Monday, 20 December 2010

WNO Project Electroclassic

Earlier this year, WNO///3 undertook research into music copyright and intellectual property issues with funding awarded by Arts Council of England’s Digital Content Development programme. A lot of questions were asked and a lot of answers weren’t necessarily found, largely because the territory is complex when it comes to classical music, and the approaches to dealing with the issues to date often contradictory and frequently restrictive for those artists wishing to evolve new ways of combining digital art with live performance without either risking their shirts, or a law suit.

The idea behind Project Electroclassic is breathtakingly simple, but cuts to the heart of the matter; it’s to go back to basics and asks what might be possible – by asking musicians and artists engaged in the field to try out something new in a risk-free environment. Project Electroclassic will bring together digital sonic artists, composers with a classical music training and WNO musicians to test drive and maybe even breach the boundaries. The selected artists will join musicians from WNO’s Orchestra in scheduled sessions in March through to April. They will be asked to develop creative pieces from audio samples, possibly a live performance, or a piece of sonic art, or a digital media installation; all the work will be broadcast on WNO///3. WNO///3 will also host a performance featuring visual artists and musicians as part of a series of events, including Electrostatic at the Colston Hall, Bristol, in May 2011.

But most important of all, the residency will focus on open debate of the complexity of music copyright and intellectual property. A short symposium (including live performance) is planned, which will illustrate the key findings of artist, composer and musician alike.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

West Bay Bronze Fossils

For the project below I will be carving a number of wooden fossils that will be cast into bronze, instead of carving fossils such as ammonites, belemnites etc, I have decided to carve images from the main industries of West Bay such as; rope making, fishing and boatbuilding as well as a 'brittlestar' and maybe a 'shark's tooth'. There is a feeling amongst the locals I have spoken too that the 'fossil theme' may have been overdone.
I have also brought in the poet Paul Hyland to write the verse for the paving and the stonecarver Nick Durnan to carve the central motif and the edging work. Their participation on the job will guarantee great quality and bring another dimension to the scheme.

West Bay

West Bay project is going well. This is a general overview of the plan, there are a few subtle changes but on the whole this is the gist.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


No image, a disgrace, pottering at hurstone studio these past few days, making a few camera obscuras in preparation to meetings in saltfleetby and Newark next week. Tinkering with my old bicycle from my youth, took it apart and have cleaned and oiled it, pumped up the tyres and today had my first solo ride on it for probably 15 years. Oh dear how unfit and how large are the littliest hills, I am moving to East Anglia or Holland it this is to be pursued!
Music, more tinkering with the Ipad in Reacatable app and Moog mode all very exciting some great sounds achieved and a pointer for further Gimlet-Eyed Mariners work and solo stuff under the Lepus non de plume. Also have wired up and Old Marshall valve amp and some old speakers to create and right old din in the studio today, guitar through a zoom box....oh boy more fun. And hot off the press looks like a record deal is happening for the Gimlets with the 'Slightly Off Kilter' label in Brighton. So maybe a cd out for the christmas rush!
No images but news of the old creative drive still working or tinkering.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Neroche Book Cover

The Neroche Book Cover. My photograph taken from Culmstock Beacon. A bit of jiggery pockery in photoshop. All it needs now is my Fat Pen Font and that's it. Book should be published by february 2011.

Golden Section Bowl

Back making again. A leaving present for Tanya James. Tanya has been the editor of the Neroche book of which I am the picture editor and we have had such fun creating the book and working together on the project. She has become a good friend. So a bowl with holes.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Crisis in the studio!!!

It's the 12th of september, it's 12.30 pm and I go to the studio to put prices onto the work before the private view at 4.00 pm. The doors to my studio will not open , I force them to and I find broken glass, fallen shelving and a fine mess. Wiveliscombe Carnival is in full flow and all people who could help me tidy are there, listening to music, eating fine food and generally having a good time. I have clearing up to do! Slowly piece by piece I remove the detritus. John Bone comes by and saves my bacon by implementing a propping system so I can move it without the rest falling and creating total havoc. Sara pops up for a second to lay a table cloth in her finery, but trooper that she is, gets stuck in and helps put heavy timber into the land rover. She has to go, she is judging the carnival floats. I manage to get the studio clear and clean just as they first people arrive. The private view itself is great, everyone very complimentary about the new work, sales, good discussions. By 8.00 I am ready for a drink and a flop.

Sunspots squared

An idea born in the winter and come to fruition at the end of the summer. the carved squares give a unification to the organic shaped wood (oak). the spots burnt using a convex mirror bring the elemental, the fire to the earth.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

SAW Private view

Please feel very welcome to come to my private view tomorrow sunday the 12th september 2010.

