Printing the borders

And at quite a scale – it is taking more than an hour!!!

quite the largest thing I have printed, but working well considering the compromises on scale and resolution needed….at the bottom of this image is a black and white negative – I don’t think it would have the ghostly qualities needed without that analogue capture.

The Plan

Planning the installation is more tricky than I expected – I need to get the old work and new ideas to mesh in a single space.  The first thought is to assembel the materials and then try to make things work.  There is a danger of over-ordering printed work and incoherence creeping in.  The plan could look like this:

plan 1

There are still plenty of things to consider – overlapping projections – what will this do? Is the furthest Flat screen going to be seen, are the 4 films strong enough or just too many?

Scan on 01·08·2017 at 16·13·13[2]

Is the space just too small?


‘things left behind’ – the sea in a box

Today I hand in my box to Judy Thomas to send to Japan.  I have perhaps wandered off task and created something unexhibitable.

At the bottom of the box – a mirror

The box contains something(s) collected from the beach, A memory – in the form of the poem below and an artwork – a series of printed transparencies, which might work together or might be separate items.  They record the presence on the beach of the items collected but also their existence as transparent, see through memories, already only leaving a trace.  They are not very aesthetic, don’t really relate beyond my act of collection, but can still be triggers for my memory, which through the words and images could be communicated to others or trigger memories in them.

The first transparent insert – abandoned trainers


things left on beaches

are warp and weft


time weaves people in fabrics and spaces


a pair of trainers

worn and punished


he swam out with the current and back with the wind



a half tennis ball

batted and dog torn


rain stopped play and tide took his wicket



frayed rope end

severed in a storm


boat lost the mooring and beached in the creek



hard plastic mesh

from a shattered creel


under the deck the eel lay dying


The layers together and held against the light.

Illuminating the Border – Critique

Yesterday we talked through the ‘illuminating the border’ installation as part of a group critique.

The first interesting note was how  people moved through the space. As we were a group of 10 or more, this put the installation under pressure.  Could people experience anything with so many interruptions.  It was great to see that people moved with relative ease and it created a thoughtful atmosphere.


The effect of shadow and reflection as backdrop and point of interest in its own right was interesting, The installation was added to by the interruption – this may be a really important point for development.  If I want the installation to be truly interactive, then it must ‘work’ better if people are in it.

There were those who were reluctant to enter. Noise was an issue – sound levels have to be right.  I thought of the idea of a warm whisper with louder interventions as a way of thinking about how the sound can attract people.



One colleague remarked the mirrors, he thought they worked much better with the installation, particularly in the interaction with the projection – where the stretched and distorted image broke across the mirror, which then reflected another part of the installation, really caught the eye. This, of course, was always changing, leading to viewers moving their heads to see themselves in the film landscapes, and seeing those landscapes change.


The smaller square mirrors, placed on the fabric and in direct line of the projection also changed the projection.  The square mirror helped, because it fitted the square nature of the projection, like a collaged image within the projection – this effect was emphasised when the projection against the muslin and gauze caused the images to repeat and overlap making a displaced image collage.




Borderlights – a guide

I felt that a guide was needed to the installation trial I was setting up.  I wanted to be able to give an idea to people how to enter and travel through the space. I wanted the instructions to encourage interaction and the use of mobile phones.  The tone of the writing is intended to link to the content as well.  The black and white high contrast is important.

Illuminating the border

Work in Progress


Modest Crit for me – showing just 3 new pieces – these are definitely work in progress – developing the theme of ‘New/old Borders’

PIECE 1: Days of Truce


The piece is a flat photograph from a scanned 5×4 negative of the Scottish Border set behind a clear acetate screen with 3 areas of text:


Above: The title text from the Border meetings of the two nations to settle disputes in the 16th and 17th centuries before the union of the kingdoms.


Above: Text from the Articles of the Union, Edinburgh, January 16, 1707

IV. ‘That all the Subjects of the united Kingdom of Great-Britain shall, from and after
the Union, have full Freedom and Intercourse of Trade and Navigation, to and from
any Port or Place within the said united Kingdom,



(2)  The free movement of persons constitutes one of the fundamental freedoms of the internal market, which comprises an area without internal frontiers, in which freedom is ensured in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty.

PIECE 2: Illuminating the border

a Cardboard frame with 3 negatives suspended in a faux ‘lightbox’ format:


The 3 negatives were taken at the English/Scottish border on a large format camera


The negatives could be illuminated by mobile phone – which is a neat interactive idea:Aprilcritlowres-10


I developed this idea from:

PIECE 3: Illuminate I

I was playing with an old cheese box and an overexposed film negative – the images scratched in are figures lying in a prayer/tomb setting and come from research for the Plaguey exhibition at Newcastle Cathedral.

