Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Love Reliquary II Part 2

More reliquary work. So, the oak was bent, like most natural wood will be. Oak is a heavy dense wood but can have a dry and flaky texture that can split and change shape, especially as it dries. For the base of this artwork I needed a level surface, but also I wanted to stop the bark falling off over the years/centuries. Perhaps that's inevitable, but how can I minimise this?

I could inject glue, but adding more materials can cause more harm than good, as it will introduce new stresses. Generally, the simpler the better. I first cut and stuck a piece of 3mm MDF to the base, this will hold the thing together should it think about flaking. MDF is one of the most stable wood composites, it holds its shape really well. The base still wasn't flat though, that MDF curved inwards to mirror the bend of the oak, which isn't bad, it needs a tight fit to bind it. A second flat piece is needed, and some filling in the gap, so I stuck a second piece on, with wood filler between. Perhaps tile glue might have been a better choice. All fillers have different properties. Some more dense, some contract, some more flexible, some more adhesive. I went for a plain filler, as it was dense and reasonably heavy (for the base of a heavy object, this can be important). After sticking, I had a flat base...

Then I painted the edges of the MDF to mimic the look of the bark. The MDF is recessed a little, so that even if plain black or a neutral hue, it would look okay, this part will hardly be seen, yet, I thought it would be nice to mimic the bark a little. I used acrylic paint and more wood filler to add texture, although this time I used lightweight glass based filler which is less dense and has a foamy texture.

While doing that I stuck the doors together, checking that the paintings fit inside. The edges of these are all rough and uneven. I'll sand them all flat. Sanding the inside is tricky though, or nigh on impossible to get right with my equipment. For this we can set dreams of perfection aside, although there are many decoration opportunities.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Love Reliquary II Part 1

The Love Reliquary was my first cabinet artwork, that is it was mostly woodwork, with painting added. It took so many months to make and all new techniques. The result was good, but very rough around the edges. It was extremely delicate, had 200 leaves of 24 karat gold all over it, and was so delicate that it's only been shown in public once...

It had some successes as a work of art and craft, but many failures. Some crucial elements were missing or lost (such as the poem on the front) the paintings were difficult to remove without risking damage, and the base was crude in appearance and function. So, two years ago I started work on a second cabinet. It will contain the same paintings as the original work...

The last two years have been tumultuous. The artistic successes of 2012 led to some acclaim in 2013. I exhibited around the country more in 2014, but that was a little like a solitary travelling salesman. I showed in London from August onwards, fell in love for the first time and spent all of 2015 coming to terms with the end of that, and was forced to severely limit painting due to lack of space. The only growth of that year was in live performance, piano playing, and exhibition experiences with two solo exhibitions including my first in London, and three months helping to manage an art retail space. All of those things were the best lessons in the business of exhibiting art and putting on a show.

This year marked my 10th year as an artist. I can barely learn more in craft or exhibition experience (piano playing excepted!). Now it's time to focus on producing the greatest works. My ambitions have rarely been greater. I wish I had the time and money to enact them all (donations welcome, and/or an orchestra or museum!), but I will enact those I am able to enact!

And so time to re-visit The Love Reliquary. The start is the simplest of forms, a plain chunk of wood which will form the base. The first reliquary was largely pine and plaster coated with epoxy casting resin. The new one will be M.D.F. with resin-cast doors and solid brass hinges.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.13

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 13
Broadcast Wednesday 23 December 2015, 4pm to 5pm GMT.
Special Guest Gordon Scott.

Aaron Copland, Fanfare For The Common Man (1942)
The Bolshoi, Away (1989)
The Light Crust Doughboys, Pussy, Pussy, Pussy (1932)
Beethoven's 7th Symphony, 2nd Movement Extract (1811) (to the words of I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor)
Leonard Nimoy, The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins (1968)
Gordon Lightfoot, If You Could Read My Mind (1970)

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.12

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 12
Broadcast Wednesday 16 December 2015, 4pm to 5pm GMT.

Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 7, 2nd Mtv. (1811) (to the words of Europe: A Prophesy by William Blake)
Tangerine Dream, Tyger (1987)
Ralph McTell, Streets Of London (1969) (to the words of London by William Blake)
BBC, The Theme From Grandstand (1958) (to the words of I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor)
Tony Banks, Forever Morning (1979)
Chuck Berry, Roll Over Beethoven (1956)
Mark Sheeky, The Old Woman And The Windmill (2013) (to the words of The Garden of Love by William Blake)
Sarah Brightman, Who Wants To Live Forever (Trouser Enthusiasts Cybernetic Odalisque Mix) (1997)

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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.11

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 11
Broadcast Wednesday 9 December 2015, 4pm to 5pm GMT.

The Move, Fire Brigade (1968)
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Paralyzed (1968)
Abba, Mama Mia (1975) (to the words of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen)
Lana Del Rey, Kinda Out Of Luck (2010)
David Lynch, Strange and Unproductive Thinking (2011)
Tony Banks, A Curious Feeling (1979)
Herb Alpert: Spanish Flea (1965) (to the words of The Fly by William Blake)
Sparks, Amateur Hour (1974)
Cosmic Chicken, Space Art (2013)
Andrew Gold, Lonely Boy (1976)
Christopher Cross, The Arthur Theme (1998)

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Wednesday, December 02, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.10

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 10
Broadcast Wednesday 2 December 2015, 4pm to 5pm GMT.
Recorded Interview With Nik Bizzell-Browning.
Live Phone-In With Elena Barbiero.

Renaissance, Cold Is Being (1974)
Philip Glass, Metamorphosis One (1989)
Nik Bizzell-Browning, File Under Jazz Punk (2015)
Nik Bizzell-Browning, 11 Dimensions, (2015)
Nik Bizzell-Browning, Piano Trio #2 (2015)
Tony Banks, After The Lie (1979)
Kate Bush, Dali (1975)

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Friday, November 27, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.9

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 9
Broadcast Wednesday 25 November 2015, 4pm to 5pm GMT.
Special Guest Christine Watson ARCA.

France Gall, Évidemment (1987)
Sparks, I Married Myself (2002)
Lieutenant Pigeon, Mouldy Old Dough (1972)
Tony Banks, The Lie (1979)
Tangerine Dream, Love On A Real Train (2004)
The Bolshoi, Romeo in Clover (1986)

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.8

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 8
Broadcast Wednesday 18 November 2015, 4pm to 5pm GMT.
Special Guest Linda Towell.

Leona Anderson, Rats In My Room (1958)
StatX, Girl Sitting On Hill (2014)
Ludwig van Beethoven,Tempest Sonata No. 17 Op. 31 No. 2 Allegretto (1802)
Tony Banks, Lucky Me (1979)
Weezer, Only in Dreams (1994)
11 Dimensions, (2015)
France Gall, Évidemment (1987)

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.7

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 7
Broadcast Wednesday 11 November 2015, 4pm to 5pm GMT.
Special Guest Becky Thorley-Fox.

Joni Mitchell , Not To Blame (1994)
Kate Bush, Houdini (1982)
Lene Lovich, Lucky Number (1979)
Tony Banks, From the Undertow (1979)
Leonard Nimoy, A Visit To A Sad Planet (1967)
Mark Sheeky & Tor James Faulkner, Ultramarine (2009)
Julien Clerc, Ma Préférence (Live) (1978)
Buddy Holly, Rave On (1958)

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.6

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 6
Broadcast Wednesday 4 November 2015, 4pm to 5pm GMT.

Mark Sheeky, Jellyfish (2013)
The Shaggs, Things I Wonder (1969)
Sparks, Your Call's Very Important To Us Please Hold (2002)
Renaissance, Mother Russia (1974)
Brokengod, Zion Orb, Chris P. Godber (2015)
Nik Bizzell-Browning, File Under Jazz Punk (2015)
David Bowie, Andy Warhol (1971)
Rush, YYZ (1981)
Heinz, Just Like Eddie (1964)

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.5

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 5
Broadcast Wednesday 28 October 2015, 4pm to 5pm GMT.
Pre-Recorded Interview With Richard Walker.

