Quick, Look Like You’re Busy

coffee cup

coffee 13th August #100

What have I been doing since the 5th August?  I’ve been working on four or five different things. The picture above is the 100 th consecutive drawing on my iPad made between 9:00 am and 10:00 am each day since the 6th May. I picked the coffee cup deliberately because this is the first drawing I did.

Coffee 6th May #001

Coffee 6th May #001

I think I might be improving. I’ve kept up with these and they can be seen on my Instagram latham_1959 or in these galleries.

I’ve also been painting, continuing to work on the sequences from Edlington Woods and from my garden in Balby. They’ll be displayed on this website

http://www.ian-latham.com/painting/

These are the latest ones.

Edlington Woods Orchid

Edlington Woods Orchid

Balby Garden Baby Crow

Balby Garden Baby Crow

Balby Garden Dunnock

Balby Garden Dunnock

But mostly I’ve spent the last fortnight finishing off my ACE funding application and submitting it through the online portal. Fingers crossed.

A Tentative Stroll Down the Garden

Et in Arcadia Ego

Balby Garden Sculptures June/July 2020

The Garden is not strictly a theistic or spiritual phenomenon. It has its roots in more basic impulses: to carve off a portion of the landscape, and distinguish it from ordinary places. This is suggested by the origins of the word ‘sacred’: from the Indo-European ‘sak’, meaning to separate, demarcate, divide. The opposite of the sacred is not the secular but the ordinary, from which it is set apart. In this light, the garden is one of the original sacred sites, preceded by groves like the Lyceum: an area cordoned off from purely natural or human activity, but which explicitly unites both. While perfectly secular, its walls, fences, ditches or hedges symbolise a break from ‘common sense’. “

Young , D (2019). Philosophy in the Garden. London: Scribe Publications

Balby Garden 5 in situ

Balby Garden 5, June/July 2020

I have two works in progress at the moment that explore the occupation of spaces separate to the world. One of them is a series of small sculptures that take elements from untended patches of garden and ‘elevate’ them through the application of gilding and oil colour. The other is a virtual reality work that traverses a series of yards and gardens highlighting, without explanation, elements of (auto)biography constructed through family photographs.

VR Glover Street

VR Glover Street, looking back past the introduction

As is often the way with the gestation of new works these works have both existed, in a kind of cinematic soft focus, well in advance of their articulation. The use of the garden as both a means of separation and as a motive for building or making has been at the centre of my work for as long as I’ve made it, but it was only reading the quote at the top of the post on July 12th 2020 that I clearly understood it.

Before this event, reading something that resonates is always an event, I had been struggling with ways to describe works that look to this “break from ‘common sense’”. A desire to show, not tell, by pointing at things and not expalining. I began with the Four Quartets, where in Burnt Norton

Footfalls echo in the memory

Down the passage which we did not take

Towards the door we never opened”

and through Baudrillard

Fiction is not imagination. It is what anticipates imagination by giving it the form of reality. This is quite opposite to our own natural tendency which is to anticipate reality by imaging it, or to flee from it by idealizing it. That is why we shall never inhabit true fiction; we are condemned to the imaginary and nostalgia for the future.”

Baudrillard, J (1988,1989) trans. Turner, C America. London: Verso

in the end encountering Poussin’s ‘Et in Arcadia ego’ and through this the Arcadia of Jacopo Sannazaro and the awful dream that induces his return to the city (Naples) through a dark tunnel.i

Balby Garden 3 (detail)

Balby Garden 3 (detail)

Maybe because of the way I was educated the development of the piece and the underpinning philosophy of the piece are both happening during the process of making. As an example I had struggled with the two tall pieces in the small sculptures series until one morning (this morning – 14/07/2020) when I saw the grass on my run, there is a tall grass that branches leaves like a crabgrass. I drew it a lot for the Balby Carr paintings I did in 2012, but I hadn’t thought of it until today. This realisation helped me resolve the need for the space around the ‘stems’ to be more active. It could also be considered a bit of cheat as plants are inherently interesting sculpturally and it turns the object into a sort of plant.

Balby Garden 2 (detail)

Balby Garden 2 (detail)

That also highlights the contrast in qualities I want to be present in the sculpture. The objects should appear to be plant like and an ideal might be that they are only occasionally noticed when in situ. So that they appear suddenly, demanding interrogation, emerging from their surroundings. At the same time I’d like them to be difficult to see, which is where these versions fall down. Looking back to my opening quote the objects should lift the environment from the ordinary by emphasising its sanctity. There will be another set. The first set are documented in the garden on this site Gardens Sculpture

VR Greenway View

VR Greenway View (still)

The VR piece has been hanging at the back of my mind for a year now, pushed back by the geranium project, and will step through a set of stories from gardens. Using a series of photographs (untitled) and some way of telling tiny stories as you progress through the space (currently experimenting with written notes in the space). This short film shows the beginnings of what is very much a work in progress.

