Saturday, 31 July 2010


Is this image a paradox? I am thinking about the title of a Van Morrison track titled "hymns to the silence" its a song I like or have liked but one that I cant listen to right now . My preference as I write this is Silence... Silence is a rhythm too ! as the wonderful girlie band The Slits sang .
Increasingly during the course of this residency I have become more and more drawn towards the space between things and what happens there. Between places , people and words.
One consequence of my travels between Bath and Taunton was to think of the space between two places. At first I printed out maps of the area. Maps of Tauntonnow and maybe a hundred years ago but gradually this idea of working with the geographic maps of the area faded into the distance . Also I had started some cross stitch semacode as I amalso interested inthe space between time, between new developing technologies and old ones like knitting and cross stitch...Knitting is really a code too.! I started with the ideas of doing a whole cross stitch code but then wondered what would happen if I just wandered with the stitch . The resulting journey mirrors my journey between BAth and Taunton . A place for the soul and mind to regenerate??
John Cage... four minutes silence ... makes perfect sense to me , it should be performed more often . More silence and less filling up the space with noise, not justin terms of sound but also the influx of unwanted visual noise ..We seem to live in a society intent with filling up any empty open space with a noise of one sort or another. Perhaps this is a by product of the industrial revolution to create and consume, we like to think that we are in an age when we consider ourselves to be a little more cautious in the use of the earths resources more so than we once were. The after effects of our desire to consume the earths resources seems to have produce a kind of social psychosis where we fear the empty open spaces.
The space between words

Where do we go from here?

Hmmm... Ok, so a few questions, like where do I go from here? I still have some more experimenting to do with this process you see here (below), but there are still many questions left unresolved and whilst I don't have time necessarily on this residency I will want to address them at some point. For example, I'd like to think a bit more about scale. Why do I tend to work so big? I'd say to create more impact and make a contradiction of something small into something big so that you can notice it more. However! I could also argue that actually, as always shouting isn't always the best way to draw attention to something and through whispering sometimes we actually hear better. Should I be more sensitive and subtle? Mind you, I'm becoming more subtle gradually than what I was two years ago... More questions like, why do I leave the tools black and white against a coloured backdrop? And do these prints of the originals actually convey something more than the actual objects themselves?
That last one is particularly tricky and one I would struggle to answer as I cannot see past my own personal bias and connection to both the prints and the tools themselves. I'd have to ask you?
So my next and final week is going to be spent reflecting and perhaps concluding and refining some of these thoughts into a couple more testers and hopefully one big final, pulling it all together monster of a piece.

'I'm good at creating monsters but not at taking responsibility over them.'

Week 3: Monday 26th - Friday 30th

Time really does fly when you're having fun and I think I have gotten over my initial trepidations about working in the studio. Anyway,things have been going good and I've been developing the idea I mentioned before about combining the photocopied images with the mono printing.

The results have been quite exciting in the sense that they are a new discovery for what has been a continuing subject matter and one I am constantly trying to re-invent. Well, re-invent may not be the right word, I think what I'm getting at is that I'm still trying to find a way to make others see what I see in these objects, show their history and intrinsic little details of beauty. I remember reading once that, 'the tools used to make Faberge eggs are often more beautiful than the egg itself', apparently. I have never seen the tools used, but I am sure they are very precise and interesting objects and I suppose it is that way of thinking and appreciation I want people to see or think about these tools. I think, really the best way to do that would probably be making them into some sort of relic, some sort of stained glass window which would be a better way at conveying that idea. However, I'd prefer to adopt a more rustic approach and think there is something more raw, more real and associated with the action of work in making a print with one's hands. Debatably one is not better than the other, but one is definately more me and is what I have chosen to do.

Studio by week three. Note: the floor isn't too bad, mess wise
Mono print of wrench using photocopy.

Oh, and if you're wondering what all those weird marks are that look like technical angles, drawings and such, they're there from some building and construction slides I found in a heap of folders at SCAT. I liked the idea of combing the technical drawings associated with work and making alongside the tools themselves.
Test pieces in combining the photocopy with the printing process.

Thursday, 29 July 2010


Here are a couple of the sketches that I've been making towards the performance(s) for the residency. Hopefully they'll give some idea of the ideas, images and actions that I've been working with.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

ArtVoodoo needs YOU!

The residency is flying by, and it's astonishing how things are coming together so quickly! Having started two and a half weeks ago without much idea of exactly what I'd be doing, I now find myself preparing for a performance in town this Saturday, and a couple of other performances-for-camera next week. We met up this lunchtime to talk about the exhibition (opening on 10th August) and it's getting really exciting imagining how it will all look.

