Friday, 30 June 2017

Lost Voices by Bennett Hogg at Cheeseburn Sculpture

Lost Voices; A Sound Installation by Bennett Hogg, using reconstructions by Magnus Williamson, of missing voice parts from sixteenth Century Church Music

It may be nothing more than a coincidence that some of the greatest English religious
music from a period when thousands of voices were silenced – through imprisonment, enforced hiding, or burning at the stake – has come down to us with one or more of its original voices missing. A coincidence, perhaps, a highly suggestive, poetic one.

Musical practice in the sixteenth century was for each voice to have their own copy of
the music containing only their particular part. The music for Robert White’s Lamentations of Jeremiah, one of the pieces used in Lost Voices, would have originally consisted of six separate “part books” but only five survive; the book containing the music for the tenor voice has been lost.

Magnus Williamson has recomposed many of these missing voices, and it is these
recovered voices that form the basic materials of Bennett Hogg’s installation Lost 
Voices. The piece recombines the music into a new polyphony, using digital sound
processing to extend and transform the sounds. Voices emerge from different places, always hidden, always on the move, and as the listener walks around different
combinations can be found.

As a counterpoint to this texts by the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard meditate on
how intimate spaces – our homes, isolated cabins in the forest, priestholes perhaps -
connect in the imagination with sound, memory, and voice.

Cheeseburn, as a recusant house, may well have hidden persecuted Catholics. As we
enjoy our rights and freedoms in the present, we might reflect on these different lost voices, and on the renewed appetite in some places to persecute one another based on our religious affiliations, or, indeed, our lack of them.

Soprano – Daisy Gibb
Tenor – Magnus Williamson
Bass – Patrick Owston
Reader – Martin Eccles
Recording engineer – David de la Haye

The spoken texts are from Gaston Bachelard’s book The Poetics of Space, first published in French in 1958.

Fred Watson in the Stables Gallery at Cheeseburn Sculpture

Fred Watson has 5 stone carvings in the gardens at Cheeseburn and his exhibition at Cheeseburn’s Stables Gallery in July 2017 aims to showcase his fine still life carvings in wood.

Fred has worked for many years from a large studio in rural Northumberland where he has built a strong reputation for thoughtful carvings, producing gallery pieces in wood and in stone for public commissions.

“I find a complicity between Still Life and the practice of carving. Time is the essence of them both. The long, patient, solitary practice of carving reflects the long, silent indifference of the objects. Stone and Wood belong to time. Many of my tools have been used by generations of craftsmen. Carving is a rewarding solitude, which is what impels my work. I carve the most ordinary of objects because the ordinary is rich enough. Familiar objects that can be moved at will become fixed in a timeless matrix.

Still Life is common in painting but not in sculpture. Carving creates a dialogue between form and function and when ordinary objects are rendered in wood or stone they assume a different reality. The sculpture becomes distanced from the objects it represents, which become more remote, secluded and potentially meaningful.”
Fred Watson

Looking forward to Cheeseburn this weekend

I am working at the July Open Weekends at Cheeseburn Sculpture, and I'm looking forward to seeing the new exhibitions that will be on in the gallery and the Stables project space.

Cheeseburn Stables Gallery - Fred Watson

Fred Watson has 5 stone carvings in the gardens at Cheeseburn and his exhibition at Cheeseburn’s Stables Gallery in July 2017 aims to showcase his fine still life carvings in wood.

Lost Voices; A Sound Installation by Bennett Hogg, using reconstructions by Magnus Williamson, of missing voice parts from sixteenth Century Church Music. 

There will, of course, also be the opportunity to see the permanent collection of sculptures within the gardens, Tyne Bridge Hinge by Alexander Devereux and Scurry by Dan Gough.

For more information please visit

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Primal Speech by Liz Magic Laser at Jupiter Artland


Liz Magic Laser
Primal Speech, an immersive mixed media installation produced by Brooklyn, NY based artist Liz Magic Laser is currently being exhibited in the Tin Roof Gallery at Jupiter Artland.

