their Old Vic Tunnels shows.

Everyone is agreed that the majority of art, for better or worse, is a commodity that can be bought and sold for stupendous amounts of money. As the Indy article says, ‘it emerged this month that Qatar had bought ‘The Card Players’ by Cezanne for a world record $250m at the end of last year’. Writing in the late 1990s Julian Stallabrass naively noted ‘the rise of art prices in real terms through the 1980s was a sign of the commodification of the art world as a whole, not merely the result of excess funds looking for investment projects’.[1] However I think this has changed; the wealthy are looking for a safe place to invest their money. But it still makes me think, what about art you can’t put price on? The art you can experience but can’t buy? 

Saturday 18 February 2012


Frenzied orgiastic colours
Obliterating self
Losing reality
In a mass of coiled bodies

Shapeless formless helpless
Losing sanity
Organic movement
Just accept dotted fluidity

Intricate dirtied balletic
No end no beginning
Losing focus
Surrender to tangled sensation

On Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Nets

From the minute dark intense
To the frenzied open nets
More rhythmically enclosing

Yet opens thoughts and
Imagination breathes infinitely
With happy textures

A distant suedelike softness
Focusing inward, hungrily
Grasping. Determined. Obsessive.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Panic Attack

When heavy air wears thin as
Tired patience. Breathless. Tight.
Once freely open friendly
Turns dense panic gasps:
Madly sucking down.
As an addict their empty bottle

One useless heaving pull at a time.
Constricted tortured capillaries
Cry out, 'give me oxygen!'
Release the inelastic of those bands
And cut free the plastic round my heart.

V&A Photographic Archive: Photography as Art

The Victorians proved problematic in my previous archive visit post so in the interest of balance, the next one is far more cheerful. The V&A story begins with an intriguing polymath, civil servant and inventor: Henry Cole (15 July 1808 – 18 April 1882). He was responsible for organising the Great Exhibition (1851) and then founding and developing a science/art collection in the South Kensington area which would both educate the masses and improve British industrial design. As the first General Superintendent of the Department of Practical Art, South Kensington Museum (1857-1873) he recognised the new phenomenon of photography had the right blend of art and science to be relevant to the museum.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Royal Anthropological Institute : Discovering disturbing distances

The RAI is the world's longest established anthropological organisation with a global membership. Its controversial history is interesting and unavoidable; The Aborigines [native peoples] Protection Society was initially formed by the Quakers in 1837 to monitor slavery issues in the aftermath of the early 19th century Quaker campaign against the African slave trade.

From this it developed into the Ethnological Society of London (ESL) founded 1848. Their focus was the history of mankind but given the interesting Victorian obsession with colonialism and perceived inferiority of anyone who wasn’t white, in 1863 Richard Francis Burton and Dr James Hunt decided to form The Anthropological Society. This new society was interested in scientific notions of race and with dubious ideology was keen to prove that native people were actually a different species in order to justify slavery.

Monday 13 February 2012

Knowledge Management: Building blocks and knotty problems

I went on a Knowledge Management course and seeing as everything I do is managing information and spreading the knowledge, I thought I'd put my notes down here. It's not arty or anything but I found it interesting.


Knowledge Management means different things in the context of each organisation and the definition has to be agreed at management level. But basically it’s about managing the intellectual assets of the firm/company which can take the form of documentation, expertise, communities, departments, conversations and collaborations – the effective sharing of creative knowledge.

For it to work properly people have to be engaged and given that people always know more than they say, it is challenge to get the information flowing around the organisation. We – collectively - have to create a knowledge environment that will take all the data and information and turn it into knowledge. This has little/nothing to do with technologies.

Friday 10 February 2012


Window on the stars
Light absorbing eyes
Shining in delight
Wondrous, stirring, deep.

Points of light
Some real
Some reflect
Reaching out forbidden.

Edges cracking silently
Semi opaque
Fluid enchantment
Dark, delving, endless.

On Stanislaw Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova 'Arcus 1' (1991)

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Magnum Photo Agency: ‘No rules, just photographers telling stories’

'No rules, just photographers telling stories’ is essentially the Magnum Agency motto.

Their vast online archive is crammed full of images of momentous world events in the past 65 years; fall of the Berlin Wall, the Spanish Civil War, Tienanmen Square, the mass mourning at Princess Diana’s funeral, and any modern conflict – Chechnya, Iraq, Arab Spring. Then it’s not just events but well known individuals; actors on film sets, politicians of all persuasions and who could forget that Afghan girl with the green eyes? Their international reputation enable them to document NGO aid missions, raise awareness of health issues and provide photo-commentary to what might otherwise be overlooked by the traditional press.