David Bowie, Modern Love (1983)
Adrian Enescu, Invisible Movies Part I (2001)
Joe Jackson, Steppin Out (1982)
Beatles, Across The Universe (1970)
Death In Vegas, Scorpio Rising (2002)
Richard Walker, Eye Cloud (2015)
The Byrds, Wasn't Born To Follow (1968)
Random Being, Infinite Dreamboat (2015)

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.4

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 4
Broadcast Wednesday 21 October 2015, 4pm to 5pm BST.

Mussorgsky: The Hut on Fowl's Legs, from pictures at an exhibition (1874)
Paul Sheeky, PTHazard Still Life In Blue (2008)
Jean-Claude Vannier, Je M'Appelle Geraldine (1967)
Larry Lurex AKA Freddie Mercury, I Can Hear Music (1973)
Queen, Great King Rat (1973)
Lords Of Sonics, Leonardo (1989)
La Roux, Tigerlily (2009)
Random Being, Train 44 (2015)
Kate Bush, Something Like A Song (1982)
Kate Bush, Night Of The Swallow (1982)

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.3

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 3
Broadcast Wednesday 14 October 2015, 4pm to 5pm BST.
Pre-Recorded Interview With Jane Garratt.

Mark Sheeky, The Battle of Angels and Cxthys (2008)
Abba, Waterloo (1979) over-spoken with words from The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1774)
Creepjoint, Lament (2010)
Brokengod, Atmos-E-ngine (2015)
Philip Glass, Metamorphosis One (1989)
Sparks, How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall (2002)
Jean-Michel Jarre, Oxyene 8 (1997)
David Lynch, She Rise Up (2011)

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Thursday, October 08, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.2

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 2
Broadcast Wednesday 7 October 2015, 4pm to 5pm BST.
Special Guest Penni Beautiman.
Live Phone-In with Adam Fenton.

Peter Wolf, Come As You Are (1987)
Death In Vegas, Aisha (1999)
Rolling Stones, Jumping Jack Flash (1970)
The Orb, Little Fluffy Clouds (1991)
Forever & A Day, Secrets Of Our Sins (2011)
Edgar Froese (Frer-zer), Stuntman (1979)
Crazy Elephant, Gimme Gimme Good Lovin (1969)
Alfredo Catalani, Ebben Ne Andro Lontana (1892)

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.1

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 1
Broadcast Wednesday 30 September 2015, 4pm to 5pm BST.
Special Guest Mark Edmonds.

Nick Drake, Fruit Tree (1969)
The Shaggs, That Little Sports Car (1969)
Hazel O'Connor, Will You (1980)
The Model, Kraftwerk (1978)
Rick James, Super Freak (1981)
Roxy Music, Virginia Plain (1972)
Georgie Fame, The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde (1967)
Peter Gabriel, Zaar (1989)
Desireless, Voyage Voyage (1989)

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

ArtsLab S1 Ep.0: Two Hour Launch Special

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Series 1 Episode 0: Two Hour Launch Special

ArtsLab with Mark Sheeky
Show Zero
Broadcast on RedShift Radio 23 September 2015, 2pm to 4pm BST.

Richard Strauss, Also Sprach Zarathustra (1896)
Kate Bush, Waking The Witch (1985)
Mike Makhalemele, Emakhaya (2002)
Veronique Sanson, Comme je l'imagine (1972)
The Alan Parsons Project “The Raven” (1976)
Art Garfunkel, Bright Eyes
Claude-Achille Debussy, Deux Arabesques 1 (1888)
Depeche Mode, See You (1982)
Joy Division, Atmosphere (2001)
The Killers, Smile Like You Mean It (2004)
Syd Barrett, Baby Lemonade (1970)
Desmond Dekker & The Aces, The Israelites
Dead Can Dance, Cantara (1987)
Enya, To Go Beyond Part 2 (1992) [2:54]
Swedish House Mafia, Don't You Worry Child (2012)
Electric Light Orchestra, Shangri-La (1976)
Death on Two Legs, Queen (1975)
Ella Fitzgerald, Savoy Truffle (1969)
Brent Spiner, It's A Sin To Tell A Lie (1991)
Brian Eno, An Ending (Ascent) (1983)

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Northern Artists: Eclectic Mix II

My art is in flux , as it has been for a few months, unsure of where to focus energy best, and trying new performance ideas. Today though, I've been at a meeting for this which opens next month. I'm one of 50-ish artists showing work and I'll be playing a newly composed piano piece at the public opening on Friday the 25th.

