William Kentridge: Why I should hesitate at Deichtorhalle Hamburg

My first train travel in over nine months led me through HH and on the return I stopped and saw the first show since Shuvinai Ashoona’s Holding on to Universes at CCA Glasgow a couple of days before Lockdown 1.

I don’t linger too much around the earlier drawings and prints but enjoy the construction of viewing boxes and small rooms along with the studio space, the later hotel reception and the reading room.

I am sure I will have seen More Sweetly Play the Dance (2015), I thought it was a Documenta work but am corrected, so I am uncertain where I saw it. It, the scale of the relief prints that concern the Mediterranean refuge routes of the mid-2010s (Refugees (You Will Find No Other Seas), 2017), the work concerning the death of the African porters enlisted for the British war effort and subsequent silence (Porter Series 2005) are stunning and humbling, yes, I think that is the word.

The work is vast and serious about its sincerity and concern. I think that is what strikes me most with the scale of the print productions. And while I am often put off by large scale ambition, here I feel grateful for him affording the subject matter all that space and visibility (it enters a dialogue with my own questions of scale, encounter and engagement).

The work for the Istanbul Biennial a few years ago of Trotsky’s Hotel reception and the ghosts that would haunt that reception was sweet, funny and playful, I liked it a lot too (O Sentimental Machine 2015). The show almost ends with a large reading room and flower bouquets (Studio Flowers 2013) drawn in ink on found paper, each consisting of around 80 sheets pinned together. They framed a socially distanced reading room and library cabinet. That room worked for me so well and so did these drawings of such a quaint subject matter. Perhaps it was the earlier works that contextualised it and moved the flowers elsewhere?

Here a few images.

The exhibition site has many more videos, I am including a link to a digital symposium from Spring 2021:


Submission of BoW 5: presentation and outcome

This post constitutes the submission of BoW 5: presentation and outcome.

The work that I submit as BoW is entitled For Cover and consists of Im Walde 14-23, Trafodecken 1 & 2 and Walnut Tree of Touch (a potential blanket). It is a site-specific work, yet has some mobility to it.

This padlet site presents a digital resolution:

Made with Padlet

The padlet also contains:

As part of the submission I am also including as requested:

For the relationship and further development in SYP is important that I consider the whole work as Stromverteilen, consisting of both BoW objects and Research objects, some of these taken forward for further engagement.

A padlet entitled Stromverteilen, and made for Research 4, contains a number of the objects and processes:

Made with Padlet

Stromverteilen: Engagement plan for SYP

This work is both process-based and site-specific. It shifted in site twice (unexpectedly); the methodology of drawing/contact adjusted and became more refined in this process, and also proved to be mobile, it itself was moving-with (not just the objects under investigation).At this point of concluding both BoW and Research, I am looking forward to forms and processes of engagement that make sense, and that are accessible.As engagement plan at this moment I put the following forward:

  • site-specificity and on-site installation/process
  • digital platform and portfolio
  • edition of DIY assemblage for distribution
  • publication (academic, artistic)

Site-specificity: the absent site of the staircase.Discussions around site, ambition and immersivenessI install on Sunday 15 May on site: less to document but it works really as event, as performance even. I and my friend document, yet the experiential relationship across the site, the different sightlines, connections, elevations and folds of each work are difficult to capture. I choose not to attempt to do this as part of the day but instead focus on the experiential for us, five in total, to test out and explore what it is the intervention into this space, place and what the objects open up here.
I think I want to reinstall as event as part of SYP at some point late summer, early autumn. For whom and with what programme needs to be considered. The site has a fair bit of village dog-walking traffic, there are of course people locally interested in what Gesa has been doing, or who would be interested in a site-specific installation or event. Would I be interested in considering these as my audience (I am less sure).
Digital platform/portfolioFor Im Walde 14-23 I have a digital resolution; similarly, the audio file for Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) [also: Walnut tree] lives effortlessly in digital. The two transformer covers create digital objects but are experiential, to step close, to step away, to look down, to look up. So a digital portfolio documents (and potentially anchors these as sublime, but their experience is much lighter in person).maraprilay as walking loop and an audio walk for this with this new site? How could this work on site/ away from site?
The actual installation of the whole work of Walnut tree is site specific and in situ: it effortlessly creates a wide range of aesthetic photographs, some as documents, some as art objects themselves, yet to experience the scale and crucially the relationship to the other objects and the wider site, these do not transfer. I recorded a video of walking up towards the sewing machine, which on a sandy soil spring meadow is quite spectacular, so as to relate some of the near experience of it.
Edition of DIY assemblage to post out

