Dear Cleo 18 01 16

Dear Cleo

Well it was been a funny year in which I learned a lot, some of which I maybe didn’t need to learn but was schooled in anyway.

I have finished part 4 of the course and all that remains is to reflect on what I have done.

I sensed at the beginning of the course that this part of the course would be challenging and in actually doing this part of the course I proved myself right.

Something changed, I acted strange, why I’ll never know (TM Presley E) my definition of drawing and art and maybe even life was broadened. I completed reading Petherbridge which helped, I suppose now I get to graduate to a 500 page book by Maurice Merleau- Ponty with no pictures in it, that has been glaring malevolently from the bookshelf at me for some time

Is Photoshop and the camera art? As much as I have fought against it the answer is of course yes and it is now my duty to become a Photoshop geek in order that I can take full advantage of it as an artistic tool rather than using it to square up images of my work or de-pixilating it so that they don’t fill the blog too quickly. Leonardo was inventing science in his spare time, who am I to act as a Luddite and deny science’s very existence.

By a circuitous route I discovered printing (Using assignment 2 as a Christmas card, you will have to wait until the publication of the Parallel Project on the collaboration with printers for a fuller description)and also discovered by visiting Rembrandt, Durer, Raphael and Raimondi exhibitions that this was old hat.

I now have a print of Hitler on my wall that causes some my visitor’s discomfiture, until it is put into context and explained that artists also were persecuted for their minds, regardless of their beliefs, religion or ethnic origin. I am not the explainer, I am merely the artist who is beginning to understand the artistic merit of a situation.

God bless those who died at 9/11, in particular the 34 accountants who died at the Pentagon and precluded accounts being provided for the Pentagon in 2001 to 2002, when they had already unaccounted for $2.6 trillion in 2000 to 2001. It surely isn’t necessary for an artist to be political or a judge but then, maybe it is. As an apolitical person I am becoming a political artist and judgemental

There are so many unanswered questions from part 4 but I am glad of my ability to complete it without knowing all the true answers. It has given me serious cause for thought which I hope one day to resolve.

On the plus side I made the dogs of a few drawings, and maybe there it should rest, the marks and shades on a piece of grey paper expressing my outward beliefs, no tears and no heartbreak.

I hope the foregoing wasn’t too heavy, but having written it I am more relaxed, you relax also my darling and don’t worry about your granddad, he is well and more understanding of the world and its wiles.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 18 01 15

Dear Cleo

It was good to catch up at the weekend, I missed you while I was in America and I am glad you liked the NYPD top I got for you. I have completed assignment 4 this weekend and here it is;


Assignment 4

Since the house next door burnt out there was not a lot of point keeping the front yard tidy because it didn’t make a lot of difference so I left it for a few months to grow a bit weedy, some of the weeds turned to straw, but I was proud of it being a wildlife zone, a natural looking place, as opposed to the carbon and blackness next door. To be honest I got to feeling quite cheery about it, but the year has changed and it is time to tidy the old place up.

I thought about tidying up the yard quite a bit, not because I was putting the job off, mainly because it rained everytime I tried to do it. I thought about it as a reductivism exercise a bit like Rauchenberg erasing a De kooning and that rather than just going out and tidying the yard up in a flurry of activity I could do the job selectively which would achieve a further objective in providing the materials to assemble a colle.

At last a dry Saturday arrived and I set too with a will, but there has been another thing gnawing at my brain recently and that is the death of composition. I have been looking at lots of modern art as part of my research for this course and it suddenly came to me that along with the other things that had been discarded with the rise of modern art, composition had also been a victim. Yes, you can still find the golden section quite easily in Mondrian’s work but after that you start to struggle, technique and the process is all and composition has died.

My front yard is paved with 450 x 450 slabs so I decided that this would be a golden oportunity to reintroduce composition into some contemporary artwork. The golden section is derived from nature and is easy on the eye, I have bought a computerised Phimatrix golden ratio design and analysis software that works really well, but because I am not a computer wizard (geek) I have to supliment it with a lot of long multiplication sums. Armed with my Phimatrix, a mobile phone, a calculator and a sharp trowel I set out to do some selective reductive weeding.

