Studio Strike (Two weeks to leave)

Upstairs Studio Cleared

Upstairs Studio Cleared

The upstairs of the shop is now cleaner and emptier than when I moved in.

I’ll be leaving my studio next Wednesday, no prospect of a new one yet, everywhere is shutting up shop, and I’m hopeful my van driver will honour the contract. We live in interesting times.

Shop ready to empty

Shop ready to empty

So all of this is now here…

Stacked Garage

Stacked Garage

Apart from the bits that are here…

Attic Studio

Attic Studio

Ready to work in isolation!

For the sake of future reference ACE effectively canceled all the National Lottery Project Funding currently pending in order to create a support system for freelancers who are seriously compromised by the current closure of everywhere. So all my plans are on hold along with everyone else’s. What I’ve decided to work on now is a Web GL version of the VR world and see what I can do to finesse it.

Studio Strike (four weeks to leave)

I’ve got three weeks to pack up and leave the studio and, as these things do, it’s come at a time when there are other things to do. I’m losing two days for the Future Now conference in York (C-19 permitting) and two days with Barnsley College to help out and begin the NHS maquettes. I’ve also got to find a new place and I’m still working on developing new ideas and refining the geranium VR. This obviously calls for a diary, even if only because it will keep me focused on the things I need to do.

So the first thing is to take the studio apart and pack everything while I look for more space. The shop now looks like this…

One Days Tidying

One Days Tidying – Monday 9th March

I think I can pack everything up by the middle of next week, I’m in York on Thursday and Friday. On Monday I sent some emails, took down the exhibition and the walls for the workshop downstairs, and added more sounds and animations to the VR for geranium.

geranium_march_2020_medium from Ian Latham on Vimeo.

Also this morning, Tuesday, I got the acknowledgement of my next funding application to ACE, so I will find out if I’m successful at the same time as I give the keys back to Axisweb.

Wednesday Tidying

Installation Dismantled – Wednesday 11th March

Wednesday I took down the installation and started to disassemble the panels. I also took the opportunity to film the installation without a roof.

The first chance to see it with decent light.

Friday I finished the panels and started to pile everything up downstairs ready to move. Another day should see it done.

Upstairs Tidying

Installation Fully dismantled – Friday 13th March

Downstairs Friday

Downstairs Tidying – Friday 13th March

The Geranium Project (R&D) 34

This last week has been spent planning next steps and finessing parts of the VR. The video run through is below.

I had a few visitors, only one set I didn’t invite directly, who were uniformly enthusiastic about the work. I had another today who took the number who have tried the VR to 50. People remain as enthusiastic about the installation as they do about the VR.

Next steps are to make the physical presence more robust so that it can be moved for exhibition and get the piece out to new locations. All of this is of course subject to funding. The final report can be seen here


The Geranium Project (R&D) 31

Monday was spent making further adjustments to the VR world. One of the difficulties of working in VR on your own – the way I do it – is that you are continually moving into and out of the virtual as you make slight adjustments in Unity. It is hard to tell what effect they have had without taking the time to try out the world. On Monday I spent time doing this having been frustrated that I forgot to copy the bird_knot animations onto my portable disc so I couldn’t bring them into the model.

You get a sense of the small iterations I mean from the video above.

I’ve managed to work out the PIR for my arduino for the thunder inside the installation but part of working it out meant I discovered a collection of new parts I need to make the finished article. I tried to get the webcam working to cover this on Wednesday but there is a fault that means I can’t adjust the motion detection subtly enough to detect movement when I want it.

Friday was a chance to copy the current version of the VR before I attempt the build again and to shoot a view of the installation in its almost finished state.

I’ve also managed to set up a projection of the VR experience.

Projection from VR

The Geranium Project (R&D) 30

Monday 20th January, finally managed to work on the textures for the gardens and the bird knots. I painted another, final?, coat on to the installation as well.

Starling Texture One

I overworked this one a bit, so it needs to dry.

Starling Texture Two

This one is better.


This is the entrance to the installation,

looking back from the screen

Looking back from the projection,

towards the entrance

and back to the entrance.

I think I’ll have to call it a day if I want to get the other things I’m working on done for February 10th.