  • a kaleidoscope kit
  • a drawing machine assemblage
  • a fir cone
  • some larch essential oil
  • an instruction to touch

>> as a simple kit, in a small edition (8-15) to post out to re-assemblage their version of the research tools for this enquiry
Publication: writing (academic and artistic)> journal>book or zine form?The Research dissertation employed PaR to conduct as substantive piece of research which in itself creates a number of significant and original insights. These could (and possibly should) be put towards a public in the form of academic (either within geography or arts) writing, as journal article and/or a different public site. Also, there is scope to work the material into a publication that is closer to an artist book (or site), to exist as artistic/public object outwith academic sites of valorisation.
<< there are a wide range of objects and enquiries that are part of Stromverteilen, both in BoW and Research; the process of writing is key to it too. At the point of deciding that For Covers will be the actual BoW submission I was in the process of creating a final ‘drawing’ for BoW to hold the different strands together, so there are a series of active processes still live. I then realise that these objects are research objects, they continue to inquire into drawing/contact. So they can fold onwards and continue. After submission I am interested in seeing some of these out and the insights (and objects) they create. For Covers is conventional in its objecthood while the research objects are much less so as Practice as Research. For SYP and the engagement with this work, I want attend to both the objecthood of For Covers as well as the PaR of the work.

Critical reflection of relationship between BoW and Research

I have always worked these two in tandem, submitting them throughout by alternating them. By Research 3 (March 2020) it was becoming clear that Research itself was creating art objects and works (the padlets and the glossary first) and that thus the BoW was in objecthood disarticulating from the research enquiry. Significant was the moment when I discovered I was going to do an actual research project, first considered as auto-ethnography, the writing auto or theory fiction, at the point of eventual conclusion the research shifted towards a creative arts practice-as-research, PaR, the writing an exegesis with elements of creative writing but likely fairly consistent with a PaR-based complementary writing (Robin Nelson) approach: it enabled me to integrate my former academic research self more fully within an artistic context, making the researcher part of the artist and part of my artistic voice. Understanding the significance of PaR as creative practice was important here also to realise what kind of art I am interested in making (and also what less so), that my art was process-based, yet finding material objects (in analogue or digital) as resolution was something I did know before embarking on Level 3, the extent to which an active enquiry was part of the process was something I honed and refined. The status of art works was somewhat fleeting, abundant, slight at the point Lockdown 1 happened in the UK and I lost the institutional staircase site as research and installation venue just before I felt the research cycle was concluded. I had devised a series of interventions into that site (albeit I submitted these for Research 3 and not BoW4) which were however never realised. The next step was to fold these into a mobile walking loop outside to take account of contact restrictions and to develop the fictional elements of drawing/contact, near-space and moving-with further in summer 2020. These were abandoned when I moved to German due to my father’s stroke and then staying due to his poor health and looming travel restrictions from September 2020 onwards.The work I made during those months was first and foremost practical: to occupy myself and find ways of processing that was happening. I quickly realised how the methodology of making (cyanotype contacts prints outside of moving and slight leaves and other plant matter) was fully situated and articulated within the drawing/contact framework: I had in fact had the chemistry I had bought in early summer sent over to use here and not there. The work became extensive, vast, a new site emerged, a transformer station to enquiry into and perform-with. At this point the research methodology was fairly well-articulated and as it was holding along the main parameters of drawing/contact and its questions (body as drawing tool, relational contact, materialisations of these), I decided to keep this methodological focus of the research and to keep what was the original work as case studies, to develop them as research objects, and to more fully articulate the findings, insights and conceptual relevance of these for the dissertation, while making a rather analogue and material BoW alongside.In the BoW 4 tutorial (February 2021), Stromverteilen as site (the transformer station) turned entire work rather than case study and I developed a portfolio where Stromverteilen would house and contain the earlier processes and sites. The extent to which this was straightforward and helped refine further the key processes of drawing/contact and its enquiries (many of these articulated through the Herz/Stein process) but also helped develop a site that was fictitious yet physical, that was accessible and offered routes towards other sites, to dreams from earlier was fascinating. It helped then decide on the autumn works to become four covers to become For Cover as BoW submission, sited and linked in an environmental context and translated also into a digital portfolio that uses audio narration to allow for access, intimacy and some immersion. At the point of module conclusion (at the time limit of 24 months + 6 months extension), there exists a whole series of live drawing processes which I initially had intended to turn towards a final ‘drawing’ for BoW, to encompass the entire site, but which I then realised where actual research processes, the BoW complete with For Covers. I have the sense I needed to test and move further with these drawings to come to the realisation of how Im Walde, Walnut tree and Trafodecken constitute the work and how they can be sited to activate each other, the site and make the objects also accessible for viewers (and perhaps participants).