Before entering the gallery, visitors are asked to remove their shoes. The gallery has been transformed into "Laser’s futuristic version of a primal scream room with soft grey padded walls and therapeutic devices such as punching pillows and a screaming vase. The artist has created sculptural pillows that reflect regional political emblems and for the installation at Jupiter Artland the collection includes symbols for the Scottish National Party’s thistle, Scottish Labour Party’s rose and the Scottish Liberal Democrat’s bird of liberty."

Laser’s therapeutic video and environment guide viewers to express and exorcise their sociopolitical and personal frustrations. For the video, Laser assembled a pseudo therapy group composed of actors with opposing political convictions about Brexit and the upcoming U.S. presidential election. The artist encouraged them to revisit and conflate childhood traumas with their current political frustrations. Laser collaborated with Certified Professional Life Coach, Valerie Bell, trained in Primal Therapy techniques, to elicit connections between traumatic experience and political beliefs."

I felt that the work has the potential to be much more open and expansive, but because the video specifically focuses on Brexit and the U.S. presidential election, it is restricted in its scope. For reasons I am yet to fully identify and understand, there was a rather negative tone to the work, and I came out feeling as though I had been made to feel angry about something defined by someone else (i.e. Trump and the current Brexit situation). Don't get me wrong, I do not think favourably of either Trump or the decision for the UK to leave the EU, but I felt channeled and free from thinking about other situations that 'are bothering me', and therefore felt frustrated that I had not been encouraged to bring my own direction to the work. 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Jupiter Artland

At the weekend I visited Jupiter Artland, a sculpture park and art gallery in the grounds of Bonnington House, a 19th-century country house near Edinburgh.

"Visitors to Jupiter Artland are given a map indicating the location of the artworks within the grounds. But there's no set route. Clockwise or anticlockwise is your choice, as is the retracing of steps for a second look. The artworks are land marks, events, confrontations on a journey of discovery; an open-ended journey."

Although there are a few artworks situated indoors, the vast majority are outside, and so it really is a place to be visited in good weather. There is plenty to see, and it is easy to spend 2-3hours wandering round the artworks. Even the cafe is filled with art. It was recently extended and transformed by artist Nicholas Party, into Cafe Party. 


Nicolas Party

"Cafe Party features decorative wall painting, hand painted tables, custom designed furniture, servery and screen printed crockery. Party’s work examines classical genres and motifs explored throughout art history and painting such as still life and portraiture as well as how these are presented. The expansive mural acts as a framing device and a fantastical stage set for a series of pastel compositions delivered in Party’s unique aesthetic language.

The wall murals also tie to the artist interest in art history which are often executed in styles that retaining parameters by honouring traditional processes and materials. Recently this has expanded into the use of trope l’oiel which is used throughout Café Party in the malachite surfaces.


Nicolas Party

Through Party’s distinctive paintings and drawings Café Party directly responds to the surrounding woodland of Jupiter Artland, borrowing imagery from the landscape to furnish the restaurant and the vibrancy of the collection is celebrated in the vivid colour palette. Patters repeat throughout with tropical shrubbery that line the foreground, whilst clashing skinny twigs and wall climbers reach for the light overall producing a fantastical, almost psychedelic scene."

In future blog posts I will give more details about a selection of the artworks, but here are a few photos to give you a taster of what there is to see.


Jim Lambie


Jim Lambie

Charles Jencks


Anya Gallaccio


Christian Boltanski


Separation in the Evening (a celestial blossom before the yellow house)


Laura Ford


Shane Waltener


Michael Sailstorfer


Nathan Coley

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Project 333

Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.

I learned about it when watching Minimalism: A Documentary about the important things

The Rules

  • When: Every three months (It’s never too late to start so join in anytime!)
  • What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewellery, outerwear and shoes.
  • What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewellery that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)
  • How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of sight.
  • What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Minimalists

The more I think about hearing voices, the more I think about being overwhelmed and experiencing stress from too much 'stuff' going on.

A friend recommended that I watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.

This asks the question, How might your life be better with less?

