Month: February 2008


de_maria_lightning.jpgWalter de Maria was born in California in 1935. Studied art and history at the University of Calfornia Berkeley then moved to New York in 1960. He was heavily influenced by Dada and modern art movements and minimal art. He appeared at Happenings, composed 2 musicals (Cricket Music in 1964, Ocean Music in 1968) In 1969 he produced 2 films “Three Circles and Two Lines in the Desert” and “Hardcore”. He worked briefly with the Velvet Underground and was a drummer in the Primitives (a New York rock band).

His best known work is “The Lightening Field” from 1977. 400 stainless steel posts arranged in a grid over 1 mile x 1 km. The effects change depending on the weather and the time of day.

The notion of the work is intended to make the viewer think about the earth and its relationship to the universe.


In 1963 with Robert Whitman, De Maria co-founded a gallery at 9 Great Jones Street, Manhattan and he held a show of sculptures. is work was included in the “Primary Structures” exhibition at the Jewish Museum in 1966. He has also exhibited at the Kunsthaus Zurich, Museum fur Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, the Straatsgalerie Stuttgart and the Museum Bormans-van-Beuningen Rotterdam.


My favourite piece of De Maria’s is “Vertical Earth Kilometer” from 1977 – it is a kilometer long brass rod sunk into the earth in Kassel, Germany making it a permanent earth sculpture. The only part that is visible is the very top of the pole that sits level with the ground. The rest of the work exists only in the mind of the viewer. I love the idea of the question of trust in the relationship between the artist and the audience – is there a brass rod here at all?

The Tate Online website states “This was the world where The Broken Kilometer (1979) appeared, barely 2 years after Documenta 6 in Kassel in 1977, for which the Dia Art Foundation had funded Walter De Maria’s Vertical Earth Kilometer. The city of Kassel was to receive this piece as a gift – hidden from view into a borehole in the ground. At that time in Germany, with the highest density of museums worldwide – there was little, if any understanding of the idea of a borehold into which 1,000 metres of solid brass cut into approximately 6 metre sections was to be inserted. And all that De Maria had been wanting to do was create something enduring and beautiful to anchor in some small way the viewer’s perceptions, in an attempt to counter the trend of that time. In the east a borehole was sunk at his behest. In the west, north of Quemado, in New Mexico, The Lightening Field (1977) was constructed: a deserted site, far away , filled with 400 stainless steel poles with pointed tips. The Broken Kilometer and The New York Earth Room (1977) were situated almost exactly half way between those two other places of pilgrimage.”

The Broken Kilometer is based at 393 West Broadway and is basically 500 polished solid brass rods, 2 meters in length and 5 centimetres in diameter. The rods are placed in 5 rows of 10 rods. It weighs 18 3/4 tons and if all the bits were laid end to end they would measure 3,280 feet. each rod is placed so that the spaces between each increase by 5mm, the first 2 rods in each row are 80 mm apart and the last 2 rods are 580 mm apart. It is illuminated by halide stadium lights and measures 45 feet x 125 feet long. De Maria likes numbers!!!





Doig was born in Edinburgh and in 1962 moved to Trinidad with his family. Studied at Wimbledon School of Art and St Martins School of Art and received an MA from Chelsea School of Art

In 1991 he won an award from the Witechapel Art Gallery and in 93 he won 1st prize at the John Moores University with the painting Blotter. He was nominated for the Tuner Prize in 1994 and was a trustee of the The Tate Gallery from 1995 to 2000.

He moved back to Trinidad and Tobago with his family in 2002 and set up a studio at the Caribbean Contemporary Arts Centre near Port of Spain.

His works are based on found photographs which he uses as reference. Using unusual colour combinations and depicting scenes from unexpected angles. The Victoria Miro Gallery website says “Doig is known for his innovative exploration of the formal and thematic possibilities of landscape. His rigorous approach to surface, texture and colour puts him among the most inventive painters of his generation”

Blotter “Blotter was painted from a photograph I took of my brother stading on a frozen pond. The reflection was enhanced by pouring water onto the ice. It is a variation of earlier paintings that have been more reliant on the imagination.

The title refers to (amongst other things) the notion of one’s being absorbed into a place or landscape, and to the process through which the painting developed: soaking paint onto the canvas. The figure is deliberately shown looking down into the reflection; this is to suggest inward thought rather than some sort of contemplation scene.”

Doig himself says “I am not trying to make paintings like photos. I want to make paintings using photos as a reference, the way painters did when photography was first invented.


cut-book.jpgbook.jpgI bought a couple of books in a charity shop, one on art and painting, one of Walter Scott’s poetry. Although the painting book is beautiful I decided to use the poetry as I used to perform regularly at Big Word Performance Poetry nights and my project is about protection through sensorship. I cut a rectangle out of the middle of a quarter of the book and stitched some of the pages – this seals the book and makes the pages lie differently, next week I will tackle the spine and work wax between the pages.



lex-sumptuaria1definition.jpgwire.jpgDitched my original sketch book and started a new one showing my workings for the idea LEX SUMPTUARIA.