The VR project will be updated irregularly and, when finished, be summed up here ‘et in arcadia ego’

 

iAll of this comes from a need to understand the desire to stand separately as an artist and look at the world from an imagined outside which is becoming more crucial to me in the age of ‘participation’ ‘community’ and ‘wellbeing’ in the arts. I don’t object to that but I don’t think we should all do the same thing, I don’t think ‘art’ should be defined, and no one is telling me what to do, or what not to do.

Is it still Lockdown? (Twenty days later)

Frustrating month trying to get my head in gear to work on the gardens project. I’ve got a chanace to put this out for feedback through the CAST scratch night but I’m having real difficulty with the animation and scene loading in Unity/Steam so I’m reverting to the travelling through tunnels, or dropping down holes to progress.

In the meantime I finished the set of five sculptures and placed them in the garden. The  Garden Sculpture website can be seen on this link. I’ve set it up seperately so I can send it out for applications.

The sculptures are smaller than I’m used to and I’m not sure about them yet. I’m working on a piece about the garden as an inspiration and a site for sculptures that will be posted soon. (don’t hold your breath).

I also set up a site for the paintings I’ve been working on over the last couple of months.

There are three series of five, one completed – still life – and two in progress. Edlington Woods, the one above is the latest in this series.

And paintings of my garden like this one. The site can be seen here Learning to paint

I’ve also been drawing on my iPad each day, since May 6th, so I’ve got 82 drawings/sketches up ’til today.

The rest of my time I’ve spent staring at computers, 3d modelling, getting VR wrong and checking over my application for a new Lottery Project grant from ACE.

Lockdown Nine (the most bored week so far…)

This gallery has the continuation of my ‘draw every day’ attempt, so far I’ve managed every day since the 6th May

and now through June since the 6th.

I continued with the scyulptures, making six maquettes last week.

These are using the cast plaster rocks and the steel rod. I managed to submit for the Cast ‘Scratch Night’, that might be interesting (if I get it) and continued working on the ‘et in arcadia ego’ models.

I finished this painting.

Still life with fox jaw, lemon and dried rose

There is now a set of five of these,

each 10 inch square, oil on board, an attempt to relearn painting by drawing directly with paint onto the board. The middle one is in the Doncaster Art Fair competition on line and I’ve got my fingers crossed.

I’ve tried gilding the first of the small sculptures, that and painting being the next step, and it looks like this now

 ‘Balby Garden No5 (June 2020)’ plaster, steel rod, paper; 1’x1’x1’6” approx.

‘Balby Garden No5 (June 2020)’ plaster, steel rod, paper; 1’x1’x1’6” approx.

 ‘Balby Garden No5 (June 2020)’ plaster, steel rod, paper; 1’x1’x1’6” approx.

‘Balby Garden No5 (June 2020)’ plaster, steel rod, paper; 1’x1’x1’6” approx.

 ‘Balby Garden No5 (June 2020)’ plaster, steel rod, paper; 1’x1’x1’6” approx.

‘Balby Garden No5 (June 2020)’ plaster, steel rod, paper; 1’x1’x1’6” approx.

Still thinking about the VR work and how to build a structure to house the experience. Also varnishing BGNo5 and finishing the others.

Still difficult to focus thoughts on the work as its impossible to get away from it!

 

Lockdown Seven (another lazy post)

Update on the #draweverydayinmay2020

I kept going until I had 31 days worth, and I’ve drawn on the two days since, the link takes you to the completed gallery.

So this is a quick picture post as I went protesting on Sunday when I would normally have written a post.

Tuesday I started a painting and worked on the first garden in the VR world that has a working title of ‘et in arcadia ego’

underdrawing

starting tthe painting

Glover Street Yard

On Wednesday I ran and then worked in the garden. I spent the afternoon getting frustrated with the VR – it’s always about adjusting the scale to make the world realistic. (as an aside I bought a copy of MakeVR to try to build quicker but discovered that my kit isn’t upto it, it works so slowly it defeats the object of using it.)

Thursday I carried on painting and modelling.

Under painting

I carried on painting on Friday

Friday painting

On Saturday I worked on the model, changing textures (sourced from old family photographs)

Glover Street Model

The I finished the painting and entered it into a competition locally – online so maybe not just local – I had to submit a photoof me in the studio alongside it.