On Wednesday I had a visit at the shop from Juliet Farrar who runs Doncaster Creates for the council. She tells me that the target for the project is to develop knowledge of the arts presence in the town, at least I think that’s how it breaks down. There isn’t the investment for a city, or town, of culture, and there is little to no value in a festival yet. There is a strong offer in the arts in Doncaster but it is disparate and therefore has no discernible presence. Once again we seem to be at a point where things might happen, there is a lot going on, but it may be another false dawn.

On the Tuesday I made a new version of the geranium project installation projection. This is a low resolution version of it.

The rest of the week was interupted by Vets, Dentist, and rats in the garden. I managed to do some more work on the animated birds and Luke has pretty much resolved the AR for the installation. It may well be that we make a version that works externally to the installation, or can be carried in to it.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 29

On Monday I managed to do the second coat of the installation drawing, adding in some lighter shapes over the very black lines of the first version from Friday.

newinstallation back wall

new installation back wall

I worked on the VR world that I have to recover after the difficulties I had last week. There are still a few things that need to be resolved but it is progressing well.

This week I had to go in on Tuesday afternoon as well to have my photograph taken for the free press.

Doncaster Free Press Report

It was in on Thursday, fulfilling another project aim with publicity. I was intending to get in on Thursday to work on finishing off but toothache intervened and I had a trip to the dentist instead. On Friday I worked on the VR while Luke and Kim got the AR into gear and that will be finished up on Wednesday next week. I also got the installation lighting rewired to help with the AR.

This leaves very little to do to finish off now, I need to model the installation into the VR and have a final runthrough with the appropriate sound files and we’re there.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 28

On Monday I was back in the studio checking things over and with the intention of working on my 3d models. I forgot to take the disc with me so that went out of the window.

garden painting

One of the garden paintings displayed in the gallery

I took some pictures of the paintings I have on display downstairs and had a look at the VR model, I tried enlarging the sky domes I put on for the last run through but they were awful so I’ve taken them out and am working on some other options.

I also wrote a press release over the weekend and sent it to Doncaster Free Press, Sheffield Star, Yorkshire Post and Doncopolitan. Doncopolitan will put it out through their social media channels so I know I’ll get some traction there, the other press is a fingers crossed affair and unlikely to lead to any publicity. I posted the press release to LinkedIn, a-n (artists newsletter) and Axisweb sites under events and onto the local doncastercreates website where it is now sitting on the front page. I’ve emailed six or seven organisations regionally today and have a few more to do. I also sent the press release to bbc radio. I don’t expect a response from any of these outlets, the bbc have an automated response saying we might use it or we might not, but if you don’t ask you don’t get.

On Monday evening I got a reply from the Doncaster Free Press and they will be running a piece in the paper, as things stand they’re sending a photographer next Tuesday afternoon to take pictures for the piece. I got a lot of traction on LinkedIn, including new local connections and interest in viewing the piece.

On Thursday I had a visit at the studio from Marcus and Tim who are associated with the Doncaster TedX organisation. They suggested that I could showcase the work at the TedX Youth conference in April, and potentially have some involvement with TedX in October. We also discussed several other options for this piece and the installation as a stand alone piece. The Hexthorpe Park idea I had also got some traction with Marcus and he’s going to connect me with someone who might be interested in collaborating.

Luke came to the studio and with his help I managed to get the animated garden working, he also managed to get the AR element for the installation working, we now just need to finalise the interior and the installation will be finished.

Friday I started by painting the interior of the new installation, I got the first coat done before my meeting with Mike Stubbs.

one wall of the new installation drawing

one wall of the new installation drawing

The meeting was interesting and quite challenging. Mike commented on my blog that he wondered about my ‘philosophy’, and couldn’t pin it down, so this meeting went over some ground around this. Essentially he complimented the blog on its detail and comprehensiveness but questioned the lack of any discussion placing my work in an ‘art’ context. He believes that a clearer understanding of where you want to place yourself as an artist improves your work. He also gave me a list of artists to look at who he felt I might want to position myself against (not ‘counter to’, just relatively) and I’m pondering.

I shot a short video in the new installation, where the drawing has to be very bold and busy to aid the AR, but its incredibly dark.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 27

Over Christmas I continued work on the VR element of the project. I’m working towards the AR animated birds for the installation and the photographic gardens using paper tied into knots.

bird knots drawing

bird knots drawing

This drawing is A1, charcoal, pencil and pastel and I’ve made a couple of 3d models and animated a short section.

bird knot models

bird knot models

I also tied a few pieces so that I can try out using them as an AR trigger.