The documentary "examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life—families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker—all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less."

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus are the Minimalists. They were successful, attractive, high achievers with all the mod-cons and in their late twenties who, by all accounts, had everything they needed to be happy. Yet they were not; they were dissatisfied and unhappy.

"In 2011, we left our corporate careers at age 30. After publishing our first book, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, we went on an international book tour and eventually began contributing to people through our online writing classes and private mentoring sessions.

We’ve been fortunate enough to establish an audience of more than 20 million people, and we’ve been featured all over the media. We have spoken at Harvard Business School, Apple, and several large conferences (SXSW, TEDx, World Domination Summit), as well as many smaller venues, including churches, colleges, corporate groups, libraries, soup kitchens, and various nonprofit organizations.

Toward the end of 2012, we moved from our hometown, Dayton, Ohio, to a cabin near Philipsburg, Montana, as a four-month experiment, followed by a move to beautiful Missoula in 2013, where we cofounded Asymmetrical Press, a publishing house for the indie at heart.

In 2014, we published a new book, Everything That Remains, and embarked on a 100-city Everything That Remains Tour.

In 2015, we published our third book, Essential: Essays by The Minimalists, which presents a minimalist’s perspective on twelve different areas of life—from decluttering, gift-giving, and finances, to passion, health, and relationships. We also hit the road with five other authors and one musician for Asymmetrical Press’s first-ever WordTasting Tour.

In January 2016, we launched The Minimalists Podcast, where we discuss living a meaningful life with less and answer questions from our listeners."

The documentary is fascinating, and introduced me to some exercises that I think will be useful to me (and to anyone wishing to declutter).


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Climate Symphony Lab in Newcastle at Culture Lab, Newcastle University on Saturday 8th July

I have been invited to participate in Climate Symphony a forthcoming event to be held at Culture Lab, Newcastle University in July. Each organiser comes from a different background and their skills and interests have shaped what looks to be a fascinating and pertinent event. Katharine Round works primarily in film, Leah Borromeo is an artist and journalist and Jamie Perera is a composer. Tonight I talked to Katharine about the event and my involvement. 

"Climate Symphony is a creative lab that turns hard data on climate change into a symphony to tell the story of what climate change means through sound.

Journalists, climate scientists, data analysts and sound artists will spend the day collaboratively exploring and discovering how we can change climate change research data into a sound and music composition.

Datasets related to different areas of climate change will be used - issues like air quality & asthma, glacial erosion, flooding, migration patterns and food choices etc.

The days run from 11-6pm. There will be an overview to the data and the scientific principles around its collection and analysis, followed by a longer workshop exploring how data can be translated into sound and the outcomes. Later there will be a discussion between all participants as to the findings of the day.

The event will culminate in a live illustrated performance by leading sound artist Jez Riley French who uses field recordings in the composition of his work, often from places affected by climate change."

If you would like to reserve a place at the event, please contact Philippa Barr on by July 1st.

Limited capacity so please book early.

Climate Symphony is supported by the Digital Cultures Research Group, Culture Lab, Newcastle University Climate Symphony is devised by Disobedient in collaboration with Jamie Perera and co-produced with Forma.

For more information please visit

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Delighted to see my publication in NewBridge Books' new location at BALTIC 39

On my recent visit to the MFA exhibition at Northumbria University degree show, I was delighted to see my publication in NewBridge Books' new location at BALTIC 39

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Talking to ourselves

I recently discovered the BBC World Service podcast called 'The Why Factor' in which "Mike Williams searches for the extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions to inform us about the way we live in the 21st Century and questions why we do the things we do". Through my research into 'the voice', I was directed to the episode titled 'Talking to ourselves'.

There are a number of reasons why people talk to themselves, for instance

- to provide some company

- as a tool of survival

- to make us feel comfortable

- to help organise thoughts

- to go through instructions out aloud

- as a way of making us feel calmer

- as a form of therapy

- to be a source of reassurrance

- to process feelings and thoughts by speaking out loud

- to help us when we need to concentrate

- to aid memory

- as a way to drown out the chatter of the various other parts of the brain

Talking to ourselves does not mean that we have a mental illness!

