David Noonan

David Noonan Untitled 2007 Screenprint on linen

Surface Texture – David Noonan’s pieces – seen in Tate St Ives and last year.

Each piece is screen printed onto fabric, creating texture and a sense of layering this is the ‘finish’ to works that use layers as part of the process.  So the images are selected from old film stills, photographs, from books or other vintage sources.  These are collaged and then re-photographed, re-collaged before the print process.  The result is like a flickering film, almost a capture of a film image projected.  The fabric (Noonan uses Jute, then stretched over wood)  used in the print is perhaps the final ‘screen’.  The fracturing and layering of images is the key here, Noonan’s intent is perhaps nostalgic, emphasised by black and white and sepia as key monochromes, it is also perhaps to do with memory and recalled experience (Do we dream in black and white?). The images seem to belong to a surrealist tradition, possibly in the most fundamental way – Andre Breton recognised photography as potentially the most surreal of the visual arts media.

David Noonan Untitled 2007 Screenprint on linen

These are issues I will need to deal with in editing the final installation.  The decision to use black and white as the dominate opposite, the negative/positive divide, could be relaxed with colour, reducing or balancing the implied ‘nostalgia’ of black and white film captures.  Fabric as screen in all its senses of the word is crucial to the final work.  Screen – to close off, Screen – for projection. How that fabric keeps its texture and printed image as well as receives prove ion will be crucial

Still photograph of projection on fabric W. Pym 2017
David Noonan Untitled 2007 Screenprint on linen

Jessica Warboys at Tate St Ives

Jessica Warboy’s combined practice,  including created objects and their representations on film overlapping, becoming sculptures and then animated or still props, is intriguing and If I had more time in my adventure in film and installation, should present a path to pursue.  The Sea paintings, displayed in the big curved gallery at Tate St Ives were dramatic, layered and reflected beautifully in the glass.  I was unable to photograph them directly because of the very highly organised stewarding.  Instead, here are the postcards:


The canvas texture interacts with the paint to create surface.


I enjoyed the layering of images in the curved windows, where sea buildings and landscape merged and recreated like shimmering banners:



Phillip Eckart’s Utube review for Frieze (here) makes the link between the art object as ‘displayed’ and the art object as ‘performed’ in her work. Is there an element of performance I can include in one of the new films – hands in sand, the post, the fence.  There would be a difference between using a found object and using a made ‘art’ object. Possibly text on paper in the landscape, on water. Warbles showed a large sculpture in aluminium sheet increased in scale from a paper piece that had been filmed blowing across the water……

Mat Collishaw’s Black Mirror

Matt Collishaw created an exhibition – Black Mirror –  at The Borghese gallery animating 3 Caravaggio paintings behind two way mirrors to create a new space – a place between fixed painting and real life. black-mirror-006

This had been prefigured by an earlier work by Collishaw in 2013 – East of Eden, which depicted a writhing snake moving on an lcd screen behind darkened surveillance glass, the effect is an animated painting, a mythological idea, the moving painting.


Collislaw talks in a video to accompany the Borghese pieces of how the framing of the paintings, change our view.  He uses a melancholy black glass, emphasising the black space in Caravaggio’s paintings, the space between life and death.  The reanimated models, digitally move, sway and even wink, they must have originally twitched in Caravaggio’s studio as he painted them, creating the fixed moment ‘like a photograph’ of the original paintings. As Collishaw says this is a kind of ‘Necromancy – to cross the border between life and death’.


Danger in the jungle?

Nothing like a tutorial to send you off where you least expect to go…..


In Paris I saw a number of the great Dounanier Rousseau paintings – this is my photo of La charmeuse de serpents (Rousseau, H. 2007) taken in the Musee Orsay on the recent trip to Paris, those swirling jungles full of the exotic, the danger of the unknown, inpenetrable, superficially decorative, but born of the dream, made real by a painter that never set foot in a jungle.

This is such a good image for my educational research, a metaphor for how difficult work in social media with young people might be, initially and superficially attractive, full of exotic and imagined dangers, inpenetrable at times and a place where teachers rarely go.