But first, we need to do the work, and for this I need your help! As I mentioned in my last post, I'm planning a couple of actions based around activating the regeneration of Taunton. Of course, much regeneration is going on already, in the form of building, economic development, social projects, etc. but I'm thinking about a different aspect of regeneration, through a more personalised, grass-roots and ambiguous reflection, drawing on ritualistic and shamanistic practices. I'm calling the project ArtVoodoo (with my tongue in one cheek) and it's become the central theme of my residency, of which Saturday's performance (in Taunton town centre, from 2pm) will be a lynchpin.

For the performance on Saturday, I'm asking for people's hopes, fears, wishes and worries about the regeneration of Taunton. These will become a physical part of the performance and of the installation that will be in the exhibition, and Natalie and Brian will also have an input, which feels really important and quite touching.

So I'm asking YOU for your hopes, wishes, fears and worries about regeneration in Taunton, and I will dance for them, sweat them out, and do my best to summon the energies to empower, protect and generate. All you have to do is pop them in a quick email (max one line on each) to artvoodoo [at], by Saturday morning. And of course do come and find me in the town centre from 2pm.

Many thanks in advance!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Ive been working with old inherited family photographs ... using the zoom and threshold tools to produce a pixelated image , nothing new in that . I had been working with the QR code of Mother which can look like this or it can look like this or even this for me this code nowunreadable due to being manipulated in photoshop speaks is closer to the word Mother than the original generated code. So when I chose to pixelate an image I chose an image of my Mothers eye, which is looking directly into the camera. The image I created though feels more womb like.I also seem to be going through a dyslexic loss of language crisis ,which doesn't impede on the visual work I am doing but I do find it really irritating struggling to find the correct words to describe succinctly what I am doing with the images I create,hopefully it will pass.

In nothing perhaps there was something...

On the afternoon of Thursday 22nd I ventured out in pursuit of the search of nothing and in doing so ended up finding something...

Below are a couple of images of the now empty workshop, which I found took longer to photograph, funnily enough, than when it was full. Maybe 'less is more' and that in the complete absence of tools there was more of a presence of them than there ever had been when physically when they were there. Perhaps...

That's getting a bit metaphysical for me. I do, however, like the idea of using the space, the trace of where the tools once occupied to make new work. I normally draw the 'trace' of the tools anyway by concentrating on their outlines and space around them to make marks in my prints so what if I applied this same thing to these photos? To unravel some of my cryptic ramblings, I'm basically thinking of printing onto these photos. The rest, you'll have to wait and see...

Blown a fuse?

Feeling frustrated? Blown a fuse? Don't panic. Reach for the fuse wire. A must have for any artist in residence.

Thank You Caroline!

A random post this, but had to include a mention of this brillaint newsletter that my friend and fellow artist Caroline Humphries gave me. Her father used to work for a tool manufacturing company in Tynemouth in the 1970's. Whilst I currently don't know what I might take or use from this exactly, in time it may become useful. None-the-less it is fascinating and very worthy of a mention.

If anyone else has any tool-tales (ho ho) please let me know.....

Tool? Or Not-a-tool?

So, I was thinking.... If I am more interested in trying to show the tool, the whole tool and nothing but the tool then perhaps I should be going for a little more realism and a different kind of attention to detail and sensitivity that I hadn't used before on my own prints. I really do like some of my prints but I think they show a different kind of sincerity that is more about my feelings and expression than about the tools themselves. I don't want to eliminate myself completely from my work, and couldn't do entirely even if I tried, but I think I could find a middle ground of looking at the tools in a closer way than I have before. IE. instead of just looking at the outline and shape of the tools can I look more at the weight, history, texture, patina of the tools? More importantly can I combine this with my own drawing style and love of paint and print to produce something that visually works?! There in lies the challenge.... I started photocopying some tools, like so, and found it humbling if not also slightly annoying that it takes a machine seconds to replicate and pick out the detail that took the owner of that tool years, if not a lifetime, of work to have produced those kind of marks and wear on that tool. A fitting contradiction and something I think would be good to exploit to further my work in this project. I proceeded to photocopy the tools up until the largest size they could go which is 400x. I was left with a massive jigsaw of grainy black and white pieces that somehow would fit together to make a tool. Some of the marks picked out from the 'made in England' text on the saw to the dents, splashes of paint, rust and more look incredibly interesting on a larger scale and make you notice the tool as an object of use and work much more obviously than I had achieved in my prints. I aim to develop this further into my work.

I think it is also appropriate that it somehow echos Brian's black and white semacodes that could almost seem to appear in amongst the graininess of the rust on the tools. Perhaps there is also potential here for something to develop as well?

WEEK 2: Monday 19th - Friday 23rd

Ha ha! Back again, so we are now up-to-date with current events on this residency in which I am exploring the tools once more, this time being heavily influenced by my grandfather's workshop of which you saw some images from on my first post here. I am aiming to make prints from the images taken and tools on that farm hoping to capture something of the place, my feelings, a connection to those objects that I couldn't necessarily achieve from photography or presenting the actual objects alone. I suppose that is an interesting debate and would require more space and discussion than I have consideration for on a Sunday, but I do wonder if it is possible to find something more, a greater 'truth' through representation of these objects than it is through just looking at them. Can you find a truth through a lie? I think this is something I have always, struggled with, I naturally love to paint, to draw, to make which sometimes I think might not be the best ways of communicating what I want to say, but none-the-less I can't get past wanting
to just make work (and it doesn't have to be 'good' work but more of an expression of oneself).

