Colour, Light and Contrast – The final piece

Colour, Light and Contrast

This work is based upon and is an interpretation of the Additive Primary Colours, RGB.  These colours, along with their secondary colours (MCY) make up pure white light.  this theory is based upon Newton’s theory that light is made up of colour, it isn’t a colourless medium.  The way we see colour can be explained by this theory; the chair appears blue as it absorbs all other colours of light and bounces the blue tone back at us.  Newton’s theory also examined the opposite of light, darkness – or an absence of light, objects are colourless in the absence of any light.  The work also works with Goethe’s theory of colour being formed through interaction of light and dark; yellow is darkened white while blue is lightened black.  Goethe’s ideas examine contrast and how varying the levels of light can affect the tone and appearance of colour.

Both these theories, along with the Additive Primary Colours are important to us as they help us to see and make sense of the world around us.  They are also important to us as photographers as it helps with developing images, whether on-screen or in the darkroom.

The image above was taken on the day we had to exhibit our work in the studio and is how I presented my work to the class.  I created a mobile and 3 painted canvases to try to explain the colour theory.  The writing above (in bold) is my Artist Statement which is visible below my work in the image.

I was quite happy with how my work turned out and how it looks on the wall.  I wish that I had decided what I was going to do sooner, and worked towards it in a better way than I did.  I feel that I was lost for a few weeks when I was mulling over what to do and just looking at images, reading text and trying to form an idea.  I’m not sure why it took so long for an idea to come to me, but i do remember feeling pretty daunted by the task set for us.

I’m not sure that this work is yet complete as I would like to add several more canvases and make a few more sculptures/mobiles to go along with it, and |I would like to see them all hung next to each other to see what it would look like complete.  I would also like to play around with size and scale and see what happens when I put large and small and micro together.

Damien Hirst – Tate Modern

I went away at the weekend to go and see my favourite artists work on exhibition at the Tate Modern in London!  For uni, part of our summer work was to visit an exhibition and write a review of it! So, here is the review I wrote (and have just finished!!!)…


Damien Hirst

Tate Modern

4th April – 9th Sept 2012

The first thing that hits you when you enter the exhibition of Damien Hirst’s work at the Tate Modern is the smell.  Something lingers in the air, something that is vaguely familiar, the smell of household paint, then a musty odour of cigarettes, a chemical smell that I can’t place and something else.  Musty, old, decaying…Death, it’s that smell that follows you around, through the 14 rooms that house works of Damien’s, from his earliest spot painting to the room that contains cabinets of manufactured diamonds.  It seems that themes of death, religion and science are everywhere; you become aware of your own mortality, especially in room 3 when you are faced with that shark in formaldehyde, otherwise known as “The Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”.  Pictures viewed in books and images of this installation do not do it justice, the glass acts to create an illusion of movement, causing the tiger shark inside to move about, curve and follow you around, your mind screams out that it is still alive through the movements it has tracked but common sense kicks in and you can see that it is dead.

There is noise too, not just in the visitors passing through the exhibits but the motors that turn the Spin Paintings in room 8, which also houses 2 pieces of work that rely on air, “Loving In a World Of Desire” – a beach ball suspended mid-air above a brightly painted box that houses an air blower, and the hum of the hairdryer in “What Goes Up Must Come Down”.  The only room that seems church quiet is room 14 which houses the work “The Incomplete Truth” – a dove suspended in a tank of formaldehyde and a pale spot painting “Remembrance”.

Logic wants to work overtime when viewing the spot paintings that are exhibited in room 1 and 2.  In room 1 the earliest spot painting can be seen, it is not clinically done as the later spot paintings are, clean rows and columns, the first is a messy, dribbly, affair with spots of paint marked as splodges that run down the canvas and appear still wet, having that glossy, wet look of household gloss paint.  But from this you can see the ideas already forming for later works which can be viewed in room 2.  These later works cause my eyes to dart about the canvas, trying to seek out patterns and a logic, which is a fairly impossible task as no two colours are exactly the same and no two colours appear side by side, or above and below, twice in any of the spot paintings.  Given that some of these paintings are huge, and the dots tiny, that is no mean feat.  It is clear to see how Damien developed his ideas and his love of colour in these works.

The first whiff of death that confronts us comes from “A Thousand Years”, housed in room 2.  It consists of 2 tanks side by side and joined, one houses a white box with holes in it that contains maggots, they hatch and fly away, making their way to the attached tank which holds a skinned head of a cow, hanging from the ceiling is a fly zapper with a tray below it.  The flies are drawn here, crawling over the head, feeding, reproducing and dying, the unlucky ones getting zapped to death before their bodies are caught on the tray below.  This work questions our life cycle and mortality; it brings everything into simplicity, and creates a cycle of its own.