Reflective commentary of submitted BoW

A reflective commentary reviewing your work and critically reflecting on both tutor and peer reviews of your work:

The eventual BoW submission includes some of the works I created in autumn 2020. Rather than it being about the site of Stromverteilen (as discussed in BoW 4), it consists of four covers, these are three works, two processes, they are installed in situ at the edge between village and forest.
The first work that resolved was Im Walde 14-23: a series of almost 70 A3 sized cyanotype contact prints taken in the woods. It was initially conceived as gallery-wall based work, covering a corner of a white cube. I laid it out (as a loose grid, based on chronological columns) at the end of the road, facing the woods. 
The second work that resolved was the Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) as site specific installation of a piece of furniture on the meadow next to the forest. The 36 double-sided cyanotypes were the first series I started while here and completed it during October 2020. It’s form was to be a curtain hanging in the centre of the room where Im Walde was up on the wall. Following many discussions around care and maintenance work (for the transformer blankets which make up the third work in this submission), I realised that this Walnut tree could become a blanket, a cover also, yet wanted to leave it intact, able to assemble and disassemble. Looking for a place for it around the site, and enjoying the abundance of the meadow so much while walking across it, my gran’s sewing machine became the table, the blanket merely a possibility on top of it, held down with a heart-shaped stone that I found one day further in the woods. For this work, the instructions to touch that I experimented with and put for critique a number of times evolved and became a softly spoken, chronological yet fragmented narration of how this work (and in fact the others) came into existence. For any on site installation this audio needs further resolution (rather than being played merely through an iphone speaker; and possibly it needs a version in German too), for a digital presentation (or audio guide) it provides the hook, an intimacy inviting viewers to linger and step closer.
The ambition of the two transformer blanket processes is possibly larger still as they were continually sited and attended over three weeks each, with usually twice daily visits to maintain, adjust, tie down, roll up or out, and to trace markings across them. These created two large drawings, of 160×350 cm each, the status of these drawings vis-a-vis the process of their making remained insecure. The suggestion was to invite viewers into them through some form of immersion, I remained hesitant as to luminance, the sublime in some of photographic records I had created of them. That I had created and explored a whole range of viewing devices and tools (along with many others that moved) came to help me resolve the request for immersion and the idea of playful fragmentation: I rolled the first one, the one with high chroma ink drops up along the sheets that they were and placed them along the edge in what I now know are wild peach trees. One faces skywards, one along the edge of meadow, path and wood. You step in, closer, crouch down, peek up, the sun plays with the marks and the tracing paper, the view shifts and reflects back into the long roll of indexical drawing. The second blanket (graphite) became literally a cover for the transformer station again, it tore when I removed it on a wet day in December, it dried brittle and as it shrunk it does no longer cover the station fully. It invites you to explore the surface of the station, of touching it, possibly pondering if you can climb atop. 
The two transformer blankets are the lighter, more playful objects, they sit along the edge of village site, the Walnut tree sits on the meadow behind, the Im Walde prints lie in front. One is a literal cover, a blanket, the others play and subvert the notion of cover, covering, blanket and ceiling. They fold both in space and in time: the potentiality of the Walnut tree possibly the most expansive notion of a blanket.
The site installation thus engages different dimensions, connecting through a drawing/contact methodology the four objects and processes. The durational nature of each making process sits at the same time lightly within this transitional space.
The main feedback from peers and tutors concern the following themes:

Abundance and excess: the BoW submission is tight and concise: three works, four objects, all relating to the site they are not placed in

Ambition of site: this edge site is vast and extents both into the village and well beyond; the works are all substantial in dimension and in connection hold their place as interventions that are at once weighty and playful.Immersiveness: the two transformer blankets offer immersiveness in close-up, onto the drawing paper and beyond or through it. The digital translation of the entire BoW is not visually immersive but seeks intimacy, attachment through audio narration

Access: The works are experiential, the site performative, who steps in and closer is a different matter and for SYP. The personal statement along with the narrations are inviting, approachable, their layering and complexity become clearer once you linger. If you walk on, the visuals linger along with a notion that something is sited.

Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) as part of For cover (1/3)

Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) is a installation, consisting of a set of double-sided printed cyanotypes (36 sheets of Moleskine Cahier, 28x36cm), piled up and held on top with a hand-sized pebble in a heart-shape. They are placed on top of a closed manual sewing machine (Phoenix 355) with tressel and in a mid-century wooden table form. The front drawing is opened out and it reveals an assortment of sewing utensils: needles, spools, yarn. The work is place on a spring meadow, amid some grasses and white wild flowers. The v-belt of the machine is hanging slack, the plug for the electric lamp is hanging half-way down to the foot pedal.

This work was printing across October 2020 on the mature walnut tree in my parents’ garden. I had experimented with a series of cyanotype printing processes using hedges, trees, leaves etc. and different papers. The Moleskine Cahiers has been my go-to sketchbook for a few years, the thin, heavily-sized paper offers a translucency, rubs and transfers easily, and holds notes and sketches effortlessly. I experimented with single-layers, and single-sided prints. The double-layered double-sided prints I settled on take the paper to its physical limit: the washing of the exposed prints requires attention not to destroy the paper, it dries well and reveals the tears and cracks in close-up. (I would coat a single-side twice, exposure, fix and dry and then coat the second side twice)

The printing was using pegs to fix the paper to low-hanging leaves and branches, the intensity of the sun variable, the exposure time generally between 20-45 minutes), some were printed during high winds, some gathered rain. I placed a few on the ground, some flipped in the process, exposing the back, one I forgot overnight. In some the chemistry disentangled (or perhaps reacted differently with the paper’s seizing?).

For a long time I considered this a gallery-based 2-D curtain, reconstructing the tree in the centre of a room, Im Walde as wall-based installation surrounding it. Over the course of the coming months care and maintenance became themes of all these works and my stay here. I explored ways of building a curtain, sewing air into it, make it see-through, perhaps it could be a quilt, but how could I sew in negative space, make it malleable, make it possible to disassemble, keep modular and unimpaired?

I experimented with paper clips and pegs to make a make-shift shape to cover myself, and was content with that as a possibility, so the pile of prints contains that potential, it can be enacted.

The digital version has a sound piece alongside it. Here I developed what I had been calling Instructions to Touch as time-based portrait, as narration of the process of making in at once strongly chronological form (the numbers point to the chronology of narrating) and yet fragmented (as I would delete and edit the narration).

I installed Walnut Tree on 15 May and had in on site for a couple of hours, to explore its siting, reach and resonance. We played the audio through the phone speakers, it is currently in English, the language in which I art, for the site this however does not make sense. And perhaps the contextualisation isn’t necessary for the encounter in situ.

For development see these posts:

The work emerging around the walnut tree:




Instructions to touch:



Care work towards blanket:





Trafodecken as part of For cover (3/3)

Trafodecken [transformer covers or blankets] is a drawing work. It consists of two covers, each approx 160x350cm (each in two separate parts of two x 80x350cm) of heavy tracing paper. The paper was laid out flat across the concrete surface of a compact transformer station at the village edge. They were tied down with ribbon and left on site for 2-3 weeks across November and December 2020. Over the period I would trace fir needles, rain and surface marks with graphite and marker pens. The latter were often dropped as ink stains into the emerging puddles. Over this time, the covers were frequently attended to: tied down, adjusted, in heavy winds rolled up for protection, rolled out again, water was wiped down also.

The first process started with an unmarked cover for several days before starting to trace needles, then water through staining. This resulted in a luminous blanket.

The second process started how I initially intended to start: to take a surface rubbing with a thick graphite stick right at the start (I abandoned that idea with blanket 1 as by the time I was ready to mark the surface many insects started inhabiting it, the graphite rubbing too violent to interact). The second blanket also acquired ink stains, mainly blues, the weather was much calmer, it was frosty too at point, I never rolled it up. This is produced the graphite blanket.

I ended process 1 at the point the paper started to disintegrate and tear easily. I ended process 2 when I was going away for a few days and didn’t want it unattended.

