Monthly Archives: April 2017

Part 5 – Sketches


Forms inspired by the work of Anthony van Leeuwenhoek were sketched with the idea of creating them in steel and bronze:

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These appealed to me as a series of works and I decided to produce three of them using steel and other media.


The pollen grains (2 or 3) would be displayed in front of a grid made out to ceramic.



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Part 5 – Aims and Perceived Outcomes

What do I want to achieve? What do I hope to produce?

I want to:

  • explore less representational sculpture
  • explore new media / mix media more
  • work bigger
  • create sculptures which intrigue / evoke a similar sense of discovery I remember experiencing when visiting Buxton Micrarium when I was a child.

References: (2017). The Micrarium Story. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Apr. 2017].

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Part 5 – Research

Anthony van Leeuwenhoek

Leeuwenhoek was born on 24 October 1632 in Delft, Holland. His parents were fairly well off tradespeople and he did receive schooling at a local school and then whilst living with his uncle (an attorney), but he was never destined for university.

At 16 he was sent to Amsterdam to become a draper where he rose through the business to become the book-keeper and cashier there. 6 years later he returned to his home town to set up his own draper and haberdasher business. Over time he added to his job roles in the town also taking on those of ‘sheriff’s chamberlain’, ‘qualified surveyor’ and ‘wine-gauger’ (assaying all wines and spirits entering the town and calibrating the vessels they came in).

At some point (possibly 1668) he began to create his own microscopes by grinding his own glass lenses and then studying everything and anything through them. These studies were first brought to light in 1673 when he wrote his first letter to The Royal Society of London offering his scientific observations for publication in the ‘Philosophical Transactions’. This was as a result of recently setup Royal Society looking to communicate with all men (no matter of what learning) who were working for “the promotion of natural knowledge” (Dobell and Leeuwenhoek, 1960).

This was the start of a frequent correspondence, mostly on his observations and discoveries made using his microscopes, which was to continue until his death fifty years later in 1723.

These letters were not scientific papers, they were descriptions of the studies he had made and discovered using his microscopes, written in his native Dutch and translated by The Royal Society for publication.

Because of the quality of his lenses, he was the only serious microscopist in the world at the time and he had no rivals in this field. As a result of his letters he was elected as a Fellow of The Royal Society in 1680.

Once his discoveries were published and became known about, he became famous and was sought out by celebrities and royalty to demonstrate his microscopes and the things he viewed through them. It was not fame he sought though and in correspondence he confessed he was bored by these interruptions and would prefer to be left in peace to continue his studies.

He is credited with many discoveries:

protozoa (single-celled organisms)
blood cells
muscle fibre construction
blood flow in capillaries.


I decided that one pollen grain type was sufficient for this piece and picked that of Passiflora caerulea (Kesseler and Harley, 2004).

References (2017). BBC – History – Historic Figures: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632 – 1723). [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Apr. 2017].

Dobell, C. and Leeuwenhoek, A. (1960). Anthony van Leeuwenhoek and his “little animals”. 1st ed. New York: Dover. (2017). Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Apr. 2017]. (2017). Discovery Of Bacteria – by Antony van Leeuwenhoek. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Apr. 2017].

Kesseler, R. and Harley, M. (2004). Pollen. 1st ed. London: Andreas Papadakis.

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Assignment 4 – Tutor Feedback

Some bullet points taken from Skype assignment feedback:

  • Think about whether the accuracy of the topography is something which is needed. It could be more representative of the experience of being there / exploring the area.
  • Increase depth of reflections and contextualisation. More about my thoughts in creating the work. Question more what the pieces are communicating to the viewer. Are there areas that lose the communication of the ideas?
  • The museum-like presentation bases work well, however the additional pointed steel grid on the Conistone tile is over-elaborate and detracts from the message of the sculpture. It adds an industrial feel to the pieces which is not warranted.
  • Do more large drawings in pen & ink / graphite. Don’t feel like have to do ‘loose’ drawings if these don’t suit me.
  • The sketch of the fractured map tile works better, both as a sketch and as a sculpture, as it doesn’t have the baggage of the OS accurate map.
  • Try more sketches working on an imagined scale / dystopian landscapes.
  • A comment my tutor made about the Grimwith tile feeling like flayed flesh gave me an idea of having a tile with an area pealed back. Could do this with an archaeology tile – pealing back the surface – could do that literally, revealing an impression of what was underneath?