Flies feature in Damien’s work further along the exhibition, in room12, where “Black Sun” hangs on the wall, the same smell of death and decay hovering around it.  This work is made of dead flies and resin, which until closer inspection it is hard to tell, at first I thought it may have been tarmac as it had the same texture but the smell gave it away.  It is hard to look at this work in a joyous way, it is a grim illustration of death, there is nothing happy about it, not like with other works of Damien’s which explore death.  It leaves you wondering about what happens once you have left this earth.

In contrast are the murals made to look like stained glass windows taken from churches.  These bright, pretty pieces are in fact, made up from butterfly wings that have been pressed into wet paint.  There is a different feeling to these works, even though they contain dead parts of insects, like “Black Sun” they have a joyous feel to them, one that seems to give hope after death.

Other images of death can be seen in “Mother and Child Divided” (room 9) where a cow and her calf have been cut from head to tail, dividing them into left and right parts which have been placed in four separate tanks.  The title of this work plays on the relationship between mother and baby and also the brutal reality that they have been divided, left from right, right from left.  It is possible to walk through the cow and calf and view all their insides and outsides.  This way of exhibiting felt much like the way things are displayed in biology, so that you can learn about the parts of the animal and get a good look at everything.

Further work of Damien’s which touch upon science are “Hymn”, a giant sculpture of an anatomical structure of the human body, the first work to be viewed by visitors at Tate Modern.  This work is placed outside the main entrance and is viewable from quite a distance.  This links in to Damien’s fascination with pharmaceuticals and surgical implements which can be seen throughout the exhibition, namely in room 10 where installations of cabinets full of surgical implements are on show and also in rooms 2(medicine cabinet – “Sinner”, pill cabinet “Lullaby”), and room 10 (Trinity – Pharmacology, Physiology, Pathology), not to mention the room set up as an actual pharmacy (room 7).  On viewing these works I couldn’t help but find contradiction to the view that Damien’s work is all about death, surely medicines, teaching aids and surgical appliances are about curing, prolonging and helping survival?

The circle of life has already been addressed in Damien’s work “A Thousand Years” displayed in room2.  This is re-addressed in rooms 5 and 6 where the idea remains the same but is illustrated with butterflies.  “In And Out of Love (White Paintings and Live Butterflies)” and “In And Out Of Love (Butterfly Paintings and Ash Trays)” is a two part work, room 5 houses canvases painted with bright colours and decorated with dead butterflies wings, and room 6.  In room 6 canvases hang on the walls from which huge butterflies hatch, their amniotic fluids that seep out when they hatch, drip down the canvas leaving coloured stains.  The butterflies move round the room gracefully swooping through the air, feeding on fruit that is left out, resting on the plants, before dying.  This work, although on the same thought lines as “A Thousand Years” seems more beautiful and poignant an illustration of the life cycle, the flies in “A Thousand Years” seeming more violent a description of life and death.

Death and religion are visited one final time in the quietest room of the exhibition, room 14.  This is where “Remembrance” and “The Incomplete Truth” are housed.  As you walk through from room 13 into the doorway of room 14 you see a dove, wings outstretched, hovering in a tank of formaldehyde.  The dove is symbolic in religion as hope, peace and the Holy Spirit, behind it is the palest spot painting edged in gold.  It is a beautiful sight, serene and peaceful; it offers a hope that there is more to life than just living and dying and is a brilliant way to finish the exhibition.

Look Closer Exhibition- A Review

I was going to blog about this on friday but I couldn’t get to the opening night on thursday, friday I checked the website of the place where it is being held and it didn’t seem to be open, so I ended up going on saturday.

The exhibition is of 2nd Year Photo Art students work, held in the Riverfront Theatre, Newport. I thought this would be handy to see as a reference tool for myself as I will be a second year myself next year.  I thought it would be nice to see the work so I could see, myself, what was expected of us next year and also to support the students on my course.

The exhibition areas are a room upstairs where a couple of students displayed works, one being an installation of a room with photographic elements and crumpled notes, photos printed onto fabric and a video piece.  The main exhibition is downstairs and consisted of sculpture, installation, photos and video pieces.  The piece I mostly enjoyed was one which was in a clear tank that was sealed with hinges, it looked like the kind of display box that would be put around a valuable art work.  The box contained a screwed up paper ball, just that, at the bottom, and nothing else.  It got me thinking about what may be written on that piece of paper, could it be some valuable piece of information, a confession, a letter or something that was not valuable at all, like a menu or a shopping list.  It wasn’t, in my mind what I thought or expected from a Photo Art exhibition, I imagined that the space would be filled with photos of different things.