When we remember something in public and make a sound e.g. "oops!", it may be a way of trying to demonstrate to others around that one is sane, but have just forgotten something.

In the 1970s, the American psychologist Julian Jaynes proposed that humans stored information in the right side of the brain. He thought that the left and right side of the brain were more independent than we now think, and that the information in the right side of the brain needed to be transferred to the left side of the brain via the bundle of nerves called the corpus callosum.

According to Jaynes, the message was transmitted in the form of language, and people tended to perceive this as a voice coming from outside of themselves, as an auditory hallucination. These external voices were often attributed to leaders, the monarchy or the gods.

Jaynes later acknowledged that the voices were not always from outside of the self, but could come from within ones self in the form of an inner critic.

When we are young, the people around us give us lots of rules to follow and they influence our perception of who we are and who we think we ought to be.

When someone is traumatised, they may try to protect themselves by disassociating themselves from their inner critic or internal voice, and instead believe that it is the voice of an other. This is otherwise known as an auditory hallucination. The difference between someone who experiences inner speech and someone who is mentally ill and has auditory hallucinations is that those with mental health issues believe the voices they hear are outside of themselves as opposed to from within. To complicate matters, not all inner critics are heard as though they are coming from the head. There are some people who hear their inner voice from their stomachs or elsewhere in the body.

I remember most what never happened - BxNU MFA Graduate Exhibition, Baltic 39

"I Remember Most What Never Happened is currently on display at BALTIC 39 and brings together work by 10 artists graduating from Northumbria this summer. The BxNU MFA is a unique two-year course, run by Northumbria in partnership with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and based in the vibrant studio culture at BALTIC 39 on High Bridge, Newcastle.

This year, the graduating artists have made work that ranges and shifts across performance, video, photography, sculpture, installation and intervention. The exhibition utilises the project space on the top floor of BALTIC 39, which provides an ideal platform for their ideas to unfold, with artwork also spilling out into the public spaces of the building.

Northumbria Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Sandra Johnston, who teaches on the BxNU MFA, said: “Throughout the programme, the artists are encouraged to self-direct a rich spectrum of experimentation, guided by their own curiosity and interests. A distinctive feature of the course is how these individual trajectories then also coalesce into collective exhibition making – a process that is simultaneously demanding, enlivening and revealing.

“I Remember Most What Never Happened, conceived by the third graduating cohort of the BxNU MFA, proposes a zeitgeist born of indulgence, suggestion, and invention.”

Meanwhile on the first floor at BALTIC 39, the mid-point exhibition by the first year BxNU MFA students is also on display. In Games We Create Worlds highlights the choreography of objects, and the ways in which control is suggested through the construction of space."

The exhibition featured a performance by Sister Shrill, who spent an ambitious 5.5 hours attempting to converse with each other while their mouths were full of water. Their struggle, perseverance and determinism perhaps comments on their experience of completing the 2 year MFA programme.

The installation of the work is, as ever, professional, and the exhibition seems rather coherent given that the work has originated from a collection of students who share the experience of being on the MFA programme as opposed to a thematic connection.

Friday, 16 June 2017

A lot can happen in a day

Reading Group, Spoken Word Workshop and Performance with Helen Shaddock

Saturday 22nd July 2017

11am - 8pm

TURF Projects

Gallery, Workspace & Studios

Keeley Road




Booking required


READING GROUP (1.5 – 2 hours approx.) 11am-1:00pm

The reading group will focus on the publication, ‘A lot can happen in fifteen minutes’, and will include a question and answer session with artist Helen Shaddock.


Participants will engage in writing and spoken word exercises, and develop a text in relation to some of the themes discussed in the reading group. Working individually or in groups, participants will develop a spoken word performance based on their own writing or using a text from the ‘A lot can happen in fifteen minutes’ publication.


In the evening, members of the Spoken Word workshop will present individual and/or group spoken word performances that were developed during the day’s workshop.