Before I commenced I took these photograph as a record of my process and a measure of my performance.

Figure 1 (18 01 14 01) Golden section based on paving grid, cropped digital photograph

Figure 2 (18 01 14 02) Golden section based on object of interest, cropped digital photograph

I then set to work removing the dead straws from the paving and then re-photographed the result.

Figure 3 (18 01 14 03) Golden section based on paving grid, cropped digital photograph

Figure 4 (18 01 14 04) Golden section based on object of interest, cropped digital photograph

I then removed the dead leaves and rubbish carefully, using a large stiff paint brush leaving only the green weeds and re-photographed the result

Figure 5 (18 01 14 05) Golden section based on paving grid, cropped digital photograph

Figure 6 (18 01 14 06) Golden section based on object of interest, cropped digital photograph

Last of all I removed the green weeds leaving the bare paving slabs with just the ghost of the staining from the weed growth remaining and re-photographed the result

Figure 7 (18 01 14 07) Golden section based on paving grid, cropped digital photograph

Figure 8 (18 01 14 08) Golden section based on object of interest, cropped digital photograph

I couldn’t take the deconstruct any further, short of removing the paving slabs so I stopped deconstructing and with the material I had saved during the deconstruction I created a colle

Figure 9 (18 01 14 09) Weeding the front yard 1, (563.5 x 350 mm) colle recorded by digital photography

Figure 10 (18 01 14 10) Weeding the front yard 2, (563.5 x 350 mm) colle recorded by digital photography

What did I learn?

I remembered from part 1 of the course the composition of Elizabeth Blackadder’s work, which although not classical none the less has merit and I managed to incorporate this into my final piece. I managed to form an echo of Rauschenberg’s reduction of De Kooning’s drawing, however faint, whilst retaining the classical renaissance construct of the golden section. The whole piece is a record of a performance of weeding the front yard in real time. The process of the work is laid bare and a mundane subject has become art.

Whilst this is an online course and photography is no stranger to recording my progress I think this only the second time I have used photography and photoshop in an artistic way. (the first being in my parallel project). My feeling are a little mixed on this and I need to think about it more to fully resolve it in my head.

The final piece is definitely my first colle, colle is a technique invented by Picasso in the cubist years of the early twentieth century. The viewpoint chosen has allowed the subject to appear flat and two dimensional without almost any perspective, the shadows are so close in tone to the straws so as to blend in. Colle and collage have the ability to bring out my inner child and are always fun to do. I have collected quite a bit of material in the course of weeding the garden it is almost a Lego set for making colles of an unkempt path and maybe another two or three would make it into a series.

There is also a touch of Leonardo’s staring at a blank wall (or blank Floor) in the final piece if you invest the time investigating it. I will have a copy printed up life size, not just for assessment but to hang on the wall and contemplate. The real piece no longer exists as it has been deconstructed by Freya the cat, and whilst that loses some of the texture of the piece, the design and the idea of the piece are preserved. Having looked at it for a weekend I find it quite sublime, I hope others will too.

I know it was a lot of reading Cleo but I hope you enjoyed reading it.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 12 02

Dearest Cleo

Hope you are well, after Damien’s rottweiler and the fire next door I thought life was going to calm down a bit, no such luck, Last night at I was researching Pierrette Bloch on the internet there was a thunderous noise as a meteorite crashed through the ceiling.

I didn’t get a chance to look at the roof yet but thankfully the damage to the ceiling is fairly minimal. They say things happen in three’s and whoever they are, they are quite right.

I took a photograph of the damage to the ceiling to send to the insurers  but upon reading the policy I found the meteorite exclusion clause right next to the sanity clause, I guess I’ll just have to fix the hole where the rain gets in (TM Lennon McCartney) myself.

Figure 1 (17 02 12 01) The hole where the rain gets in, digital photograph

The living room floor held up so when the meteorite had stopped smoking I ventured close enough to take a photograph of it whatever it was made of, I don’t know and shudder to guess, but it had the power to reverse the perspective of its immediate surroundings.

