Visualising Soft Sculptures

In a potential future installation, I'd like to make some doll sculptures to sit alongside my book and other things - to bring the book's world into reality. I want them to look purposefully crude and childish, but also adequately reminiscent of my character drawings. These are some general plans about the look and feel of the dolls I'd like to make.

MCP writing planning/methods

I had my first MCP tutorial this week with a small group of students (there were 7 of us). We described our research and focus to each other and then had to explain each other's projects to the group, the idea being that we could pinpoint what parts of our objectives aren't perhaps very clear to an audience. We also discussed methods of getting the work done, and were given these hand outs. I've definitely brainstormed ideas in this haphazard sort of way, although I tend to lean more towards lists to get ideas out of or into my head (although in many cases very messy lists!).

In order to organise my time at the moment, I've started keeping a box of notes. I use a small notepad to make several different lists each day - a general to-do list and more specific ones, lists of things to do daily, or lists of questions or things to look into regarding certain ideas or categories. I find that organising through multiple lists works really well for me, and I can revisit past lists easily if I store them in a dedicated box (looking back on previous lists often provides new ideas or reinvigorates old ideas that I can revisit or elaborate on). There is also a great website called which I use when I want a digital list. Sometimes I write down a lot of things quickly on a page and then transpose that into an easy to digest list, It means all my ideas are syphoned off onto paper and I don't have to worry I've forgotten something because I know I've written everything down and can thus concentrate fully on one task.

My MCP draft is reasonably close to being complete now, but I need to make sure I'm still working away at it, because some of the bits that are left to retool are quite tough bits. I find it so hard to keep going sometimes after I've been working on a piece of writing for a long time (I've been writing this essay for several months) but I've found it quite encouraging to go through the essay so far with someone else and discuss with them how I can change and expand sections. Having someone else look at your work can give you a fresh perspective and make you feel motivated again.

It also just feels very rewarding to have successfully improved a part of your essay, so I think it's good for me to remember to work small in order to really concentrate on one section and not get overwhelmed, as well as to ask someone else to give me some feedback - I don't need to completely rely on myself reading my essay again and again, desperately trying to figure out a way to change something.

Notes & exhibition ideas following first stage 3 tutorial

The main conclusion I could gather from my tutorial with Richard is that I need to concentrate on/plan for future assessments and ultimately the degree show and really figure out something that I'd like to show that is big enough and bold enough and sure enough. My 360 book is a great little world, but for exhibition purposes I really want to be aiming at bring that world out into a bigger space (like the picture of my wall below, covered with pink paintings).

I have sketched & brainstormed some ideas for a small installation space reminiscent of my original 'Lilly's Clubhouse' placement exhibition idea. I think it would be really fun to have a little corner with all sorts of things poking out of it - shelves, sculptures, paintings, collage, trinkets, my 360 book, and maybe other homemade books of some kind. There are lots of possibilities and I really have to explore this now and try to show something bigger and more world-like.

Dalston Anatomy

Lorenzo Vitturi's show at The Photographer's Gallery focuses on the incredible depth of colour and culture he sees in Dalston. In an interview with Time Out*, he explains that he has "always been interested in states of precariousness." It is clear that, like me, Vitturi has an affinity with the moment - those beautiful and unique instances all around us, thousands and millions of them new and then gone, over, every day. Vitturi says: "Using all this organic stuff like fruit from the market, photography is the only way capture it - otherwise something might only last for five minutes." The transience and expiration of the things/moments pictured in his photographs are integral to his practice, and he marvels in the unique joy of each one.

*The interview is here.

Paper Trail (an inspiring collaborative project)

image via Rookie
This morning I came across this collaborative collage project posted here on Rookie Magazine. The two collaborators describe their build up of "daunting" unused materials and their efforts to finally overcome them together. This was the perfect thing for me to come across today, as whether working collaboratively or not it's always worth being reminded that materials are there to be used. Everything is transient, including all forms of my produced art, and regarding them as special can get in the way of making, moving, shifting, recycling, etc. The only constant is change.