I experimented with various views and objecthood, uncertain as to the status of the work (as process or as object). Eventually, the graphite blanket (ripped once when I was trying to dry it at home after disassembly) covered the transformer station again, the luminous blanket became a kaleidoscopic viewing device for the meadow edge (please see here for a more in-depth discussion of this process).

Trafodecken facilitated the understanding of care and maintenance work within the drawing/contact cycle, and the shift in the practical work (less so the Research dissertation) of considering the haptic and touch as care matter also. This presents a late re-focusing of the module’s work, it is in line with the wider thematic of setting out with the body as a drawing tool and concerns of contact, touch and relational matter. It also facilitates the siting of the two other works, Im Walde and Walnut tree, as discrete works which are linked and related through the two covers, sited on the transformer and in bushes no the meadow edge. The discussion of immersion and access to the work also enabled to reorientate the objecthood and what these Trafodecken are as artistic work towards something that is haptic, encountered up close and can be interacted with (that they produce both rather immersive close-views and aesthetic photographs is a different matter, how these resolve digitally will finally be addressed in SYP).

Please see below for installation views of both Trafodecken.

1. Trafodecke 1 (luminous blanket)

2. Trafodecke 2 (the graphite blanket)

For cover (a drawing/contact event): personal statement

a cover is a covering a ceiling a blanket.

it covers first the transformer so as to trace, to rub, to transfer. it collects sun wind rain needles, and insects wander and meander atop.

i climb up, survey, convey, a tricep lift, a turn, then a jump (i could and do repeat).

the view point is close, caressing along the surface, a blur at times.

the chemistry leans against a branch, a trunk, on the moss it soaks up some acidity (or was it the blueberries) and plays not with blues but with purples, greens and greys, all the while attending to the wind the rain the sun.

i draw, it draws; in contact that is often near yet unsuspecting, unassuming. sometimes we detach, blow off.

a kaleidoscope points to the fir tops, another along the line where meadow path and woods meet.

the fourth blanket was the first, a garden tree in sun and rehabilitation. neither curtain nor quilt (with skills for either discussed while making the bed), it becomes potential, to fold, to enclose, to caress. the tool may be my gran’s sewing machine. you reach it while tracing the spring meadow’s abundance.

For cover presents four covers created across a rural autumn and early winter. It utilises tactile media (graphite rubbings and contact printing) to move-with wind, rain, sun, plant matter alongside hands and other bodies. It did so in an unexpected site, across the small village, just where it meets the forest: a cover is a covering a ceiling a blanket, to potentially cover you and perhaps I.

For cover (a drawing/contact event, Sunday 15 May)

I ask a friend to visit me and to set out the materials on site. Over the past months him and I have discussed frequently the work, the site, my stay and the wider circulation of the drawing/contact methodology. He knows the work, has seen earlier manifestations in mid-December. After I ask him I resolve the Walnut tree piece along with the sewing machine and installation on the meadow. I wait for a dry(-ish) day in this fairly wet and mild May to move the furniture onto the meadow. I try and place the blankets before and by myself, the siting and placement of Im Walde had been resolved in January already (yet not in relation to the others).

The day eventually isn’t dry. The traffic high so he arrives a couple of hours later. We do a walk through the village, each carrying a blanket (and likely under the watchful eye of the entire village), we exit the village to the swimming pool, walk up the slope and pause once the transformer is in view.

I ask him to take some documentation photos. We climb up on the transformer together, he jumps forward, I tricep lift. He says his feet are getting warm from the energy underfoot. We jump down, unroll the graphite blanket, tie it as before (it is now in three parts, a tear happened on the December de-install when it was wet and soft), note how it shrunk over the time, barely covering the width at all. Then I roll out the luminous blanket and place it, adjust, readjust and we watch inside out.

We walk back round via the cafe to pick up some cake, have coffee and cake with my parents then load the other materials into the car, through the village again, watched again. We carry the furniture, not to the place I initially thought but much closer, it obviously needs to be closer to the blankets. Then we watch, wonder, step away, around and closer again. The feet on the spring meadow amidst white delicate flowers and lush green grass is quite something. That I hadn’t considered my gran’s sewing machine for almost thirty years quite another thing. I then begin to set up Im Walde, it takes a while, I seem to get lost in its chronology, we adjust a few sheets. Someone walks past, someone else again. They stop and we talk about the printed wood and my extended stay. I eventually ring my parents who arrive 30 minutes later and the next shower is beginning to threaten. I show them round, they play, we talk. They talk to the neighbour for a while who then steps closer and I show him around. Oh, by now it is raining and the sewing machine hidden under green cover. The cyanotypes are getting soaked and acquire much matter from the Douglas firs above. We stand under the fir on the edge of the site and marvel across. A huge rainbow eventually appears all and us.

