'Swim to the Other Side of the Pool', Fiona Curran at Touchstones Rochdale

‘Swim to the Other Side of the Pool’, Fiona Curran at Touchstones Rochdale

I managed to get to two great exhibitions in Manchester in the past week, both inspiring in the making things in space sense….

Firstly, Waiting for The Perfect View, Fiona Curran at the Touchstones Gallery in Rochdale. I delighted in Curran’s painterly selection and assemblage of found and made objects (old woven and printed fabrics,hand tapestry, rubber, perspex,painted woods, rocks, feathers) that make each other’s textures and colours sing. The work arranged around the house shaped room (looks like a house when you draw it from above) used repeated and reinterpreted motifs and materials that prompt the viewer to consider the work and as a consequence, one of it’s themes…our relationship to landscape,how it’s disrupted, mediated and obscured by media, interpretation and memory….. from all angles.

Secondly, Head to Head at Castlefield Gallery with Hayley Newman and Emily Speed.

Both artists work with the body in space.I always enjoy Emily’s work and in this show I especially liked Wedged and Build-Up… that seem to focus on the tension in balancing materials and bodies. I’d not seen Hayley’s work before, it made me smile, I’d love to see her perform. I don’t have much time to say more and the links above and below say it better anyway…there is an essay here.¬†


making a space

March 4, 2013

I’ve been pontificating for far too long over what kind of space I want to work in and how I want to work, finally I’ve just spent 3 days in the space that I currently have and did some of the things I’ve been meaning to do. It was fun.


I cleared away my table and some of the many boxes of stuff that fill the studio. I knew I wanted to make a 3-dimensional response to a collage I’d done last year and that I’d also like to make some larger clay pieces of previous samples. I decided to keep things simple and only use what I could find in the room. I suppose I then cheated straight away as the sun came out and I spent half of the first day playing with the shadows it cast into the room.



Later on I used objects to displace the clay I’d thrown into blocks. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but it’s coming from looking at canal basins and locks…places where we have taken chunks out of the ground to channel water, effectively creating sunken vessels..this links to a post I never made last year about contained water, the photos never posted are now below the clay pieces.

IMG_2302 IMG_2295 IMG_2298

IMG_1350 IMG_1349

The second day the sun didn’t come out to play so I got on with moving furniture about to reflect the space in the collage into the room…I used previous drawings to depict the foliage and made floor rubbings to mimic the strata of rock, the window was my door and the table my water channel. It’s not so easy to show in one picture….


A small space full of angles. The third day the sun returned and I spent time photographing the shadows that came around and making a drawing.



Drawing on paper of a drawing in a space from a collage/drawing. In spite of the cramped angles I’ve relished the process of working within a space and short block of time, only wishing I’d moved the desk and boxes earlier in my relationship with this present studio. Although it might make it harder to work with paper, next time I’d like to work outside so I can add water to the object, shadow,space, drawing equation.

A few weeks ago we went to the Roby church in Longsight to see a performance by Naomi Kendrick, David Birchall and Dan Bridgewood Hill. They’ve been working together improvising music and visual interpretation for a few years now and this lovely evening marked a break as Naomi is about to have a baby.

The evening proceeded as follows…

Dan, moving from guitar to piano and back played a selection of his own finger picking melodies that always make me want to swing and twirl around the place mixed with some great covers including a piece by Satie.¬† Dan’s work seems so complex that I guess it must be planned, but then as time stretches and it feels like we’ve meandered down so many different paths, I often wonder if we will ever find our way out, until the opening sequence or familiar motif reappears and there we are again, back in the room. Magic.

After a break for the tuck shop, Dave, sitting central in the intimate space, gave himself time to make the space, focussed and mindful. He played all over his guitar with rushes, murmurs and more stillness and used his voice to create noises at some points mimicking dialogue, looking from one audience member to another conversationally as he did so. I really enjoyed this, a great balance of challenge and charm. Dave has been improvising with musicians all over for some time now and seems to be developing his language and way of engaging people brilliantly.

You can see pictures from the evening on Naomi’s blog and the great and varied work of Dave here and Dan here. Here on this blog I am showing you the drawings I made whilst watching and listening to the final act- Dan and Dave improvising together whilst Naomi attempts to identify and record a response to the sounds on a large sheet of paper. I have seen them do this together a few times now, it’s always a lovely and privileged¬† experience – watching 3 talented people responding creatively to each other. Often lasting 45-60 minutes it’s great to spend time meditating with them on the creative act, the rhythms and energy it can take on. Over time Naomi has developed a visual language for this activity, attributing certain marks to sounds and feelings. The drawings she makes are intensely layered and very organic, some look like mushrooms, jellyfish, thunderstorms. Whilst drawing Naomi wears black and its interesting to watch her as part of the image, a dense black mark moving across a vast white page generating lots of smaller marks. On this occasion the page was brightly lit sending Naomi’s shadow out before her over the drawing. This is what I drew.