Crossing The Line

November 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Today’s post is a mediation on the line. The line has become a constant motif in my paintings since the introduction of the typewriter ribbon in Exilio 2014 shown in the first image below.

During Q & A after a performance of The Sadness of Being Nothing at Bangor University Department of Modern Languages and Cultures Research Forum the question of the line emerged and coalesced.

I saw that it runs across the forms I engage in whether it be assemblage, performance or painting.

I began to see it in the landscape as I drove home and later in the hasty images captured in the view from my hotel room.

I see it today in the news that the US is withdrawing it’s relief programme to Syrian refugees. We are crossing a line.

For me the exploration of inherited exile trauma has brought an understanding that many people can relate to exile because it is a loss. Metaphorically I have chosen to focus on the line (sometimes as a block of colour which separates the visual field) as the marker for decisive upheaval – usually a shift in being or state over which we have no control.

Exile is the after of the before.

We have a choice about the refugees fleeing from war. They are our fellow humans not rabid dogs. But in the US the “othering” of Syrian refugees is taking a new and devastating turn.

It’s a time to be vigilant and to speak out. It’s a time to fall into my metaphor and draw it out as far as I can. Rope – one of the lines used in my performance – is also used in the game of tug-o-war. I’m not about war or it’s damaging rhetoric but I am about grabbing the rope of reason with all of my creative might.


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Exilio 2014, mixed media on canvas, 24 x 34.5 inches.


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Performance shot – typewriter ribbon and LED tea light


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The lead line within the window view from my hotel room.


Improvising Performance

November 19, 2015 § 2 Comments

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It was an incredible experience to find myself again in performance and to talk about the work in conversation with Dr Eva Bru Dominguez. Although performance for me is based on detailed research and as an object artist I must pack and predetermine the components of my piece, the moment of performance is improvised. Usually performance spaces are a distance away and can’t be prepared in beforehand and part of the work is to respond to the space. I must trust my instincts and the language I’m developing to work through my body. Elements I thought I would use were left to one side in the moment. The strength of my emotional reactions surprised me at the start of the piece when I taped my mouth – from that point on I was thinking on my feet about how to resolve the objects as assemblage where each element is a redolent signifier but must be brought together to a state of harmony.

I’m still processing the rich layers of association and newly accrued meaning this performance engendered. I begin to define my art in this form as live assemblage, imbued with ritual. An attempt to transmit the essence of my studio research to an audience, capture their attention and move them in some way.

My great thanks to Dr Eva Bru Dominguez and to Dr Gillian Jein for the invitation to present this work at Bangor University School of Modern Languages and Cultures Research Forum.

Improvising performance intentionally honours the improvisational skill and instinct of the Spanish Republican exiles of 1939, and all refugees in all times who have had to, and continue to have to make domestic spaces out of nothing in locations they cannot anticipate.

Notes to self: cultural recovery of exile music

November 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

A self-indulgent post. I need to lodge this piece of cultural heritage from two Spaniards in exile in a safe and public space. This feels like the right place to do this. Listen if you have time – I find it quite beautiful.

The Long March – 1939 to 2015

November 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

A video which speaks for itself. Progress from the studio in a work direct from the unconscious which references photograph taken by Robert Capa of Spanish Republican exiles being marched from Argelès sur Mer internment camp to the camp at Barcarès.

My father was among those marching under armed guard.

Talking Head

November 5, 2015 § 3 Comments

To my surprise I made this video today. I was finishing up working through performance ideas when it occurred to me to speak to camera. It had been a productive morning. I decided to strip back my forthcoming performance The Sadness of Being Nothing, to it’s bare essentials as I suddenly saw that it had been too cluttered. Most of the objects had to go.

I was also vacillating over whether to wear some vintage/character clothing for the performance as originally planned. This may also have to go in favour of neutral black performance wear.  I have to consider the aesthetics of the piece very carefully and can’t quite decide which way to turn yet.

It wasn’t until after I instinctively turned to the camera to speak and recorded a full 3 minutes that I realised that I had achieved a kind of fluency that is usually difficult for me when in front of a camera.

This is an example of how when I myself can control the speed and flow (demands) of speaking, when the pressure’s off (any recording can be deleted), and when the subject is incredibly familiar and has been rehearsed in various forms I can own it. I too can be a taking head.

I noticed too that I was still wearing my costume. Was I speaking in character? Did my clothing help me become a talking head? This is a question I can’t yet answer. My actions were so instinctive I can only say that the act of dressing up was part of the process. Receiving instant feedback on camera as I spoke was also a factor in enabling me to gain unusual fluency.

There are simple accommodations which can allow the neurodivergent mind to flourish and join the conversation.

What I should say most of all is how glad I am to be able to talk about refugees. It’s such an important subject.

Video As Thought

November 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

Today I worked through some ideas for a forthcoming performance piece The Sadness of Being Nothing. As I worked I realised deep within me that video making is like blogging and raking my fingers through the sand. Video making has become thinking, and the more I learn (as I make) the more helpful the process becomes.  

Studio Shots

November 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Studio shots of a painting I wrestled with today. A work in progress. The process has been to add layer upon layer, attempting to resolve the composition, pulling it this way and that. Finally understanding that what I needed to do was sand back and reveal. Sand back, sand back and sand back some more. It’s all about erosion, traces, ghosts. This painting relates to the performance I’m developing called The Sadness of Being Nothing.

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