  • texture.jpgLooking at different textures, at the moment I prefer the embossed metal.
  • rejected-type.jpgrejected-2.jpgrejected-3.jpgrejected-4.jpgfinal-type.jpg
  • Chose a selection of typefaces that I either liked or had some authority about them – my final choice is Castellar as it is similar to the type on the dollar bills
  • million.jpgI am now looking at images to emboss – shoes, handbags etc are not generic enough – started with Liberty from the million dollar bill!


2d printmakers workshop

3-figs.jpg2-figs.jpgI have been using my initial drawings from the sketch book and reproduced them as paintings, experimenting with the background colours and the text. I then took the ones I was happiest with and redrew them onto acetate. I decided not to degrease it first as I wanted the paint to separate and the final prints not to be too “perfect”.  The first picture above needs to be more opaque the second has been worked up and printed on acetate.

  • At the printmakers workshop I reworked the blacks on the acetate as they were not quite opaque enough.
  • I bought 2 pre-cut photo-plates 51 x 40cm.
  • Sellotaped the acetate on to the blue side of the photo-plate (as it is a one colour litho print I don’t need to worry about registration marks)
  • Carry the plate in a cardboard folder from the dark room to the ultra violet unit.
  • Exposed 2 plates, one at 14 and the second at 12 – the second is the most successful as the first was slightly over exposed. Take the plate back to the darkroom and (using gloves and putting it on a dry plastic mat)
  • Develop it with posidev ensuring no water gets on it.
  • Rinse the plate front and back, tidy up any errors then Gum the plate for a minute and buff it with scrim.

I will be working up another 3 acetates this week and will make the plates next Friday and book the plate press for printing the following week.Chose paper for printing on – somerset velvet newsprint 56 x 76 cm 250g as it is a nice heavy grey paper. Stockwell drawing cartridge 84 x 59 cm 160g as it is cheaper and will be good for test prints.



I have been looking at the work of Christine Borland as she works with forensic science and re-personalises cadavers. For my protection project I have been looking at Freedom of Speech and the persecution of women writers within the Islamic faith. I want to used the protection of words and the protection of religion as part of a sculpture. Working with plaster and paint, I bound two pieces of cardboard with wire as an experiment to see how effective it would be binding a book


the wire is to symbolize the restrictions within faith. I then bound the book again with black net – a veil. And covered it with plaster, throwing it at the “book” similar to a public stoning. (this is what I mean – sorry if I sound like a wanker!).

I have bought a few old poetry books and will experiment with removing pages, cutting pages and sealing with different things.

I also bought some liquid latex as I will be trying to make moulds of faces and mouths with the intention of smashing them and distorting them.



Hans Haacke – conceptual artist born 1936, Cologne, Germany.

Picture above : On Social Grease 1975 – engraved plaques, magnesium mounted on aluminium 76 cm 76 cm (30 inches square).

A series of six plaques bearing a photo engraved quotation. “Haacke’s work ironically draws public attention to the links between powerful, commercial and political interests within the arts. Haacke was later to use the exposure of these relationships more overtly as the topic of is work.”


For my Spartacus brief I engraved the Roman generic law of Lex Sumptuaria on copper plate – this is a law that regulates the use of luxury items and public displays of wealth.

Haacks studied in Kassel Germany.

One of his works – “Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, A Real Time Social System as of May 1, 1971” exposed thhe transactions of Harry Shapolsky’s real estate business between 1951 an 1971. He was to show at the Guggenheim Museum but his work also made an issue of the business and personal connections of the museum’s trustees, so it was cancelled 6 weeks before opening. Another work “Manet 74” connected the funding of the Wallraf-Richartz museum to the cultural politics of the Cold War – so that exhibition was cancelled too!

His painting in 1990 “Cowboy with Cigarette” was a reaction to Phillip Morris company’s sponsorshp of a 1989 exhibition about Cubisn at the Museum of Modern Art – he turned Picasso “Man with a Hat” into a cigarette advertisement.

Exhibited at the Venice Biennale – his installation “Germania” made explicit reference to Biennale’s roots in the politics of fascist Italy.

At the Whitney Biennial he exhibited in the entire room of a museum. Eight garbage cans lined up against the wall. Above thm is a framed copy of the First Amendment, along with six quotations from public figures, complaining about “filth” and “garbage” in modern art. (All attacking the Brooklyn Museum).

The key is that these quotations are inscribed in Gothic type, to make them like something out of Mein Kampf. There are also loudspeakers, beaming the sound of soldiers marching.

In the Beinnial catalogue he explained “According to the Mayor, the First Amendment and the doctrine of separation of church and state, embedded in the American Constitution, do not apply to public institutions and institutions receiving public funds. ” Claiming the Gallery are using the Nazi ideal of calling art filth and getting the public all annoyed about it being paid for by their taxes.

“In 1978 Haacks had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford for which he created the work “A Breed Apart”, which made explicit criticism of the state owned British Leyland exporting vehicles for police and military use to apartheid South Africa. In the later 1980’s Haacke moved towards using paintings and larger scale sculptural installation. In 1988 he was given an exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London for which he did a portrait of Margaret Thatcher featuring cameos of Maurice and Charles Saatchi.

Just realised how much he has influenced me (inadvertantly!), before researching him I have been photographing recycling bins with a view to creating my own Lex Sumptuaria and recycling public displays of wealth.