Further Thoughts On Collaboration

Following my previous post on LAB451, performance art, and my ideas for creating collaborative artworks, I have discovered a couple of useful/relevant/interesting things today. The first is a blog in which an artist details her (reluctant, at first - on her part) collaborations with her daughter. Her daughter essentially demanded that this artist share her sketchbook. Whilst the artist was initially peeved at this idea, she soon discovered that co-creating with her daughter was incredible fun. This blog post is here, and the most delightful part talks about the child's unashamed derision of her mother's artistic choices.

The second thing I found is an article by Brian Sherwin, titled "Collaboration in Art -- mutual respect, mutual work, mutual exposure". In it, he discusses the potentially beneficial effects of collaboration. Sensitivity is mentioned. It's true that artists often work in their own worlds. Art can be very solitary and personal, so often in order to collaborate effectively, artists must struggle through their psychological responses and habits. Anyone reading this is likely to have struggled through agonising group work at some point. Working with others can be exhausting, stressful, and downright impossible. If a collaboration is successfully traversed, however, it does offer some fantastic benefits. There is a great scope for learning through working with others. Collaboration forces people to address and modify their methods and barriers. This can easily be a disaster with the wrong people/situation, but with the right components in place it is ideal. Artists should recognise the importance in continuous re-evaluation, progression, and improvement. The right collaboration can facilitate just that.

LAB451 at Camden Image Gallery, performance, and collaboration


I don't get to see much performance art very often usually, but my band recently performed at a performance art focused event in Camden. Performance is effectively a component in every artwork through the process of creating it and the process of showing it. These actions can be termed performance and can be viewed through the lens of performance. Performance art is not something I directly and purposefully interact with in my art practice, however I perform in a musical context, and in a wider sense my art practise concerns itself with the methods via which I make art and the emotive transmissions and transferences therein.

I made a video journal depicting the night at LAB451 which is viewable below.

During our performance, my band/duo (Rescue A Family) played projected videos with each song. My bandmate, Ed, usually controls visual filters and effects as we play. Different effects are assigned to a series of knobs which increase or decrease effects as they are turned one way or the other. We wanted to invite audience participation after our initial performance by running our videos and allowing people to play with our effects as Ed does as we perform.


In tandem with my MCP essay (currently titled "Why Do People Reject Themselves As Artists?") I have been increasingly interested in collaborative art. My art practice has always been very solitary, and following criticisms of it's insular nature and accessibility concerns it seems it might be an idea to work with other people as a way of pushing myself towards work that is more comprehensible and purposeful. I particularly would like to collaborate on projects with people who are reluctant or shy about art.

I'm interested in bringing "non artists" (or as I like to refer to them, the "artistically dormant") into my art practise and into art making generally, as an exercise that would serve to create bonds between both us as people, and between my collaborate and art. Functionally, I sort of want to drag someone into art against their will.

I have elicited several drawings from my boyfriend - a person who doesn't really draw. I thought a nice way of making "unwilling" collaborative art would be to collect requested drawings and then myself organise them into a college, which I can then embellish. Thus the collaboration is completed without directly collaborative participation from my collaborator. Sneaky.

I have attempted to have us both draw alongside each other in a booklet, but (as is evidently the natural fearful response of someone who is not really used to drawing) he tends to locate his drawings far away from mine and usually with quite a lot of blank space around them. This doesn't really work for collaborative purposes as he instinctively distances his drawings from mine (as well as from each other). This is the reason I came up with the idea of my doctoring of his images as a means to construct collaborative artworks, as that way he can contribute in a passive way to a collaborative project - the only way it would be possible (unless he shed his artistic instincts and barriers).

Malika Favre

Favre's use of colour and shape to suggest object, faces, and scenarios with a minimal approach is really interesting.The power of suggestion is smartly employed, all the shapes together suggest thickly detailed scenes, where our imagination is allowed to give each piece a sense of largeness through the absence of lines and object boundaries.

Tove Jansson

This is such a full and rich scene, magical, busy, fantastical and in love with the moon and natural delights (something which I can relate to). There are so many little characters and they are all so important and special. This picture is very comforting. It reminds of when I think about the whole universe and how tiny I am inside it.

Nebojša Despotović

Struttura del Paesaggio, 2009
This piece is so full of magic. It's like looking inside a dream, in that it almost looks like a simple landscape but is just subtly warped and confusing and hazy. The textures, the snowy landscape, the shadowy feel, evocative of aliens, goalposts, and ghosts. This piece really shows how atmospheric a painting can be with strange shapes and a hint of a landscape.