Set up as a photographers’ collective in 1947 by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David 'Chim' Seymour, they were determined their work should remain their own rather than giving up control of copyright and context to magazines for which they were working. In setting up their own agency (named after a magnum of champagne), they could not only license the images and control how they were used but go on to use spare funds to ‘support the production and the independent vision of its individual photographer members’.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Formula 1: Doing things artistically at speed

Sometimes my impetuosity and ability to do things at speed leaves my friends reeling. There is nothing more exasperating (apparently) than being left dazed and confused in my slip stream as I go off on another diversion; usually followed by alarums and excursions in way or another.

My whirlwind tendencies, combined with the freezing weather, suggested that I should review an exhibition very close to home. So I popped unexpectedly downstairs from my office (with a cup of tea), had a gossip with the receptionist and spent an exhilarating few moments in the Collyer Bristow exhibition.

For 2 weeks only (catch it quickly) Darren Heath presents some of his best photographs from the 2011 Grand Prix season. This award winning photographer ‘specialises in Formula 1 and the automotive industry, endeavouring to cover events and commission in a creative and artistic manner using natural light and colour to their maximum effect’. Images of all the recent Formula 1 drivers are in evidence – Lewis Hamilton, Jensen Button, Fernando Alonso, and their teams, as well as the tracks and cities which play host to these annual races.

Sunday 5 February 2012


Relicts of the past
Linger to torture the present
Icons cast their spell
No need for words

Just tears falling
Bitter embalming of hearts
Brittle bodies piled
No need for sound

There is faceless grief
Returning regular year on year
Ashes scattered grey
No need for speech

Saturday 4 February 2012

Mending Broken Hearts: Meaningful not mawkish

Let me put this to you straight; I don't have an issue with Valentine's Day. I am secretly an old fashioned romantic and a day in cold mid February celebrating the hotness of love is to be enthusiastically lauded. In fact knowing it to be rooted in ancient Roman feasts celebrating Juno Fructifier and Lupercalia makes it far sexier, fascinating and visceral than a semi Christian non feast day. It's more the tenuous connections commercial organisations make that get me steaming. An excuse to sell you something meaningless when your lover would rather more time with you; to simply hold hands in a park, giggle in a gallery, or something far more intimate.

This isn't going to be a tedious diatribe about the evils of commercialism (or religion). Though I retain my art critic's hat, I'm embracing and exonerating this exhibition from my usual cynicism. I'll allow them to seduce as many visitors into buying art objects for charity.

Thursday 2 February 2012

London Archives: What happened when I went looking for City Dragons...

Last night took me to the vast London Metropolitan Archives in Clerkenwell. The only way it can be described is ‘a collection of collections’ with millions of photos and 100 kilometres of shelving. Collections include Architecture, Family, Schools, Government, Hospitals, and Businesses, and within each sit a number of different layers/structures. For instance under Hospitals you would find the related buildings, famous people/benefactors, medical practice (but not medical records). Under Architecture you would find everything to do with the built environment, such as slum clearance, planning, surveying and so on.

Monday 30 January 2012

Definitions of Modernism: The New Objectivity

I have been meaning to thank Nick Lambrianou from the 'Shock of the New' course at Birkbeck College for some time. I went into that course in 2009 with a rather closed mind and during the class introduction, I laid out the challenge he faced: 'I'm a Renaissance girl. Modern art? Convince me!'.

Then I started doing research into what modernism was and the resultant effect stunned me; all this modern stuff in some ways felt more real and relevant to my life. So I set out before you (and to refresh myself) what I initially found and presented to class.

After reading and discarding many dictionary and encyclopaedia entries of the term modernism, I want to simply define it as an ethos which dominated Western 19th- and 20th-century culture – a celebration or reflection of the possibilities – or impossibilities of the present. It is impossible to define because:

Saturday 28 January 2012

Michelangelo's The Dream: A closer look at melancholy

As my interest is predominantly early modern/Renaissance, I thought a brief excursion into the sixteenth century was in order. I wrote this a few years ago but it's still interesting so thought I'd share it.

London's admittedly wide and varied collections of art cannot compete with the palaces, churches, museums and art galleries of Rome when it comes to treasures from the high renaissance (a 'fluffy' term but usually accepted as around 1500). However at London's National Gallery, British Museum and other places, the works of art freely and publicly available are masterpieces of their type. One of the best small galleries in London, the Courtauld Gallery is in possession of an excellent collection of over 7000 drawings and includes one of these masterpieces.

