Thanks for visiting my website. I write about art and visual culture.
In fiction, I write about the dilemmas, propositions, afflictions and quirks that life emits.
I’m still finding my way, but if you’d like to know more about me and my work, you’ll find much of it here.
Mark Dion at the Whitechapel Gallery, London
For our modern age – prone to jump to the defence of science, of data-driven evidence – there is something unusually wistful about the art of Mark Dion. Invocations of Victorian adventurers, amateur explorers, cabinets of curiosities and detective stories, lend his work a nostalgic, even fairy-tale air…
Unreliable Trivia – The Value of the Mistaken Fact
It’s a bad habit, but when I’m in public I often listen in on other people’s conversations. Just recently I was sitting on a busy train when, straining my ears to make sense of nearby chatter, I heard a fellow passenger insist on the following insight…
David Milne at Dulwich Picture Gallery
David Milne was born in the town of Burgoyne, Ontario, in 1882. By all accounts he was a modest man with a leaning towards the austere. Born in a log cabin, he never lost the sense that his was a peasant’s life. His wrote of his “taste for few and simple things.”
Andreas Gursky likes to print his images on very large scale paper. Think Monet’s water lily series at the Orangerie, Paris. So as you approach a work it fills your horizontal field of vision. As well as enveloping you, the technique also has the effect of encouraging you to forget about edges of the picture, to disregard what lies beyond, and to overlook the very deliberate cropping that Gursky undertakes.
Digital Muzak: How they sell us our iPhones
The life force of a digital device, a mobile phone or a handheld tablet, can give the impression of something magical. The glowing screen and pulsing ribbons of light, the élan vital of this little rectangle of plastic and glass is spectral and, for some at least, no less than spellbinding.
Embarrassed yet? Some naked truths about life drawing classes
For the last six weeks I’ve been going to life drawing classes at a local college. Just as you see in films or on TV, the disrobed figure sits in the centre of a room with a circle of easels surrounding them. Behind the easels, artists drag charcoal blocks or dab Indian ink or smudge oil pastels across the paper, and try as best they can to render a decent likeness of the posed model in front of them.
A Time of Gifts: Partick Leigh Fermor and the memoir
As a form of literature, the memoir has often struck me as an odd. The author assembles a small museum of personal artifacts for the purpose of describing a story. The writing is somewhat feigned: episodes have the ring of fiction, and we must suspend disbelief that life and narrative have intersected so well.
Review of “Degas to Picasso: Creating Modernism in France” at the Ashmolean
Modernism has a habit of returning, of seeming pertinent as a bearer of explanations, long after its paradigms have been eclipsed. Changes in artistic epoch are like the processing speed of computers: they are likely to increase in pace over time, pushing older models aside as defunct. From the fifteenth to the eighteenth century there were perhaps three or four movements (Renaissance, Baroque, Roccoco, Noeclassical). From 1870 to the present there have been nearly forty.
Review of ‘The Human Document: The Photography of Persuasion from 1930s America to Present Day’ at Mead Gallery, Coventry
There are few social-documentary photographs more well known, nor more heavily plundered for significance, than those of rural America from the era of the Great Depression. Black-and-white shots of sharecroppers, cotton pickers and economic refugees from the deep-south, the photographs contained in this exhibition have become part of a sort of American folklore, a complex heritage that has engaged sociologists, art historians and critical theorists in broad scope.
Review of Barbara Walker’s ‘Shock and Awe’ at mac Birmingham
Walker’s drawings are expert. Tonal values between light and shadow create not just realistic form but also express the conditions of climate: the air of the dusty barracks, the short shadows of a noon sun, the heat and tedium of manual work.
I’m happy to say I’ve recently been published in the literary magazine Firewords Quarterly, whose recent issue has as its theme ‘secrets’. Firewords publishes short stories and illustrations, four times a year, and is fast growing as an indie publisher of repute. My own story is a work titled Meteors, a piece I am very proud to share as my contribution to the latest issue.
Copies can be purchased here.