Time to clear a path with a sharp machete……



Sticks, Stones and Little Screens

Two books out of the library on Lee Friedlander are very helpful in looking for an aesthetic for ideas of border and enclosure.


The Little Screens, by Saul Anton, precisely describes the importance of a series of photos by Friedlander, here seen as  “One Work” –  part of a series of analytical titles  under the title After all books, published by  the University of the Arts, London and MIT, 

The work captures the disjointedness of space that the images on television cut into a room or updated and in our current world, the distortion of the Black Mirrors that are our phones and iPads.  The Little Screens have more accidental life than the formal motel bedrooms in Friedlander’s survey, but this is an imposed attraction, in the photos eyes watch furtively, hands threaten with guns, bodies are draped to sell products.  The parody of our unthinking gaze, ignoring the surreal clashes created, ignoring the disturbing imagery, sharply critiques our acceptance of this visuall distortion in our safe and neutral spaces.

Strong raking compositions are a feature of Sticks and StonesThe Fraenkel gallery’s comprehensively visual catalogue of Friedlander’s architectural photography for their 2004 exhibition of this important group of work. There are 196 square format images that record the specifics of american urban space.  People seem to feature only by accident. Individuals are described  through the division of city or small town space, the marked out garden boundaries or the high security fences that define an individual property.  The imposition of street furniture, poles, signs, lock and control the compositions and our ability to look inside them.  The  focus on the wasteland, the broken and the abandoned in many of the pictures, reflects the wastefulness and closed down feeling of these privatised but often neglected cityscapes.  Even where individual buildings dominate, most often a blank or unwelcoming wall turns ‘homes’ into forbidding ‘fortresses’.

The book layout is a double page with minimum borders, so each square format image reacts to its neighbour – the horizons are angled and do not flow between the two.  The packed angular forms, nothing is every straight vertically or horizontally, jar and clash with each other and create a sense of forcefully flattened space, blocked or partioned, access prohibited where it is hard to move forward or access the space depicted.

Somehow some of the captured space of reflected screens as seen in the dark mirror experiment, I want to combine with the contested and excluded spaces of the Brighton Baths or Tynemouth Pool or other more local boundaried spaces.


Anton, S. (2015) Lee Friedlander, The Little Screens. London: After all Books.

Enyeart, J. (2004) Lee Friedlander, Sticks and Stones, Architectural America. Fraenkel Gallery: San Francisco.


Museums in Paris

Perhaps it is unfair to self criticise the choice of museums on our annual Paris Trip from School.  It is an amazing array of work to share with young people in 4 short days…..

A selfie taken in an ancient Egyptian mirror in the Louvre

It did make me think about the museum as a depository of things to store and share…

Visiting a museum is a matter of going from void to void. Hallways lead the viewer to things once called ‘pictures’ and ‘statues.” Anachronisms hang and protrude from every angle. Themes without meaning press on the eye. Multifarious nothings permute into false windows (frames) that open up into a variety of blanks. Stale images cancel one’s perception and deviate one’s motivation. Blind and senseless, one continues wandering around the remains of Europe, only to end in that massive deception ‘the art history of the recent past’. Brain drain leads to eye drain, as one’s sight defines emptiness by blankness. Sightings fall like heavy objects from one’s eyes. Sight becomes devoid of sense, or the sight is there, but the sense is unavailable. Many try to hide this perceptual falling out by calling it abstract. Abstraction is everybody’s zero but nobody’s nought. Museums are tombs, and it looks like everything is turning into a museum. Painting, sculpture and architecture are finished, but the art habit continues. Art settles into a stupendous inertia. Silence supplies the dominant chord. Bright colors conceal the abyss that holds the museum together. Every solid is a bit of clogged air or space. Things flatten and fade. The museum spreads its surfaces everywhere, and becomes an untitled collection of generalizations that mobilize the eye.

I had never been to the Musee Orsay before, and was stunned by the sense of battery farm for famous art, the giant reclaimed station dominating spaces, but maybe the whole experience was reduced by the cumulative tiredness of a residential school trip. The reflected light of a glass case or the view from behind the clock having more of an impact on a tired mind.


