Monday, 30 April 2012


The oldest portable writing known dates from 60,000 years ago, and is on ostrich eggshell fragments. So I feel it is fairly reasonable to be writing the names of instances of love/sex and death on this kind of ground - quails' eggs in this case, since this trope is fairly old. I could not say what the earliest instance is, but Adam and Eve is a good one to start with in European culture. The skull and heart design is a decal, a memento mori, and a devil of a job to work with.

There's also some similarity between the shape of an egg and that of a human skull seen from above.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Mr Write

It doesn’t make for much spontaneity or impetuousness, this way of working. All the risks have to come at the beginning.

I think with this one I was taken with the idea of what the letter/character does, sometimes functioning as a metonym (part of the whole standing for the whole) and sometimes not. I think you have to know the language, and know what the use of the language implies, just as you would have to know that the original sampler, probably late nineteenth or early twentieth century, was intended to show that the maker had acquired digital craft skills. It’s a sort of code message saying ‘I can do this’. Maybe that proposes a sampler that says just that – Look I can do this, with my name, age, and the information that it hurts my eyes (like some Roman inscription).

This one is called, for now at any rate: Mr Write.

There is, of course, a direct reference to the age and gender difference between myself and the (supposed, projected, imagined) first maker, and to ideas of exploitation, abuse, power, control, insertion, authority and the nature of language. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


On the way to the British Library to lead a workshop on Exploring English with West Hatch High School I was thinking about words that seem to be lacking in English, since there are situations for which we need to string together a not very satisfactory sentence. For example, when two people are walking towards each other, change direction to avoid bumping into each other, realise that they are set on a new collision course, smile, get flustered, and make placatory gestures. Somewhere in the back of my mind there is an idea that some European languages have one word for this.

I came across a website which posts a few of these missing words: It has some nice examples. The one that has remained with me is ‘l’appel du vide’, French for ‘the call of the void’, the desire to leap, to one’s doom, into empty spaces – for which I thought ‘vertigo’ filled the bill. But checking on ‘vertigo’ in the OED I find that it actually means the state of giddiness in one’s head. And thinking further about it I realised that I had been assuming that ‘vertigo’ meant both ‘fear of voids’ and ‘the lure of the void’, which are essentially opposites – the desire to move from the void, and the desire move towards the void.

‘Vertiginous’ does at least mean ‘capable of inducing vertigo’, so a favourite phrase ‘vertiginous heights’ is still OK. Alternatively I can assume that the meaning of vertigo has effectively changed to what I thought it meant; this would be taking the ‘Humpty Dumpty defence’, that a word means what I want it to mean. As HD, of course, knew a thing or two about vertigo, I feel I am on safe ground here. Or not. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Final instalment of that work

And the first instalment of another, to be a set of carved erectile dysfunction tablets; the working title is 'Little Boy Blue'.

The final shot of the preparation of the interventionist embroidery work:

The completed work will be on display with to other interventionist embroidery works at Nymans House and Gardens from 4th May as part of a group show.

Friday, 13 April 2012

More intervention

A continuation of the work for Nymans. I'm now sewing onto the anti-macassar the scientific names of the botanical materials from which soft furnishings in the library are made.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Interventionist embroidery

Some images of the preparation for a work for Nymans Unravelled, opening 5 May at Nymans House & Gardens, a National Trust property near Brighton. The process of undoing the embroidery has taken about four hours and requires as much concentration as the sewing. Images of replacement embroidery coming soon.