I was pleasantly surprised about what I saw, the level of quality about the work and the unexpectedness of it.  The works there shattered my expectations, made me think and examine what was there.

The work was really well thought out and displayed well, the exhibition rooms themselves large enough that works didnt encroach onto each other and it was visually stimulating.

The website for the works and artists is and the Riverfront’s website is here

I would love to write more about the artworks on display at the exhibition but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who wants to go and see it!  If you are in the area, go!  You won’t be disappointed!

Exhibitions I’d Like to Visit This Summer

Here are my top 8 exhibitions that I would love to go to this summer.

At number 1) Damien Hirst, 4th April – 9th Sept, £14, Tate Modern (  I LOVE Damien Hirst and all the work that he has created and I would give anything to go to this exhibition.  I was so excited when I found out that he would be exhibiting work this year!

2) Yayoi Kusama, until the 5th June, £10, Tate Modern ( )  I really want to go and see her dot patterns!  Yayoi has used many different mediums to create works and this really interests me as I love working with all sorts of different things and creating works that are completely different to each other.  Yayoi as created sculptures, drawings, paintings and film amongst many others and I am keen to go and explore her works.

3) Gillian Wearing, until the 17th June, £9.50, Whitechapel Gallery ( I have looked at some of Gillian’s work this year as inspiration for some of the ideas I have had.  It would be brilliant to see some of her works up close, especially “Signs that say what you want them to say, and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say.” which I think is a really interesting piece of work which involves the public and is quite revealing about what others are thinking.

4) Rachel Whiteread, 1st June – 30th December, price TBC, Whitechapel Gallery (

I have looked at the work ‘House’, a cast of the inside of an end of terrace house for my project in Foundation on the home.  I would love to see her other works as the ‘House’ piece was really thought-provoking and was a source of inspiration to me.  I havent seen any of her other works and this would be a oppertunity to see some more of her pieces.

5) Martin Parr and Tom Wood ‘The Last Resort’, 5th May – 17th June, Third Floor Gallery (  This exhibition is of photographs of New Brighton.  It is a documentary of British holiday makers amongst other things and would be interesting to see as a photographer myself.  I’d love to see how the photos are captured and how they are exhibited.

6) Through the Mirror – The World of Anthony Browne, 2nd June – 23rd September, Free, National Museum Cardiff (  I’d like to go to this as it looks like fun!  I love the drawing style of Anthony Browne and am interested to see much of his work in one place as an exhibition!

7) Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year, 16th June – 19th September, Free, National Museum Cardiff (  This would be a fantastic opportunity to see some award-winning photography by some of the best wildlife photographers in the world!  I can’t wait to go and see these works, not just to see the photos of the animals but to learn more about wildlife photography from seeing these works.

8) Brendan Stuart Burns – Glimpse,  11th May – 13th June, St David’s Hall (  I have seen a tiny amount of Brendan’s work and there is something about it that interests and fascinates me and I would like to see more of his work and how his work is created.  I think you can only really get a feel for, and an idea of how work has been approached, by seeing it in the flesh.  I think that this one will be really interesting to go and see.

A Model Family – The Finished Product

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I started this project using an idea that started off in secondary school regarding family and trust circles.  I drew out some circles, graduating out from myself to the people that were closest to me and worked out from that.  I set about looking at the connections between myself and sets of people who I knew and also the movements of people within those groups.  I wanted to examine the relationships between people who I knew and my family.  It was important tome to use my family and friends as I wanted it to be personal to me and felt that I could pick apart and really go in-depth the movements between certain people in these groups.

I came up with a series of diagrams, ones with the people named in the groups, another with just the movements of the people outlined and one with nothing apart from the sets of groups and where they lay in relationship to me and other groups.  These bare diagrams were a stepping stone to where my project went next.  I continued drawing diagrams and as I looked back on them they started to remind me of cells, molecules and the solar system.  One of the diagrams I drew inspired me to make a 3D model as I could see, from the diagram, how it would come together.

The diagrams I drew were colour coded for the groups of people that were being represented and I chose to keep as much to the colour code as possible.  I don’t think it matters that the viewer doesn’t know the colour code, what matters is that it gets people thinking about the relationships of the groups and gets them asking questions.


I decided to continue on this path and created another 3D model which is stripped bar of any friends and concentrates purely on my family group.  The colours used to represent the people is similar to the first model as I wanted it to appear quite uniform, but the actual colour code is different.