The artist in his studio [old codger]

The finished(!) painting looks like this…

withered rose

Lockdown Five (a continuing, if erratic, saga)

A bit of a mixed couple of weeks (12 days as I’m writing) doing a variety of different things.

Lots of gardening, lots of preparation for a series of small sculptures – nothing to show there yet – drawing, painting and so on.

Looking through Instagram, which I just rejoined, I came across #draweverydayinmay2020 run by ‘Marigold the Maker’ under the auspices of The Big Draw. Part of it is to use the additional hashtag #stillpointsketchingchallenge and place some creative limitations on your daily sketching. I decided to use Autodesk Sketchbook to produce all the drawings on my iPad, work between 9:00 am and 10:00 am each day and remain in my seat at the kitchen table.

painting of lemons

Teaching myself to paint

I also bought myself some boards, 5mm ply 25 cm square, to do some small paintings, just to keep my hand in. These lemons were started the same day I drew the two in the dish in the gallery.

I also applied for the Yorkshire Sculpture International Network 2020, which is a set of online meetings fortnightly from June until October where Each of the participating artists will be invited to contribute to developing the content of the network’s programme and to the research and development for the next Yorkshire Sculpture International festival. This programme will enable us to ensure we are building the future artists’ professional development in the most useful way for artists.” I should find out if I’m successful next week, I can’t imagine there will be many people my age applying.

ArtBomb Video  

Flickr Video

Art Bomb Video

I’m posting this again to remind myself, the arts group I did this with has done a zoom meeting with all the videos played, I wasn’t invited (or I missed the email?) I know it’s not great but it would have been nice to be asked.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 16

The Geranium Project (R&D) 16

The video shows the run through as it was on 7th October 2019. This week is about getting some feedback to help determine progression. I have meetings with collaborators today and Wednesday and then an open event on Friday.

NOTES From Wednesday 09/10/2019

Mike Stubbs studio visit 2:30 pm

Look up Geoffrey Shaw, MS commissioned him in Australia, from HK University. Very experienced in VR, particularly dome tech.

Look up Drawn Code, commercial VR and immersive installations, based in Liverpool, have made portable VR installs.

Question why you need a built environment and why it would need to be more permanent, does the built environment have any intrinsic value?

Look up Society Art Technology (SAT) – Montreal they have a dome with 16 cameras, there is a 1-2 week timescale for converting media to run in the dome or it has to be specially made.

Would the installation work as another structure, dome, variable (adjustable)?

For the presentation:

Don’t show the whole video on the VR slide, if you give people the experience they won’t try it out. Maybe bring them back if there is no time for all to try it out.

In the installation:

Bleed the drawing onto the back wall, it makes more sense for there to be something under the projection.

Move the projector up and keystone it to the screen. The text on the back is not happening now so the waist high installation is redundant.

It needs a better sound quality for exhibition, but the installation with the film and sound forces you into your own space. A quiet kind of space, peaceful, spiritual?

Practically you need to tell people how to engage with the piece, how long does it last? Should people stay as long as they like or for a defined period? Does it have a start and a finish time? Put a notice up informing people of these things.

For the VR experience:

Ask people if they have used a headset (VIVE) before. Expect them to say yes even if they haven’t. Use the full headphones not the buds.

Before people wear the headset give them the instructions for movement, showing them the hand controller and how to use it. Be explicit about the direction of movement using this and that they can walk through the screens at the ends of the gardens.

Tell them that they may feel a little motion sickness or vertigo and to let us know if they want to stop.

Increase the speed, or at least the ability to accelerate.

Aside – Look up Damian Murphy from York St. John’s and remember John Stopforth.

Look up NOTES ON BLINDNESS – VR Documentary, about 6 years old was shown at FACT.

Are you going to the Aesthetica Film festival? VR section.

Check out ‘Eyes of the animal’ a VR experience staged in Grisedale forest by Marshmallow Laser Fest and ‘Ocean of Air’, used breathing to nvigate and change size.

You should stage the VR in the garden! – A precise location would help the spoken word element. Keep Writing!

I’ve copied my notes from the meeting verbatim so I have a legible record of the thoughts and suggestions I’m receiving. I have two boards in the studio on which people will write their opinions, suggestions etc., as they experience the piece(s).

There was a suggestion today that I exploit the sensation of VR, the motion sickness, by having tunnels between the spaces – rabbit holes. After thinking about this I’m inclined to keep away from this approach. The two key things I want for the space are that it is not attempting realism and that it is not a game space, it’s not about the ‘wow’ effect but is rather about reflection and calm.