Northern Artists is a large and diverse group of artists formed on Facebook. Most of us are in the Cheshire and North Wales area, although at least one member is 200 miles or so south (but, still in the northern hemisphere)! Eclectic Mix II is our second group show, and as the poster says runs 23rd September to 5th November at Castle Park Arts Centre, Frodsham. The public opening is on Friday 25th.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The Anatomy of Emotions

Unforgettable live art performance coming in two weeks.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Thought Atom

The ideal artist is eclectic and works on several different art projects at once. I feel I'm more eclectic than most! Over the past few months I've oil painted in public, dressed a venue with Sabine Kussmaul and painted live in inks, completed an ink-blot workshop, played piano live, released my first album of songs and, now, created a totally new line of artwork that is abstract and stylish, with a new name Thought Atom.

These artworks are on beautiful Asian plywood, covered with bright white textured plaster, surrounded by black pine with aluminium and stainless steel studs, then topped with a sheet of polished perspex, painted with the best and brightest Golden acrylic paint to create some of the most physically complex and stylish artworks I have ever made.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Desire and Happiness

I want to have a home of my own, but I don't have one. This feeling makes me sad. Why? Secondly, there is some fancy chocolate in the house and I often like to have a piece. Wanting this makes me happy, even though, like a home, I haven't obtained it.

A Buddhist might argue that desire itself causes sadness, yet in my desire for chocolate, with the knowledge that I can have it, made me happy. Anyone who has fed an expectant pet, or seen a child on Christmas Eve, keen to obtain an anticipated present the following day has seen that desires can create happiness. One could argue that this desire is avaricious (a word rich with the emotive language of religion and sin!), but no matter what, this feeling is clearly positive, even in the dog!

Desire, perception of want, is fundamental to happiness and sadness. The important thing is whether you believe you can get what you want. A hungry man on the street, penniless and staring in through the window at a restaurant might be sad. A hungry man in the same circumstances, but with money and staring through the window in anticipation of going in and eating might be happy. The circumstances are the same, except for the expectation.

To want something and expect to get it then can make us happy, and to want something and not expect it can make us sad. What if this expectation was unreasonable, such as expecting to win a lottery jackpot next week? This expectation can make us happy, until the draw occurs and our hopes are dashed. That event would plunge us into sadness because we would have misinterpreted reality. We would be forced to accept that our expectations were false, and that next time, we should not expect such things, even though that expectation made us happy for an entire week.

In those circumstances, the loss of facing reality should feel more painful than the pleasure of the expectation. If it were otherwise, we wouldn't have any motivation to learn or to face reality, we could happily remain delusional for our entire lives, but almost certainly to their detriment. The starving man wouldn't need to look for food, because he'd expect it no matter what, and without looking for food, he would eventually starve.

(This is an unrealistic scenario though, as in a life or death circumstance such as starvation, the man's body would tell him quite firmly that he'd better go out and look for food, thus forcing a "reality check" on his delusion. Perhaps the same is true of love, so it's not quite yet proven that heartbreak must feel worse than love feels good!)

So reality is important, and so perhaps the best expectations should be realistic ones. But, what if we could expect something good that could not possibly be disproved, what then? What if we were to expect something amazing to happen to us after our deaths, eternal fame as experienced by Vincent van Gogh, or eternal joy in heaven? As this expectation couldn't be disproved, it would have the capacity to make us happy for the entirety of our lives, making us feel better without the possibility of facing reality. Nobody could ever prove to us anything about a future beyond our lives. So, are delusions of this sort are universally beneficial? If so, why doesn't everyone have them? Many religious beliefs are centered around what might happen after death, so perhaps this is why. There is at least one downside to these delusions, that nonsensical beliefs that cannot ever be proven or disproven start to spread and affect society as a whole in a harmful way.

In the real world, however, there are more than definite possibilities and definite impossibilities, in fact most things that we might want are possible to some extent, merely varying in likelihood. The lottery win may have been possible theoretically, after all, but other things such as wealth, a sunny day tomorrow, popularity among friends; the possibility of these wants can be difficult to assess, yet the belief in them is vital to happiness. Because of this, confidence in our ability to obtain our wants is linked to happiness.