Hardness Of Heart

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hardness of Heart is the title of a group of 7 pieces I have made for an exhibition due to go into an exhibition called ‘Wor Plaguey’ – a series of works on the subject of plague and war in the 17th century to be mounted in St George’s chapel in Newcastle Cathedral.  I have combined work on the ideas of using mirrors to displace space and particularly dark or black mirrors.  The designs feature photos taken on film on the Ballast Hill non-conformist burial ground.


Transcience – Exhibition

An exhibition at Baltic 39, One of 7 exhibitors as part of our slow preparations for the Summer MA Fine Art/Contemporary Art and Education Course.


I particularly enjoyed being photographer for Beccy Farr’s performance of ‘Acts of Motherhood Part 1 – Bathing’ and then showing the results on my laptop.


Transcience Exhibit – ‘Brighton Baths Displacement’


I was very unsure about the merits of this idea and the final piece presented as part of the Transience Exhibition at Baltic 39.

I had experimented with ideas using mirrors as part of an installation but had not really tested it, retrospectively it was a good thing to go straight to a full scale model or trial as the result surpassed my expectations.  The 3d elements were made with a simple card structure of a triangular prism (Toblerone shape).  This proved strong enough but tricky to be accurate with mirror sizes that needed to fix to a central point.  The structures and flat elements all fitted a standard square in two sizes, although there was a degree of trimming and the final version was a bit inaccurate leading to some inconsistent gap sizes.


The work used photos from scanned black and white negatives and colour digital captures. All were images of the Brighton Health Club and Sea Baths in Melbourne which I had photographed over Christmas – the idea was to create a kind of distorted image combination of this extraordinary location.  I wanted a feeling of capture, of fortress or protected area, of a kind of indolent space protected by its excluding walls

Artist Statement: (perhaps a little contrived)

William Pym

Brighton Baths Displacement (model version).

(Photographs, mirror tiles, card.)

Brighton Baths is a bathing area and private health club, originally built in 1861 in Melbourne, Australia, to protect the bathers’ modesty, now preserved as a historical monument to Australia’s beach culture. The Baths are enclosed by a substantial stockade – a porous fence with walkway, an acre of separated sea and beach.

A colonised beach territory is within, all other beaches are outside.

The light of that heat on our backs is reflected and refracted,

Recast into fugitive memories of experience

Displaced by mirrors into other times and spaces.

Trapped and boundaried, images are

Caught, flattened and pinned to virtual boards

Like botany samples.

 Rare worlds with such creatures in them

Sun sedated behind mental fences

Excluding others, to exclude ourselves.

The simple 60 degree triangular format for both mirror sections and the opposite arraigned photo prisms, created a myriad of reflections, including glimpses of the undersides of the prisms.  This dislocation created some really exciting effects, optical illusions, but not ones that necessarily presented as tricks of light, it genuinely felt as if small worlds were opening up.


Lots of things to consider now:

  • Movement – as you walked around the piece there was a genuine sense of the piece moving in response – as each reflection responded.  Is this kind of movement more interesting that the work with video last year?
  • The mirror reflects the observer, entirely obvious, but it means that I must think how I want that to work for the viewer, their own image within the artwork presented by me. Does the human face have to be a stronger part of the images presented.  Do I need to acknowledge that the content or space presented needs to be one that the viewer can be part of – or is challenged because they don’t want to be part of it.
  • The Grid thing – so much of what I have done over the two years has been to force things into a grid format, using the square as the unit – there are obvious strengths to this but is it a worn formula?
  • The kaleidoscope – is that what this is?  It certainly appealed to younger visitors and I was delighted by that – the breaking of images into patterns is an abstract quality that all enjoy.  Visitors made connections with David Hockney’s Joiner photo collages and even cubism.
  • Mirrors create space – my most clear reaction was that this partially 3d presentation should become wholly 3d – a mirrored object, a spikey thing or a set of mirrors and images that revolved in some way.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First showings – group crit.


This group crit allowed the first showing of various ideas – the first was the digital collages combining landscape photos with the Carmichael etchings.

The idea of formal framing excited a lot of interest and intital focus was on this piece because it shouted ‘look at me’ in a golden dustry distressed way.  Viewers then speculated about technique – how was it done – what was the provenance or reliability of the image?  People were genuinely intrigued.


The second piece was a large 1.2m flat photo composition with a central mirror and a central projection onto the white area.  The  video projected showed 4 sections of video of moving water mimicing the still photograph. This still shows the projector in the central mirror, but film not running.



The second projection showed a video of running water with excerpts of text taken from William Gilpin.

watch the film:

I speculated about the problems of creating work where so much equipment gets in the way of viewing the work.