Upstream Colour



I saw this film the other day and really enjoyed it. It’s about the life cycle of this strange creature, and there are a lot of odd goings on and psychic pig links and stuff, but I think to try and explain the film would ruin it so I won’t.

A particular scene stood out to me – the sampler (a character) goes around a woodland area interacting with the environment and recording the sounds. He edits them and keeps searching for the perfect sound until he finds it. He then uses the sounds to attract the creatures in the film. This scene stuck with me for two reasons: I thought it was a brilliant example of creativity and process: the way he moves throughout the scene really shows his process and ways of working, and you feel his purpose of finding the particular sound he needs; and I could relate to it in my own ways of working when I record and edit sounds.

Sound is integral to Upstream Colour, I think.  The soundtrack in isolation is very immersive and almost trance like at times, and this really embeds you into the story. It’s a useful example of how sound can be used to change an environment or visuals, and exploring the exchange between both.


School Workshops

This term I’ve been working with two MA Design students (Pippa Renshaw and Emma Hastings) in creating and running art workshops for year 8/9s with First Campus. I’ve been doing a lot of work for First Campus the past year, including supporting the National Saturday Club and leading lessons in Cardiff West High School. The opportunity to plan our own workshop from scratch was brilliant though – I felt I gained an insight into the other side of the job, and it’s something I’d really like to do when I graduate. (The idea of being a teacher working full time in a school sounds horrific, and I vowed not to be a teacher as both my parents are. But just popping in and teaching what I want to teach, not something curriculum led, is very enjoyable.)

When the three of us sat down to plan the workshop, we all agreed that we wanted the students to have the chance to do things they can’t do usually at school. Pippa is a Textiles graduate and a brilliant lino printer, and Emma is a Artist Designer Maker graduate and specialised in furniture design. We decided to take an element of each of our courses and combine them to make a 3 stage workshop.

So we would split the group into 3, and each group would go to one of our work stations. Pippa would run a lino printing station, Emma a paper folding station, and I would run a collage station. Depending on the order they went to the stations, they’d create a different output: if they were with me first, they could create a collage and then print onto it, or if they went from Pippa to Emma they could fold paper they had printed on, etc.

It was a really good plan in theory, but of course a lot of things went wrong in the end, like the materials going missing or students not attending, and so one. But we became very adaptable and flexible as a result. We think the students still really benefited from it though – they were really engaged and excited, and some of them were very interested in university and pursuing the arts!

The experience of working with Pippa and Emma was wonderful too – they’re both lovely and we worked well together, and because they’re both masters they gave me lots of helpful advice about 3rd year. It was beneficial to work with designers too – they think in a different way, and it really broadened the way I think as well. I would really love to do something like that again.


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Above is a few photos of some of the students work.

Meredith Monk – Turtle Dreams

I discovered Turtle Dreams at an event about the voice (part of a programme of events about James Richards’ exhibition at chapter and his biennale work). It’s very odd and everyone I’ve shown it to has hated it or thought it was ridiculous, apart from Chris from G39 who showed it to us and also loved it.

Obviously I recognise that it’s a bit off the wall, but when I watched it for the first time I thought it was brilliant – it was the first piece I’d seen in ages that really excited me. I think it’s one of the few video pieces that justifies it’s length – a lot of the time I get bored with video art and I’m just waiting for it to end, but I’ve watched the full 28 minutes of Turtle Dreams several times in full and still would watch it again.

I’m not sure why it has such a hold over me. I love the way Meredith Monk uses and exploits the voice in all of her work, but I think the combination of movement, sound, and turtles sets this apart from her other work somewhat. The repetition and slow build of movement and sonic variation draws out the excitement and builds tension.

I can’t really explain what is is or what it’s about, because I don’t entirely know. And I think that’s the main reason it resonates with me so much – I’ll never ‘figure it out’, and I like that. To watch it is an experience, it really takes you somewhere else and triggers a lot of thoughts and ideas. And you don’t have to get some deeper meaning to appreciate it, you can just enjoy the sweet turtle dreams.


Key Concept – Everyday

James’ key concept about the everyday was mainly based around comics, as most of them are inspired by everyday life. I’ve started getting into comics recently – I think it’s a very versatile way of story telling, and the way text is displayed is something I was looking into more in thinking of ways to display my own work.



I really liked this comic James showed us – Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay. The symmetry and balance of the panels is really inviting to the eye, and the drawings themselves are very dreamlike and seem to pull from all aspects of day to day life. I remember something I learnt in philosophy – everything in your dreams comes from real life. You can’t just synthesise something from nothing, each fundamental element is something you’ve experienced. Say if you dream of a strange horse with tentacles for legs – you know what a horse is and what an octopus is, and then your brain has combined them in your dream. So however fantastical something is, when you break it down everything really is inspired by the every day.

The Nao of Brown is another comic I really liked that I read recently. The way it combines and explores fantasy and reality, the mind and reality, is something I’ve never seen before in print. It reminds me of what I learnt in field and how our conscious mind and unconscious minds interact.

Open Thread

I met Teddy Hunter, a cool sound artist, a few months back at an Arcade opening and I’d been to a couple of her shows. I really like her work and the events she puts on, so when she asked if I had any visual work she could use for ‘Open Thread’ I was really excited to be a part of it. It was nice to be asked to show visual work as well, as even though I work primarily with sound I have made visual pieces in the past and it is something I want to explore again.

I remembered the first piece I made in first year – ‘The Straight Way was Lost’. I thought this piece was one of my strongest from last year, and I had a lot of good feedback on it though never showed it properly. This seemed a good opportunity to, so I set up the slide projector etc again to rerecord it in better quality.

Interestingly I recognised a lot of themes I was working with then that I still am now – I just wasn’t as aware of them back then. I had just moved to Cardiff, and this piece was almost a documentation of me exploring the city and my experience of it, similar to how I’m making the Venice piece for G39. I was using found text a lot as well, something I understand my fascination with more now.

I think this is an effective method of showing and sourcing text, so I’m glad I revisited this as it’s helped me think of ways to house the text I’ve been experimenting with.

I couldn’t actually attend the event in the end  (I was promoting Haptic on Pitch illustration), but I heard it went well and a friend of mine attended and said the whole event worked really well.