If you confidently believe that you will eat in that fancy restaurant, and can achieve that goal, then you will become happier. If you don't expect that you will eat there, you will become sadder. The only difference is your perception of the likelihood of achieving your desires, which can continue until the desire is definitively met, or definitively not met; an outcome which might have a time limit, or may not, depending on the nature of the desire.

So, if this is all true, then an instant way to become happier is to believe that you will get something, a reward, but, if this is unlikely, you must ensure that there is no time limit to your desire. Truly believing that you will one day own a huge mansion would make you happier, providing you don't mind waiting forever for it. Truly believing that you will achieve some great "Vincent van Gogh-ian" success after your death would make you happier. These beliefs can not be proven to be impossible, and so your desires for these positive outcomes will never be truly unrealised or quashed by mere reality.

There is a final amusing twist to this, because once you achieve a desire, the happiness that desire created vanishes. If you wanted money, and knew you could have it, that expectation would make you happier than actually obtaining the money. This is logical because life and experience is about moving toward something, gaining, not standing still, not owning.

Money, in this example, might increase happiness indirectly though, by making it easier to obtain other things. Money has that property. It makes it easier to gain other things, but remember, it's not gaining things that creates happiness, it's the belief that you can do so. So perhaps, being confident that you can make money if needed, and being confident that you can make friends if needed, and being confident that you can get any resources you need, if you really needed them, is best of all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


So much to report! How fast time shoots by.

First, I've decided to paint only spectacular works again. I often waiver between being as expressive and loose as possible, or technical finery. No path is correct, but I must prove, at least to myself, my complete belief that I can paint as well as any old master. So with a few future works, I will try.

Second, yesterday I performed live music with a band of others for the first time. It was great. I was mostly on keyboard. I must learn (or relearn) a few guitar chords. The event was an art collaboration with artist Sabine Kussmaul in Macclesfield. We designed an area, draped with paper and textiles, and in this installation played music and painted live with others, any artists and musicians that came and went, for six hours. It was a great experience that we aim to repeat.

Third! My next exhibition ESAUM is due to open on Friday. Why show art when art is a show? For this, the hallowed artists that take part will have their art blessed. The artists will be blessed, and those that come, in the Egyptian ceremony that I will enact.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Songs of Life, now on Amazon

I am feeling filled with joy and artistic energy. Whether this is warranted or not! I'm filled with a new true belief that my art is destined for greater things. So much art these days appears to be tired, lacking in thought, lacking in skill! Lacking in depth! In emotion and meaning, and I will continue to change this by weight of artistic quality. Only by making the best art can success flow, and I see my path as clearly as any lone hero. A great heroic art is coming to this tired world...

and, you can be a part of this great quest. My book Songs of Life is now available on Amazon.

Songs of Life is the poetry of William Blake, his "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" from the 1790's. Most people must know some of the works there, from Tyger Tyger to The Sick Rose. Here I have re-illustrated the entire canon in full colour, and published the book with Pentangel Books.

Amazon ship the book worldwide, and this, this perfect gift of rarity and inspiration can be yours. I am a true believer in real books rather than e-books. I like e-books, but real paper and text has been scientifically proven to increase brain activity, memory of the text and have other certain cognitive benefits. This, my second book, will I'm sure be second of many. Why not aim to collect all of the first editions while you can?

My first book, 365 Universes, is available on in both limited edition hardback (100 copies) or open edition softback.

Songs of Life is the perfect gift for the aspiring artist or poet.

Update: May 2019. Songs of Life was listed on Amazon for a year or so, and a few copies of its first limited edition pressing, if they still exist at your time of reading, are available directly from the author. However, an almost identical version, 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience' by William Blake and Mark Sheeky, is available on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Enlightenment

Life feels like a trudge at the moment. I feel that my type of art is unpopular, time consuming, painstaking detailed surrealism is just totally out of fashion. I feel that people haven't really got the time to understand art, that people want something quick, snappy, pretty, instant gratification. I was reminded of Rothko, who painted landscapes (and surrealism) for decades before a short stint as an abstract artist; that stint he became famous for.

