MiAL: promoting emerging artists from University of the Arts London

Launching a sustainable practice as an artist is challenging, even after graduating from a world-class institution like the University of the Arts London. A career as a visual artist is by definition undefined,… Continue reading

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Courses in making shell gold

Two-Day Courses: SHELL GOLD And GOLD-FLECKED BORDERS : MAKING AND USING 24ct GOLD PIGMENT FOR MANUSCRIPT PAINTING Still places left on April 17 – 18 course. To register go to Eventbrite There is… Continue reading

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How to paint with 24 carat shell gold

As I periodically offer practical courses on how to make 24 carat “shell gold” pigment, I feel it might be useful to cover some of the applications of this marvellous pigment. The next… Continue reading

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Living Data: Digital Art at Watermans Arts Centre

“Digital art” is a catch-all phrase with a remit that is mind-bogglingly vast and often prone to generalization. It has been championed in recent years by the Arts Council England; the subject of… Continue reading

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Lumen: a winter exhibition at the Crypt Gallery

The Crypt Gallery at St. Pancras Parish Church hosts a rolling programme of exhibitions, and has become known as one of London’s  coolest venues for self-funded shows mounted by artist collectives. This December… Continue reading

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Ingenious Machines part 3: some Interesting Discoveries

I have recently received some fascinating communications in response to my previous “Iron Genie” and “Ingenious Drawing Machines” posts, which the authors have very kindly given me permission to share in the current… Continue reading

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John Brewer’s Wet-plate Photography Workshop

I have always been fascinated by early photographs taken during the pioneering years in the nineteenth century… the images are so mysterious and beautiful – literally memories of a moment held in captured… Continue reading

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Ingenious Machines Part 2: Harmonic Vibrations and Messrs. Newton & Co.

The ultimate study of the harmonograph and its history is provided in a book entitled “Harmonic Vibrations and Vibration Figures” published circa 1909, edited by Herbert C. Newton of Newton & Co., “Scientific… Continue reading

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Kinetica Art Fair 2014 Review

Now in its sixth year, the Kinetica Art Fair (16th – 19th October 2014 at the Old Truman Brewery, Spitalfields, London ) has become an annual fixture in the London art scene. Organised… Continue reading

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Ingenious machines for drawing curves: The Archives

A frequent comment made by viewers of the Iron Genie harmonograph in action, is that it reminds them of the Spirograph. Most of us are familiar with this childhood toy, which consists of… Continue reading

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Pliny the Elder on metals, and a warning from the first century

My abiding interest in pigments and their sources has always been a catalyst for a much wider scope of interest, and in the raft of very human impulses that have shaped the history… Continue reading

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A Journey with Lapis Lazuli Pigment

Just look at that – a beautiful precious Blue, its subtle variety of shades and striations, shot through with streaks of calcite and glittering iron pyrites, describing some imaginary landscape. It is the… Continue reading

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From Ore to Knife at Bushfire Forge

In my previous post I described the process by which we smelted iron and steel from natural ores at Bushfire Forge. Our next challenge was to see whether we could forge useable knives… Continue reading

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The ancient art of smelting iron

Last week, in the company of four other participants, I attended a very special workshop at Bushfire Forge, run by master bladesmith Owen Bush. Owen researches and practices historical techniques of bladesmithing, creating… Continue reading

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YEATS’ BALCONY

Originally posted on POETOPOGRAPHY:
Last night after attending the private view of BEYOND FAIRYTALES at the Hardy Tree Gallery, I took my girlfriend Julie and my friend David to see Yeats’ flat at…

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Iron Genie at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford

On Tuesday 8th July we installed my Iron Genie harmonograph at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford. This interactive kinetic sculpture will be in the museum’s “Top Gallery” until the 21st.… Continue reading

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Precious Pigments and Gold with staff from the Bodleian Library

I had the privilege of hosting at my studio a small group of staff who take care of precious historical manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. They came to examine and… Continue reading

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Invitation to subscribe to my mailing list

This is an invitation to all my lovely online friends, followers, fellow-artists, brilliant people and supporters to subscribe to my new mailing list at “MailChimp”. MailChimp is a bona fide e-mail marketing company… Continue reading

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Antique Harmonograph Drawings

An artist who had seen some of my previous posts recently gave me a tip-off about an antiquarian harmonograph book at a local Bloomsbury bookshop …. need I say more? Of course I… Continue reading

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A review of Central Saint Martin’s Degree Show One 2014

It is the season of degree shows, and Central Saint Martin’s Show One, featuring students graduating from the Fine Art courses, is currently open to the public until the 27th May.  Having graduated… Continue reading

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A Theatre of Machines

Bloomsbury is blessed with a wealth of superb second-hand and antiquarian bookshops, so it takes little encouragement for me to fuel my addiction to rare and interesting books. I recently hit a windfall… Continue reading

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Art & Science and the beauty of the pendulum

Imagine stepping into an immersive alien environment, your senses heightened, flipping through your mental memory-files trying to make sense of the space and time to which you have been transported…. a vast, dark… Continue reading

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More than the Colour Red at Visions of Enchantment, Cambridge University

On the 17th March I gave a paper called More than the Colour Red: The unspoken symbolism of cinnabar pigment in Indian painting at a fascinating conference hosted at the University of Cambridge,… Continue reading

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Strange Creatures in the Margins

As I briefly mentioned the art of marginal design as one of the arts of Islamic manuscript production in my previous post, I thought I would share a few details from a very… Continue reading

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Working with a Calligrapher in Cairo