Michael Carson

Carson has such a captivating painting style which walks the tightrope between simplicity and complexity. I love the forms and the soft brown/grey shades, the delicately introduced peachy tones on the skin, the subtletly and depth of the skin contrasted with the more simplistic, flat tones in the hair.

Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone

Janet and Anne captured the public's hearts from the 1950s onwards with their neotenized fairy tale illustrations. With such pretty and perfect scenarios, filled with cute children with rosy cheeks and oversized eyes they put their visual dream worlds into children's books and minds. My favourite picture of theirs is the one above because I love the relationships between all of the creatures, and how peaceful the children look. It's so enchantingly drawn, with lovely woodland colours and tenderness throughout.

Otto Dix

Cat in the Poppy Field (Katze im Mohnfeld), 1968

The messy, loose feel of the pastels is (like Karel Appel's work) playful. You can see the outlines through the poppy petals, the exposed bones of the piece. The colour choice is really interesting. The colours are bright and unblended, but without a harshness. They are quite soft colours used to depict quite a sweet scene of this cat with enlarged, cartoonish eyes, stalking through similarly enlarged flowers. It reminds me of Studio Ghibli movies. Quite a contrast to Dix's dark depictions of war scenes and stark portraits.

Karel Appel

Bedized Pudding Canadian Suite, 1979
What I love about Karel Appel's work is her bright, rich, brilliant colours and disproportionate characters - all big noses and primary colours. Her work seems to have such a carefree spirit to it - collaged and painted imps.

Each painting looks so playful and looking at them gives me a great urge to get out lots of coloured paper and paint and make a big, beautiful, fun mess.

Eva Stalinski - personality through movement

stalinski @ tumblr
There's a brilliant bendiness to these green folks (even their hair has it!) and I love it. The flow of it, extending even to the visible pen marks that make up the colouring, those really pleasing curves. Curving limbs are definitely something I've played with in the past and am somewhat returning to. A few years ago I drew my characters with long, curling limbs just like this, and there's a sort of inherent expressiveness to that which I'm trying to re-introduce to some of my work, in a more subtle capacity. Curling limbs suggest a great, sweeping movement. It's almost as if movement itself is personality.

Toad - Super Mario Bros. 3

Toad is a great example of a very cute character. What drew me to him most of all was his animation (as detailed above). The animation seems very nuanced. He seems to be a little worried, shouting like a kid. He is energetic and excited. He squishes down to a crouching form, a sweet little mushroom boy.

Toad is a colourful, expressive creature. The restrictions of pixel graphics have produced incredibly expressive work and show that simplicity of design does not denote lack of depth. The ideal cartoon form must strike a balance which allows it this depth of character in spite of its simplistic form.


Stills from Anywhere Out of The World, 2000.
"In 1999, the artists Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno bought a manga character from “K” works, a Japanese firm that develops Manga figures. Huyghe and Parreno decided to 'free the image from the animation market', named 'her' Annlee, made their own initial works and invited other artists to use Annlee for new art projects, free of charge. Annlee was given a voice, history and an identity and she popped up in animation videos, paintings, objects, installations, posters and a magazine, soundworks and a book. In the end 28 works were produced by 18 different artists. The project was finalized in 2002 with the artists definitively killing her off (including a coffin) and liberating her from the realm of representation -as they described it- by signing over the copyrights of the image to Annlee herself." (Istha, 2012)
AnnLee is a really interesting use of a character. She was a blank slate - a cookie cutter character with nothing much in the way of distinguishing features. But she became a vessel for a collage of all these different personalities and ideas - she became so full of all this stuff, and yet she was still this blank, robotic character.

  1. Istha, M. (2012). Call for new Annlee art works. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Jun. 2014].

Disney Colour Palettes

Snow White - 1937
Cinderella - 1950

I saw these screenshots from various Disney films and was struck by their beautiful colour palettes - perfectly dreamy with careful combination of muted and rich tones. These create such a softness, such a delicate, enchanted vibe to the fairy tale lands the films depict with such a vibrancy. The lighter blonde lines in and around Aurora's hair in Sleeping Beauty is a stand out detail which works to make her look ethereal and magical.