Looking at contemporary art these days there is some good creative stuff. There are well painted flowers/kittens/pretty girls/jars of sweets and things for people who would be equally as happy with a photograph, yet like the idea of something hand crafted. Those pictures are too stupid and twee for up-market galleries, so those galleries seem to show abstract art, which is often just as meaningless, and bought by decorators, designers, and people who like the look or colours for their home because it's seen as more intelligent than the twee flowers and pretty girls.

Somewhere in there, there is proper art, that is art that has a meaning and convey what the artist was feeling and thinking at the time. Odd that there's so little of this around, but yes, there is some.

I'm reminded while reading about Haydn and Beethoven that the French Revolution and The Enlightenment guided their art tremendously, the idea the art can unify humanity, and can guide and improve civilisation. National anthems appeared at this time, and public education included songs because music was seen as a unifying force for good. What an unfashionable idea that is?! That art can improve humanity.

To a modern businessman, art is a commodity that can sell as decoration, or for a curious "high end" of art, become an investment. The a modern government art can regenerate slum areas to a degree, but generally has little use. To an artist art is the world. To most people it's a mix of those things, but in the form of music or films, can be entertaining.

But these days, outside of museums and history books, art is never great, never guiding for humanity, not transformative or inspiring or uplifting, or joyous. History painting, those great scenes of battles, old heroes and events, hasn't been popular in a century. Nobody paints history paintings now, yet at one time it was considered the highest of all genres.

So, sword in hand, or brush, I'll make a history painting, well, of sorts, a totally uncommercial weird piece of wood and sand and gold and black blood that nobody would like at this time, that no designer would commission and no investor would gap at, a modern relic called Tony Blair's Soul. It's a start.

Come, artists. Make history art!

Monday, April 20, 2015


Coming next month, a show of 13 artists. A tomb of treasure. Runs for one month and everything bought at this event will have magical properties. If you are nearby, come.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


I have some bad news, you are doomed to a life of mediocrity. We are all doomed to a life of mediocrity. Humans are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. In space, atoms are formed, suns are formed, ignite, burn and die. And the universe is vast, unimaginably vast, as unimaginably vast as time itself. A human life is a mere blink in the four billion years or so merely in the life of this planet, this huge planet with the several billion tiny humans on it. There are so many people that a billion could drop dead tomorrow and it would not make a significant difference to the universe, never mind just the one tiny speck that is an individual human. Humans are insignificant.

We are all insignificant, but that can be liberating because we special ones can see and know our true place when many people never do, and we can appreciate being alive because of that knowledge. The reason to live is that it's infinitely better than not living. Humans are special because we know we are alive, does a star know it burns? How blessed we are with this knowledge, when we truly appreciate it!

The best we can do is to help the poor pitiable souls who think they are important somehow and struggle in the daily rat-race of life, of which we are no longer a part. I believe this is the essence of what Buddha thought of as "enlightenment", coming completely to terms with our insignificance without seeking comfort in other people or work or drugs, food etc. Simply accepting.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Love Symphony

I'm gearing up for The Phenomenology of Love. This two week show will really be a once-in-a-lifetime event, it's rare to have things like this these days! At the same time I'm reading Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph, a wonderful book and I feel that this show will be a breakthrough moment like his move to Vienna!

Here's the poster for The Love Symphony premiere. There will be more showings, including one in Shoreditch on Saturday 14th. Any showings will be posted in advance on This is a good film and worth seeing if you can, you might never get the chance again. If you know any film critics, journalists, bloggers, video bloggers or people who might like to write about the night or other special nights during the exhibition then please invite them and I will be happy to treat them as special guests.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Love Symphony: A Fantasy of Darkness and Light

I've spent the past couple of weeks working on a film. At first it was mere accompaniment to music, something better than a blank screen to look at, but it quickly evolved into an artwork in its own right. Fundamentally it's a non-narrative film, a collection of stock footage and other segments of film to portray a mood, rather than carry a definite plot. This sort of places it in a similar field to very few other films, Disney's Fantasia, Koyaanisqatsi (Powaqqatsi, Naqoyqatsi, other similar films), some pop music or 'art installation' videos, but I think my film is different. I don't think those other films really worked well as artworks. What is their aim? What was my aim?

