And moving along…



Here’s one from my archive…this is a composite piece from 1972.  It was approximately 11 ft high and around sixteen long.  The central section was comprised of perspex panels mounted onto the wall slightly away from it to lie flush with the canvases.  They were monochromes, made with designers gouache (in industrial quantities!) suspended in acrylic copolymer emulsion – I know the colours were very fugitive but the piece was destroyed donkey’s years ago anyway…  The forms were derived from a part of a floor plan of one of the major buildings in Florence.  I was describing this piece to my friend Robert Luzar who is participating in the current HMS exhibition ‘The Mark’ and spent a pleasant couple days with us to be at the opening of the show.  It was in the context of what we see now of the past…what seems to be the currency of the past is the ‘avant garde’ of that moment rather than the majority of works that actually dominated the period.  So although conceptual art might be thought of as the dominant mode in 72 it was actually still relatively little exposed or visible in the places one could see work and discuss it.  That of course led onto thoughts about how the advent of instant information has transformed the way in which we source, discuss and, perhaps, dispose of cultural ‘product’ nowadays?

Reflecting on the discussion made me thing of several things…firstly how privileged my generation of students were.  I reckon each of the canvases required somewhere between six and a dozen tubes of gouache…along with a goodly dollop of the emulsion…n0t to mention the canvas and the perspex. Goodness knows how much it would have cost to make had I had to fork out for it.  But of course it was all free to me…as was the educational opportunity itself.

Secondly the freedom of the course structure allowed me both the time and space and most importantly the intellectual freedom to make something on such an ambitious scale unchallenged.  Actually it hadn’t been entirely so…a few months earlier my first foray into this area of working had resulted in this…


I’d sweated blood over the dark claret perspex strips that sat behind the smoked perspex and which all sat atop the canvas underneath (the piece was around five feet high), debating how and what intervals would be ‘right’ for it.  It was sitting in my space in the studio the day that the painter Ian Stephenson arrived to do crits.  He came into my space, took one look at it, and said “the canvas is fine but get rid of that f******g perspex!”  It was acerbic criticism at its finest!  Stephenson sadly no longer with us was a fine painter – check out his work, which I suspect rarely sees the light of day in our major museums.


Finally I have been wondering what and whether is the protocols around the remaking of work from the past?  I’m pretty sure for example that some quite well known figures have gone in for a bit of what might euphemistically be called “revisionism” over the years.  But equally it seems to me a faithful reconstruction of a work of one’s own ought to be nobody’s business other than the artist her/himself?  This came up just the other day at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery where the French painter Francois Morellet was showing pieces that did just that…albeit scaled up (4:1) to be even bigger than he had originally made them.

Now if I could just double up that piece at the head of this blog…


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