Suggested reading/viewing:

  • Boyle Family
  • Robert Smithson essays
  • Paul Noble


Comments on suggested reading:

Boyle Family

The Boyle family are best known for their ‘Earth Series’, a series of casts of the earth’s surface, selected at random. They incorporate objects from the sites with resin, fibreglass and paint, and aim to be accurate representations of that site.

Their exhibition of an area of coast on Barra in the Outer Hebrides (part of their ‘World Series’, a random survey of planet Earth, selected by throwing darts at a map of the world) is a very similar idea to one I have been mulling over, essentially having an exhibition based on a small section of land. Their exhibition (Barra project, World Series. 1992-2010) consisted of reproduction of a rock cliff face and a rippled area of sand, accompanied by a film piece of the site and electron microscope images of plankton and seaweed found at the site. They also included electron microscope images of their hairs, including themselves in recognition of their impact on the site by visiting it.

It is interesting that a fellow student has just written a blog piece on originality and finding that other artists have done the same thing as your own brilliant and innovative idea (Eaton, 2017). Having completed my map tiles in stage 4 and now working on sculpture based on microscope images in stage 5, I was thinking that these could be combined by selecting a small section of land and producing both a map tile of it and sculptures based on microscope imagery of what was found there (e.g. pollen, pond creatures).

Their work concerns itself with accuracy aiming to ‘present a version of reality as objectively and truthfully as possible’ (, 2017). My aim is to move further away from the accuracy of the depiction, to capture more of the essence. So the resulting work would be very different, but part of the concept to offer different interpretations of the environment is the same.

Another interesting piece of their work to me is ‘Sand, Wind and Tide series, 1969’, fourteen studies of the same square of beach. It looks like these are all monochrome though, rather than replicating the colour of the sane and I like this idea of removing colour to concentrate on the form and texture.

No doubt I will come back to look at their work again.

References: (2017). Boyle Family (About). [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].

Eaton, A. (2017). Confessions of an art student: Part 4 – WeAreOCA. [online] WeAreOCA. Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].

Mottram, J. (2017). Boyle Family – Submit Response. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017]. (2017). Tidal Series (1969) | National Galleries of Scotland. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017]. (2017). TateShots Edinburgh: Boyle Family. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].


Robert Smithson

Robert Smithson works directly with the landscape, creating earthworks or land art, most notably ‘Spiral Jetty, 1970’. Works like this alter the landscape to form his art, but he also produced work such as his Non-sites, where he brought materials from remote sites into galleries and placed them with maps and mirrors to create a ‘dialectic between the outdoors and indoors’ (, 2017).

I find his essays hard to understand, but his essay on ‘A Provisional Theory of Non-Sites’ he says:

‘By drawing … a topological map, one draws a … “logical two dimensional picture” [this] differs from a natural or realistic picture in that it rarely looks like the thing it stands for. The Non-Site (an indoor earthwork) is a three dimensional logical picture that is abstract, yet it represents an actual site…’

I guess this is what my tutor is suggesting I do in moving away from ‘the baggage of the OS map’

Ideas sparked – I could construct a map tile as a container. Have the map tile around the edge, with a recessed box in the centre, fill this box with collected material from the site?

Map tile with found items

References: (2017). Robert Smithson. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].


Paul Nobel

Paul Nobel produces drawings of a fictional place Nobson Newtown. These are very detailed pencil drawings, usually based on text as a starting point.

They are very different to my work and I am not sure what I will get out of these at the moment. I guess my tutor has pointed me towards these to show that detailed intricate drawings can be a valid way forwards rather than the way students are often pushed towards loser, freer drawings. It also shows where rolling with your imagination can take you.

I had some similar ideas in my ‘residency’ work, which I thought could be expanded to incorporate drawings in the form of architectural plans for the ‘buildings’ and a language used by the ‘unknown creatures’ – again proof that there are no original ideas, however much you may think you have them!