Also of note is the stylistic difference - particularly the soft, round look of Snow White compared to the angular design of Sleeping Beauty (look at the difference in their faces!). To some extent this is evidence of aesthetic preferences of the 1930s and 50s respectively, and it's interesting how this affects the worlds the two films portray. Snow White is more foggy and dreamlike in comparison with the sharp, agile fairy look of Sleeping Beauty. Both convey similar stories but have an immensely different style, with lots of subtleties.

Sleeping Beauty - 1959
The Little Mermaid - 1989

Sculptures by Philippa Haines

All photos taken from Philippa Haines on Flickr.
I successfully Googled my high school art teacher. It's fascinating to see her work for the first time - these weird, fantastical figures. They remind me of the film MirrorMask, designed and directed by Dave McKean -  known for his ethereal, spooky, and slightly cartoonish dreamscapes (and his Sandman comic book covers, which reminded me of Anselm Kiefer when I first saw them). McKean and Haines are similar in that their work shares that perfect cartoonish spook feel. This kinda makes me feel like an enchanted little kid being told an elaborate story. It's like a nostalgia for something that doesn't exist - that special kind of excitement when you could almost believe a myth or legend. They also remind me of the BBC TV series adaptation of Gormenghast.

I remember, when I was really young, I had a book about an enchanting woman who lead someone into a forest. I have tried to remember more details about this book so many times in later life and have never succeeded in finding out what it was, and it sounds ridiculous, but I feel like I lost a world. I remember the feeling I would have when I read this book was the most intense feeling of curiosity and imagination and I think my whole body would shiver. I was as enchanted by the book as the character in the book was enchanted by this woman, to the extent that I wanted to jump into the book and become lost in that story's world. I think I actually came close to believing it was real, like my own version of Narnia or Jumanji.

I can begin to emphasise enough just how intense this experience was, but everything else I've discussed in this post evokes a smaller level of that incredibly enchantment, that mysticism and yearning to enter the fictional world, whether the world is directly described or shown, like in MirrorMask or Gormenghast, or merely suggested by a single figure or image, like Haines' sculptures.

Purple Ronnie

Giles Andreae's Purple Ronnie was around when I was growing up and I suppose it was kinda fun for kids to see a cartoon figure that was a very cheeky adult doing cheeky adult things in a tongue-in-cheek way. I like Purple Ronnie's style as he is drawn in such a simple way with smiles and bright colours and other stylings often present in children's books, but obviously is not a children's character. Purple Ronnie's personality transcends his simple style - although I suppose he is a simple character, but there is something very real about him - something recognisable as a part of every adult person. He is a bit like Rupert Fawcett's Fred or Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy in that respect, although those characters are more grumpy and exasperated in their interactions with life - Purple Ronnie is more of a silly celebration of life and the potentially disappointing or awkward parts of life e.g. sex, drinking, friends, etc.

Purple Ronnie is very uplifting as a character. Always smiling, there is no sadness in Purple Ronnie's world, even in the face of binge drinking or body self-consciousness. I doubt Purple Ronnie has any regrets.

Björk shot by Stefan Malzorn / worldmaking

I wanted to write about these pictures because they are really happy pictures to me. They're so vibrant, candid, and cute. Björk is so adept at creating her own magical worlds, visually, aurally, and in her whole self, and I think these pictures convey that sense of fantasy world-ness. All the lucid textures, natural expression & plant life, and Moomin wonderland colours combine in a kinda simple seeming way that's busy enough to make a whole world appear in my head when I look at these images.

Paper Rad's Tux Dog

all images taken from
I'm not sure what to make of Tux Dog. He reminds me of Parappa The Rapper - same goofy look and floppy ears. The picture above, particularly, made me laugh. Tux Dog infiltrates the real world in these photos, seemingly causing a little chaos and silliness on the way. It's interesting to see how Tux Dog's interactions with people (appear to) play out. He seems well liked.

It's interesting to note that, in this series of images, Tux Dog is a cartoon entering and interacting with the real world. In most of my work so far it's a sort of opposite - I'm interacting with a make believe world, in which I and other characters exist as cartoons. It's this world which I am then transporting back to the real world to be viewed through windows of pages and paintings. Perhaps, considering this, my work needs to be more expansive, more adept at bringing my dreamworld into the real world. The real world interacts with Tux Dog, but where does my dreamworld interact with real world denizens?