Parallel Project – Absence/Presence

One of the themes emerging in my sketchbook is exploring pairs of words as ways of interpreting absence and presence. This has lead to experimenting looking at the boundaries between states, holes in one medium leading to another, positives and negatives.

beyond-2-of-10 beyond-9-of-10


This is a kind of doodling, experimenting with materials, ideas and attempts to deny the picture plane and, to some extent, the hand of the artist. I am trying to both direct the medium, but also allow it space in which to express its nature. Scaling these experiments up is proving to be difficult.

Dense, matt black is a recurring element. It helps deny the picture plane by giving the surface depth and making it hard to focus on. It references the unknown and unknowable, defying space and context. Undoubtedly, I have been influenced here by my background in astrophysics and also by looking at the drawings of Anish Kapoor.

Experimenting with shapes and media, adding and subtracting,  produced this little sketch in which I was thinking about how light might behave around a hole in a dark space.


This is small, only about 10cm sq but explores a new medium to me, Wolff carbon blocks. These produce a seductive, rich, velvety black and can be manipulated with a plastic eraser. To further explore the idea and the medium, I developed the idea on a bigger scale working in positive and negative. It was extremely difficult to keep the right hand side of the support clean even though I masked it with newspaper. I work on both sides simultaneously, trying to balance without symmetry.



60cm x 30cm

It has been extremely difficult to photograph this, persuading the camera that the black is absolutely black and the white pristine. The shape on the left is not as successful as the original sketch at suggesting the diffraction of light at edges. The carbon can be manipulated but leaves a trace of its presence which was difficult in this work but could be exploited  elsewhere.



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