I went into the studio for the first time on Friday 3rd January and met with wayne, details of this meeting follow.

Discussed current progress of work, what needs to happen next and what help wayne could give in achieving that.

Outlined the plan going forward.

  1. Tidy up current iteration of Geranium VR – skies, edges, tunnels, etc.,

  2. Introduce animated sections to painted garden

  3. Introduce animated birds to photo garden sections

  4. Finish spoken word sections, quotes and explicatory texts for tunnels, gnomic utterances for gardens

  5. make birdsong soundtracks for drawn and phot gardens

  6. Work with Iain Nicholls on build for VR space

  7. Work with Luke Roberts on AR birds for installation

  8. Finish rain section for installation, run PIR off tower PC if necessary

  9. Organise press release for Invitees week beginning 10th February 2020

  10. Invite appropriate people (get the invites out by end of next week 10/01/2020

  11. Get feedback from Kim & Luke for report etc.,

  12. Plan the next steps – meet with Mike Stubbs, Wayne, Luke & Kim to propose and develop next bid for funding

Wayne agreed to email me introductions to key people in Doncaster.

In discussing the next steps for the project wayne proposed several people it would be worth contacting in Doncaster Council, Doncaster Archives, Barnsley Museums etc.,

Two things particularly need establishing as part of the future display of the object, firstly the entrance to the space can be remade for each location it is placed in, and secondly that the photographic elements of the VR space provide potential for a number of future works utilising archival photgraphs and contemporaneous images. Hexthorpe Park springs to mind.

I need to put the press release information out onto my Linked In page, through Twitter, send to Doncopolitan for Facebook, onto the Doncaster Creative wotsit, onto a-n, Axisweb etc., as well as the blog and send it to Doncaster Free Press, Yorkshire Post, The Star (Sheffield?) and anywhere else I can think of.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 26

As it has been Christmas I’ve been a bit desultory about the blog, and concentrating mostly on things like celebrating and visiting relatives. I have done some work on the animated sequences for the VR and the narrative. The next post will address these and forwaard planning for the end of the project in February. This post is a copy of the self evaluation exercise I have completed, as far as possible, using the form I submitted to get the funding. I pulled out all the aims listed and addressed each one. It does show that there is a good amount of overlap in the submission sections but it also shows that I’m well on track to meet all the expected outcomes.

Project Evaluation:

A: Tell us more about your project and what you want it to achieve.

AIMS From A:

  1. Create a space that tells a story

    1. I created the original space as a rectangular environment, with a 4.8m x 3.6m footprint and 2.4m high, with drawings on three sides. Entry was intially through a door in one of the long sides, this was later changed to a corner on the same side to allow for a ‘light lock’ to keep the interior dark. I made a series fo films which were projected onto the short side furthest from the entrance, and recorded a set of soundtracks to accompany the projections. The drawings in the interior of the space were developed from drawings of the original garden from which the project is developed, the films are all of the same space, one simply a long take of the space from a static camera with a soundtrack of background nosie recorded at the same time, birdsong, faint road noises, distant machinery etc., the other films are made from sections of motion captured film during early morning and late evening, edited together to exploit the characteristics of the light. Over these are played two recordings, one combines a section of TS Eliot’s ‘Burnt Norton’ from the ‘Four Quartets’ combined with Tennyson’s ‘Tithonus’, the other is a paraphrasing of this combined poem in my own words. The space was presented to the public on several occasions and used with groups of students and local artists. After evaluation of these events I dismantled the space and reassembled it in a more organic form, to build in more sculptural elements, increase the opportunities for interaction and render the environment more confining.