4 - 7 pm at hurstone studio Waterrow somerset. Ta4 2 at for those with sat nav

nibbles and drinks

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Needle Growth

I think this will be the last of this series for Somerset Art Weeks. Time is running out.
I have the Private View next sunday the 12th and alot of clearing up in the studio. I have one last sun piece to make which hopefully I will finish tomorrow and then bam cleaning time.

Berries of Glass

Finished this one today. Put in the glass and watched as the sun reflected off the surface. as autumn approaches the season of berries, this reminded me of the berries in the woods.
Charred surface absorbs the sun.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Studio Shot

I have had a bit of time in my workshop at Hurstone and hope to get back in tomorrow after a period of time chasing paid work, with success I discovered today as I heard I have received the West Bay Commission. More of that on later posts. But for people who like to see artist studio shots here is mine. the piece in the foreground I hope to finish in the next week. there is a lot of drilling and carving to go yet and then of course the prerequisite burning.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Star Gazer

See below for details. I spent a wonderful evening with my 11 year old son lying on a platform in the garden last night watching 'perseids'. A lovely display of shooting stars in a clear sky listening to him talk about the stars, galaxies, the universe, ufo's and aliens. This sculpture just has to be called Star gazer in honour of that moment.


These I have been working on for a while, but yesterday finished off the removing of char and the polishing. Both cut from single limbs of ash from a fallen tree in the wood. They are a nod in the direction of japanese architect Takasugi whose wonderful tea house can be found at Now that is a dream commission. So anyone out there who could like to commission me to make a similar (not of course the same) sort of structure with my aesthetic I would happily accept!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Cloud Benches

A circle of benches to lie on and observe the sky, the clouds in particular. Grouped together for the educational purposes of the centre. there is the possibility for further ones to be sited in more remote locations

camera obscura for rosliston

I haven't been making for a while but designing. There is the possibility of a commission at Rosliston in derbyshire for a camera obscura and cloud observatory. After consultations we have now gotten down to some design. So what better place to preview the pieces than on the blog.
There are various cantations of this design, but i will only put this one up

Friday, 30 July 2010


Gig of the century so far.
Salix. Meles and Quercus in fine form at the brewhouse, taunton
the music you hear is totally improvised.
we create as we go along listening and responding to each other.

film projection: jo fairfax

go to you tube and watch the 7 part films.
links below:

Thursday, 8 July 2010


After the mark making of the end of the lamp piece I decided to carry that surface through onto a whole piece to see what it would look like.
I like the way the lines follow one another and the way the burning reduces the strictness of the order.

The joys of burning

When burning the oak with a blow torch, there are always times when the oak burns, glows and smokes in a most delicious way, this by no means captures that, with the smell and the heat as well, but it gives an idea. On hand water and a paint brush to save the lost of vital pieces.

Fortress Lamp

After a time away working in Tintagel making sundials with families and children and a trip to York for an interview for Sustrans, which unfortunately I didn't get, especially as it was a smashing job for the new cyclepath between Morecambe and Bridlington.
So back making and back to the charred oak series.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Bone Wounds

More bone than wounds.
The small wounds on the top with the gentle gouge marks
brings a different element to this piece
I love these and will look for more pieces of wood with these small wounds.

Hooded Bird Wounds

This is all so different from my public art, this is improv. I have no idea when I am making these what will occur. All I know is that the growths/wounds/diseased bit stay, I don't know how the ends will be or the mark making, it just happens. Joy.

Oval Wounds

I think creating the titles is the hardest part for the growth series. They really are becoming a family. It is great fun to be back using spokeshaves, drawknives, carving knife and gouges as well as the arbourtech and sander.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Serpent Wounds

As with the previous image, this could have gone anywhere, but it has a feeling of a serpent, obviously it's not a serpent. It can be anything.

Fish Wounds

Back to the wounds and growths series. I chain-sawed a number of diseased ash limbs on monday and took them to the workshop in the garden, my intention is to work on these over the next few days. There are growths, I just work around these, totally intuitively, I have no idea what they will look like, which is strange but very liberating. I think the process is a winner so have confidence in the outcome.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Conning Tower Growth

Whilst clearing the ash tree limb from my shed and cutting it up for fire wood, this piece leapt out at me and called, 'Michael I am a piece of sculpture waiting to be released' so of course I chainsawed and arbourteched, drilled and gouged, charred and polished and the 'Conning Tower Growth' appeared.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Lucky escape