Figure 2 (17 02 12 02) Meteorite, digital photograph

The dirt on the floor is a result of Freya playing in the burnt out building next door, I have already had two texts off the cleaner complaining about this, goodness knows what she would have texted if she had seen the meteorite in the middle of the floor.

I wrapped my hands in two plastic carrier bags that I had saved from before they banned them just in case a meteorite came to stay, picked up the meteorite and took it to the bins. I chose the recycling bin in the hope that someone at the recycling plant would recognise it for what it was and post it to Cornelia Parker who could make a proper job of recycling it.

Figure 3 (17 02 12 03) A meteorite’s tale, pastel and graphite on A2 grey and white sugar paper

On a more serious note, the “hole” in the ceiling is quite pretty, nodding not only to the renaissance but also to Lucio Fontana. It is not since renaissance times that ceiling art has been popular, but I think that the next time I decorate I will incorporate a meteorite hole in the ceiling, it makes a nice change from the boring white ceiling beloved by one and all. I have left my ceiling art in position, it is about time ceiling art became fashionable again.

It was good to see you this morning but you forgot to give me the letter to Santa so I can give it to him when he is in the pub, I will ring and remind you in the week so we can finally get it sorted out.

Love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 11 09

Dearest Cleo

Hope you got my letter, it makes a change from an email, seems so much more personal and a little bit over whelming and a stronger connection when we are touching things that each other has touched.

Today I am looking at Spider by Louise Bourgeoise and considering how much I consider it to be a drawing.

I had a similar problem in project 2 of this part of the course when I became inclined to call my drawings on the forest floor sculptures, they remained drawings on the canvas of the forest floor but because they had volume I started to think of them as sculptures when really they are just drawings you can walk around.

Some drawings are very sculptural, I am thinking now of Michelangelo’s figures that have solidity and weight and dimensionality, Henry Moore’s reductive drawings that have the same quality, Auerbach accentuates the sculptural quality of his drawings using texture.

Sculpture tends more to the drawing with the linear aspect of the sculpt, so my drawings on the forest floor remained drawings without true volume, I would consider the Ecstasy of St Teresa by Bernini primarily a drawing because of its linear qualities and I consider Calder’s mobiles as drawings suspended in the air.

The linear qualities of Bourgeoisies’ spider would put it in the class of drawing for me, note how well the photograph works as a two dimensional image and compare this to a photograph of the David or the Venus di Milo.

Don’t forget and send your letter back, see you at the weekend.

Love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 11 06

Dearest Cleo

I hope you are well, another Monday over, it all gets easier from here on, and I am looking forward to catching up with you at the weekend. Today I have a little lesson in someone you may not have heard of, but google her work for a pleasant surprise.

Contextual Focus Point

Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Emily Kame Kngwarreye, although she was probably well versed in traditional aboriginal art such as sand and body painting did not come to fame until the late nineteen seventies when a philanthropist introduced her community to the Indonesian art of Batik. Ten years later her community was introduced by CAAMA (Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association) to acrylic paints, Emily’s star blossomed and from 1988 until her death in 1996 in a burst of creativity comparable to that of Van Gogh she completed more than 3000 paintings.

Emily’s paintings were inspired by her dreams and her local area of Utopia in Central Australia not far from Alice Springs where she lived for her whole life. That her paintings were inspired by a particular locale is not unusual in art history, I have already written in project 1 of this part of the course about what it is in a landscape painting that an artist chooses to make special and how that works. Examples abound of landscape artists fascinated by their locale, from Vincent and Gauguin being fascinated by wherever they happened to be at the time, to Constable and his constant depictions of East Sussex, on to Lowry’s paintings of the north of England and of course the impressionist’s works idealise the Parisian suburbs, Monet’s back garden not forgetting Cezanne’s Mountain, that was worth a pastiche in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The aboriginal culture went from the magical age to the scientific age missing out religion age and dreams have retained their magical significance to aborigines, it is probably no worries that Emily was inspired by her dreams. This dream is also fertile territory for European artists, though the significance of dreams was popularised in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by Freud and other Psychoanalysts.

