I watched a rocket stalk rehearse for lift off
Caught daily in a flash of winter spotlight
So Proud! Front of stage in the darkening days
They emerge like comic actors missing a cue.

Local colour to a plot already resolved,
Two trumpets flaring announce after the fact
It’s Twelfth Night! What we willed is now
Wilted, new costumes already worn and washed.

But Look! There is Jack Greenhorn
Preparing to make a last hopeful entrance
Long after Christmas performers packed away,
Our jolly pantomime audience drifted home.

In Instagram

The border by the sea

A beautiful walk, light coming and going and a sense of discovery, trying to answer the question……Where does a border end? At the cliff edge? At the last post? The last pebble? The last picnic place, the last house or  in the gentle lap of the sea which erodes everything?


The last house in Scotland – a smuggler’s bothy with the light reflected close to the actual borderline as it enters the sea.


Incredible clear water – due to the distance between accessible points at the base of the cliff – the border has no human touch as it crosses into the sea


The last picnic place


The last post……..

Danger in the jungle – Durham

An opportunity to present my research project into instagram and its uses in education.QEHS instagram feed at the invitation of NSEAD, the National Society for Educators in Art and Design at their annual conference in Durham.  The main invitation came from Neaten – The North East Art Teachers Network, who were presenting a pre conference programme on Friday night before the main event on Saturday.

Sadly I could not attend due to a clash with our School Exhibition opening and Arts Award Night so I sent a film of me presenting the talk, a bizarre thing to create as it meant speaking with no audience to make the recording:

I was also not able to gather any feedback, although pleased to see some comments on the NSEAD Facebook pages.

On the Border at Berwick

Just north of Berwick is another lay-by for people to stop to rest or record their crossing.  This time the flags dominate.  The ‘Scottish side’ had fine flags:

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Spent time trying to capture them with a perfect furl, in shadow and light:

and their location with the view across to the english flags:

Border Berwick -001Border Berwick -039

and then the ‘English side’:

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The English flags, including one from Northumberland were tattered and twisted.

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I also shot some video which may become something later. I also shot on the large format camera which mirrored some of the video and stills shots.

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.



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……



Ballast Hill Film


(also of his wife Jane and several of their Children (sic))

Scanned film of the visit to Ballast Hill – the informal non-conformist burial ground on Newcastle’s western perimeter – now an area of open space with graves stones for paths, surrounded by scrap yards and the church.  This black and white could be the subject for the work for the Cathedral project.

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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.

a nation requires borders

As the words of Donald Trump’s inauguration speech echo thinly on the radio repeating  the refrains of his election campaign and inspiring only American believers, one word rises above all others: NATION.  A word that was repeated by Marie Le Pen and others at a far right meeting in Koblenz, the status of the ‘Nation’ and ‘National interest’ were repeated, with defence of these interests and defence of the boundaries and borders of these interests, the threat of immigration as the attack on these borders being at the fore.

A nation state requires boundaries or borders.

‘The nation-state is an area where the cultural boundaries match up with the political boundaries’

Now there is a process: ‘New-Old’ borders and boundaries, seen and unseen are being recreated.  The US Mexican border is one, with a porous history now about to be refashioned, hardened and enforced, the ‘Israeli peace wall’ and act of invasive brutality or self defence,  depending on what side you live is another. In the Uk, the Irish border may be remade in the broken pieces of brevet, possibly with a risk of calling back all its tragic history. Meanwhile the cliffs of Dover or the Calais ferry port become a symbol for taking back control or denying freedom. My most local – the English Scottish Border – almost transparently thin after peaceful centuries of unified free movement, may yet be summoned back to being in Scottish independence.

The threat of borders can be seen as a denial of space. If landscape is freedom, borders are jail bars.

Ana  Teresa Fernandez attempted to erase the US – Mexico border with a paint brush

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Borrando la Barda: Erasing the Border – PERFORMANCE DOCUMENTATION AT TIJUANA/SAN DIEGO BORDER) by Ana Teresa Fernandez

Stephan Falke’s project Borderlands documents the  US Mexico border by recording the artists who live close by across the 2000 miles.

Pieter Hugo documented the border town of Messina/Musina (South Africa/

‘In his photographs of individuals, families, interiors, landscapes and incidental details, Hugo reflects on the wounds and scars of race, class and nationality that persist here, on the border of Zimbabwe, a country in the process of self-destructing. The circumstances of Musina can be also be seen as broadly reflective of any community that is confronted by transition.’ (From the cover description of the exhibition catalogue)