I end up with a whole series of process photos and a decent amount of documentation too. The interrelatedness of the different works is difficult to convey visually, the atmosphere of the afternoon and the site similarly so.

(I eventually close my laptop at this point as a heavy shower seeks out the sheltered veranda table I am writing on these days).

So, the day was a drawing/contact event, not a documentation of materials but a testing out and probing how they work on site and with each other. The extent to which the placement of a rather delicate manual sewing machine from the mid-1950s works as resolution to hold the pile of delicate sheets that are another walnut tree and a potential blanket on this abundant spring meadow and in this site was quite something. While I understood it as a resolution I hadn’t quite anticipated the strength of this resolution and what this simple furniture placement would do to alter the site, its reach and resonance.

The site for the luminous blanket is similarly well chosen: there is a rhythm from both East (the village) and West (the forest) to the works, Im Walde and Walnut Tree are big, weighty works with extended outdoor cyanotype processes, they reach well beyond in scale and temporality. The two blankets are in contrast playful, light and airy, the tingle-tangle along, also in height: up on the transformer and half-way up some bushes. They are works to engage with, play with, touch, while the cyanotype works are visual, encountered from a bit of distance. In fact, my mother was the only one who touched the walnut tree sheets, noone stepped uninvited closer to the sewing machine.

I am pleased that Doug pushed me to consider site further and even though as the BoW presented is a series of four covers, not a site nor place, the siting of the objects and the environmental, physical resolution of it would not have been achieved if it wasn’t for my budging up against place and immersiveness.

That Research considers performance and the role of the body in drawing as much as it does is also beneficial for being able to understand this day as performative, as a trying out and testing and then also inviting people to explore it. Five of the six people who I met and I am close to in these nine months in Germany were present and explored the site and the work with me. They took different routes through it, my father sat on sofa I have been sleeping on for this time the next morning and was quite moved how his time recovering from the stroke (the period over which I was printing the walnut tree) was suddenly mingling with his mother’s work tool, which for all my memory stood in the tight corner of the small room which was my favourite childhood place. That all got rained on with the softest West Coast of Scotland weather (incl. a full luminous rainbow) is almost too kitsch to add to this, but of course I do.

See here for a series of pictures from the day to give a sense of the event and performative nature of it:

Luminous cover (Trafodecke 1) as viewing device

Drawing/contact explored a number of routes around viewing devices and visual games: these were called kaleidoscopes or peripheral vision; some of these were digital, others analogue, some involved others: I posted out three singular prints on A4 copy paper to await a return, they returned as a viewing device box, the Boris box, spikey; and the other was a set of chemical experiments on a kitchen stove).

(see here for all posts concerning kaleidoscopes)

In the making of the Trafodecken, the transformer blankets, I ended up with numerous close-ups, onto the indexical tracings, the effects of weather and enviroment, or skimming the surface of the paper into the wooded distance. As they were made on tracing paper, the translucency of the material played with sun and shade. The stiffness of the dry paper would hold shape well.

I hung them into trees, across low fences and pollards, installed in a holiday rental kitchen space, used them as zoom backdrops (with my dad modelling the cosmic weather forecast), but overall, I remained uncertain as to the status of the work: was it process or object, and if object what and where?

After BoW 4 I envisaged to resolved the scale and ambition of site along with a sense of immersiveness (or rather, what become with Laura Marks a notion of the haptic and the erotic). My approach was to create a ‘drawing’ of the site, its processes and how it interrelated. This would be an assemblage (other suggested to call it a map). The viewing devices and visual games resurfaced at this moment and I begun to think of how the idea of ‘climbing into’ the rolled up covers could become them being utilised as a viewing device, a kaleidoscope.

One day I tried out two locations on the meadow/forest edge: first a tree at the entrance (too close to the blanket on the transformer station; also too much a site for dog toilet to feel confident about stepping close). Then I found two bushes a bit further along and I propped the two sheets of blanket 1 (the luminous one) into the bush, one facing skywards (which was a direction I employed with a series of viewing devices), the other skimming horizontally along where path, trees and meadow meet. They are loosely rolled, the luminous ink stains, which resulted from a week of solid rain) to the inside. The sun would fall onto and into them from the top left, tracing branch and leaves as well as the various layers of the paper itself. The view hole fairly small compared to the inside of the viewing device. There is a sense of careful stepping in and towards the two devices, for one you reach up, for the other you crouch a little. I am wondering if for a show it would like a little stepping plate on the ground (or if that would detract).