There are such quotes as “I dream of painting and then I paint my dream” Vincent Van Gogh and “What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter – a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.” Henri Matisse, and even “Colour what a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams” Paul Gauguin.

It is perhaps with the surrealists that crediting dreams with inspiration reached its zenith in European art, with artists striving for that time between waking and sleeping with alcohol and drugs. It may not have been the influence of either that caused Dali to remark “One day it will have to be officially admitted that what we have christened reality is an even greater illusion than the world of dreams” or Magritte’s “What really is inside, and what is outside? What do we have here: reality, or a dream? If a dream is a revelation of waking life, waking life is also a revelation of a dream.” Dreams have a very special place in art and aboriginal culture.

Emily had three phases of painting during her brief career, and although Emily, we are led to believe, had no knowledge of worldwide art, the lines call to mind Bridget Riley, the dots call to mind  Van Gogh, Kusama and Seurat and the patches evoke Manet and the colour field expressionists. There is also a correlation to be drawn between Emily’s work and Kandinsky’s book “Point and line and plane”

Either everything is starting to join up for me or someone with more knowledge of psychoanalysis and indigenous Australian people could write a book on these connections.

Dream on Bruce.


The research for this essay was carried out entirely on the internet but as I am no specialist on either aboriginal culture or Emily Kame Kngwarreye I would suggest that you do your own research to affirm the impressions I have garnered in my own research, so that my impressions do not colour your thinking. I imagine if I was living in Australia I would have a better understanding of both Emily and aboriginal culture and it would be possible to further research my theories. I would welcome any comments from readers “down under” in this regard.

Well there you go darling, something new is always worth learning.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 10 29

Dearest Cleo

How are you? Well I hope, after putting the clocks back, we have a bright shiny day so I went back up to Whitewebbs to check on my artwork, It was OK, the wind and rain had hardly moved it.

It’s a bit like owning a masterpiece you have to keep restoring it, to keep it at its best. I am now, along with the employees of Enfild councilthe only unpaid curator on the whitewebbs team.

Today in my collaboration with the woods I drew a tree it was about six meters tall or long made out of the branches of dead trees, there are lots of real dead trees lying on the floor at Whitewebbs but I wanted my drawing to look alive so I based it in a live tree. Here it is;

Figure 1 (17 10 29 01) Forest collaboration 2 Sculpted tree from the side digital photograph

Figure 2 (17 10 29 02) Forest collaboration 2 Sculpted tree from below digital photograph

Whitewebbs is a good location for doing this, land artists seem to seek out remote locations like moors and things where there is no sign of anyone interacting with the landscape previously, Whitewebbs is pretty remote.

Looking at the pictures now I think I need to go back and give my drawing a bit more volume maybe it will become a sculpture.

As well as a drawing it is the trace of a piece of performance art, I didn’t have much of an audience but I was performing albeit only tidying up the forest.

I am more pleased than yesterday because my drawing blends in with its surroundings and if anyone should stumble across it, it is unmistakable a work of art


My love as always

Mickos xx

Dear Cleo 17 10 28

Dearest Cleo

Well my dear, it is back to school for you on Monday, and half term is over. Before I had all the shenanigans with Damien’s dog yesterday I did manage to go to Whitewebbs and collaborate with the woods.

It reminded me a lot of when I was about eight or nine and we made dens with old house bricks and bits of wood. Walking in Whitewebbs is such a pleasure, you see more squirrels than people, so I am not expecting imminent discovery as a land artist except maybe by the odd squirrel.

One positive is that I an getting to know Whitewebbs fairly well and I can now do a quick drawing that represents a woodland here at home, and I am getting used to the tones and colours of the forest. You can’t see the ground for the carpet of leaves, it seems like something to do with magic or the forest people, I wonder if the wind and rain changed it in the night, I think I will go back and have a look today

Figure 1 (17 10 28) Forest collaboration 1 Digital photograph

My love as always

Mickos xx