I looked into names for the models I had made and chose the overall title “Model Family” as that is what I had created, models of my family, models of relationships to people within those “family groups”.   Individually, I have named them after equations that I came up with after looking at them and deconstructing the diagrams I had drawn.  the largest model is called M=F(1IF,1EF)+Bf(1SF,1AF)+Fr(1BF,1CF)+O(1UF,1WF,1CF,1SF), the next smallest model is called 2P+2B+1M=NF(1EF,1AF,1K)+1Bf(1Bf,1RF), the 3rd is called NF(2P+3C) and the smallest is just called M. I created and called them equations as a nod towards them looking like scientific structures.  I didn’t want to call them Model Family, Model Family Simplified etc (which I was  going to call them originally) as they sound too obvious.


I chose to mount them against a white background of Foam Board, again, as a nod towards the scientific nature of the appearance of them.  I thought about having them free-standing but when I tried that it didn’t look quite right.  I needed a clean backdrop which showed off the colours and the relationship bonds between the groups and decided that a white background really showed that off.


I am happy with the way the project has turned out.  when I started this project I wasnt sure where it was going to take me or what the outcome would be.  I am surprised at how well they came out and would like to continue this project using other people and their families and friends to create more models that could be used for comparison purposes.  I think that other families models will turn out different going by family circumstance (ie divorce) and different life experiences will change the friendship groups too.  Some groups may not exist at all and this is something I am keen to look at in the future.

A Model Family – How Its Coming Along

I have had a few seminars in uni where I have gotten together with the rest of my group and we have had a chance to talk about our work, where its going, our research and where we are going with our projects.  Today was one of those days.  I took my completed model to uni (un-mounted) and showed the class, and apart from the lecturer, no one seemed interested or engaged with it and I have no idea why.  The feedback I had from the group was disheartening to say the least and its times like this where I have to question my work and where I am going with it all.

I’m glad my lecturer liked my work and thought it was fascinating and appealing.  Though he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was that led him to this interest I was glad he liked it.  I’m not really sure why my group weren’t as connected to my work, perhaps they had seen it too much?  Maybe they didn’t fully understand it?  Maybe it’s because it is a “made” object?  Some of the comments were really disappointing such as “childish”, “looks like a child’s toy” etc.  These comments were not constructive in the least, if I knew where I had gone wrong or the reasons for them, I could build upon them and maybe push myself further, improve, but I feel like I have hit a brick wall with them.  I feel that in these situations it is better to give constructive criticism or not say anything at all.  There is no point in saying something that isn’t helpful or useful.  So, yeah, at the moment I’m not feeling very positive about my work.  I know that everyone doesn’t have the same opinions, especially in art, and some people like things and some people don’t, and then there is always that other smidge of people who just don’t give a f£$% either way and that doesn’t bother me, it adds to the spice of life and makes things less boring and uniform.

Anyway, I have decided that, as the piece has been inspired by molecules and atoms and “sciency” things that it shall be displayed in the way that science models are normally displayed…on a white (shiny) plinth with nothing else around it.  That is where I am with my project.  I’ve nearly finished but know I could push it further if I wanted.  I would also like to try to create models of other families using the method I have come up with to create this piece as it would be interesting to compare them and see how different they are.

Once I am happy with the final outcome I will post some photos of the final piece but until then I’m not ready to fully share (down to the negatives I have received today.)

Chairs, Chairs and more Chairs

One artist that has been on my mind since looking at his work for a previous project’s research, (and his work has even featured in my dreams…), is an artist called Drew Daly.  I had looked at Drew’s work with chairs and have found them all to be completely fascinating and have a kind of Alice In Wonderland feel to them.  I love the one that seems to have disappeared, Drew spent ages just sanding it down to create this effect, and I really like the way it still is able to stand up with so much missing.  I also really like the chairs that meet at odd angles and have become a kind of sculpture.  Drew looked at the way they could be joined through placement of mirrors and created this from what he saw.

Jud Turner

How often is it that you come across a piece of work, of pieces, that have you forgetting to breathe?  Not very often I bet!  Well, check this work out by Jud Turner…

It had that effect on me.  Jud works with found objects and metals to create amazing sculpture pieces like those above.  Check out his website to see further examples of his work.  I really like the way objects are put together to create something so far removed from the original item that it’s hard to guess what the item was to start with.  My favourite work by Jud is the “Paradise Lost” assemblage that has mechanical pieces on one side of a book and a green landscape on the other.  It seems to be echoing how we have changed horizons, views, and our planet from something green and lush, into a landscape of industrial factories.  The work seems to  make a comment on our environment and how things have changed due to industrialisation, and in my view for the worse.  The lush green landscape portrayed on one side of the book, true beauty, has been replaced by something more sinister and man-made.  I love the comparisons in this work.

The comparisons and contrast continue with the likes of “Bio-Cycle” which sees a skeleton, a static symbol of death become mobile through the addition of wheels, the movement becoming more like the motion of life.