Friday I tidied up the space a litle more before visitors came to the presentations. We had about a dozen people who mostly came for Andrea Berry’s very good presentation about her installation.

I separated and re-rendered the videos for the installation, the six minute version is too large to embed here and set the space up as a close to finished as possible.

The evening went well in terms of the reactions to the VR piece and the installation. The latter is seen increasingly as a thing apart from the VR and I need to work to reconcile this. The best suggestions (closest to my own feeling) recognised the need to make the installation more confining and have it reflect the VR world much more closely, the suggestion is that there should be sculptures in it that are also in the VR world.

I have two groups of students booked in for next Wednesday and the Wednesday after to get a bigger selection of opinions.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 11

Another week of lots of work with apparently not much progress. It’s very easy to spend hours working on the computer and have little concrete to show for the effort. I’ve managed to use a particle system to put fog into one end of the drawing garden, and I did some work on Monday to add materials and so on.

I also had a look at one of the potential locations for a transition to another scene, or from another scene.

Over the next two days I worked on making a photographic version of the garden where the ‘player’ will start with a view to moving from there to the drawn garden.

Photographic Garden

A longer video of the garden with fog.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 09

Another one of those nothing weeks with everything feeling like treading through mud.

An appointment on Monday meant I didn’t get in until Wednesday and spent the day sorting and checking the wifi. Then on Friday I did some drawing as I couldn’t get the kit moved.

The big drawing from last week looks like a disaster.

large_hydrangea_blog_1608

large_hydrangea_blog_1608

And may likely be used to feed some smaller drawings. I started another big drawing and a couple of smaller ones. The studio looks like this now.

firday_drawing_blog

Friday Studio

The big drawing was reasonably successful, better than the hydrangea, and the two small ones have begun reasonably.

Large Drawing

Large Drawing

I did a little bit of sketchbook work as well to explore bringing the big drawing into 3d.

Sketchbook

Sketchbook

I’ve got a ‘procedure’ at the Hospital at the beginning of next week and then I’m away at the end of the week so there will be no post for the end of August,next up in September when I should be back on track.

 

The Geranium Project (R&D) 02

New Installation Drawing in progress

New Installation Drawing in progress

Three wall view of the new installation drawing.

Another week effectively lost because of extraneous factors – as much as you might plan for breaks for a variety of reasons, they have a habit of arriving at the most inopportune moments. This week a planned break to visit family clashed with the need to organise moving studios and with the progress of the installation which gains an extra patina of angst due to the ACE funding. The fact that the project is financially supported makes it obviously more important that it progresses and succeeds. The funding was paid into my account this week which makes the thing real.

So I only really got to work on Friday and moved the drawing on as illustrated.

I re-read ‘The Myth of Wu Tao-Tzu’ this week, Sven Lindqvist discusses the morality of seeking to live in art and his own efforts to do so and awakening to the retreat it represents. In the preface to the first English translation, published in 2012, Lindqvist talks about ways he has witnessed this imaginative leap, in Australian Aboriginal art for instance where the pictures are maps of territories that cross the boundaries of physical and spiritual and of his own experience of Fiona Banner and David Kohn’s ‘A Room for London’, a boat atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall. He recognises that “Wu Tao-Tzu had the courage for solitude[…]He had the courage to disappear and continue alone, on the other side of the visible in art.”

the other side of the visible in art.

I had a visitor a week or so ago who suggested that if your work is not about the imminent threat of our climate emergency then what’s the point of it? Lindqvist comes to much the same conclusion, and presents the same lack of hope.

A mental picture of the space;

The Garden is not a copy, or a description, is it an equivalence (obs.)

You walk in the space. There is a path through the space. There is an apparently impenetrable wall around the space but on closer inspection there are gaps. Any hole in the fence takes you to another world (.wrl sense). Through one gap you enter a vast field, at a distance is an object, you can go to it and see that it is a framework of right angles with an ordered tube curving through it. There is nothing else in this space. Yet.

I have not found a way to make roses, yet.

There is the sound of birds singing some distance away.

In the garden a bird hops from one fencepost to the next fencepost.

A cat crosses the garden, curls up under a tree, slows its breathing and disappears.

If you are here long enough you will the cat will reappear, uncurl and walk slowly out the garden. You may follow.

A bird perches on the fence, a female blackbird, she calls shrugging her wings and tail. The call is echoed from a shortening distance.

It would be good to have a secret superimposition of the real and virtual spaces – there are three spaces – REAL – INSTALLATION – VIRTUAL.

Can (shall) I play the sound from the real garden live in the installation?