Currently, therefore, I am indulging by creating by making more over sized prints of tools and working into the previous one to add to the mark making already there. Increasingly, mark making is becoming a prevalent factor in this body of work and I tend to adopt an intense crosshatching/scratching form of mark making which probably says a lot more about my own psychology than it does about tools. This is fine, but if I'm honest isn't what I intended when originally I intended to represent the history and marks on the tools themselves. Hmmmm....I seem reluctant to accept that my work is and has always been more about me than I explain it being all about the tools. I don't know why, but can only speculate that maybe its because I am a more private person than I appear to be.

And could you blame me! I have been scared pretty much to death on this residency!!! You see it is so quiet in the studios and I mean quiet, you can go the whole day without hearing or seeing anyone in there at the moment. So when someone, anyone does decide to pop their head round the corner into my space it scares me half to death! Other than that its fine and I'm usually glad to see most people but that doesn't do my heart any good and might be why I am more reclusive than I first thought.

Where do I see my work progressing next you ask? There are plenty of ideas of which you're just going to have to wait and see...

WEEK 1: Monday 12th - Friday 16th

In the first week it was definitely a matter of 'settling in'. Even though I was a student at Somerset College for six years it was quite difficult to relax into a clean, white empty space after being surrounded by books for the past year. Appropriate, then perhaps, that the space I should be inhabiting is in the Fine Art studios which are in what used to be the art library! So, naturally I headed for the corner of the studio where I remember the best books were (and to those of you who were familiar with the SCAT library I'll tell you where exactly; I'm in the corner where the Visual Culture, post-modernism, semiotics, art theory, lovely books were). At the very least being back there meant I was 'out of the way' and could make as much mess, noise, eat sleep or pick my nose as much as I liked without anyone seeing me. Don't get me wrong, I'm all too happy to see people and talk about art, I just get incredibly self conscious about having people watch me working so prefer to be inconspicuous in that respect.

Anyway, like I said, it took pretty much this whole week to adjust to the weirdness of being back in college, the excitement and euphoria of it all, for me, made it incredibly difficult to start anything remotely creative without giggling or being swamped in the sentiment and nostalgia of it all.


I did, however, manage to do some very quick, loose mono prints that are really nothing special but helped my experiment with a favourite process of mine; that of using quink and bleach to create a really fluid and spontaneous mark that has an oily and sepia quality to it that makes things look old or greasy. Perfect, then, perhaps for what I'm thinking?
Anyone who has worked as an artist in a studio will know what I mean when I say that these first weeks are experiments and play that elements of which I hope will develop and inform my future pieces of work that, hopefully (and I mean hopefully) will become more finished pieces of work that could be used for the exhibition at the end of the residency....

I suppose this might be a good time to mention and explain a little of what my work is actually about....I'm sure you might be beginning to notice a theme so far....
I like working, I'm obsessed with work and making and would prefer not to be so reliant on technology (ironic I know, as I'm writing this to you on a blog) but find it necessary in today's everyday life. Hence, why its all the more important to remember, to look, to celebrate the extraordinary-ness of the objects that connect us back to working with our hands. Tools! I have become increasingly immersed into this subject matter that began quite innocently though an interest in 'mundane objects' in general. So I used to sit and draw umbrellas, irons, socks and any other seemingly boring thing I could find until I came across drawing tools. The rest is a brief but intense two years exploring, explaining, painting and researching this theme on my degree; looking in particular at the artist Jim Dine whose prints of tools have been a huge influence in my work.

Leading up to the present, I have continued to re-evaluate, transform and develop ways in which I can represent these objects in my work, which I continue to do and how I found myself applying for the context residency....

The story continues next time....

My studio space after the end of the first week.
The picture on the wall is a mono print derived from the shapes found and taken from photos of my grandfather's workshop. Compared to my past mono prints, I am trying to use colours that are more 'true' to the tones of browns and greys and earthy colours found on the real objects themselves. I saw this piece as a necessary start point to motivate myself and have something to work from that wasn't a blank white wall. Whilst I don't think it will possibly have a life as a finished piece of work it has been a useful start to re-introduce myself into studio practice.

These are a few of my favourite things...

Aloha! I'm Natalie Parsley, the illusive artist who was so much in residence as of yet hasn't had a presence on the blog. However! Today is a Sunday and the college is closed, they've kicked me out and so here I am to do my best to fill you in on the last two weeks since the residency kicked off.

What better way to start things off than with a 'few of my favourite things', the source of my inspiration and what some might say, the obsession in my art career so far....