To register for the event (ideally all day, but the different aspects can be attended separately), visit

For more information please contact Helen Shaddock

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor Award 2017 - winner announced for installation at Cheeseburn Sculpture

I recently exhibited at Cheeseburn Sculpture at the same time that the shortlist of artists for the Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor Award 2017 were exhibiting their submissions. Visitors were invited to vote on their favourite, and the winner has just been announced as Northumberland-born artist Peter Hanmer. He receives £6,500 to develop develop his proposal, The Cave, into an installation which will be unveiled in spring 2018.

The work will feature sculpture and sound, filling the Potting Shed at Cheeseburn Sculpture Gardens in Stamfordham, Northumberland with over 50 miniature figures. Hanmer’s previous work has involved the creation of figurative models inhabited by miniature animal bone characters.

Hanmer, who is currently studying for his Masters in Fine Art at Newcastle University, said: “I am delighted to have been chosen as winner of this prestigious award out of some really stiff competition. I can’t wait to get to work building my piece.”

Matthew Jarratt, curator at Cheeseburn Sculpture, added: “We are really excited to commission Peter’s installation within the Walled Garden Potting Shed at Cheeseburn. His ideas of creating a ‘sculptural world’ of miniature figures amongst the flowerpots and lawnmowers fascinated the judges.”

In addition to financial support in creating the work, Hanmer will also receive mentoring and support in the run up to his exhibition next year.

The selection panel for the award were Joseph Hillier, artist; Joanna Riddell, founder and owner of Cheeseburn Sculpture; Matthew Jarratt, curator at Cheeseburn Sculpture; and Alexander Dickinson, trustee for The Gillian Dickinson Trust and Partner at Bond Dickinson LLP.

Over 30 artists aged 18-25 applied from across the north east region. The final shortlist of 12 included a number of representatives from the area’s universities, including Newcastle University, Sunderland University and Northumbria University.

The judges also took into account votes from visitors to the gallery and online votes through Facebook.

Started by Riddell in 2015, the first recipient of the award was Sunderland University graduate Dan Gough last summer. His installation Scurry is currently on view at Cheeseburn Sculpture on designated opening weekends. The work features 2,000 red and grey ceramic squirrels sited within the Victorian Walled Garden at Cheeseburn.

For more information visit

Friday, 9 June 2017


Shame is a film directed by Steve McQueen about Brandon (played by Michael Fassbender) a successful, single, attractive executive in New York who is addicted to sex, prostitutes and porn. When his unpredictable and difficult sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), moves into his apartment, his stability is compromised and it all becomes too much for him. The relationship between Brandon and Sissy is multilayered and incredibly well portrayed by Fassbender and Mulligan. The cause of their individual struggles are never revealed, but a tough childhood is suggested.

Rather than describing the plot of the film, I want to focus on the issues at the heart of the film. Particular scenes reveal the loneliness of the two siblings. A single shot of Brandon running through the streets of New York at night in an attempt to flee from his sister's activities in his flat, is a beautiful portrayal of a man's quest for escapism. 

The film demonstrates how modern life and the technological advances that are central to how we live, inevitably have an impact on how people interact with each other and the relationships we have with one another. Brandon seems unable to trust and is unable commit to a meaningful relationship. He is desperately in need of satisfaction, a quick release, but isn't able to manage anything more.

One of the extras on the DVD is an interview with Michael Fassbender in which he talks about how he researched the character and met with sex addicts to get an insight into their situation. Fassbender comments that there was one particular addict that he learned a lot from. He remarked that rather than probe with questions in an order to be able to 'use' the material for his own gain, he tried to encourage the addict simply to tell his story. I have also found that once people are invited to tell stories, they are more open and relaxed, giving more honest and genuine responses.

There is an argument that one cannot understand how it feels to be in a particular situation e.g. be an addict, until one has a direct experience of the situation. Although I tend to agree with this, I do think it is important to have access to artforms (films, literature, art, theatre etc) that portray such situations and conditions. It is through films like Shame that people are given an insight into the complexities of things they may not otherwise witness or experience.