In the end my film became like a visual symphony more than a story. A music symphony is not the same as a book. I think there is a good story to a good symphony, that Beethoven's 5th Symphony is about something, but it's not something with an obvious plot like a film such as Pulp Fiction or North By Northwest. The Love Symphony film rapidly became like a symphonic film, it about something; one could say it's a love story, but it's not something tangible and explicit in plot. The Love Symphony is different from Fantasia and the Qatsi films for a few key reasons.

Firstly I used repetition. Of course, all music uses this, although notably the earliest music didn't. Musical forms evolved to repeat themes and build upon them. I decided that I'd like to use the same film clips or similar films clips, such as the same clip played at different speeds or with different edits, throughout the film. As in a musical work, I think this adds an important structural element that helps reinforce meaning and help cognition. Without repetition it becomes hard to build any drama because drama comes from contrast; differences that exist only in similarity.

Secondly, I fundamentally based the images on the mood, and much of that was directed by the music too. Putting images to the music is really important (or more specifically, putting images to the mood, which the music defines). Adding music to images is a backwards form of film-making, for films of this type.

Ultimately the result is something like I imagine Richard Wagner would call a Gesamtkunstwerk. That most multi-spectral of artists would surely have seen cinema as the realisation of his ideas; yet cinema now is primarily a narrative form. There are musicals, or plays, but the vast majority of cinema is either a filmed stage-play, or filmed opera. We might have increasingly sophisticated special effects (sets, costumes) but, for a medium that can convey any image, sound and emotion, the mere transposition of play to screen seems to miss out a whole type of film.

There are other types of film though; trailers and advertisements are films too, and yet are rarely considered genre works in their own right. These are unique, most have no 'plot' as such, or characters we can involve with.

My film is made up chiefly from royalty free stock footage. A lot of old films were used, bit here and there. The full gamut of human emotion and experience is contained in those films. What more is needed as a palette? Sometimes I needed special scenes and I filmed those myself; I wanted a candle for example, and a ticking clock.

The liberating thing about making this film was the speed, the lack of technicalities. It's all a matter of editing, going straight to the artistic, creative, emotional content right away, not spending hours or days hiring actors, building sets, buying equipment, converting file formats, catering, finding funding! And all of the time wasting technical periphery of film making that probably frustrates every artistic film-maker. This is real film making, it was like composing the music in the first place, which of course is as symphonic in scale and content; that here is as vital as the written script in a normal film.

The music is ultimately why Koyaanisqatsi worked; Philip Glass' score fitted the images and mechanical doom-laden mood of that film, the only one that works artistically. The music in Fantasia is amazing, but rather that choose one symphony they chose a mish-mash and the confusing lack of consistency is why that film didn't work as an artwork. An artwork must have one theme or central idea. One.

"The Love Symphony: A Fantasy of Darkness and Light" is about 45 minutes long and will be premiered at 5pm on March 7th 2015 at Gabriel Fine Art, Old Paradise Yard, London. The hard part for me will be to get enough people seeing this! I do hope enough do. One of the difficulties of film as a medium is just this; from great directors and huge film production companies to small independent film makers, the problem of getting a finished film seen is as hard as making the film in the first place.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Norman Bates

And now, a second new song from the album. Firstly, I must say that my mother is really the best in the world! However, she did hurtfully criticise my singing at one point. She was quite right, I'm not a good singer, but when I started painting I was not a very good painter, and as with any skill it will improve with time. Besides, the important thing about a song is what is said, not how pretty it is, in fact the main, key, and vital reasons for making this album at all was to escape from the awful over processed "perfect" music that seems to be ubiquitous at the moment. I won't go out of my way to make something sound bad, but nor will I stoop to correcting self-expression. You can't correct self-expression, only stifle it. Can you "correct" the brush strokes of van Gogh?

I've dedicated the album to the memory of Anthony Perkins (and Joseph Deacon). I'm pleased with this song, and aimed for a sort of operatic or musical style in it's production, perhaps a little like Kate Bush did in Hammer Horror. It's also a second song on the album about a mad knife maniac. Oops. Here are the lyrics.

Norman Bates

Oh Norman Bates where are you?
I need a little help.
I need some reassurance from a friend,
my mother's voice is grating
inside my head
to make me sad again.