References: (2017). Paul Noble Nobson Newtown drawings. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].

Tate. (2017). Paul Noble | Tate. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].

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Part 5 – Initial Thoughts

I mulled over what to do for this stage of the course for quite a long time exploring a number of ideas to start with.


23 Drawing 24 Drawing


#2 Pollen stone 5 Pollen room 6 Pollen display wall 12 Fractured pollen landscape14 Pollen detail 25 Drawing 26 Drawing 28 Drawing33 Drawing

This subject has plenty of scope, although my ideas all use representational pollen grains, scaling them up to different extents. Some of these had great potential, particularly going very large and forming a large pollen sphere using an open plaster shape (In a similar structure as that used by Richard Hamilton in ‘Growth and Form’, 1951 – based on drawings of morphologies from a book by the biologist D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson (, 2017)), or using concrete covered scrim (in a similar way to the method used by Phyllida Barlow in her ‘untitled: screestage, 2013’).


The development idea from the end of Stage 4:

Skin virus sketch

Virus attacking skin images – lumpy marks – weld pools of bronze?


We decided in my tutorial at the end of part 3 to drop the course content for part 4. I had however been reading ahead and thinking about possibilities for that stage. The ‘Monument to a hero’ section was one I had pondered on and decided that I might be able to manipulate it to suit something I wanted to explore (rather than an actual hero of mine). There had recently been a Google Doodle for the 384th Birthday of Anthony van Leeuwenhoek (, 2017). His work on microscopes fitted neatly into my recent work on pollen grains and I looked into his work further.


I decided that the pollen and microscopy ideas had the most potential (and fit together), so this was the direction I took.

References (2017). Antoni van Leeuwenhoek’s 384th Birthday. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Apr. 2017].

The Huffington Post. (2017). LOOK: Under The Microscope, Deadly Viruses Look Absolutely Stunning. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Apr. 2017]. (2017). Growth and Form. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Apr. 2017].

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Exhibition Visit – Disobedient Bodies at the Hepworth

An exhibition curated by a fashion designer (J. Anderson) covering art, fashion, ceramics and design was an intriguing prospect. Fashion is an alien world to me, something I have never understood or followed!

Disobedient Bodies

The first thing that strikes you as you enter the space is the use of curtains to divide up the exhibition space, instantly giving a cosier space than the stark sterile white of many gallery spaces. The works are then laid out in a series of themes, although these are quite loose (and I didn’t always agree with the placement of objects into them). What I found fascinating was how he placed groups of works together.

A ‘bustle coat’ by Yohji Yamamoto echoing the shape of ‘Metamorphosis, 1984’ by William Turnball:

William Turnball

‘Teddy Boy and Girl, 1979’ by Lynn Chadwick was complemented by similarly angular garments by Junya Watanbe (‘Architectural dress’) and Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood (‘Witches Dress’ and ‘Witches Trench Coat’):

Lynn Chadwick

A collection of Sarah Flynn ceramics sharing many characteristics with garments by JW Anderson:

JW Anderson Sarah Flynn

These pairings show the artistic processes of picking ideas and inspiration from diverse sources. It is curated with a very broad-minded approach, resulting in an exhibition that should be of interest to everyone.

28 Jumpers

Two last items I wanted to comment on, firstly the immersive ’28 Jumpers’ by JW Anderson. This was a display of oversized jumpers which the public are invited to interact with. It had similarities to Phyllida Barlow’s ‘untitled: screestage, 2013’ which you were able to walk under, but added the tactile experience of being able to touch and interact (or play) with the exhibit. This is something which seems to be becoming more popular (e.g. touching exhibits in York Art Gallery) and something I think works well with sculpture which often has a tactile element to be experienced.

Sarah Lucas

Lastly, a piece I didn’t like was ‘Bunny Gets Snookered #9, 1997’ by Sarah Lucas. I find the stuffed tights she uses in her works disturbing, like distorted flesh. Her work might have an important message to get across, but I do wonder if it works? I think I need to have beauty in works of art, I feel that there are enough ugly things in the world without adding to them! Perhaps sometimes the message is everything though and I just haven’t found an issue which is important to me enough to protest against?!

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