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……

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.


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?

Juan delGado at Isis

Excellent Talk and exposition of work by visiting Spanish artist Juan delGado, artist in  residence at Isis Arts for the next week. delGado is now based in London but has worked internationally with some hauntingly beautiful landscape work based on the Isle of Grain and the margin lands at the Thames delta, including the video Le reve de Newton.


delgad0 described his journey from narratives created from ‘recreated scenarios’ such as the disturbing series called The Wounded Image’ which remade crime scenes that suggest great trauma in the people depicted, dead and injured and his arrival at a new way of working where he tried to ‘unfold the narrative’ from images and video captured on extended journeys in Europe.  The focus of this most recent work is the marks in the landscape made by refugees in his Altered Landscape, a personal response to the Syrian Crisis.


Juan deGardo talked about the importance of sound in his work, not using it at all in some work – a desire not to ‘take common sound for granted’.  In more recent work, the short text of the earlier pieces has been replaced by longer spoken word, which felt like recorded or written testimony.  delGado also emphasised the importance of landscape; ‘Landscape is a witness’…..’it is a landscape of borders’……’the camera follows mobility in the landscape’.

Anne Zahalka – Landscape Mythologies

The trip to Australia has led to some thinking and research into Australian photography, followed up on return to the UK, was the work of Anne Zahalka, a leading contemporary photographer and how her work in the 1980’s sought to challenge a mythology of Australian identity. This could be defined by the location of Australian history in the landscape of the Pioneer and the outdoor life of the beach. Zahalka recreated a number of classic Australian landscape pictures from the Heidelberg School, including through collage and later through recreation to undermine the accepted largely mono-cultural, Anglo Saxon male and patriarchal history. She reinterpreted works about the cultural space of the beach, feminising and representing a famous beach scene, Australian Beach Pattern a painting by Charles Meeres, with a new population, first with people of mixed European origin and then a scene full of Australians of different Asian and other ethnic backgrounds, most importantly including an aboriginal child appearing to claim possession of a towel with the Southern cross of stars – an emblem from the Australian Flag. Zahalka’s reinterpretation of Max Dupain’s iconic black and white image of the male surfer recumbent in the sun,  as a flame haired androgynous figure also changes the narrative of the Australian Male Icon.

I love these Frederick McCubbin paintings 'The Pioneer'  they are a set & capture the hardship of the scene.:

Frederick McCubbin paintings ‘The Pioneer’

Anne Zahalka The Immigrants (second version), 1985 type C photograph 85.5 x 50 cm edition of 5  Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery:

Anne Zahalka The Immigrants (second version), 1985 type C photograph


Australian beach pattern 1940 – Charles Meere (Art Gallery of New South Wales)

The Bathers, 1989, Anne Zahalka Type C photograph on flex Manly Art Gallery & Museum Collection

The Bathers, 2013, Anne Zahalka

The Sunbather No.2, 1989, Anne Zahalka, Type C print 74.5cm x 74.5cm Edition of 20
sunbaker max dupain:
Sunbaker – 1937 , Max Dupain

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

Todd McMillan

An emotional geography of swimming in this work by Todd McMillan, Australian artist, seen in Sydney at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Part of a show called: New matter: recent forms of photography is at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  The exhibition featured work that was strong on materiality – the sense of photographs as objects to be observed rather than looked through.  McMillan’s piece is a watery view of an endurance performance, but also a connection to one of the earliest ‘fictional’ photographs.



In both cases this is a created, fictional event.

Hyppolyte Bayard, Self portrait as drowned man

Bayard wrote on the back of the photograph:

‘The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with his discovery. The Government which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life….! … He has been at the morgue for several days, and no-one has recognized or claimed him. Ladies and gentlemen, you’d better pass along for fear of offending your sense of smell, for as you can observe, the face and hands of the gentleman are beginning to decay.’

How do you solve a problem like IKEA

Another visit to IKEA. As I looked for the ‘lack’ units I was going to use I followed the maze of paths, highly directional, always leading you on to a new interior fantasy, and found myself lost.  I was struck by how aspirational landscape photography was being used to give the surreal spaces a homely reality.  The images above show a hanging drape or screen – much like the ones I made for the last crit – depicting a log stack with irregular tree rings and on the right, a black and white with misty scenes printed on canvas, and on the table is more photography.  Ikea is using a folk memory of an ideal view of landscape to reinforce its desired perception of an ideal home interior, or cool workspace. Visual references to the abstract landscapes humanise the coldness of the flatpack interiors.

The simplicity of the design of pieces, using the square as the defining unit of space – this easy use of units creates a lazy abstraction, shorn of detail, maker’s hand or personalisation.  Underneath it all? Chipboard.