I know I should not ask you
but you might understand.
I think you are alone inside like me,
and in the dusty mirror
of my dry mind
you're the one I see.

Norman Bates inside your
castle, your silhouette is
staring at me, you long for
love too.
Norman Bates!

Permit me to be forward
but when did things go wrong?
I wonder when the moment was with you?
It's hard to place a finger
upon a why,
perhaps you have a clue?

Oh Norman tell me something.
Any word will do.
I like the little messages you send.
My mother's voice is grating
inside my head
and she's my only friend.

Norman Bates inside your
castle, your bedroom light is
shining for me, you long for
love too.
Norman Bates!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fear of the Thing Itself

Such joys! Summer is the best time to paint, and the old masters way of working was to design during the winter and paint at summer. Modern studio lights mean that that's not strictly necessary, but I agree with it. Winter is ideal for music and for the first time in a long time I've felt exactly like doing music at the right time. I wrote a series of songs a couple of years ago, and after trying to find a singer for some time decided that enough was enough and that I would sing myself.

I wasn't confident of my singing voice, but so what? For a start, as in painting, it's what you say that's important not how well. Lots of the best music of the 20th century makes that evident. Secondly, like any skill singing will start poor and get better with use and feedback. Nobody is perfect at the start, and (almost!) everyone is a better after trying.

Most importantly though I really wanted to deliberately avoid getting everything perfect. I dislike so much about modern music. It seems as if technical perfection is so easy that all commercial music has the audio equivalent of Photoshop applied, every track, from classical film scores to advertising jingles, and especially pop must sound perfectly in time, in tune, compressed so that the volume levels are all even without contrasts, and all therefore cold. It's an act of artistic vandalism, the mechanical extraction of feeling. It's odd that I, when my very last album was totally synthetic! would say such a thing, but some music is just fun and not intended to be deep or meaningful or truly artistic. There's room in the world for a pretty picture or technical experiment, but such things aren't great art, and an artist's aspiration should always be to do that; to create meaningful and lasting music that says something about the universe or world or human condition.

And so it's with happiness that I start my first journey into song recording. I've been writing songs for 13 years, over 400 penned although hardly any recorded. Many are good, so for this album I've chosen a few and simply had a go as setting them down. I wanted to include a lot of variety, a mix of styles. There's no overall theme, although many of the titles were inspired by a random quote generator.

The title track "Fear Of The Thing Itself" is about Richard Dadd. I painted The Paranoid Schizophrenia of Richard Dadd after being inspired by his painting The Fariy Feller's Master Stroke. I heard about that painting because of the Queen song of the same name, so (to come full circle!) I decided to write a song about Richard Dadd in a similar style to the Queen song, with harpsichord and all! The words tell of the painter's madness. Here is the album cover image followed by the song lyrics...

Fear Of The Thing Itself

The clock hits twelve.
The moonlight in his cell.
He strokes and preens and awaits...
the arrival of the queen.
The one he met
those years ago in wet.
The night she changed his life,
with the mission and the knife.

She comes!
She comes!
She comes!
Her words like running waters flow.
The voice
of hea-ven
The voice commands his hands to dance...

Long white beard,
bent and weird.
Twisted fingernails.
Eyes afeared.
Whispered voices to himself.
Messages from the elf.

Twists of joy.
Curls of lust.
Skin of leather and
mind of rust.
Fairies dancing on the shelf.
Fear of the thing itself.

She comes!
She comes!
She comes!
Golden halo of the queen.
Her words like flowing wine.
Showing images unseen.
Enraptured by her love.

He sits and paints
in solitude and peace,
he baits the trap and awaits
the arrival of the priest.
The doctors say
his mind is miles away
but such is genius
with a touch of murderous.

She comes!
She comes!
She comes!
Her words like running waters flow.
The voice
of hea-ven
The voice commands his hands to dance...

Long white beard,
bent and weird.
Twisted fingernails.
Eyes afeared.
Whispered voices to himself.
Messages from the elf.

Twists of joy.
Curls of lust.
Skin of leather and
mind of rust.
Fairies dancing on the shelf.
Fear of the thing itself.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Being Bacteria

Being bacteria is not much fun,
well that's what I expect.
When people call you slime or scum
they're technically correct.