The development process of final placement and form is here:

1. viewing device images in production process

2. site 1 (abandoned) next to the path

3. site 2 (chosen) further along the meadow edge

4. install process

5. the viewing device in use

Im Walde 14-23 as part of For cover (2/3)

Im Walde 14-23 is a modular contact print work of about 70 sheets of 38x28cm cyanotype exposures. The paper is a heavy cotton rag (Hahnemuehle Platinum Rag). The work is variable in arrangement, however, each column depicts one printing event, the sheets variably arranged within that event as well as each column to another.

In situ, the work is arranged across the width of a worn-out tar road at the end of residential area. Passers-by will have to step across or around on their way out of the village towards the path and the forest edge.

The prints depicts the forest: larch branches, moss, blueberries, young pines, dead firs, some in close contact, other with more distance. The shortest exposure time is 30 minutes, the longest 72 hours, the majority printed from mid-morning to mid-afternoon across late October to late December 2020.

Originally devised for a gallery context, the work is sited as part of For Covers on the edge between village and forest. As digital resolution it is presented as singular sheets in a slide show along with an opening instruction.

In situ, as part of For Corners the work is as follows, the digital resolution is presented underneath.

Site (ambition of), immersiveness and lint in the BoW

These are the two key themes that arose from the BoW 4 tutorial for the final resolution. As Walnut tree approaches resolution I revisit the BoW materials and come to the view that these are now complete and effectively concluded. They orientate around each other, contain site/practice and are my response to the drawing/contact brief. Much remains unresolved, open but this is very much the nature of my artistic practice as research, so all else will either be addressed in Research, in SYP or at a time later.

I am adding the sketchbook notes here for now, I may type them up but perhaps they will also suffice for my discussion and response to making the BoW address both the (ambition and scale of) site as well as the notion of immersiveness that organises the relationship between work and audience (and/or participants).

The task from BoW 4 were as follows:

  • Exploring the material forms (notably: video, perhaps writing, perhaps audio) that unpacks site and practice further – substantively (as in how the work relates to itself) and practically (as in how the work can be encountered)
  • Revising artist statement to clarify process and intent of the work
  • Tapping out which work is part of this process and how
  • Clarifying the role of screen and the relational principles between the work: how to negotiate different scales between ambitious site and quotidian lint

I spend a little more time considering the role of lint within the works that are proposed and come these:

Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket): resolution

1. In situ installation (a Phoenix 350 sewing machine, folded down, the front drawer is open, revealing an assortment of sewing utensils as well as a small b&w photograph featuring a woman sitting at a wooden desk in front of some garden bushes, possibly currants; a pile of double-sided printed cyanotype on Moleskine sketchbook paper, double-sided; a stone holding these in place)

2. Proposed site of the above installation

Option 1: central to first image in centre of meadow, images 2-4 are views from the proposed table site:

Option 2: at the side of the meadow, near a pine, looking onto the meadow (images 1-3) from table location:

3. Instructions to touch (a potential blanket)

There is a text or audio document to go alongside (possible the text printed and wrapping the pile, or in a digital setting, the audio would play:

(1) Go to the walnut tree outside. Find a walnut shell that has been picked open by a crow. Take it indoors, wash it, let it dry. After a few days, open your sketchbook and place the shell on an empty page, fold the previous page over, hold it taut. Take first a marker pen (in a soft pink), then a thick and soft graphite stick and trace the opening of the shell. If you want to, also trace the edges and folds further down until the whole shape is transferred. Remove the shell and close the sketchbook. Have a look a few days later at how the opening has folded into the sketchbook.

(6) Look out for some replacement stones, ones that are smooth and you can bind together. Along the field with the empty seed heads, make your choice and lift one from the ground, it may be half-buried. You may find it’s an almost perfect heart shape, it may not require any other stone. Place it in the bag you brought with you and then in your pocket. Once home, forget about it for a couple of days, then place on your windowsill. Think about a precious wrapping for this singular stone.