  2. Make a virtual reality space or online space that is explorable and has a narrative component

    1. I began the VR space at the end of July, after opening the studio for the Doncopolitan Crawl, and had a working prototype by the end of August. The space has developed considerably since then. At the end of December the space has three garden spaces made of photographs and four gardens created from drawings reimagined as 3d models. The poetry from the installation has been split into parts and used as a voice over. The Vr space is now entered from a simple model of the studio and I intend that this space can be created for each location that it is shown in. From here you enter a 3d model of the installation, with the same interactions, and progress through the video screen (now presented as a split cloth moving in the wind) into the first garden, the ‘summer garden’, from here you move to the end of the garden and towards the first drawn garden through a mist filled tunnel. At the end of this garden you pass through another tunnel to the ‘rain garden’ and at the end of here through another tunnel to a version of the drawn garden which is massively raised in scale. From here a long tunnel takes you to the ‘frost garden’ from which you pass through a tunnel to the ‘painted garden’. Passing through here takes you into the longest tunnel through which you enter the ‘drawn garden’ which uses elements directly taken from the drawings and lofted to create a space littered with forms which you must navigate through. At the end of this space a tunnel brings you back into the studio where you started. Each of the spaces can be fully explored and each features sounds, birdsong, snatches of conversation or reading, that are encountered only in certain sections of each garden. In the tunnels there are longer narrations indicating what you might expect and how you might proceed in the space you are about to enter..

  3. Present to an audience and use them to help refine the experience.

    1. The installation was presented to the public at an open event for Doncopolitan Crawl on July 23rd, I set up an exhibition with work by my two graduate artists, Kim Haines and Luke Roberts, as well as installation installed downstairs by Andrea Berry, a local artist recently raduated with an MA from Sheffield Hallam. On the night we had around 80 visitors, 62 of whom visited my installation in its first iteration. After this I staged another event in October with talks by Andrea and me and had 13 attendees, 9 of whom tried the VR environment. On the following two Wednesdays I had students from Barnsley College BA Fine Art visit with lecturers, a total of 36 visitors, 21 of whom tried the VR. Visitors to these events were invited to feedback their thoughts and suggestions on whiteboards and through conversations. I blogged this feedback at the end of October. Additionally 14 more people have visited the studio at various points abd tried out the VR space. All of this has been useful for the overall development of the experience.

B: Tell us how this project will help to develop your work.

AIMS from B:

  1. Develop my practice through collaboration with specific individuals…

    1. Wayne Sables (Film and Presentation)

      1. Met with Wayne on six occasions so far, really good discussions about the direction of the work and where it fits in a larger perspective. Good contacts established with Doncaster organisations, Marcus Isman-Egal from dcstrust and Tim Hazeltine from Doncaster Council, as well as Sally Lockey from RUOS. Wayne also encouraged me to enter the Aesthetica Art Prize and provided good contacts and opportunities for Luke and Kim.

    2. Iain Nicholls (VR – Technical)

      1. I met with Iain on three occasions and he provided significant support for the development of the VR space, the navigation would have taken so much longer without him. Had some difficulties sorting out another meeting due to diaries.

  2. Develop my Understanding of Large Scale Presentations…

    1. Mike Stubbs (Creative Doncaster)

      1. Mike has visited the studio on three or four occasions and provided a lot of food for thought as well providing encouragement for the development of the environment. Some suggestions have been difficult to implement and maybe point towards things I’m not ready to consider, others have contributed to radical developments in the work itself.

    2. Dan Tucker (Sheffield DocFest)

      1. Dan never answered my emails so I didn’t establish contact.

  3. Employ Two Graduate Artists and help them develop their practice

      1. Luke Roberts and Kimberley Haines have been working with me since July, they have attended all the meetings with mentors, helped set up the exhbitions and taken photgraphs and helped shepherd people through the installation and VR. They have also spoken to Mike, Iain and wayne about their work and opportunities to develop their own practice.

  4. Test the work with other Doncaster Artists

      1. Eleven Doncaster creatives attended the event in October, and all experienced the work and fed back on its merits. Additionally three other Doncaster based artists have visited the studio occasionally and tried out the environment, giving me valuable feedback.

  5. Become more collaborative in my approach to my own practice.

      1. The project has encouraged me to be more collaborative in my approach to work, and challenged me to consider the degree to which you can lose your voice when working with other artists. The greatest challenge through the project has been to keep the direction I wanted to travel in especially when that direction becomes more difficult to articulate and other influences are precise in their opinions.

C: What will your project focus on?

AIMS from C:

  1. Develop my professional practice

    1. My professional practice has been validated by the allocation of ACE National Lottery Project Grant Funding. One of the most significant results of the allocation was the change to way I was perceived as a serious artist in regard to a commission with the NHS. Early in 2019 I was meeting a brick wall when discussions options to advance a project, when I subsequently backed off because my commitments to The Geranium Project limited my time the client decided to wait for my availability. This professional acceptance has been the most revelatory effect of my experience this year, considering that I am highly qulaifed and experienced as an arts educator I was pleased to be recognised in this way by ACE and gratified that it opened some previously closed doors. In short I’m taken much more seriously now.