Michelangelo's drawing Il Sogno (The Dream) (1533-4) formed the centre piece of an exhibition where specialists brought together the artist's poetry, correspondence and drawing by other artists such as Raphael and Durer. As The Dream is rarely on display due to conservation issues, it not only provided an opportunity to see it in the flesh but also to see it in its historical, social, artistic and romantic context. On a quick point of access, it is possible to make an appointment with the prints department and see anything in the collection.

Thursday 26 January 2012


There is a clock that says;
'The world and all its desires pass away'.
Never more so than in these vast landscapes
Where our tiny mindscapes founder
Contemplating a fabulous mutability.

The skyscape feathers by far above,
Black clouds threaded with lichen light
At once threatening forceful engulfment
But careless elemental nature disregards,
Passing over and through leaving us breathless

Simply dropping soft water on exposed dark earth
Black crows scattered over the silent soil,
Plumage shining like hanging droplets.
Reflected greenish hue subsumed by ancient desire
The world remains, not passed away, merely changed.

Wiener Library: Information is Powerful

Having promised the utterances of a renaissance woman here are some musings on something a little more serious.

I am currently doing a course on Investigating the Archive at Birkbeck College which is taking us to the photo collections variously of the V&A, Magnum Agency, Royal Anthropology Institute, London Metropolitan Archives and RIBA. So far it's been incredible and each individual archivist providing a fascinating insight into their topics. However the archive that has moved me to write this was different.

The Wiener Library: 'For the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide' probably contains some of the most shocking images of modern times. We know those photographs well and they rightly form part of our collective consciousness. So our visit was to ask questions such as; how do you store them? How did they get in this collection? How do you ensure they are used correctly? How does such an archive survive and remain actively relevant? Not to mention funding...

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Art Erotica 2012: 'It's all a bit wanky'

Sex has been very much on my mind recently. One way or another I've been confronted with a lot of sexual imagery. What with art (Johnathan Yeo), film (Shame) and a lot of people kissing around the City of London (I blame the time of year), I wondered if I'd reached sensory overload when I contemplated visiting the ArtEroticaExhibition2012 in Cork Street, W1.

Turns out I'm insatiable and there were a number of pieces with which I'd quite like to have another encounter.

This open exhibition has two aims; to showcase new talent and raise money for charity. This year was their first themed show and they wanted 'to explore the erotic in a wide variety of ways, to be a showcase for contemporary work in the genre, and to make a meaningful contribution to the genre'. With these thoughts in mind let's turn to the art.

Monday 23 January 2012


Worn with love
This delicate piece;
Gently radiating colour
Silver warmed by pale skin

Created through love,
Glowing invisible violet;
Vinous strata of pale statue still.
Jealousy thwarted and colour imbue.

Designed by love
Enhancing my mysterious eyes.
An eternal meditation
On iridescent memories.

London Art Fair - decoding Mark King

It is difficult to be unaware of the ubiquitous QR codes which are popping like some kind of technological graffiti. And without a reader they are meaningless which is what makes this piece of art so intriguing. Having resisted the need to download one, today I paid a visit to the app store. All in the name of art.

At first glance the piece is a simple clean back and white A1 print hung and stretched by unassuming bulldog clips; a clear nod to the artist's graphic design background. A design of old fashioned computer game space invaders line up mid game. One on the bottom line is missing and a shot is being fired downwards.

Look closer and suddenly these little aliens take on a new dimension. Away from the 1980s nostalgia, they are made up of any number of modern QR codes representing the block pixels of old.

So far computers are unable to 'read' pictures; so far we remain unique in this ability to decode symbols and context in art to enrich our experience of it. However to interpret what this picture is saying we require a computer to instantly read and interpret. Our human intelligence perhaps merely suggests fond emotional remembrance of these retro space invaders.

So what is the picture saying? Without scanning every single code we don't know. A random selection linked to tweets:

Environment; 'there is no real excuse for choosing to be an ignorant polluting society without respect for the ecosystems we exploit. Believe that :-)'
Friendship; 'hey I torture my friends but they deserve it'. Another came up with roughly, 'every terrorist owns a Casio watch'.
Media; 'Mainstream media - Better name is US Government Department of Propaganda and Misinformation'
Media; 'Maybe us white folks lean to be PERFECT like black hear the propaganda machine (media), the only bad people are whites'
Media; 'it's a sad DAY in America when reasonably intelligent people are called ignorant & propaganda is treated like manna from heaven'

The last three being from one invader.

A few others inevitably are broken links. This interpreting immediately adds a whole new view of the space invaders; fascinating fragments of random humanity hidden by code.

 For further information go to his blog and website