Sunday 18 May 2014

Lincoln Cathedral

Even though I am half Yellowbelly, and my Grandfather truly epitomised Lincolnshire, I had never been fortunate enough to visit Lincoln, until today.

A chance trip to see the living legend Brian Blessed for the second time led me to the new, exciting territory of Lincoln. With a Cathedral, Castle, Museums and a wealth of history, Lincoln sounded perfect ... and it was.

Though I had heard of Lincoln Cathedrals beauty, I was rather unprepared for its reality. Upon arrival I was greeted by an utterly colossal specimen of Cathedral, which makes York Minster look modest in comparison. A service was being conducted during our visit, so we were only permitted to visit half of the Cathedral, and steal slight glimpses of the remainder, listening all the time to a glorious chorus from the choir.

On the exterior Lincoln Cathedral is a vast mountain of stone, erupting from the cobbled streets to great heights. Impressive and powerful the buildings gardens and pathways lead you around the entire Cathedral, discovering various new gems with every turn, such as the Norman Cathedral. Initially  hidden from view, this strange structure looks alien beside the building in its present, predominantly Gothic, form, and resembles something you're more likely to see in St Guilhem le Desert or a Templar Church. Different periods of history are clearly visible across the Cathedrals exterior, showing how the building has evolved over the years and the events which have shaped what we see today, from ravaging fires, to building collapse and Henry VIII's protestant reformation.

Within the Cathedral lofty vaulted ceilings and chunky columns are aplenty, however it is clear that this Cathedral requires funding to maintain its magnificent architecture. Cracks in the ceiling and patched up plaster work hint at the mammoth task of maintaining a building like this, and the finance required to do so. These imperfections, for me, give the Cathedral a certain charm, however they are also a poignant reminder that these great buildings need your support, visitation and enthusiasm to ensure that they are preserved for future generations.

For more information on Lincoln Cathedral, or to plan your visit, head to:

Tuesday 13 May 2014

HR Giger: The Zeitgeist of the 20th Century

Today, my studio is filled with sadness as I mourn the passing of my hero, my inspiration and the greatest contemporary artist in the world; Hans Rudolf Giger.

I have managed to collect my thoughts, and compose myself enough to write a little about the artist who has changed  my life and inspired me more than I can say.

What Hans Ruedi Giger meant to me ...

Giger, to me, has felt ever present throughout my life. Having been exposed to his creations and imaginings from birth, this mysterious man has always been present in my life in some way. As my life has progressed, Giger and his fantastical images have only become more important to me and more involved in my life.

Around 10 years ago my interest and strange curiosity in Giger turned into a passion. As I began to buy his books, read his thoughts and study his images in more depth, I also began to fall in love with Giger's work. Throughout my early years as a developing artist Giger was a huge influence, and a relentless inspiration. For me, Gigers artwork set a president for what could be achieved with imagination, skill and time.

During my years at college I grasped every available opportunity to study Giger, write about his work, and incorporate him into my projects. I didn't mind that everyone thought I was slightly bizarre (they weren't far wrong!), I desperately wanted to spread the word of Giger and share my love of his talent with everyone I could!
 Around 6 years ago, during a study I was conducting on Giger, I contacted Les Baranay for advice on visiting the museum and seeing Gigers work. I received a very pleasant reply, and Les was kind enough to put me in touch with some wonderful people, who felt very passionately about Giger's work.
Unfortunately as a young student I was unable to afford the costs of traveling to the Museum, however, Les had put me in touch with a friend of Gigers in the UK, whom was kind enough to invite me to his home to see his collection,  and very generously gave me a Poster signed by the great man himself, acts of kindness for which I am eternally grateful.

The trip which has been in the making for over 6 years, to Gruyeres, Chur and Zurich, had finally been planned to happen this summer. After the recent events, this trip could easily be tinged with a bitter-sweet sense of tragedy, however, I hope I will undertake this trip with a sense of joy and celebration at the wonderful artwork which was given to us by Hans Rudolf Giger, through which he will live on forever.

In my studio sits a portrait of Giger I drew a number of years ago. I see this everyday, and it is a constant reminder of Giger, his work, all that he has achieved, and all that can be achieved. It inspires and encourages me, every single day, and will continue to do so. For a number of years years I have been planning a Giger tattoo, and during the last 6 months I have drawn 4 different versions of the tattoo. I have completed a fifth design, with this portrait which is so important to me incorporated, as a true homage to my hero.

Giger has remained a constant inspiration, throughout my life. He has made me strive to new limits, to push forth towards his benchmark of perfection, to allow my creativity to take control and not feel restricted by conformity. Giger has, eventually, made me feel confident enough to draw what I really want to; what I feel and what I love, rather than what I think I should, and what society expects. He has changed my life in a way he will never know, and his legacy; his work, will continue to enrich my life, and the life of millions, forever.

Thank you, Hans Ruedi Giger.

Sunday 11 May 2014

Sanctus Strix

I am currently working on a project which,for the time being, I have given the temporary title 'Sanctus Strix'. The theme of the series is one which is a great love of mine and a recurring subject matter within my artwork; Owls. Owls are something which I have fondly been studying for years, but with this series I intend to return to a concept which I began to develop during my university Degree collection, and build upon its imagery; Sanctus Strix, The Holy Owl.

The concept of the collection is a multi-layered one, with various messages to be interpreted by the viewer. I am incorporating my beloved halo imagery within the series, as a visual representation of both the divine and the damned. As ever the series is intended to be packed with symbolism, intentionally adding a sinister twist to each owl and giving them their own little personality. These symbolic features differ from bird to bird, but each has an underlying concept, again indulging in my love of giving animals intelligent, humanistic traits, in this case almost supernatural.

This series is intended to be an unabashed return to fine art. A highly detailed, delicately layered fantastical imagining. These undiluted pieces will undoubtedly be a labour of love, hopefully a successful one!

Monday 5 May 2014

Taxidermy: A colossal collection

One surprise I wasn't expecting hidden within the decaying walls of Calke Abbey was the largest Taxidermy collection I have ever seen. Of an unprecedented scale, the vast collection was scattered across various rooms of the house. Ranging from mounted heads lining the walls of most rooms, to colossal glass display cases housing entire species. The collection reared its head at every turn, sometimes smartly lining a wall, appearing neat and well organized, more often though, housed in spaces far too small, or even haphazardly piled into rooms, barely visible.

Naturally the taxidermy specimens which interested me most were birds (unsurprising with my enduring obsession), and they were in great abundance. A huge variety of specimens ranging from Pelicans, to Sparrows and everything in between could be found, some faded and ravaged by time, others bright and beautiful.

The scale of the collection reflects nothing but sheer, unabashed obsession. In high society there has long been a fascination with zoology and scientific study, but the collection at Calke Abbey reflects years, and generations of collections, all under one roof. Despite the size of some of the rooms within the buildings they manage to feel mildly claustrophobic due to the number of paintings, skulls, display cases packed with taxidermy and countless mineral specimens on display.

Taxidermy has been a morbid fascination of mine for some time now. Our ancestors obsession and hobby of recreating the beauty of nature, and animal behavior through death really is a curious one. In the age of photography and global technology the idea of having to kill and preserve something to be able to revel in its beauty is an alien concept to many. Yet there is still something utterly captivating about observing the most beautiful creatures from every corner of the globe in a level of detail normally impossible. However, the ultimate irony of this is you are not viewing a wild animal, but an inanimate object.