Whilst having breakfast in the woods with my family we heard a bang, thought nothing more of it and went about eating and drinking, then a creak and some more creaking. Yes, something was happening and it didn't sound too good. Then a serious creak and a 'let's move quickly' we did, a crash, a thud, the ash limb broke and landed on the top of the 'palace', luckily it remained attached to the tree, otherwise the 'palace' would have been splinters. I jump onto the roof to check for damage to the liner and carpets, but it seems to be okay. A few days later Paul came over and with remarkable skill took the limb down without any damage to the 'palace' almighty phew from me.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Those Boring Worms

I am getting more and more into the idea of these things having been at the bottom of the sea for sometime and the manmade element being intervened with by the organic and weird creatures.
I think the next one will have a feeling of being wrapped in growing tendrils of some sort. Not sure yet but something is percolating

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Pitted Arch

A lovely offcut with a flying edge just crying out to be pitted and burnt. How could I fail its demands. I countersunk and burnt and now it arcs in the sunlight.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Leave a growth area on the oak.

In The Depths

Oh I have gotten very excited about this one. I really love the circles with holes, a fabulous surface on the oak, alluding to all manner of things, old posts from wrecks to octopi to well whatever your imagination conjures up. Oh boy this is why I love being a sculptor. the making of new tactile things that didn't exist before but you are so pleased they do now.

Canes and Sticks

I have been making a series of canes and sticks. I particularly think the cane element could be very exciting. We can usher in a new elegance with these charred black canes containing glass spheres, giving one a very special optical experience as well. Remember this is the blog you came across them first!!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

From The Sea

Again the shape of the wood dictates. I have been cutting and shaping a number of pieces of oak from the wood. Cutting to what I think may work with a chainsaw, storing and then looking and recutting with chainsaw and shaping with an axe. These then get taken to my home workshop where they are worked with an arbourtech, chisels, drawknife, spokeshaves and then drilled with bits or countersinks. Finally they are charred with a blow torch, wire wooled, polished and photographed for the blog. This has kept me on top of the photographing as in the past I have forgotten to photograph and then sold a piece and that's it gone from my memory! So blogs can work and be useful.

Horned Knuckle

This was a struggle. Not at all sure were this was going but as it the case with these things, the more it and I worked together the more a dialogue between the wood, the shape and me occured and this piece appeared. As with improv music that I create so with the working intuitively with the wood can bring about results unthought of.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Horned Headrest

The natural curve of the oak looked like those egyptian headrests
I have a theme of the indentations working on this series and have a few more to come


A small piece again charred oak. The two ends bits are wire wooled and polished whilst the central fold element is left charred in its natural state

Earth Intruder

Another Charred Oak piece, this time the top has been wire wooled and polished whilst the laterals have been charred and left

From the deep

Charred and polished this piece is now finished

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Gimlet Eyed Mariners

The Gimlet Eyed Mariners are playing the Perfect 5th in Taunton on the 12th of May in an evening of Improv extravaganza. See attached poster for all the news. This is a must see event.
Gimlet Eyed Mariners are an offshoot of my other Band Tapes and Ashes.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Sun Burning

By using a concave mirror I can harness the energy of the sun to burn lines in the wood. Here at 11.15 pm on tuesday the 4th may the sun tracks its marks onto the riven wood. On this piece the sun was out for the duration of the burning, but at other times when there is cloud cover the line becomes a series of burnt and unburnt elements. This marks time, delineates the now, the place, as the angle of burn changes throughout the day. For other images of my sunburnings please visit my website and check out 'sun burnings.


This is me charring the surface of a piece I am working on at the moment. I have been charring the surface of my wooden pieces since 1985, after a visit to the Museum of Mankind. At the exhibition they had a room dedicated to the Brazilian boat builders, it transpires that they hollow out the boats with adzes, then make seats. They start a fire and a number of men then hold the boat aloft over the flames, moving the boat constantly, the heat of the fire opens the hollowed area a small amount, they then take the boat from the flames and put the seats into place, as the boat cools so it contracts and holds the seats in situ. Brilliant, I went home immediately and tried the technique, I have been burning and charring sculptures ever since, to lesser and greater degrees. The charring is not only aesthetically pleasing but also carbonises the surface of the wood, thus making it last longer. I discovered many years ago whilst doing a workshop just outside Birmingham that in the 'olden days' The posts put into the ground were charred over an open fire to protect the wood. I love the process and the way different wood reacts to burning and the way the grain becomes more prominent. In this picture I am using a gas burner, I also burn over open fires and am soon going to try some faggot fires. I have also branded, stencil burnt all sorts of techniques are possible, fire is a tremendous tool.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

diseased growth

The dying back of a branch on this oak limb has left this wonderful shape that I have brought attention to, nothing more nothing less. It is.


A lovely twisted piece of oak, just carved in ripples like a flow around the shape


oh joy back in the woods making a series of works for Somerset Art Week in september. Revealing the wounds and imperfections in the wood