Society Realiste


Laura Henno’s work

Laura Henno: From the series ‘Lands End, il desert rosso, 2009



The borders of life and death

In Pere LaChaise Cemetery…

famous lovers Heloise and Abelard and Composer Chopin are immortalised in miniature  buildings set behind metal fences that seem to devise them from the kingdom of the living.


The individual plots outlined by fences and borders, in Paris they are more ornate than those simple grave places recorded by Nancy Holt in the American west.


The unsubtle crash barriers that surround the relatively plain burial place of Jim Morrison, to protect it presumably from overzealous fans, create an exclusion area, a security zone in the otherwise mostly democratic space of the graveyard, where the temples stand together and the trees grow around and through the stones.

Cathedral and Plague

First visit to Newcastle Cathedral in anticipation of a possible exhibition in association with a conference on Plague and Civil War due to take place in April in St George’s Chapel in the cathedral.

Plenty to catch the eye.  Not least – The Thornton Brass:

an extraordinary detailed and large brass originally from the tomb of Roger Thornton and his wife Agnes, he was mayor of Newcastle in the 15th Century.  The classic shape of the medieval figure is repeated in small outlines of the seven sons and seven daughters of the couple at their feet and the surrounding saints.




Tyne River God


The Tyne River God is an odd object, hanging in acres of white wall space in Newcastle’s civic library.  I had long been meaning to visit as an engraving of the head or mask is on the frontispiece of the edition of Carmichael’s engravings in ‘Pictures of Newcastle  that I had been studying in the autumn.

It was carved as a printer’s sign for Aaron Richardson in 1827, becoming an emblem for Andrew Reid and Co. right up to the 1960’s.  The carving is a copy of  a stone original on the front of Somerset house(1786).  It depicts the early industries of the river, coal in a basket with pickaxes, fish nets and possibly corn.


The idea of a sculpture of a Tyne River God, comes from classical and neo classical sculptural traditions of depicting the spirit of a river.  In the case of the Tyne,  this theme was further updated by David Wynne who was commissioned by Newcastle City Council for a monumental sculpture for the civic centre.  His dynamic Tyne River God is  dramatically posed pointing from the side of the building, his shaggy hair shadowing a dark and broody head all stained by Tyneside weather, seeming to summon water or coal from the very ground.


It is nearly 50 years since the sculpture was commissioned, David Wynne sadly died in 2014, never really accepted as a leading sculptor, irrespective of his many major commissions. 

What would a contemporary Tyne God would look like?

Tracey Moffatt

Something More no:1 Tracey Moffatt

Australian photographer, Tracey Moffatt makes varied work, where technique and style vary to fit and expound her themes. The first photo work of her series Something More embodies the ideas and narrative of the series which uses the style and approach of a B movie to tell the story of despair of an outback girl leaving her rural home in Northern Australia to search for a better life and ending in racist violence.  The backgrounds and styling may be fabricated and somewhat cliche but the desperation and loneliness creep through the powerfully composed works.

Up in the sky no:24 (1997) Tracey Moffat

Moffat’s up in sky series from 1997 is set in the archetypical Australian Outback and depicts unsettling scenes with a strong hint of actual or impending violence which actualise the racial tensions and divisions that lie within her vision of this landscape.


Moffatt’s work is only part autobiographical, as an aboriginal woman brought up by adoptive white parents, identity is obviously key.  In her series scarred for life (1994), Moffat re-enacted events and stories from  childhood told to her by her friends. The scenes depicted are domestic, at first trivial, suburban, but the large images and bold titles (controlled by Moffat at the bottom of the image) soon draw out the humiliation of childhood and the racism implied.

The following 3 from the Laudanum series by Tracey Moffatt, which is an elaborate recreation of a faux erotic thriller through a series of images that appear to depict the humiliation and gothic erotic torture of an apparently Asian maid by a Victorian lady.  This is heavily styled, using all the qualities of original photographic processes, lighting and early horror film make up in the style of Nosferatu the 1921 film, to create on one level, a critique of colonial enslavement, on another an erotic lesbian fantasy.



Blair, F (2009) Twelve Australian Photo Artists, Sydney: Piper Press.