  2. Try out new approaches

    1. Whilst I have worked with 3d modelling and installations in the past, the virtual reality world building is a new departure and the project has served the purpose of allowing me to try out ways of displaying this material to the public.

  3. reach new or different audiences

    1. The audiences who have experienced this piece have been largely new to me, and I am seeking more opportunities to display the work for all sorts of people.

  4. work with new people

    1. As I have indicated earlier I have worked with three artists in a collaborative manner and assisted with professional development for two recent graduates. I have also provided exhbition opportunites for three local artists during this project and built up a number of contacts for future opportunities.

Public Engagement

D: Who will engage with your project?

AIMS from D:

  1. Stage Exhibition in Early February presenting VR world and Installation.

  2. Secure opportunity to display the piece during Doncaster Creates, Donny Debates in 2020

E: How will people engage with your project and what experience do you

want them to have?

AIMS from E:

  1. Develop a non-linear narrative for the space

    1. ongoing but see 2.1

  2. Build an immersive environment that can be experienced alongside a Virtual Experience

    1. see 2.1

  3. Test the installation with groups of students


  1. Invite audiences to consider the narrative and feedback

    1. The installation was presented to the public at an open event for Doncopolitan Crawl on July 23rd, I set up an exhibition with work by my two graduate artists, Kim Haines and Luke Roberts, as well as installation installed downstairs by Andrea Berry, a local artist recently raduated with an MA from Sheffield Hallam. On the night we had around 80 visitors, 62 of whom visited my installation in its first iteration. After this I staged another event in October with talks by Andrea and me and had 13 attendees, 9 of whom tried the VR environment. On the following two Wednesdays I had students from Barnsley College BA Fine Art visit with lecturers, a total of 36 visitors, 21 of whom tried the VR. Visitors to these events were invited to feedback their thoughts and suggestions on whiteboards and through conversations. I blogged this feedback at the end of October. Additionally 14 more people have visited the studio at various points abd tried out the VR space. All of this has been useful for the overall development of the experience.

F: Tell us how you will make sure your project reaches people.

AIMS from F: (Future Developments)

  1. Arrange exhibitions away from the studio

  2. Publicise the piece through local media

G:People who will benefit from your project

Beneficiary Type

How many people will benefit from this project?

Actual Participants

Artists/ creatives/ museum specialists






Audience (live)



Audience (broadcast, online, in writing)






H: Tell us how you will evaluate your project.

AIMS from H:

  1. Maintain blog of progress weekly

    1. blog address has been kept each week, with two breaks for holiday, during the project, currently this post is number 26.

  2. Keep a record of mentoring sessions with WS and MS

    1. Mentoring sessions have been recorded through contemporaneous notetaking and written up as blog posts with analysis.

  3. Get feedback from Graduate Artists

    1. will be provided at the end of January as part of the review/reporting process.

  4. Get feedback from Local Artists and people viewing the project as it progresses

    1. see above and blog posts etc.,

  5. Produce a reconciled budget statement

    1. Presented as an appendix in the submitted report.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 25

A week that promises to be fraught started with me getting to the shop early and installing the new white cloth projection screen for the installation. At firt it didn’t work too well but with the back material hanging behind it, it functions pretty well.

It did highlight the need to address the video, video with high contrast works much better. I then had to rush home.

Monday afternon I workled some more on the painted garden for the VR world. I also started to write up the text snatches to be recorded for the gardens and the installation.

Tuesday I continued to work on the painted garden, worked on the new videos and began to write this weeks blog so it doesn’t seem so thrown together. I got the open event advertised through Axisweb, but although I’d agreed an advert in doncopolitan (a local mag) I don’t think it has happened.

Wednesday was spent finishing off in the studio, sorting the hang and titling the paintings.

Thursday I made the labels and voted!

So Friday morning I rewired the sound system for the installation and set everything up for the open day.

On the day I had two visitors so in the afternoon I worked on putting some mist between the sections to make the transitions less stark.

On the Saturday I had no visitors at all, unless you count the man who was looking for the Junk Food Project who haven’t been at the address for two years or so. I worked on the VR section and got a lot done, finishing the mist, adjusting some scale and normal issues and introducing colour to the painted garden. I also made separate skies for the different sections and did some height adjustments to floors and so on.