Examining and re-creating an historical manuscript page is one of the best ways to understand the processes that went into its making, and one that I have employed several times in the course… Continue reading

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Preserving treasures in Cairo’s National Library and Archives

Update 23 Feb 2014: Thankfully the conservation staff at the National Library and Archives and the team at Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation have managed to save all the manuscripts that were on display, though… Continue reading

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Filming in the Crypt

The heavy steel harmonograph sculpture on which I have been working for more than a year is finally finished and working, and it is time to give it the debut it deserves! It… Continue reading

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St. Pancras Parish Church and its Crypt

The crypt is guarded by a row of Caryatids; beneath their solemn gaze, great red doors of steel protect the subterranean mausoleum. The crypt is part of St. Pancras Parish Church, an iconic… Continue reading

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Time-travelling Mughal Architecture

The Emperor Shah Jahan, who reigned over the vast Mughal empire in India from 1628 – 1658, was responsible for some of the most exquisite architecture ever seen. The favorite grandson of Emperor… Continue reading

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Heat-Induced Colours on Metals

One of the most magical things about metals in general is their ability to transmit a wide range of colours under different conditions.  The most brilliant and enduring pigments of the pre-industrial painters’… Continue reading

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Metalwork Sculpture by David Stewart

Known by many students and alumni from Central Saint Martin’s college of Art & Design, David Stewart is an inspirational senior technician, artist and teacher of large-scale metalwork. His current exhibition  Melancholia at… Continue reading

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Forge-Welding Damascus Steel

For a long time I have been intrigued by the exquisite marbled patterning on the blades of antique swords and daggers, and wondered how this was achieved. Surfing online to see what I… Continue reading

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Etching the plates for the Harmonograph tabletop

Paul Dewis is a master printmaker, and technician at the Byam Shaw Print Centre, part of Central Saint Martin’s college of Art & Design. He has taught me how to etch, and how… Continue reading

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Fabricating the harmonograph: detailing in brass

The beauty of a large structure is enhanced by attention to detail, and in the case of this harmonograph, the details are rendered in solid brass. Brass details invoke the wonderful scientific and… Continue reading

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Working with steel in the metal workshop

The first stage of making the steel harmonograph was to cut out and prepare all the structural components. In a sense, the process is a bit like tailoring – you measure and cut… Continue reading

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Designing the Harmonograph sculpture

The prototype harmonograph worked well, but I wanted to create something more elegant and original that would paradoxically evoke the sensibilities of the industrial nineteenth century at the same time as expressing the… Continue reading

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Developing the Harmonograph project for my M.A.

The image above has been developed using scans of drawings created by the first prototype harmonograph that I created and displayed over a year ago at the Byam Shaw campus of Central Saint… Continue reading

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Central Saint Martin’s Degree shows 2013: M.A. Art & Science

Central Saint Martin’s college of art, part of the University of the Arts, London, is opening its doors to the public for the degree shows. This year the shows are divided into two… Continue reading

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Elephants in the British Library

A group of second year students on the M.A. Art & Science course at Central Saint Martins, including myself, plus course director Nathan Cohen and our tutor Eleanor Crook, have mounted a group… Continue reading

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Meditations on the Mandelbrot Set

I am posting this drawing, which I did a while ago, in response to John Baez’s recent post “Rolling Circles”  on his Azimuth blog: http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/rolling-circles-and-balls-part-1/ I really enjoyed reading the discussion, the diagrams,… Continue reading

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Iconic Metalwork in Paris

I spent the brief August heat wave in Paris, rediscovering the beauty and elegance of the city. I love the iconic Art Nouveau entrances of  the Paris Metropolitain, designed  at the turn of… Continue reading

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Making simple grounds for silverpoint drawing

Silverpoint drawing requires a specially prepared ground because the silverpoint will not make a mark on ordinary paper. Preparing the ground can be a complicated business, and I shall be adding some posts… Continue reading

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Getting started with Silverpoint Drawing

This  silverpoint drawing  is by Leonardo da Vinci,  in the British Museum collection. It is called ‘Bust of a warrior in profile’ , dated 1475-80, © The Trustees of the British Museum. It… Continue reading

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Still Life Drawing

We have now developed a vibrant community of interesting and talented individuals around the weekly drawing classes at the studio, composed mainly of professionals from creative industries or academia. Regular attendance is never… Continue reading

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Shopping for a Basic Tool Kit for Drawing

With my Master Classes in Fine Drawing  underway at the studio, I thought it would be useful post a list of basic materials that we use, and the best suppliers local to Bloomsbury.… Continue reading

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The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones

Some time ago I happened upon a venerable 1865 edition of Owen Jones’ Grammar of Ornament in an antiquarian bookshop, and after a month or so of obsessing about it, I decided to… Continue reading

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Painted Rooms and Victorian Gothic at St. Pancras Station

St Pancras Station with its integrated grand hotel is a marvel of high Victorian engineering and design, recently restored and redeveloped as part of a major regeneration project  in the King’s Cross area.… Continue reading

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The Colour Red

My Name is Red is a novel by the celebrated Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk. It is a memorable read – a beautifully constructed ‘whodunnit’ set in the visionary world of the miniature painters… Continue reading

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A Mughal Masterpiece at The British Museum

This painting is called “The assembled animals complain to the raven of their mistreatment at the hands of man” British Museum catalogue number 1920.0917.05  , an illustration to one of the animal fables… Continue reading

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Indigo dyed paper

As an experiment, I included dyeing paper with indigo as one of the  activities in the Persian and Indian manuscript painting workshop this month. With only two (highly sophisticated) people, it seemed a… Continue reading

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