(16) Remember the process of unbinding the sketchbook, mixing the chemistry after dinner and coating a first side once, after an hour a second time with the chemistry. Switch off the light, after an hour place the sheets (10 for 10g+4g) into the light-proof bag and go to bed.

(17) Over lunch, on any day throughout October, place your prepared sheets onto the tree, watch for wind, sun and rain. You can vary the exposure time and you can also discover that you don’t need to concern yourself all that much with mistakes here and there. Continue to print in this manner until the leaves are shed off the tree. Show your dad your prints at regular intervals.

(10) As your father and you move his mother’s sewing machine (manual, with trestle and no zigzag stitch) to your room, tell him about that photo of your other gran, in their garden, on a desk, revising for her driving license. Look it out and retrieve it from appr0ach.net.

(11) Remember the stone from autumn, find it on the desk and place it on the pile of prints.

(15) Sit down to write these notes at the furthest desk in the woods. The shoes are wet from the grass, you pull the hood over as it is slightly not warm enough (like most days, really). There is the usual bird chorus, then after a while another sound rises to your consciousness: further out, beyond the furthest field a cuckoo. The first of this spring.

(12) After that meadow exploration I navigate the hedge and fence and step up to the patio, I kneel down next to him as he washes tools in a bucket filled with water and vinegar. I tell him softly that I may have resolved the work.

(13) There is a walnut tree in your garden. Yes, I took some leaves from yours in autumn. Yes, mine is about to get new leaves.

(14) I write the process from the day before on the Trafo, cross-legged, in an early sun. I take a leave and hold it against the sun and the firs. It layers effortlessly.

(8) I tire after a first attempt a few days earlier and prepare to walk off. I return and explore the meadow with a view as to siting the table. I wonder: are we looking at the table or looking from the table. 

(18) The start of this, I realise, is a wrong lead, another project, not this. Really, perhaps this project starts with a hastily packed bag for a short emergency visit and a navigation of European Covid travel towards an ICU hospital bed some 36 hours later. I write this record eight months later still.

Walnut tree of touch (to blanket)

The prints of the autumnal walnut tree have so far remained unresolved. They featured in a number of posts and small explorations but have stayed in in a folder.

Previous relevant posts for this series are:




For a crit group session on Wednesday 5/5, I proposed to explore these as the work is too relevant and significant to stay out of the actual BoW.

I go through a series of enquiries and a development process that is detailed in this sketchbook note:

The main points here are:

  • Discussions with my mother and a colleague over quilting, making a blanket alongside the other blankets (nb that Decke in German means blanket but also ceiling or cover, translating Trafodecke merely as blanket is too cosy) clarify that
    • a sense of context, a see-through is as important as
    • a sense that the blanket can become undone, the individual parts remain unchanged, undamaged.
    • an exploration of sculptural form beyond a blanket, e.g. a trunk, a cave, a cape are important too.
  • I make a sheet clipped with paper clips of 2×6, closed and explore one evening
  • I place the sheets in a tree and watch them move, sway, fall off

I realise too that I am thinking of an installation that includes a potentiality for the blanket: a pile of sheets held down with a heart-shaped stone I found one day on top of an old manual sewing maching placed on the meadow at the forest edge, along with a text that includes instructions around this work, and a series of performative video pieces that explore the potential blanket.

  • the prints were done when my dad moved from ICU to ward to rehab following a severe stroke in late Summer and that process is contained in the printing (him and I did some performance work around the walnut tree in the preceding autumn).

So, for the work a number of things are important:

It should hold the significance of the material and context well: tender, soft, with depth.

It should also hold the relationship of drawing/ contact, of the haptic and the visual and of closeness and distance.

How do these relate to the other parts of the BoW and where does it slot into the ‘site’ that is Stromverteilen?

As remaining development work this means:

  • a series of performances around sculpted/modelled constructions from the sheets (I order both wooden pegs and large paper clips to build temporary structures)

>> a temporary placeholder (with poor images) is in this post: https://close-open.net/2021/05/03/performing-a-potential-blanket-walnut-tree-of-touch/

  • to write instructions for the work
  • to try the sewing machine (currently located in the upper floor hallway in the house)

>> these instructions and a first photo set of the machine, the prints and the location is written up in this post: https://close-open.net/2021/05/03/walnut-tree-of-touch-a-potential-blanket-resolution/

  • to do a performance on the meadow with all elements once my friend T. comes and visits me in ten days.

The development of this overall material and various experiments are caught in these images: